We got home from our “Winter” holidays (at my parents in law with loads of food, yumm) and I dug my bike out of the shed for the first time today. And it has not taken the winter well.

I am aware that this was just my own stupidity. I should probably have cleaned the bike before going on holidays, but alas.. time was short and it was -10°C, so warm soapy water didn’t really work.

My chain looks like this nowadays:



The bike isn’t quite as pink, but the rest is about right. Still works relatively problem free, and it only jumped madly a few times while riding the first kilometer or so. But this is obviously not ideal.

Upside to the whole thing: The chain and cassette were shot anyway and needed replacing “soon”. Guess this will just have to work a little bit longer.

And then I’ll need some better cleaning facilities (i.e. a dedicated sponge and some room – possibly a brush. Using my toothbrush might not be ideal – at least not for mix and match operation on teeth and chains).

So … how does this tie in with the title?

Well … the amount of preventive maintenance for a bicycle is turning out to be quite large. I mentioned in a previous post that my shifters are misaligned after about 1000km every time. My chain needs replacing after only 3000km. The tyres and tubes that originally came with the bike had lots of flats for no discernible reason (two tubes split at the seam). My brakes need adjusting every 1500km.

Which might be okay for a bicycle only ridden for 300km a year (I mentioned that this was the German average?), but it’s bloody annoying for a commuter bike.

And it’s approximately equivalent to cars in the middle 20th century. Sometime soon after the first roads started appearing, cars were built that didn’t need the driver to actually be able to perform maintenance themselves. This is likely wrong, as my parents still talk about disassembling their cars in the 70s. Nowadays, though, I can sort of expect to do an oilchange every 10k kilometers and have someone do a checkup every year (which might be a lot more than 10k kilometers). My tyres are expected to last 5 to 6 years (and I’ve never had a flat on a car).

I want my bike to require less work!

Oh and … if the above just compared to bicycle to a 1950s car, other things still need maintenance every 1000km. Like fighter-jets and helicopters and tanks. So arguably a bicycle is as technologically advanced as one of those.