How to survive the supply chain shortage
At this point, the continued supply chain shortage in the mountain bike industry is not new, nor likely to be new to too many cyclists. But few expected it to last this long or had any idea when it would return to normal.
A frustrating downside to shortages is that if a bike part breaks or wears out, it can be difficult to find a replacement part or component. This can put your bike out of service for days or even weeks. Nothing is worse than canceling race plans or missing a race because your bike is missing a small part.
Until supply issues ease, here are some strategies to avoid getting caught up in the supply chain crisis. Bonus: When bike shop shelves are overflowing again, they can still help you save a little money and get your bike rolling more reliably.
Clean your bike
The easiest and best way to avoid getting burned by the supply shortage is to not have to buy parts. Keeping your bike in tip-top condition will measurably extend the life of your drivetrain, brake pads, suspension, and ultimately every part of your bike. It also facilitates the early detection of wear or damage. Often you can solve small problems before they become big problems.
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Daily maintenance goes a long way
A major cleaning is important, but so are every ride, quick maintenance steps. The ones we often put off for the “next trip”. It shouldn’t take a lot of time, and the more regularly you perform these small maintenance tasks, the faster they will be. Cleaning an almost clean chain is fast. Degreasing a slimy, greasy mess takes time.
Take the time to wipe down your chain after each ride and re-lubricate it if necessary. Regularly check your bolts to make sure nothing is loose. Wipe down all suspension parts, including your dropper post. These simple tasks can go a long way in extending the life of parts.
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Buy stronger parts
Lighter is not always better. Especially if it means you have to replace it more often. The calculation of this cost-benefit equation is further skewed when there is not necessarily a readily available spare part. Sometimes a heavier piece is worth its weight if it lasts much longer.
That doesn’t mean you should go out and build the heaviest bike possible. But there are some parts where adding weight has less of an impact on performance and more on durability. Race Face, for example, makes steel chainrings. For a small weight penalty, less than 100 grams, it will last much longer. Likewise, Shimano’s 12-speed cassettes are made from different materials at different price points. The more expensive ones, the ones for World Cup riders who care more about gram reduction than long-term durability, aren’t necessarily the lasting ones the best choice for everyday riding.
Plan the service in advance
Regular service is always good. It’s important to plan ahead – when you know parts can take a while to reach their destination. However, scheduling regular service doesn’t just prevent problems. It can also let you know when parts need to be replaced soon (instead of when they’re already destroyed) so you can plan for a replacement in advance.
Plan your vacation / driving goals
If you’re taking a big riding vacation or have a major goal on the calendar, make sure you have everything in shape well in advance. Don’t wait for the week of your flight/race to have your bike adjusted. Especially if you pay particular attention to a specific wear item – tires, transmission, brake pads. Having spares is even better, if possible. Nothing ruins your race prep like a frantic hunt all over town for new brake pads the day before a race you’ve been training for all year.
Maintain your suspension (and dropper post)
An often overlooked aspect of bicycle maintenance is suspension service. Most brands recommend service intervals of around 40 hours of ride time. Maintaining regular maintenance can help prevent major problems. As a bonus, regular service doesn’t just look cleaner. If it’s been a while since you had your suspension serviced, it can be amazing how much better your refreshed fork is!