Commuting cyclists and their mechanicals.

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  • Commuting cyclists and their mechanicals.
  • gjmurdoch

    Hey all, I am doing a bit of research into the bike related mechanicals people have on their daily commute. Trying to find the most common problems people have to fix or get fixed I.e. punctures, gears slipping etc.


    Whats the most common breakage you have on your bike?

    What do you do do when it happens? Fix it yourself? take it to a bikeshop?

    Feel free to post up stories and experiences related to this too.

    Any feedback would be most grateful.


    Whenever I have a mechanical I simply swap bikes with my domestique.


    Snapped chain – I ride a folder that is prone to it. Fix it myself
    Puncture – Ditto
    Bolts loosening – Ditto

    Only thing I ever go to a bike shop for is headset replacement

    Premier Icon Northwind

    None, tbh. I mean, there’s minor things like rubbing brakes, gears getting a little past it but nothing that can’t be tolerated for a little while then fixed when I can be bothered. But then my commuter is a bit of a tank.

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager

    Nowt really atm – pompino singlespeed with scwhalbe marathon tyres that are relatively puncture proof on the roads. Change the brake pads now and again and that’s it.

    If I have proper CX tyres on it for whatever reason I normally pick up the odd puncture.


    chain snapping and flats…. fix them my self

    Premier Icon kimbers

    my gears do get a bit sloppy but i rarely clean teh comuter so it suffers a bit, i only replace the drivetrain every couple of years

    grips wear out quick as i do 200 miles a week

    schwable marathon plus means no punctures!

    i didnt fit the little retaining pin properly on my v brakes cartridge pads, a pad fell out

    v brake noodles get shagged quicly

    its rigid, 1×9 and has cheap but solid components, not much to go wrong!

    Premier Icon steveoath

    Not even had a puncture in 4 years, then in the last week or so I’ve had a knackered freewheel and then I dropped a crank bolt and the crank came off.

    Bah. LBS both times.


    A majority of what i see others with is snapped chains an punctures

    We run a pair or alfined cross bikes with schwalbe marathons , disks and full guards

    I also operate a commuter bikes comes first in the maintainance pile.

    Its no fun walking to my gaff


    Can’t actually remember the last mechanical. I wear things out quite a bit.

    Bike is singlespeed running heavy duty rings and chain so they rarely just snap if you keep on top of maintenance.

    Tyres are armoured and I run heavy duty tubes so punctures are rare. The last one I picked up a 3″ nail.

    Spokes break but you can just ride on anyway with a reasonable set of 32 spoke wheels.

    Bolts come loose occasionally on things like my mudguards.

    In general my bike is simple, cheap and built for reliability at the expense of weight. I give it a check up just before winter kicks in (as mechanicals in the cold are no fun) and then service and replace bits in spring once the gritters have gone away.

    Premier Icon whippersnapper

    I don’t want to tempt fate but so far I have been pretty lucky (another vote for Marathon Plus)

    Generally I just need to tension the chain (singlespeed). I can’t imagine this is related but I have had a rear wheel coming loose incident ๐Ÿ˜‰ Popped in too nearest bike shop to ask for a spanner.

    Other than that one puncture and replacement of brake pads which I see to myself. Oh, and my latest bodged mudguard tends to come loose.

    Premier Icon tthew

    Mini vee brake arms get gummed up/a bit corroded and need lubing and adjusting fairly regularly. Fix it myself.

    Punctureproof tyres so no issue there and single fixed gearing also for the win.


    Mostly, we see punctures, often caused by worn/perished tyres. Worn out brake pads are probably next, followed by buckled wheels and broken rear axles. Outside of that, most other failures are due to lack of cleaning and maintainence, resulting in everything operating in a sea of grinding paste.


    Nothing so far (touches wood). I maintain it pretty well – regularly (well, fortnightly is regularly for me) cleaned and lubed, bolts checked, gears/brakes adjusted etc. 100 miles a week in general, although not so much the last couple of weeks!


    Mechanicals I have are mainly punctures – fixed myself roadside with a spare tube.
    Have had one broken crank (snapped) – phone call home to pick me up from work then new cranks fitted by me.
    One pedal coming loose (thread in crank arm stripped), limped home and new cranks
    One snapped chain – phone call home.
    Broken spokes – ride on and fix whenever
    brake pads worn – ride on and fix whenever
    Snapped handlebars (25 years old!) – limped home with one sided bars
    Wheel rim split – limped home and spare wheel fitted

    All in 12 years, 120 miles/week commuting so not that bad really


    Semi regular jobs on the commuter for me are/have been fixing punctures, freeing stuck v-brakes, changing brake pads, tightening bolts, tightening up cables, occasionally replacing cables/outers.
    Of these it’s really only punctures that ever need sorting on the spot.

    I’d imagine a lot of LBS trade though is stuff that people on here would tweak when it stops working well, but that most people will just take to the shop when it stops working altogether.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth

    When I was doing a bit of commuting (c170 miles pw), only bother was worn drivetrain and punctures (usually through worn out tyres).

    Fixed everything myself, tho it was usually left caked in road grime and associated filth.

    Frame has now cracked. Loved that bike.

    Premier Icon OwenP

    All generally done at home, but the commuter generally doesn’t need much love,which is good as I have no enthusiasm for polishing a brompton.

    Having said that, the Sturmey Archer hub died yesterday (seized) and i can’t be bothered with that, plus its only a year old, so that will be going back to the LBS.

    The other shop worthy mechanical was when the back end fell off the brompton (snapped pivot, bent stays) as i overtook a bus. That went to the LBS too.

    Punctures used to be common before i got some marathon plusses.


    the odd puncture, including one where a nail went through my rim.

    Jockey wheel fell off once too ๐Ÿ˜ณ

    Premier Icon footflaps

    Single speed, so no drive train issues ever.

    I put latex in the inner tubes so punctures seal themselves, so don’t get those either…..


    had a puncture today. Recently swapped from backpack back to panniers, forgot to move my tyre levers across. Used two forks from the work kitchen, why do I only get punctures when I’m late off?

    mechanicals get fixed road side, I also try to help other cyclists where I can.


    Punctures, 1-2 pa, mainly a sign that tyre needs replacing,

    Only serious one was a rear rim wearing through. Limped home and got a spare bike out. Bought a new wheel from a LBS.

    That is in 10 years, 50+ miles per week. Its not a bad life cycling to work!


    had the tyres disintegrate this week, monday lost the front and tuesday the back, and i mean disintegrate the rubber peeled off the carcass, but they had done a good few thousand miles and were light tyres so to be expected, other than that the odd puncture, but i tend to view punctures as a warning that the tyres need changing.

    Premier Icon ton

    30yrs commuting. snapped chains and punctures. fix em myself.
    oh, and a split rim about 15yrs ago.


    I’d suggest that this audience of mountain bikers will be a pretty self-selecting audience of competent trail fixers/bodgers. Whether you’d have the same answers from a more casual, commute-only cyclist, I don’t know. Doubt it though… most bike shops seem to do a good trade in fixing basic punctures.

    Premier Icon aazlad

    Brompton commuter here.

    Lots of punctures led me to using slime in the inner tubes. Not sure whether its the volume of glass on Manchester roads or a Brompton thing. Only other mechanicals in two years have been consumables including new chain and brake blocks. I do all my own maintainence and repairs.

    Wouldn’t swap cycle commuting for driving if I was paid to drive. Love it.


    1 snapped spoke and 1 puncture in 2 1/2 year


    punctures and worn out brake pads mainly. I try and keep on top of the maintanence: single speed pompino with front disc makes this easy.

    a few times i have had the embarassing problem of getting a punture and pulling out an entirely innapropriate tube. 2.4 tyre 23c tube etc! phone call home then!

    old bike was a nightmare compared – loose ball hubs and BB needed rebuilding monthly through winter! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Premier Icon Burger

    3000+ miles commuting this year – one snapped spoke (crappy roads + poorly tensioned wheel) got home before I knew I’d done it. Then recently one puncture (tyre well worn down) half way to work, so new tube put in.
    Can’t remember anything more serious in the last few years except a jockey wheel falling out and getting lost along with its bolt. Thankfully within 1/2 mile of a bike shop that salvaged bits from a dead mech and wouldn’t take a penny for them. Cool.


    Whats the most common breakage you have on your bike?

    I ride a fixed wheel road bike. What’s a mechanical? The transmission is essentially maintenance free and lasts 1000’s of miles.

    I have fixed a couple of punctures this year, none recently, and had a spoke replaced and the wheel retensioned by a shop.


    Mostly worn pads and things seizing up as it does not get cleaned very often
    No punctures since Useing specialized armadillo tyres



    I was the same until the day

    Ping ping ping

    The chainring teeth broke off ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    To be fair they were well worn – and the ring had been turned

    Id had my moneys worth ๐Ÿ™‚


    Mostly just punctures. If on nearer to home I swap the tube, If nearer to work I get someone to come and pick me up.

    Premier Icon ahwiles

    punctures – i’ve got puncture resistant tyres (marathons), but they’ve been cut up all the broken glass, and now bit of glass/sharp flint are finding their way through old slashes in the tyre.

    i’m getting a puncture every couple of weeks.

    brake pads coming to the end of their life mid ride – this is my fault, i knew it was worn down, but ignored ’till the weekend’…

    er, that’s it.

    i fix it all myself.

    i’d gladly swap biking for driving – if i could afford the car + insurance + petrol..

    Premier Icon composite

    I have only ever had punctures while commuting and generally that’s all I remember seeing other commuters having issues with. I repair all my own mechanicals.

    I stopped to help a guy once and he clearly had a broken free hub. He had no idea what that meant, but when I told he was walking the rest of the way his face dropped. ๐Ÿ˜


    Actual mechanicals – Mainly punctures.

    Gears slipping, bolts becoming loose, brake pads wearing out are all just signs of use.


    same here, couple of punctures so went for armoured tyres which helped. now changed jobs and commute mostly offraod using Schwalbe Land Cruisers which are great. CX bike. The only time I’ve not fixed it roadside was when the linkage was worn on the Vee brakes and on braking the metal went into the tyre, ripped tyre. As it was after 6, no bike shops open so walked to the train station and picked up.

    One thing that annoys me, is that on the occasions I’ve been doing mechanical repairs at side of road no other passing cyclists ask if I need a hand… bloody londoners ๐Ÿ˜‰ So now if I see anybody fixing I’ll always ask if they need anything.


    I’ve had many punctures, mainly repaired myself although I have sometimes run for a lift.

    The worst I had was a broken freehub. I tried to fix with zip ties to make it fixed and that lasted for about 100meters. So I ended up having to run about 6 miles to work! I’ve also snapped a chain, luckily I had just arrived at work. I knew it was on it’s last legs, but the chain was so badly snapped that there was no fixing it! Train home.
    My derailleur as also seized, although you can get along without gears. And cables seizing up in the cold as well.

    I’ve stopped and helped a lot with the same problems. So I think they must be fairly common.


    i tend to try and fix as much myself when it goes wrong but either i’ve run over a black cat or walked under a ladder recently as everything seems to be going wrong…
    riding into work several weeks ago my rear mech decided to give up the ghost in spectacular fashion…it snapped in half, wrapping the chain round the cassette and snapping a spoke and bending the mech hanger. i managed to remove the broken bits at the roadside and managed to sort of convert it to singlespeed of sorts and rode very gingerly into work. back wheel was also buckled, but obviously the chain is never going to be the correct length for singlespeed duties like this and the chain eventually jumped up the block where it snapped. i managed to put the chain back together for it to only happen again, but by this time i was near the office so i managed to walk the remaining half mile.
    managed to get most of this repaired at the LBS.
    now i’ve added semi slick tyres to the bike i’ve had loads of punctures but thankfully they’ve near the house so i’ve been able to repair them at home..but i’d like to catch the knob who keeps breaking glass on the road.
    at llandegla a fortnight ago i managed to snap a bolt on the seatpost after 2 miles on the black run…tried zip ties to secure the saddle but this lasted another half mile before they snapped and the saddle fell off so i had to complete the rest of the route with the saddle and post stuffed in the camelbak :(….got some funny looks that weekend off other riders…i’ve managed to source the parts i need to repair the post from the manufacturers in canada so all i have to do is order them… ๐Ÿ˜€
    and now i’ve managed to round off one of the bolts at the bottom of the fork lowers that secure the 20mm axle and need to find a replacement bolt…another trip to the LBS beckons this weekend… ๐Ÿ˜ก

    Premier Icon GrahamS

    Just puncture here. (Fixed myself obv)

    I use Conti City Contact which are tough and impervious to most trail debris – but I ran right over a broken bottle in the dark and got a huge shard of glass right through the tyre.

    Other than that, none really. Gears can get a bit vague with age and gunk but I run gripshift so it is easy to trim the front mech to compensate.

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