The product life cycles seem to be getting shorter with the result that parts for previous models – less than 1 year old – may be no longer available. This technological advancement has the benefit of providing us with better bikes, but it is making their lifespan shorter.
Covid has seen a big uptake in bike sales. The bike shops cleared stock and looked quite empty before Christmas. We now live with supply shortages of not only bikes but parts as well. Covid is, however, not the sole cause of these shortages.
I purchased a 2020 mountain bike just a year ago and discovered recently that the parts were no longer available in Australia as they had been replaced with a new series. The drivetrain or brakes consist of multiple components – approximately a dozen. All the components can be purchased in a kit known as a groupset. Generally, you would only want to replace one part and not all of them. Should one part not be available due to shipping issues or innovation decisions it results in a domino effect where many parts need to be purchased, not just one.
Fixing a bike may not be so simple, or cheap.
Just one example
There is a good review of a “new” product, Shimano mountain bike brakes, published by Singletracks Mountain Bike News, 29 October 2018. The review is quite glowing of the product for its quality and value for money – a strong point for Shimano in general. Although this review is only a little more than two years old the product is no longer available in Australia, as it is already technologically obsolete. The biggest online bike shops include Chain Reaction, Wiggle, Pushys, 99 Bikes and Bike Bug are all sold out. Already, the brakes and parts are no longer sold in Australia!
Review: Shimano MT520 Brakes are an Affordable 4-Piston Option for Enduro – Singletracks Mountain Bike News
“For your money, you get ceramic pistons, the MT501 lever with servo-wave and I-spec II compatibility, and the monster 4-piston caliper.”Review: Shimano MT520 Brakes are an Affordable 4-Piston Option for Enduro – Singletracks Mountain Bike News
“Developed for the rapidly expanding eMTB market, the BR-MT520 is Shimano’s latest 4-piston brake offering. Despite the design brief, this brake is also perfect for the budget enduro market, and will be coming specced on lots of entry level 2019 enduro bikes”Review: Shimano MT520 Brakes are an Affordable 4-Piston Option for Enduro – Singletracks Mountain Bike News
“For no-frills performance in the budget-conscious trail/enduro/downhill/eMTB market, these brakes, retailing for around $100 per wheel, are an absolute no-brainer for the money. Honestly, I’ve yet to use anything better in this price bracket.”Review: Shimano MT520 Brakes are an Affordable 4-Piston Option for Enduro – Singletracks Mountain Bike News
Between a rock and a hard place
If you have ever come off a mountain bike you will know this phrase takes on a whole new meaning – in more ways than one. Any damage to the bike may need parts. The availability of parts determines the longevity of the bike.
If the bike is meaningful enough and valuable enough it may be worth considering an upgrade of the components to something newer. A casual glance of the online shops shows that groupsets are not cheap and should you want someone to do the work for you, it may be even pricier. You better start flirting with your partner!
Perhaps it is a little similar to the thinking we face when repairing an old car. Repair the old one or sell it and buy something new with a warranty and all that. A tough decision.