In the past you have conducted several informative handlebar and component tests. I have a question with regard to the durability. My road racing bike is four years old and has a mileage of meanwhile 45,000 kilometres without fall. My bike has Ritchey WCS-parts (handlebars/stem/seatpost) made of aluminium. I weigh 68 kilograms. Can you give me a recommendation after how many kilometres the parts should be replaced for safety reasons? There is no indication given by the manufacturer.
Reply by Dirk Zedler, TOUR technology expert and bicycle expert
Bicycle components have improved a lot over the past years. In most cases they last a bicycle life long, which normally means a usage of ten years. In case you ride above-average, as is the case with you, these ten years are certainly a little bit optimistic. The so-called operational strength essentially depends on the fringe conditions. If your bike has not experienced a fall, the service life is for sure much longer than if the bike had toppled over every now and then. Further conditions are the proper torque values and extensive care. According to my experience, maintenance and care are the most important preconditions for the service life. Aluminium parts are susceptible to corrosion. It is therefore recommended that you undo the bar tape every two years at least, clean the handlebars and rewrap a new tape. The torque values have also a major influence on the operational strength of the handlebars. In case they were always strictly observed, I wouldn’t be concerned already with your body weight in mind. An absolute judgement is of course hardly possible from the distance. If the mentioned conditions are fulfilled, I would continue using the parts for another one to two years, if I were you. Regardless of that it is always advisable to keep an eye on the steerer tube made of carbon of a road racing bike doing hard service. As in the recent past carbon steerer tubes were more susceptible to defects than high-value components like Ritchey WCS. When you are going to inspect your bike in spring, you should therefore thoroughly check the steerer tube for cracks or deformations in the area of the clamping in the top.