Bicycle Lifespans: How Long Do Bikes Last (And Do Electric Bikes Die Faster?)

How can you keep your bike rolling for years?

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reviewed by Rory McAllister

Any proud bike owner should be concerned with its health and longevity.

A bike’s lifespan is determined by a combination of materials, maintenance, riding conditions, and above all, how well the bike is cared for.

There’s no hard and fast answer when asking how long bikes last. While moving parts may wear out and need to be replaced, a well-looked-after and carefully stored bike frame could last a lifetime regardless of its material, even with high mileage (excluding crashes).

However, a poorly-maintained bike left to rust outdoors may only last a few years (or less) before it’s beyond the point at which the frame really ought to be replaced, let alone its components.

The advent of electric bikes throws another element into the equation. While their frames and mechanical components may not age any differently from conventional bikes, anybody who’s owned a smartphone will know all too well how quickly electric devices can degrade.

With all that in mind, in this guide, we’ll be discussing the key factors that dictate how long your bike will last, whether it’s mechanical or electric, and outline the steps you can take to keep it in tip-top condition for as long as possible. We’ll be covering:

Graphic showing a bicycle on a blue background with a clock to illustrate how long bikes last.
Credit: BikeTips Staff

Bike Wear And Tear Explained

Remember that the conditions you’re exposing your bike to affect its lifespan.

Cycling in the rain, through muddy puddles, and over sandy trails will clog your drivetrain with nondescript gunk. Salted roads or salty sea air will also accelerate the corrosion of your parts.

And then there’s the terrain itself. Rough surfaces and (even worse) gaping potholes on your commute or regular training loop that rattle a bike frame aren’t doing you any favors longevity-wise.

Undulating hills will put more load through your drivetrain on the climbs and put your brake pads to work more on the downhill.

A rider’s physiology will also play a role here. A heavier rider exerts a higher load on the bike and requires more force in braking.

These factors are part of inevitable processes, not problems you should be looking to outright avoid.

If cycling required constantly avoiding puddles, salty sea air, rough surfaces, and hills, I’d do much less cycling, which is hardly the point, is it?

Just be mindful of how these conditions affect your bike, and when it might be especially important to make time for that post-ride deep clean.

And, of course, your chosen type of bike riding is going to involve different levels of wear and tear.

Mountain biking off-road by its nature is likely to involve more damage, more part replacements, and more cleaning than road biking.

The increased demand is accommodated into the bike’s design, but no suspension system in the world can approximate smooth road riding over the course of a season.

In a discipline like MTB, shorter bike lifespans come with the territory.

Now we’ve covered what factors will determine the life expectancy of a new bike, we’ll talk about the lifespan of a bike frame materials.

Close-up of a titanium bike frame.

How Long Do Different Bike Frame Materials Last?


High-quality steel-framed bikes can be family heirlooms, and with proper care, they’ll last indefinitely.

One of steel’s main advantages is its tolerance. Barring extreme cases, steel will bend before it breaks, meaning damage can be repaired and buffed out.

Chromoly (CroMo) or steel frames are high quality, offering high tensile strength with a good amount of tolerance. This means they’re durable and will last.

High tensile (Hi-Ten) frames are cheaper grade and intended for cheap mass production, and therefore less durable.

Steel used to be king and it’s what those nice vintage bikes you see on Instagram are made of, rolling proof of its longevity as a material.

Accidents and crashes aside, your only real worry with steel is rust: salt and water are not your friends, and as always take care to keep it dry when in storage.

Of all bike frame materials, steel has been around the longest, it’s the most researched, and proof is in the pudding that with proper care it lasts. Old bikes, if they’re also quality bikes, can still run just as well as the day they rolled out of the workshop.


After a short stint as the go-to material for high-end racing bikes in the ’90s, aluminum has now settled into position as the material of choice for most beginner and intermediate bike frames, offering an appealing compromise between performance, price, and durability.

Unlike vintage steel bikes, it’s not all that common to see aluminum bikes from the 70s and 80s out on the road. Whilst it certainly has other advantages, you don’t enjoy a huge amount of longevity with aluminum.

Put simply, this is because aluminum alloys can’t flex in the same way steel can, so the vibrations and bumps of regular use will see aluminum frames fatigue more quickly over time.

The general consensus is that you can expect around 5-10 years of regular use before an aluminum bike frame starts to show its age, subject to the conditions and maintenance factors we covered above.


In terms of longevity, titanium is something of a wonder material. It has a remarkable fatigue-to-strength ratio thanks to a good degree of flex, and at purer grades, it is rust-resistant.

Titanium frames can last a lifetime, although like any bike, they require a degree of care and attention. Given their premium price point, cyclists should hardly need reminding of that.

Given you stay on top of regular maintenance, a titanium bike is an investment that can last generations.

Carbon Fiber

Conversations around carbon fiber’s longevity are marred with horror stories of dramatic cracks or invisible imperfections that cause catastrophic failure.

Whilst these things happen and need to be appreciated, there is also a certain amount of tall poppy syndrome at play here.

There is a tendency to think of carbon fiber as an eggshell that will crack under pressure, but that’s not typically the case.

Whilst carbon fiber doesn’t offer the same degree of flex as steel or titanium, carbon fiber frames will easily withstand bumps and vibrational forces just as well as any material. The degree of force needed to crack carbon would cause similar damage to an aluminum frame.

The important point is that when a carbon fiber frame does crack, it’s not always visible and should be examined by a specialist.

So while a carbon bike frame can last for decades, you should have the frame inspected professionally roughly every five years, and immediately after a crash.

Graphic showing how an electric bike works on a blue background.
Credit: BikeTips Staff

How Long Do Electric Bikes Last Compared To Conventional Bikes?

Electric bikes are heavier and integrate more complex bike components than regular bikes.

Allowances for this are priced in and you can expect a good-quality electric bike to last around 10 years, with proper maintenance.

There are a few small differences to bear in mind when approaching e-bike maintenance.

The disc brakes will probably see a little more action than your average road bike, so look into getting your brakes serviced roughly every 6000 miles.

As well as replacing the chain and cassette, with an e-bike you’ll also have to change the battery.

Typically, you can expect an e-bike battery to last up to about five years, and roughly 1000 recharges, before needing to be replaced. This figure may be increased or decreased depending on the quality of the manufacturing and how well the bike is cared for.

When the time does come, it’s crucial to recycle your battery. The e-bike retailer which sold you the bike should do this for you.

The good news is that e-bike motors have a long life span, generally outlasting the rest of the bike, so there’s a good chance you’ll never replace yours.

To guarantee this and preserve the health of the motor, avoid allowing the battery to go fully flat, and never store it with a drained battery.

That aside, the best way to look after the motor is to look after the rest of the bike. If the bike is in good working order, the motor won’t ever have to work harder than intended.

What Will Happen To My Bike As It Gets Older?

Time passes, and bikes age, but the idea of a definite and inevitable expiration date for a bicycle is somewhat of an oversimplification.

Assuming your bike isn’t suddenly damaged in a crash, its aging and degradation will happen very slowly and won’t be defined by a single moment.

Have your bike looked over by a professional once every five years or so to get a professional assessment and flag any potential issues you might encounter.

Bikes tend to fade away rather than burn out. I don’t personally know anyone who waits until their current bike has been ridden into the ground before buying a new one if they have the means.

Much in the same way that today’s favorite T-shirt is tomorrow’s pajama top, today’s summer racer one day becomes tomorrow’s winter bike or gets sold secondhand to finance its successor.

Bikes last as long as you choose to ride them, and after this explainer, you’re best equipped to understand why your bike ages and when it might be time for a reshuffle.

Cleaning a bike after a ride to extend its lifespan.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

How To Make Your Bicycle Last Longer


A bike is like a house plant – owning one comes with a little work and dedication.

Maintain your tire pressure, keep components clean with proper lubrication, service your brakes, replace your bike chain every 3000 miles or so, and replace your cassette after every third replacement chain.

And keep your bike properly: dry, protected against it toppling over or being bumped, and, of course, as safe from theft as possible.

Good Cycling Technique

Maintenance continues into time spent on the bike too: think about how you cycle, and aim to ride sustainably.

Most importantly, be kind to your drivetrain.

Drivetrains are built for consistent, gentle force at somewhere between 70-100 rpm. Do yourself and your bike a favor and accommodate.

Shift gears preemptively rather than reactively, be mindful of your gear ratio, and whenever possible drop gears instead of standing in the saddle.

In short, keep the pressure off, and don’t crush your pedals and chainrings underfoot until they creak – your bike won’t appreciate it.

Aside from that, there are the obvious ones, avoid those bumps that can give you a pinch flat, corner in control, don’t let it fall over, don’t crash it.

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One of BikeTips' experienced cycling writers, Riley spends most of his time in the saddle of a sturdy old Genesis Croix De Fer 20, battling the hills of the Chilterns or winds of North Cornwall. Off the bike you're likely to find him with his nose in a book.

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