Life Expectancy

I could tell you the life expectancy of a typical American, man or woman. I could do the same for a typical Norwegian. I could tell you the life expectancy of a typical Blackfoot man of 1890s Montana, and do the same for a typical peasant of Medieval England. I could tell you the life expectancy of the typical male or female of a nomadic European Neanderthal. If i couldn't tell you those life spans i could, at the least, dig up the information quite quickly and easily. 

What is a little more problematic is finding the life spans of different makes, models and materials of handlebars, crank arms, bolts, forks, wheels and hubs, even frames. 

Of course, even if i did know how long a certain component should last, i am not sure that, by itself, would be enough to convince me to run out and buy a replacement. I don't replace old components very frequently and have never had a significant failure (knock, knock, i rap on the desk). Things are usually replaced before they reach the point of failure. The ever-evolving world of bicycling means that we often want the latest best of anything, or everything. Those things that will help us go faster, or move with greater comfort and efficiency. The strategy may keep our bank accounts low, but it also serves as a hedge against the potential of failure. I have been on rides, and in races, where handlebars have snapped in half, when brake cables and chains have snapped, and seat post bolts given way. I don't know if those things were new and flukes, or past their primes and ready to go.

I do keep fairly close tabs on my bike's tires, pay attention to warning signs such as creaks and squeaks and, when i do get around to maintenance and cleaning, i keep a look out for cracks and unusual wear. Never-the-less some of the parts on my bikes are getting up there in years, and I wonder what flaw might exist hidden from normal view. I wonder how many more pushes and pulls a given handlebar has left, when the next torque of a bolt will be the one too many. Not all the components going onto my most recent build are new, some are used, but how used? And even if they are new, that does not guarantee a long life lies in front of them.

None of this is to say that I think, or fret, about the life span of parts all the time; I doubt a person could ride with that hanging over their head, wondering when some bit of thin metal was going to give up the ghost.

Life expectancy - just one of the things I will be contemplating for a couple days out in Las Vegas this week during Interbike.