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Continuing Headset Saga - Part 2: The Stem Who Shagged Me(3 posts)

Continuing Headset Saga - Part 2: The Stem Who Shagged MeMeDotOrg
May 30, 2001 9:26 AM
On Sunday, at Mile 30 of a 70 Mile ride I start hearing a clicking sound from the front of my bike, (Bianchi Veloce, bought last September) which becomes progressively worse throughout the ride. Monday I rode to the only bike store I could find open on Memorial Day. The verdict: the headset is going south (have about 4500 miles on the bike). The guy at the bike store has me turn the front wheel while the bike is on the stand. Sure enough, there is a definite indent in the steering.

The next day, I take the bike back to the store where I bought it. I explain the situation. Decide (after some help with posts on this board) to bite the bullet and get a Chris King headset. Pick up in the afternoon (my pocket now well over $100 lighter) and.the click is still there.

Now I'm pissed (American-English translation: angry and upset). I take the bike back to the store. After flexing the front of the bike several times, the real cause is found: a fracture at the weld line at the bottom of the stem. The clicking sound was caused when the stem flexed and the crack rubbed. Visions of my handlebars falling off at 40 mph dance through my head. I've spent over $100 to fix the problem that didn't fix the problem. The bike shop agrees that this is an equipment failure to be fixed under warranty.

When I come back to the shop, they've fitted the bike with a large chrome-plated stem from a Bianchi Brava. (2 models down from my Veloce).

A couple of questions:

The guys at the shop said that this type of failure (cracked stem) is extremely rare. Should I insist that the stem be replaced with an original equipment ITM Forged Lite stem, or should I be worried that it could happen again? (I'm not some Clydesdale monster rider. My riding weight is 160-170 pounds and I'm 50 years old.)

Should I then go and replace the stem with something a little better,(Rittchey, Salasa, or ???). Any suggestions for <$60 stems? Thanks...
re: Continuing Headset Saga - Part 2: The Stem Who Shagged Mepeloton
May 30, 2001 9:33 AM
Just consider yourself very, VERY lucky that your old stem didn't let go during a ride. I would ask the shop to give me a shop credit of the value of the old stem toward a new stem of my choice. Then, you could either choose to go with a stem of equal value or spend the difference to an upgrade. Shops are usually open to this sort of warranty if you are nice about it. This should also be done because they misdiagnosed your problem the first time, and you didn't find what could have been a catestropic failure until after you spent $100, and risked yourself further by riding the failing stem. I would also tell them that I didn't feel comfortable on the Bianchi stem anymore due to the failure. For a stem under $50, I have owned a Ritchey in the past. It had a removable faceplate for easy servicability of the handlebars, and could be flipped upside down to increase or decrease the amount of rise the stem provided. It was a solid product for the money.
Thanks for the feedbackMeDotOrg
May 30, 2001 3:18 PM
What you say makes sense - I'll see if I can get a credit for the replacement stem and get a Ritchey...