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LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?(37 posts)

LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?DoctorNurse
May 19, 2002 8:45 AM

So 8 days ago, I purchased a Pinarello from a bike shop in the area to which I will move in a few days (names are not important to the story), and today, after less than 100 miles *BOTH* wheels are completely out of true and completely unrideable....So here was the situation...

I am bombing down a hill at 35 miles an hour, and the bike picks up a *wicked* shimmy, and a horrific clicking sound from both wheels....I limp to another bike shop on my route, and lo and behold! *BOTH* wheels require a *complete* wheelbuild...The LBS failed to put any loc-tite, or spoke prep on the wheels, and every-single &*^%! spoke is loose, broken, soft or otherwise unfit for riding (every-single-blasted-one!)...This is after like I said, 80 miles on some pretty good roads, and I only weigh 165lbs and am not a huge gear masher or anything...

The fact is that only the quality of the frame prevented me from doing a very nasty wipeout and depositing large swaths of skin on the road....Oh, by the way, I was 17 miles from home, and only got back home because a super-cool cat at the shop rescued me and gave me a ride...

Needless to say, I am freakin' hot and saltier than the mother&*^%! Dead Sea! I decided that before I stormed into the bike shop with a bat, kevlar body armour, my all black ninja outfit and a *very* negative attitude, that I would get some advice from some more seasoned, (and cooler) heads...

So what would you do? They gave me a clearly substandard, unsafe and shoddily prepared bike that could have seriously hurt me or worse so what should should I ask for? A new set of wheels, built by someone other than the cat who did these the first time? An upgrade in wheels/rims/spokes/hubs? A prebuilt factory wheelset? My money back? Free swag?

Let me say that otherwise I like the shop, and I am moving to the area in 10 days, and want to establish a relationship with them, join their team etc., but dammit, I almost DIED today, and that seriously compromises my good feelings about these cats!! What would you guys do? I would love to get some input...

Thanks, and please have a great day!

re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?gtx
May 19, 2002 8:54 AM
nothing to do with a lack of loc-tite or spoke prep--those wheels just weren't built/tensioned properly. Go back and demand a complete rebuild by a competant mechanic. If they don't make things right immediately demand a refund and find a new shop.
re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?Ian
May 19, 2002 9:12 AM
First, make sure that the LBS did build them. Many shops can order a pre-built wheel from distributors for less than they can build one. You can request whatever hub / rim / spoke combo you want and they will pass that request on. When they get the wheels in, they will be thrown in the truing stand for a very quick check, but that is about it.

Either way, you should be entitled to a re-lacing of the wheels. New spokes and maybe even new rims if yours were damaged. You were right to cool down before going there. Be polite, but be firm, state your case and what you would like done to solve the situation.

Good luck,
re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?Carbon fiber fanatik
May 19, 2002 3:08 PM is the deal. It dosent matter who built the wheels, it dosent matter where they came from. It is the sole responsibility of the lbs "wrench" to completely and without question, make the bike that is for sale, ready to ride. Period... Take the wheels back, with the bike. If you can only manage half ass service from those "cats", I would find another shop. Its your tail end on the line, should a malfunction occur, summer is finally coming, body cast or many wonderful hours on the ultimate transportation?
re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?Ian
May 20, 2002 3:37 AM
My point is that if the wheels were pre-built, there isn't a shop in the world that is going to check for spoke prep or loc-tite on the nipples. They should still take care of the problem, but I wouldn't be anywhere near as mad at them as I would if someone at the shop had built them. Let's say this bike was a Giant Team bike with Ksyrium's. What kind of check do you think those wheels are going to get? They will probably get thrown in the truing stand to make sure they are true. Sometimes that might even be checked by looking at the wheel between the brake pads. And that is it. If the tension is off a liitle, it won't be caught. If Mavic missed a step that is not visible (spoke prep), it won't be caught. If the wheel is true and it feels good on the test ride, there isn't a whole lot the LBS can do, but take care of the problem when it comes up.

I disagree,TJeanloz
May 20, 2002 4:18 AM
The ultimate responsibility in making sure a bike is safe has to rest with the rider. It is the mechanic's responsibility to provide reasonable assurances that the bike is safe- but because he doesn't know exactly what the application of the bike is, he can't shoulder the entire burden.

Clearly, in this case, whoever built the wheels erred. But the onus is on the rider to determine that his bike is safe.
I disagree,weiwentg
May 20, 2002 5:24 AM
good point. but the thing is, 8 months ago, I didn't even know that spokes had to be tensioned. I didn't know that seatposts could slip, I didn't know that stem bolts could strip, I didn't know that titanium had to be anti-siezed (or even what anti-sieze was). so, if this was a new rider, would you say the same thing?
May 20, 2002 5:27 AM
If a new rider buys enough rope to hang himself, is the rope salesman supposed to let him know that it's enough?

If the rider gets himself in over his head, it is still his responsibility to keep things safe. Even if he doesn't know how. If you bought a Ferrari, wouldn't you want to know something about its safety before you wound it up to 180mph? Even if you already know how to drive?
May 20, 2002 6:47 AM
I hate to sound like a bitter old goat. but if that's the prevailing attitude among bike store owners/mechanics, I am truly glad my first bike was a-ok. you don't think mechanics have a responsibility to ensure the bikes are rideable? that could have been fatal. had it been a novice rider, he might not have known what the hell to do. is it really that hard?
I'll grant you, of course, that some problems may not be immediately evident...
I absolutely think there is a responsiblity,TJeanloz
May 20, 2002 6:55 AM
I do think the mechanic has a responsiblity, and I KNOW that a mechanic would be really pained if somebody were hurt as a result of his ineptitude.

That said, I think the final, and ultimate responsibility lies with the rider.
I absolutely think there is a responsiblity, the shop.Andante
May 20, 2002 8:20 AM
If GM sells you a Corviar, and the wheels break off going aroung a curve, how is that the driver's fault. Poor design or construction can not be blamed on the operator. The shop has full moral, ethical and legal responsibilty to assure the product is safe and should correct the problem without question or charge. (they built the wheels, they rebuild them. If it is a prebuilt wheelset, they provide a new one and deal with the manafacturer directly.)
I think it's the driver's faultTJeanloz
May 20, 2002 8:27 AM
For example, I have a Nissan Pathfinder which has a wheel bearing that is beginning to 'give the signs'. It could seize at any moment and send me catapulting into the median and almost certain death. I'm too lazy to get it fixed. If I die as a result, it's not Nissan's fault.

It's not Nissan's fault even if I didn't know what a wheel bearing was or that it was beginning to have a problem. People need to take responsibility for their own actions. It is my responsibility to take precautions to look after myself, anytime I sub-contract that responsibility, I need to understand that there is some risk in having not done it myself- just like a parachutist who doesn't pack his own chute.
I think it's the driver's faultweiwentg
May 20, 2002 9:02 AM
'too lazy to get it fixed' doesn't quite apply here.
if you don't know that it needs to get fixed, then it should be the manufacturer's / builder's fault. an example here would be the Ford Pinto in it's early stages.
frankly, the idiots who pushed the design - I think the CEO at the time was Lee Iaccoca - should be imprisoned at the very least. the car was plainly unsafe, and Ford did all sorts of lobbying so that they could keep selling it. it caused at least a dozen burn deaths a year - poetic justice would involve the aforementioned idiots being burned at the stake.
but I digress, and that's an extreme example.
Are you a lawyer for Firestone? nmagilis ti
May 20, 2002 9:30 AM
Waitaminute hereDoctorNurse
May 20, 2002 10:46 AM
TJeanLoz, I think that you are getting a little confused. I purchased the bike NEW a WEEK before this incident happened.

I'm sorry, but when I pay premium cash for a premium ride and my LBS signs off on the bike that it is safe and 100% ready to ride, I EXPECT the bike to survive more than 80- miles before the wheels explode, don't you? I mean I am basically dealing with a manufacturer's defect here...THEY built the wheels poorly and then sold the bike to ME...How exactly does that become my responsibility? Its MY fault that they do a sh*&^y job of wheelbuilding? I mean, c'mon, that makes NO sense does it?

I mean, to use your metaphor, if you bought the Pathfinder NEW, and in your first 50 miles the bearing seized unexpectedly due to a manufacturers defect and sent you flying, you're saying that it was your responsibility to check the bearings before you got in the truck? Come on man, you should be able to be confident that the thing is well screwed together as the point of purchase, ESECIALLY when you're buying

I agree,TJeanloz
May 20, 2002 11:13 AM
I absolutely agree that the bike should be in good shape, that there should be no defects, and that it should all work right. But I maintain that it is the riders responsibility to check all of these things and ensure that his bicycle is in good working order.

It follows to the skydiving example; a new parachute should have no problems, no defects, but if I'm the guy strapping it to my back, I'm responsible to check it over first.
Fair enough...DoctorNurse
May 20, 2002 12:27 PM
I see your point, but I guess I thought that for the money I was paying spoke tension should not be on my list of things to think about...

SO, all that being said, what do you suggest I do? Say:
"Aw shucks, My bad. Nah, don't worry about replacing my wheelset because it was my fault that I was stoopid enough to pay premium dollars and actually expect you people to do your job. My fault, wont let it happen again!"

(Said with tongue firmly in cheek).

Sort of...TJeanloz
May 20, 2002 12:33 PM
Saying something like that might get the best response. But I've already outlined how I would handle it below...
Are you a lobbyist for the RJ Reynolds? NM.thatsmybush
May 20, 2002 1:09 PM
TJ, you're way off base.Ian
May 20, 2002 5:08 PM
I can understand why you may want to say that the ultimate responsibility lies with the rider, because you know bicycles and would always check your bike yourself. But, do you have to know and understand the mechanical workings of a bike to ride one? I don't think so. If you don't agree, then how about the other car examples given in other posts?

Lets say I go have my brakes done, I pay and drive away. 5 miles down the road, they fail and I crash. Is that my fault? Should I have pulled the wheels off in the parking lot and made sure they were done correctly? Should I even have to know whether they were done correctly to drive a car? No, I paid for a service which was improperly performed, their fault, not mine.

Lets say you go into a high rise building and it collapses? Your fault or the builders? Should you have pulled the blueprints from city hall to check that they are sound?

You fly on a commercial plane, the pilot is unstable, just went through a divorce and lost custody of his children, he crashes the plane. Your fault because you didn't do a backgroud check on him?

My point is that I could go on and on. There are a million things out there you have no control over and you trust that other people have done their best to protect your safety.

The shop should make good on the wheels whether they built them or a distributor did, but I don't think DoctorNurse did anything wrong here.

re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?MP
May 19, 2002 9:47 AM
The other respondents are correct -- you first need to get the details about who built the wheels, etc. Nevertheless, the LBS must make it right for you at no cost. If they don't, remind them how far you can spread your message about their shop on this site and others. They'll quickly do the math.
re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?weiwentg
May 19, 2002 11:12 AM
however, threatening them first will get you short-term compliance but will be bad in the long term. if they did build the wheels themselves, though, they richly deserve it.
re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?rollo tommassi
May 19, 2002 1:45 PM
A little odd that every spoke on both wheels went 'spaghetti'. Make sure the gauge of the spoke nipples they used are the same as the gauge of the spoke.

Get them to rebuild the wheels, and then never go to that shop again!!
re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?CAAD5 Kid
May 19, 2002 2:27 PM
First of all..don't go in there all GI JOe invasion like....go in and talk to the mechanic or one of the managers and explain the problem..find out did they buy the wheels from QBP, etc or did their mechanic build them? If the were bought from QBP or another supplier, were they tensioned or trued by the mechanic at the shop prior to installation? If so, they should have a method of checking who did the work. Once you both know what's going on..they'll tlak options about making you happy..don't demand won't get you as far as just being like h"ey, ya new bike.....I'm moving to the area and I really wanna like you guys but...." They'll get the idea and set it straight..if the wheels messed'll get some new ones maybe or if they're ok..let em rebuild em for ya.
find another shop...zooog
May 19, 2002 2:29 PM
I have to agree with the last poster...once you get your satisfaction and yours wheels rebuilt, find another shop. This kind of shoddy salesmanship cannot be tolerated.
re: LBS gave me an unsafe bike....What would you folks do?Trent in WA
May 19, 2002 3:32 PM

You've gotten really good responses so far. Let me add one more recommendation: If you think that you might be inclined to blow up when you talk to them, try writing them first. State the story as it happened, express your concerns and siappointment, emphasize your desire to continue having a relationship with them, and then tell them what outcome would make you happy. I say that because even you have every right to be furious here, a fairly calm, reasoned, and businesslike tone is more likely to get you compensated for what could've been a disaster than the immediate resort to machete knife and blowtorch. Write them, give them a few days to receive the letter, then pay them a visit with the receipt from the other shop. I wouldn't fixate on the presence or absence of wheel prep or loctite. You can look at Brandt's Bicycle Wheel for confirmation, but I don't know for sure that either is necessary for the proper building and tensioning of a wheel. I suspect that is, more than anything else, a symptom of the fact that that the mechanic didn't take much care with the prep and assembly of your high-zoot bike, which doesn't say much for their service department. If that's how they treat their best customers, avoid them like the plague henceforth.

Trent in WA
Have you everWoof the dog
May 19, 2002 11:15 PM
been in a situation where you come up to the seller/owner/whoever responsible for the stuff you use and explain to them fairly calm that you've almost gotten killed, and the response you get is like 'whats your point?'? You see, if you don't make it sound like it matters, like its a life/death situation you've actually been through, some morons will go on thinking that you are simply a nut who exhaggerates everything. They will not care at all for what you've told them simply because you'd sound too mellow, like "hey, by the way, i almost got killed today on your wheels, mind fixing them for me?" Of course you should be furious about this shit, you gotta let people know what could have happened! You gotta make it clear what is at stake here. What if you actually did go down and broke a neck or something? Then you'd be screaming.


god eht fooW
Grab the owner by the lapels and. . .Sintesi at home
May 19, 2002 5:06 PM
breathe hot gas into his face for half an hour. Face it, you could have been seriously injured (died...?), the best you can do is tell them to "f" off, make sure everyone in the shop hears it and never do business with them again. Honestly, can you trust them in the future? Do you really think you can be buddies with shmoes like this?

Pal, you bought a PINARELLO. Not a piece-of-crap, Weinman-rimmed, off-the-rack weekend path roller. Did you pay premium money? What if you got really hurt??? Maybe these guys don't belong in business.

I dunno, I have limited info here, you want to know what I would do? I'd give the guy a minute or two to apologise his ass off and maybe stick with him if he fired the dude who laced my rims. On top of that, yes, demand replacement in the superior kind.

From what you describe I'd want a little blood.
Grab the owner by the lapels and. . .CAAD5 Kid
May 19, 2002 7:12 PM
You could do what the above respondent said..but you don't know the circumstances of the problem than? If there's a problem with a mechanic, the owner/ manager will be happy to know and rectify the situtation and help you out too. If there's a problem with the distributor both the shop and the distributor wanna know. Also, there can be problems with the materials. For example, last year Cannondale had to warranty a whole bunch of rear wheels on cusotmer bikes because it turned out DT suplied them with spokes that the bend was too great and frequently broke there. DT's prob not Cannondale's and Cannondale dealers had a huge amount of flak coming at them till the problem was recognized. So don't rule out a similair situation. Go in with an open, calm mind and let work to fix the situation. If it was my shop I know you'd be more than happy with the way we dealt with it.
Grab the owner by the lapels and. . .Fender
May 19, 2002 7:34 PM
whats your shop's name and where is it?
Thanks for the replies...Here's what I'm gonna do..DoctorNurse
May 20, 2002 5:00 AM
Look, I really appreciate all of your suggestions, ideas, recommendations and empathy for my situation. I have decided to write a letter to the shop, have it sent by registered mail to really illustrate how serious I am about getting this thing resolved and to detail my disappointment in writing to show that I am not playing (and also to cover my a$$ in case this thing gets kicked up to a higher level of confrontation).

Then I will allow the LBS a chance to make things right with me with a new pair of wheels and some sort of assurance that the bike will be given to me this time in perfect working order (Rebuild done and signed off by the owner himself, with an extra year of free maintenance done by the owner etc.) As I said, I wanna like this shop, so I'll give them a chance to win my business back...

If however, they try to act like this is nothing or start wasting my &**%$! time, then I will immediately ask for a complete refund for the entire bike, and immediately let all of you know who and where this shop is. I would prefer not to make that information public before I give them a chance to redeem themselves....

Again, thanks guys! I really appreciate the opportunity to vent with a group of fellow cyclists, and I *will* keep you all posted...

Ride fast and be safe!

Just a word...TJeanloz
May 20, 2002 5:10 AM
Having been in the opposite shoes once (even good bike shops screw things up once in a while), let me just point out a few things.

Writing a confrontational letter will forever put a chasm between you and the shop owner/management. I don't really think that any amount of purchases you made, or time you spent in the shop after said letter would really get them to trust you. There will always be a nagging worry on their part that a lawsuit is coming every time they touch your bike. Yes, it will make them extra careful. But it will also keep them at arms length from you. They probably won't do you any favors- because they won't want to do anything 'quickly' for fear of not doing it perfectly. If that's the sort of relationship you want with your shop, write the letter.

The better tact, in my opinion, is to go in and calmly explain the situation to the owner or service manager. It is likely that they will be more embarrassed than anything else. If it had been me, and it had happened in my shop, I would have tried to appease you before you finished outlining the problem- let alone began demanding a solution. If you start in with how they almost killed you, they won't take you seriously. If you tell them what happened, they are smart enough to know that they almost killed you (they don't need you throwing it in their face).

So I say, play it cool if you want a relationship with the shop, something along the lines of: "I was cruising down this hill, and the spokes started coming loose, and I was lucky that I'm a skilled enough rider to get things under control before they completely came apart".
May 22, 2002 8:13 AM
I can't believe that you'll have any problem getting the shop to rebuild the wheels. I had the same thing happen with a set of Hugi 240/Open Pros that Colorado Cyclist built. There was never a question about whether or not they would take care of it. They were couteous, prompt to make the repair and even apologetic about the problem.

Being level headed is the smarter approach. Good on you.Sintesi
May 20, 2002 5:29 AM
I'd be hacked, hacked, hacked! Oh well that's me. I hope you geta sincere apology and satisfaction you sure deserve it.

Let us know how it turns out.
Really bad build job.vitusdude
May 20, 2002 6:46 AM
I build my own wheels. I do lightly grease the threads, but never heard of loctite on spokes.

You got a pair of really badly built wheels. They may have looked true, but the tension was all over for this to happen. What happened to you should not have happened in a hundred miles. Or a thousand.

You should ask for a rebuild at no cost to you with new spokes. The bike shop, if they have any integrity, should comply. (Not that I would ever trust their wheels again)
same thingDougSloan
May 20, 2002 9:45 AM
I had the same thing happen. I've never trusted those wheels since.

Fact is, though, no harm done. Take the wheels back and request a rebuild. If they are bad again, ask for a refund and go somewhere else.

What is it about the quality of the frame keeping you from crashing? I don't get that part.

same thingDoctorNurse
May 20, 2002 10:50 AM
Thanks for the advice Doug...

What I meant to say was that it seemed that the frame provided me just enough flex, stability and "give" to allow me the opportunity to get the rig under control again when the wheels exploded.

(I mean, I guess I could ascribe that to my bike handling skills, but that trip was so damnned hairy, that I can't believe that I pulled that save off! :-)

Thanks again...