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LBS Sold me an unsafe bike- Follow Up...(18 posts)

LBS Sold me an unsafe bike- Follow Up...DoctorNurse
May 28, 2002 7:25 AM

This is a brief follow up to the earlier message I left a week ago about a wheel that almost had a catastrophic failure related to coming badly out of true on a 34mph descent after less than 100 miles of use.

I wrote a very serious, detailed, pointed and quite salty letter to the LBS' manager and sent it via certified mail to communicate the gravity of the situation. The letter recounted the situation, related my complete dissatisfaction, and left no doubt that while I recognize that such mechanical failures were possible, their occurence on such a premium ride (Pini Opera) was unacceptable, given that the shop assured me that this bike was ready to ride as hard as I could ride it. Additionally, the shop set the expectation that these wheels would be strong enough to withstand hundreds of miles with only minor truing.

The day he recieved the letter, the LBS owner called me personally, and was profusely apologetic. He also showed my letter to the shop wrench who assembled my bicycle who was also very apologetic, and quite upset that the episode happened on a pair of his wheels.

He also explained to me at length that these mechanical malfunctions *do* happen, albeit infreqently in new bikes until the spokes "seat" themselves properly. He of course offered to repair/replace the wheels gratis, and also offered to let me use his personal wheels (same tire/hub/rim/spoke combo- a *big* driver for me choosing this setup) for as long as it takes to repair my pair.

(While I accepted their apologies at face value and appreciated their sentiments, if I had fallen or seriously hurt myself because of their wheels/lack of information about the "Seating" process, NO sentiments could fix me, and we would have had a VERY different sort of conversation.)

Additionally, I told him that had I been properly informed of the need for new wheels to "seat" themselves properly in the first few hundred miles, then my decisions on riding may have been different. I suggested that given that my life is often dependent on the mechanical function of my machine that in future he could educate his new high end bike purchasers about what to expect, and modify the performance expectations of new equipment until the bike has been properly broken-in (He told me that my bike was ready to join a pro-level peloton the day I purchased it). I also suggested that in future he inform his purchasers of *all* the possible mech failures that *may* occur. He agreed to think about it, but promised that I would get a much more comprehensive discussion when I returned to the shop.

All in all, I am pleased with the outcome partially because my wheels would be fixed, and partially because I feel that the LBS people know that while I have no problem being reasonable, and no problem spending premium dollars in their shop it is clear that for those premium, no compromise dollars, I demand premium, no-compromises service and mechanical function, and have no qualms making those demands...I made it clear that if that shop can't meet my standards, I'll find another shop that will, and happily these guys seem to be stepping up to the plate...

Thanks for all of your time, advice and help!


Were these shop-built wheels?Alex-in-Evanston
May 28, 2002 7:34 AM
Forgive me if this was mentioned in your first post.

If these were say... Campy or Mavic pre-built wheels, what kind of obligation would the shop have prior to handing them over? I would assume they have almost none, aside from perhaps a visual inspection.

Curious to hear other opinions.


my opinionSteveO
May 28, 2002 8:02 AM
Certainly a bummer for this to happen; and im certainly glad noone was hurt in this incident... however i DO think some responsibility should fall on the user:

A bicycle is merely a machine. Machine failures are commonplace today and throughout history. In my opionion, a 34 mph decent on untested equipment is risky, to say the least. I personally, never would have done it; regardless of whether its a 'premium pinot noir' or a 'huffy strider'.

The LBS's biggest mistake was making a statement such as 'peloton ready' (or whatever he said), but even that is ambiguous and open to individual perception and interpretation.

I'm glad to see the shop is making good on this, but to suggest '*all* potential failures which *may* occur'; c'mon, i can just see it:

1036) The saddle rail *may* break
1037) The stem *may* pull from the headtube
1198) The bottle-bosses *may* unscrew, allowing the cage to fall into the wheelpath


we all know we're taking risks careening down a road at 35 mph. Lets not blame others for our failure to properly test and break in equipment.
Properly Test???Ride-Fly
May 28, 2002 9:34 AM
We are not talking about a totally new design concept in wheels nor are we talking about high performance fighter jets. We are not test pilots. We shouldn't need to "properly test" and "break in" wheels, stems, frames, tires, etc. These things are supposed to work as advertised. They should handle the rigors of everyday riding use and that includes 35 mph, even 45 mph descents! It is not as if the rider was trying to test the structural limits of his new wheels by using them for cyclocross or dirt jumping. Granted mech failures do occur but how should we go about trusting our equipment??? How long of a period will it take before you trust your equipment?? I wonder if this was his first descent at 35 mph? Or was it his 5th, or 10th??? I agree that there are way too many people that don't take responsibility for their actions, but I don't see how this can be seen as a case of blaming others, i.e. the LBS.
May 28, 2002 9:44 AM
actually, id probably take more chances in a high-performance fighter than with a handbuilt spoked bicycle wheel;

im not trying to say the rider was to blame for the incident; but i AM trying to say i wouldnt descent at 35 without getting several hundred miles under the wheels AND a check of spokes/truing.

As far as the things being supposed to work as advertised....ive NEVER seen a wheel advertised as being capable of withstanding 35 mph decents w/out appropriate tuning/adjustments.
May 28, 2002 10:19 AM
Seems to me that companies wouldn't advertise the ability to withstand 35 mph descents because: (a) there's nothing magic about the 35 mph threshhold; and (b) 35 mph just isn't all that fast. I don't actually have any experience flying high-performance fighter jets (or any other kind), but it does seem to me that there's nothing really extraordinary about going 35 mph on a bicycle. I don't live in the mountains by any stretch of the imagination but I can hit 35 mph by coasting down the hill that's right in front of my house in suburban Virginia. Now, I guess I do agree that a short spin is in order on new wheels just to make sure that they're still spinning true after the first little jolt, but unless somebody lives someplace pretty flat it seems like it might take quite a bit of effort and planning to log several hundred miles without hitting 35. Either that or a couple of extra sets of brake pads.

I guess I think that new wheels should not have done this and that the guy was right to complain. Given that he's not hurt, and the shop seems keen to make amends, I don't see a further problem.
May 28, 2002 10:45 AM
Certainly the guy had a right to complain. I certainly would have. My initial point was merely that potential catostrope (going down at 35) may be avoided altogether with a little proper maintenance.

as far as 35, i agree thats not all that 'fast' relative to some descents, but it's extemely fast for skin-on-pavement in anything less than motorycle equipment. For this reason, i (personally) think it's wise to check/test new equipment myself, or at least have it 'tuned' by another after a few break-in rides. I'm not trusting a piece of equipment just because I paid an LBS $XXXX for it.

Lastly, Like you, i do not see a further problem; it looks like everything worked out nicely; someone asked for other opinions, so i gave mine.
my opinionDoctorNurse
May 28, 2002 10:00 AM
Fair enough....

But in my defense, as I told the LBS, I was angrier about the expectation that was set than the actual failure itself.

I say this especially in light of their policy of extensive discussions with the buyer about component choices etc, however, they do not spend a fraction of that time discussing the break-in procedure. As a new cyclist, this information does not come by osmosis, and I thought that the LBS told me everything I needed to know.

Additionally, the expectation was set that this type of failure was not to be expected, given that the shop certified that the bike *was* thoroughly test ridden and was given a clean bill of health. To be honest, given that my other bikes were so reliable from the get-go I did'nt think that the wheels would be at risk to going out of true so quickly...

In the final analysis, sure, I accept some of the blame, but I'm sorry, the LBS does not get a pass on this one. Why? Let's use a parallel example...

If I as a physician gave you a service by prescribing you some medication, and *failed* to mention the possible side effects of that medication's, then I would be in a bit of a bind. If those side effects, however rare, affected you *unexpectedly* you would justifiably be a very unhappy customer, and very mad at me regardless of whether or not you have a responsibility to check the labels, know what goes into your body, know your allergies, etc. The reality of the situation is that a part of the fee I am exacting from you is for my opinion, my clinical expertise, and guidance in ensuring that your treatment will be as productive and as benign to you as possible. Consequently, it is my professional duty to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment because you depend on my expertise to assist your ability to make an informed decision to take or not take the medication.

I reckon that this is the same situation, and I hold the LBS to the same standards of information disclosure and professionalism that I expect in a situation where expert knowledge is dispensed at a price.
This information is what I did not recieve from the LBS and is the point on which I refuse to compromise...

Thanks for your opinion though!

fair enough...SteveO
May 28, 2002 10:34 AM
admittingly, my opinion could be slightly biased... what was 'common knowledge' several decades ago has become 'privledged information' these days. This kinda goes back to a discussion last week where i mentioned that at one time all 10 year olds knew their bikes inside and out; today, most adults dont.

This is true with biking and many other aspects of life; we're becoming insulated from important details in our race for premium/flash/convenience/whatever;

Years ago, the a shop would assume (and have every justification in doing so) that someone purchasing such a bike had (fairly) extensive experience in maintaining a bike. So do we now blame the industry, for 'forcing' such extremeties (go-fast mentality and super-light componentry) on the populace?
Do we blame the shop, for not updating his assumptions to accommodate the newer generations/attitudes?
Do we blame the rider, for bypassing what many consider important details in knowledgebuilding? Do we chalk it up to 'lessons learned'?
Who knows?

Anyway, i'm glad noone was hurt and youre getting theyre taking care of you,

Were these shop-built wheels?pa rider
May 28, 2002 10:03 AM
I bought a pair of kyrium 2002 at christmas and my LBS personally checked the wheel for trueing, plus adjusted the wheels on my bike.

I think all LBS should check the wheels, before leaving the bike go out the door. There was an LBS, awhile back, who got sued because he didn't adjust the customers headset correctly.
The customer wrecked his bike because he didn't know or was told that the headset will come loose after a few rides. The court honored the customer the decision.

My point is that the LBS knows that machine built wheels aren't the greatest or strongest, but should figure that if it was there bike. Wouldn't they check the spokes for tension before they take the bike out? My LBS built me a new wheel in february and said bring it in after 100 to 200 miles.

Better to be safe than get in a lawsuit.

Just my 2 cents.
These were shop-built wheelsDoctorNurse
May 28, 2002 10:11 AM
I think that this story (if accurate) proves my point...And these *were* hand built/laced/trued wheels, all done on site at the LBS
These were shop-built wheelscurlybike
May 28, 2002 10:19 AM
Seems the builder needs some instruction on proper building of todays high stress wheels. 8-9-10 speed wheels are very demanding of competence.
Good deal! Good on ya.Sintesi
May 28, 2002 10:15 AM
I'm glad they owned up didn't give you any guff. You were sooo in the right on this. They messed up and hopefully your rational (yet semi-intimidating) complaint will keep them on their toes in the future. When you get a super bike like an Opera one's expectations for performance and service is justifiably very high.
Sounds like they felt bad about the whole deal and nobody's perfect -- they'll probably be a great shop for you from here in out.
re: Even if...jrm
May 28, 2002 11:45 AM
They failed to mention the seating spoke thing i would think that they would have told you about having hte wheels retensioned after 100 miles of so...
Spoke seating after a couple HUNDRED miles?brider
May 28, 2002 12:08 PM
What are they on? Man, it only takes a few miles to get the spokes to unwind, if it hasn't been done on the build-up. Then you just re-true, and you're pretty much done. I built all the wheels I ride on (excluding the Specialized Tri-Spokes), and I've NEVER had a problem like this. I build them up, ride them once or twice on short rides, re-true, and I'm DONE. Ridden on them for years with no problems. The ONLY repair I've had to make was for a couple alloy nipples that broke (replaced with brass). I'd have to REALLY ask how competent the builder is if it takes a few HUNDRED miles to "break in" a set of wheels.
I agree!rollo tommassi
May 28, 2002 12:24 PM
With the advent of mass-produced factory built wheels, and bikes coming with pre-built wheels, I really worry that the typical LBS mech doesn't know how to build even the simplest wheel.

Could this be a dying art?
if your paying serious dough ...Fender
May 28, 2002 12:27 PM
if your paying serious dough for a new bike from a LBS, your better get your money's worth, which means not having your wheels fall apart/headset coming loose/etc..
even you buy a $100 bike you still shouldn't have these problems.

its like when you buy a new car.. if you decide to drive of the lot with a brand new benz and want to drive at over 100mph and the engine explodes... you shouldnt' have other car owners telling you that theres a "break in" period. thats why you "test" it before you sell it.
the LBS was clearly at fault!!!
I'm glad you got such a good respose from them.. just make sure you don't but any more wheels from them..jejee
A word about wheelsAlexx
May 29, 2002 4:53 AM
If these were properly made, hand-built wheels, they would require ZERO mileage to seat. Even a reasonably competantly built machine wheel should seat within a few hundred yards, going plink-plink-plink all the way. No, this wheel was grossly undertensioned. If it was the fault of a machine-operator somwhere in China, the wheel manufacturer owes you a new wheel. If it is the result of a bike mechanic screwing up, then the shop owes you a new wheel, and none of your return business, since they let somebody build a wheel who didn't know what he's doing. If it's the fault of a WHEELBUILDER, I'd want to tell everybody in town what happened! This is much more than a mistake-this shows reckless disregard of customer safety, and should not be tolerated!