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Frame failure poll. Ever warranty a frame? Al vs. carbon.(22 posts)

Frame failure poll. Ever warranty a frame? Al vs. carbon.StupidLight
Mar 16, 2003 7:46 AM
I was recently at a Manhattan bike shop and had an interesting conversation with a couple of opinionated but knowledgeable shop employees about the durability of road frames.

These guys insisted that lightweight carbon frames should be regarded as one season, ride-and-toss proposals, claiming that the epoxy bonding the frame together broke down much faster than any metal frame material.

It was their contention that even beercan-thin aluminum frames would hold up at least 5 seasons, and as an example, they claimed that Trek warranties far more of their carbon than Aluminum frames.

This line of reasoning flies in the face of everything I've ever heard or experienced. I've seen plenty of cracked or broken aluminum frames in my time (warrantied dozens of first-generation Cannondale 2.8 frames back in the day as a student shop employee), but never a broken carbon frame.

I'd like to take an informal poll.
Ever had a carbon or aluminum frame failure?
If so, please post make, model, and how long it lasted.
trek frames-bic pens (disposable)the bull
Mar 16, 2003 9:01 AM
Had a trek (al) bike never failed just paint bubbling and the cable routers came off-(trainer sweat).
Had a couple of people I know have bottom bracket problems on there oclv bikes.
I heard this was a fairly common at first but dont really hear about it these days.
I think treks are junk but thats just my opinion.
I wount not have one agian-I dont care if lance rides them.
I think thats the main reason why you see so many out there.
Bull's messages - rather silly (disposable)deHonc
Mar 16, 2003 2:32 PM
Get ya hand orf it Bull!

I can accept you don't like Treks - gee, you only needed to tell the world this 100 times - but to jump on some bandwagon and try to seriously state that their carbons bikes are junk and break etc is just foolish - why don't you examine the possibility that the reason you see plenty of them about is because they are good value for money? But no - according to bull, it just has to be because Lance rides one. And disposable??? I know people with original OCLV's that still have them - unlike other frames, they are still stiff and don't flex. These frames in my experience are the most resilient frames on the planet. I intend on keeping mine for ever! Yes - do you understand that concept - for ever! I don't need to go and spend another 3 or 4 thousand dollars every 5 years - I have a fine bike - a Trek OCLV - which, whether you accept it or not, will still be going strong in 2023. So how is that disposable?

To address some other concerns -In our club there are plenty of Treks - and quite a few OCLV's. None have broken - after 4 or so years of weekly racing and training. On the contrary, I have seen many Aluminium bikes with frame breaks (but none were Treks by the way) but I don't launch into some opinionated self diatribe about haw crappy x type bikes are. If you were really a rider, you'd realise all top end bikes are of a quality with different strengths.

bic pens write well!the bull
Mar 16, 2003 4:50 PM
I never had one run out of ink on me either.Does lance sign autographs with a bic pen.What about his wife hmm..she must be disposable too,I guess.Looks like lance is throwing every thing away!
I'm with 'ya Bull... nmMrDan
Mar 16, 2003 4:05 PM
Just curious...Horace Greeley
Mar 16, 2003 9:21 AM
Which shop were you at? I found that folks at Toga and related shops tend to provide various viewpoints reflective of their current stock and/or relative margin for the product. Not saying they aren't knowledgeable, just doing their job as salespeople.
Just curious...StupidLight
Mar 16, 2003 1:00 PM
I was at Sid's. Great product, service and vibe at that place.

At the beginning of a model year, I'm not so sure availability was at issue, nor do I think they stood to make significantly more by selling me a S-works aluminum over a 5900.

It did seem odd that they were so convinced that carbon is such a short lived material when most of the bikes they stocked had carbon forks and seatposts though.
I for one have been hammering an easton carbon post for four seasons now, and the only problem I've had is with the _aluminum_ clamp...
And people wonder why I like steel ...Humma Hah
Mar 16, 2003 11:22 AM
... I've broken handlebars, one fork, and broken or bent some cranks. I've bent a steel frame but was able to have it straightened. I've never broken a frame.

The most remarkable performer is the cruiser, a 1971 Chicago-built cantilever with electro-formed carbon steel frame. It has survived 7 years living outdoors year-round, has been MTB'd, downhilled, and BMXed off-road, has slammed into road obstacles at over 40 mph, and has done it all without a wimper.

It will be 32 years old this summer, and probably has around 30k hard miles on it.
Saw the worst failure ever.the Phantom
Mar 16, 2003 12:51 PM
Several years ago at a MTB race in Lynn Mass. I saw the worst frame failure ever. The bike was a low end Klein, the failure(s) were as a result of numerous missing penetrating welds starting at the down tube-head tube intersection. The bike actually self destructed, the resulting crash and burn shattered the frame into four pieces! The stunned and injured rider carried the bike remains out of the woods with broken top and down tubes in his pockets! Both hands carried the shattered front and rear sections of the bike, poor guy. He was a lucky survivor, injured, in shock, dazed and confused. Chris Chance (Fat Chance fame) and I conducted the post crash 'autopsy' to find missing or poor welds in several locations. The local Klein dealer arragantly gathered up the wreckage and assured that it would be covered under warrantee, total B.S!! The Klein Company later reneged and refused claiming abuse. The owner threated to have a photo published if not replaced immediatly, he was given a hard time. An MTB magazine published the pictures several months later. Bad way to do business (pre-Trek)Klein bicycle company, pathetic quality control indeed. Hopefully a one time thing, never repeated.
I had a girl friend who broke a composite Trek which was repaired and repainted perfectly without issue or problem under warrantee.
broken mtb frames ,count?the bull
Mar 16, 2003 5:03 PM
In that case I have broken 1 frame!
It was a first gen ellsworth truth,broke at the bottom of the headtube.One of the guys I ride with brakes everything
made from aluminum he can get his hands on.
2 ellsworths-1 rocky mountians-1 alpine star (anyone rember these things?)1 specalized m4.
Even though I broke the ellsworth and had so-so customer service I will ride there stuff I swaer by that truth frame.
Proof you can buy skill-ellsworth!
Mar 16, 2003 1:46 PM
My partner's LOOK had a failure within the first 50 miles, so we're hoping just a manufacturing defect (we just got a new frame no questions asked).

The front derailleur separated from the frame at the braze-on (yanked right through). I'm describing that poorly. Anyway, we're ASSUMING that all is well and it was just a fluke, but since it is our first experience with a carbon frame it was a bit unnerving.

PS -- I had a friend crack the headtube of a Litespeed MTB during 24 hrs of adrenaline, so I guess anything can happen.
Mar 16, 2003 4:06 PM
My local Look dealer has had very few warranty claims on Looks. Must've been a bad frame. The only frame that I've ever snapped was 531 steel. My Look has stood 3 seasons now and the only damage to it has been my fault (dropped a chain and scratched the BB and chainstay.)
Mar 16, 2003 1:50 PM
Aluminum isn't exactly the easiest thing to weld, much less beercan-thin aluminum (from my own experience as a kid building go-carts... don't ask!). I'm contrasting that to gluing...

I've never had a frame fail, but I never had a road bike that I've keep for five years either...
Gary Fisher Sugar (pic attached)shawndoggy
Mar 16, 2003 2:30 PM
Yeah, I know, it's a mountain bike. But in answer to the question, ridden for two seasons, probably only about 1000 miles offroad. This BB crack is apparently a known defect (at least lots of people have had it on, though this was the first one my LBS had seen. It's kind of hard to tell, but that's basically the whole seat tube cracked in half right above the bottom bracket. The bike still rode too -- I noticed right before my second lap in a 24 hour race that it was making a weird sound, looked down and the seat tube was coming apart! Had to finish the race on my friend's Santa Cruz Bullet (a whole other story).
2000 Specialized Allez. Broken chainstay at weld. nmBruno S
Mar 16, 2003 3:44 PM
warranty not dependent on material...satanas
Mar 16, 2003 4:56 PM
...but rather on how well the shop gets on with the rep. I've not bought frames/bikes in the past because of bad attitude from rep's...
ok, but all warranties (theoretically) being equal...StupidLight
Mar 17, 2003 6:24 AM
Fine point, the human dimension is _always_ a factor.
The point of the thread is not so much will the manufacturer take back the broken product, but how likely is it to break in the first place.
Any more tales of woe?
Frame failures I've had...alansutton
Mar 16, 2003 10:51 PM
These are the road frame failures I've had and year broken.
1) 1986 (Steel)Torelli SLX, headtube/downtube junction
2) 1987 (Steel)Torelli SLX, downtube/botton bracket junction (another, sponser frame)
3) 1988 (Steel)FUSO SL/SP, headtube/downtube junction at shifter bosses
4) 1989 Steel)Schwinn Paramount SLX, downtube/botton bracket junction
5) 1990 (Carbon/Aluminum)ALAN Record Carbino, headtube/Toptube junction, pulled bonded lug
6) 1992 (Steel) Torelli SLX, headtube/downtube junction, (yeah yet another one)
7) 1996 (Steel) Specialized Allez, Tange, downtube/botton bracket junction
8) 2001 (Aluminum) Giant TCR, Right chainstay

My current road milage machines are a 2002 Eddy Merckx Team SC and a 1992 Mondonico Diamond- both checked for cracks regularly. My daily commuter consists of a $89 1995 Nashbar aluminum frame that probably has more miles on it than anything I've ever owned, and currently no cracks.

So there you have it.
In 1986 (I was 14yrs old)I weighed 130lbs and have slowly grown to my current 165lbs.
Seen one frame failure: older Aluminum-Carbon composite TrekUncle Tim
Mar 17, 2003 6:31 AM
This frame was a mid-90's composite Trek that failed at the bottom bracket/downtube joint. It was not a catastrophic failure and the rider was able to ride 5 or so miles back home safely.

My friend is a serious cyclist who is the kind of guy who was going to ride that bike until it failed. I figure, conservatively, that the frame had at least 25,000 miles on it.
re: "they claimed that Trek warranties far more of their carbontorquer
Mar 17, 2003 7:40 AM
...than Aluminum frames" is probably explained by the fact that fewer Al. frames get sold to those of us who stress/abuse bikes, via racing, big miles, etc. More use under severe conditions increases chances of problems occuring.
I was told...ArvinC
Mar 17, 2003 5:15 PM
...not to worry too much about the "Carbon Fails" stigma. It may have been true once, but not so true anymore. I just bought my first road bike, a 2002 Kestrel Talon w/Ultegra. My LBS told me that over the past 8 years, they have had only four or five carbon bikes returned for replacement. Not one of them was a "catastrophic" failure. Also, none of the frames were of the monocoque design. It seems that this design tends to be more "durable" than carbon-tube construction.

However, they handled a frame return each week, usualy more, on mid- to high-end aluminum bikes/frames. One of the mechanics said he thinks that companies are pushing their wall thicknesses too thin, as well as not taking the proper care during metal prep and welding to insure the material's integrity. He said that it's actualy trickier to work with these exotic aluminums than to work with carbon fiber or even titanium.

But, then again, they were selling me a carbon fiber bike...

re: Frame failure poll. Ever warranty a frame? Al vs. carbon.babyhuey77
Mar 17, 2003 8:24 PM
I've broken three frames, all of which were aluminum. I broke 2 Specialized S-works, both of them through the right dropout. The first one the frame had about 2,500 miles on it. The second one had about 4,000 miles on it. Both of them were replaced no questions asked. I also broke a Kavik in front of the weld on the right side dropout. I;m still waiting to here if I can get another frame. This is the problem of dealing with small local builders, they can often disappear and vanish.

I recently just built up a 2003 Trek 5500 frameset. I'm hoping and crossing my fingers that it will survive. I was assured by the rep that they will replace or repair the frame in the event of a failure. We'll wait and see......

Oh, I should mention that I weigh about 220 and am currently losing more weight every week, with the goal of 195- 200.