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  1. #1
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    New Bike - Frame bowed to right at seat triangle weld..

    I have a 4-month old bike from a reputable manufacturer. I bought this bicycle for a great price from an authorized dealer in the middle of Winter, so I didn't get much of a chance to ride it until recently. When I finally got a chance to ride it, I noticed the bike would feel a little off-center. I chalked this up to me not having the bike dialed in yet. A few more weeks went by, and I had the chance to take it on a long ride (25-30 miles) on a technical trail. Again, the bike felt unbalanced to me when sitting in the saddle. I thought maybe I bent the seat rails or post, so I spent some time that evening looking the bike over and trying to center things. While doing so, I noticed the seat was sitting about 3/4-1" left of center on the top tube. Thinking I bent my seat, I put a spare seat on there that I had. Same thing. Then I really looked closely at it and determined that the seat triangle was bowed to the right. So I wrote the manufacturer and explained the situation. The rep seemed nonchalant about the whole thing. He recommended I take it to an authorized retailer and have them put a frame alignment tool on it. I did just that, and when they put the tool on the frame, it was off by at least 3/8" = the frame nearly touched the frame alignment tool when the tool was placed on the right side of the frame, and there was about a 5/8" gap when the tool was placed on the left side of the frame. So I had the frame shipped back to the manufacturer. When they got the frame, they told me they had their QC department look at it and it was "within spec" and "perfectly aligned". This does not jive with what I saw with the frame alignment tool, not to mention what I saw with my naked eye which caused me to bring the bike in for inspection in the first place.

    My question to you is, should I press the issue or am I being unreasonable? Should a $2000 frame be 3/8" off at the top tube/seat triangle? Keep in mind that when I put a seat post on it, that bowing out of the frame is accentuated and the seat sits off-center by almost 1". It is obvious with the naked eye when looking down from the seat.

    I am not mentioning the frame manufacturer here, because I want unbiased opinions. I also don't want to make the manufacturer look bad if this is something that is common in the industry - for a frame to be 3/8" bowed at the top tube. I have owned Specialized, Santa Cruz, and others in the past and I have never had this problem before. I don't want to be the customer who is a pain in the butt, but having what I feel to be a misaligned frame is not setting well with me. I could see if it was a huffy or a Walmart brand bike, but this is a highly-respected frame manufacturer that makes some of the best frames in the industry and is highly reviewed on MTBR.

    So to recap:

    Are there wheel alignment issues: no.
    Does the bike work: yes.
    Does the bike feel off-center when I sit in the saddle: yes.
    Is the bow in the frame noticeable: yes.

    I don't want to post photos yet because that would give away who manufactured the frame, but I will post them in the future if enough people tell me this is not acceptable and the manufacturer is still unable to work with me.

    Your opinions are much appreciated.

  2. #2
    hardcore
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    The only other manufactured that i have heard had misalligned frames straight out of the box is Cube. From my point of view as the owner of a budget bike (a Canyon, a budget european brand), having this kind of out of alligned with new bikes is not acceptable, especially considering the price tag.

    I also suspect the brand of your frame is Trek.

  3. #3
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    You are not being unreasonable. This is not normal for a bike to come from the factory like this. If this is within their tolerance specs then I would not want to buy any products from them. I would expect a replaced frame at minimal cost to me.

  4. #4
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    This is the reply I got from the company's engineer:

    "When we looked at your frame (any frame that comes in with a claim), we perform a thorough inspection. To confirm frame alignment and that it will function correctly. Your frame without question is aligned correctly. Our QC team inspected this frame, I inspected it, as well as ---------- (the owner of the company). We found no issues with your frame.

    As you may not be aware, our down tube is asymmetrical. Meaning, if I you cut it down the centerline of the bike, the drive side of the tube will be a different shape than the non-drive side. We also custom shape the top tube as well as the seat tube gusset. From the photos you submitted, this asymmetrical down tube may cause some confusion. It is designed that way, so we can achieve a larger weld surface at the BB. When you look down from your top tube it could cause you to think the top tube is not straight, but it is indeed centered correctly.

    In reading your email chain, I can tell that your chief concern is that the top tube is misaligned, we can assure you it is not, and is within our tolerances."



    Now, keep in mind that when I look down on the top tube from above the seat, the seat is clearly left-of-center on the top tube itself. The explanation I get from the engineer is talking about the shape of the top tube - but I am talking about the fact that the seat itself is at least 3/4" off-center from the centerline of the bike (to the left). Would this asymmetry that the engineer refers to cause the seat to appear off-center? Furthermore, would this asymmetry cause the frame alignment tool to reflect ~1/2" gap on the left side of the frame, and 1 mere 1mm gap on the right side of the frame?

    Since a photo is worth 1000 words, I'll go ahead and post a photo when I get the frame back and reassembled.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaXCarp View Post
    You are not being unreasonable. This is not normal for a bike to come from the factory like this. If this is within their tolerance specs then I would not want to buy any products from them. I would expect a replaced frame at minimal cost to me.
    NO, I would expect a new frame a no charge.

  6. #6
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    Don't be surprised if the frame you receive back is aligned perfectly.

  7. #7
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    Re: New Bike - Frame bowed to right at seat triangle weld..

    Hmm, interesting predicament. Couple thoughts :

    The mfg is pointing out asymmetrical down tube, top tube and seat tune gusset. How does the frame alignment tool at your LBS work? Does it rely on the down tube for orientation purposes? Could that be contributing to the perceived 3/8" difference?

    Asymmetrical down tube aside, the most important measurements would be:

    1) Is a line through the rear dropouts (like the rear axle will go ) perfectly parallel with a line through the bottom bracket axle?

    2) is the centerline of the rear dropouts (and that of a mounted rim) perfectly aligned with the centerline of the seat tube so that both wheels are on the same plane?
    ------------------------------------------------
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