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  1. #1
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    Cracked frame, what should I expect?

    Having never broken a bike frame before (I know, I know... not trying hard enough), I don't know what to expect from the manufacturer/dealer, in this case a small company with limited market share. I believe I'm a few months outside the warranty. Bike is three years old and has been ridden "aggressively", but never jumped or crashed. The frame cracked at the weld on the driveside chainstay just behind the BB. Its a better than average bike ($2500 new) but it represents a high-end purchase for me. While waiting for the manufacturer to reply, I thought I'd check with the community to get a better sense of what to expect. Since its outside the warranty, I don't know whether I should expect anything at all. Its been a great bike until now, and I had been viewing it as one of my better bike purchases. Just expected it to last a little longer.
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  2. #2
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    I've broken a few frames .The first one was replaced free,the second one manufacturer had gone out of business.Third one was replaced with a factory "blem" at dealer cost.(1100$) So it depends on the manufacture. When I broke the second one a friend had broke the swing arm on his bike ,it was replaced at no cost.

  3. #3
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    Since it's outside of the warranty I wouldn't expect anything, they may still do something for you but if they do I'd treat it as a gift.

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    ^^^^ truth...


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    I've never broken a frame either.

    If it's a smaller manufacturer don't expect the world, they might be in a tough financial spot. You never know. Just see what they say. If they can't swing it hey - tough luck. Warranty is out.

    If they can help you out try to buy from them again and recommend them all around. That's the way it works.

    I've got to give props to shimano here, I broke a freewheel hub once and bent a bottom bracket another time. Both times I showed it to my local bike shop and he just kind of went "that's not right let me see what I can do". Then he came back a couple of days later "yeah shimano wants you to send that in so they can look at it, you'll get a new part in return". In both cases the warranty was long gone - how's that for customer service?

    Edit: watts888 below is right also. A frame like that should be repairable.

  6. #6
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    If it cracked at the weld (or in the metal within 3mm of the end of the weld), it could be considered a manufacturing defect due to a bad heat control and post tempering of the weld. However, out of warranty kinda means out of warranty. If their warranty doesn't cover manufacturer's defects for anything over 3 years, you're probably out of luck. You might see if they are able to fix it though. A bike over $2k should have some decent customer support, especially if it's a smaller bike company.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the responses, folks. The consensus -- expect nothing due to expired warranty, but hope for the best -- is how I look at it. Still, I think a bike in this price range should last longer if built properly. Especially when it hasn't been abused. The components have held up very well. Broken a chain and a seat rail, that's it. Haven't even had to true the wheels in 3+ years. I've had many steel and aluminum frames since the late 70s and never cracked a frame.

    The bike in question is 6000 series alu. Cracked next to the weld. For those of you who suggested repairing it, I didn't think many people bothered with al frames. Seriously, is it worth it? I can get a new frame of the same kind for $850. Most of the parts will swap over.

    Still waiting to hear back from the manufacturer.
    The older I get the better I was...

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    they may still do something for you but if they do I'd treat it as a gift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    For those of you who suggested repairing it, I didn't think many people bothered with al frames. Seriously, is it worth it? I can get a new frame of the same kind for $850. Most of the parts will swap over.

    Still waiting to hear back from the manufacturer.
    Alu is not that hard to weld. Provided it's just a straight simple welding job and no jig is required I'm sure a local welding guy can repair it for $50 bucks during his lunch break.

    If you like the bike and geomety it's definitely worth a shot.

  10. #10
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    Also be prepared to deal. Sometimes even small companies off a deep discount on a new frame.
    I don't rattle.

  11. #11
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    For that price, I would certainly consider trying to repair it. I've read welding without proper heat treating afterward seriously weakens 6000 al frames by making the welded area brittle, almost guaranteeing a break in the same place. Overblown concerns?
    The older I get the better I was...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    For that price, I would certainly consider trying to repair it. I've read welding without proper heat treating afterward seriously weakens 6000 al frames by making the welded area brittle, almost guaranteeing a break in the same place. Overblown concerns?
    I think so. Find a good welder that uses TIG, tell him to make it "strong and not pretty" and it shouldn't break.

    But see what the manufacturer says first, you might get lucky.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoEars View Post
    Alu is not that hard to weld. Provided it's just a straight simple welding job and no jig is required I'm sure a local welding guy can repair it for $50 bucks during his lunch break.

    If you like the bike and geomety it's definitely worth a shot.
    Quote Originally Posted by TwoEars View Post
    I think so. Find a good welder that uses TIG, tell him to make it "strong and not pretty" and it shouldn't break.

    But see what the manufacturer says first, you might get lucky.



    6000 series aluminum cannot simply be welded and be expected not to break again, it must also be heat treated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirty $anchez View Post
    6000 series aluminum cannot simply be welded and be expected not to break again, it must also be heat treated.
    Well, I'm not a professional welder but I've seen 6000 series aluminium repaired and never break again. Those were not pretty welds and there was plenty of filler material being used but it seems to me at least that it can be done.

    But heat treatment is by far the superior method I agree with that. If welded and heat treated 6000 aluminium will be just as strong as it ever was.

  15. #15
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    Do not expect to weld 6000 series aluminum and have it last. The heat of the welding operation will de-temper the frame at that weld. Folks who have had their repairs "last" have been lucky so far, but unless you put the frame through the heat treat process again it is not as strong as it was before the repair.

    At Klein we used to repair a lot of cracked frames, but every one went through the heat treat process and was re-painted afterwards.

  16. #16
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    Did you take the bike to your lbs before contacting the manufacturer? I'd definitely do that first.

    What you should expect depends on the bike brand and your dealer. Even though you may not have a legal claim due to an expired warranty both your dealer and the manufacturer may want to keep you as a satisfied customer. Additionally, the manufacturer (or distributer depending on size etc.) wants to keep the dealer happy and push the product.

    But a lot does depend on whether the LBS wants to go to bat for you and what the official and unofficial manufacturer policies are. I'd go and see the dealer first and say "well, I know it's out of warranty but nonetheless this shouldn't happen with a quality frame that is ridden in the way I have ridden it -- what can you do for me?"

    You might not get anything but then you might also get completely taken care of. My bet would be on somewhere in-between.

  17. #17
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    I found this interesting discussion of aluminum properties from Gary Klein:
    http://www.vintage-trek.com/Trek-Fis...anualKlein.pdf

    Aluminum
    Pure aluminum is very soft. The molecules align and
    interconnect such that in pure aluminum, molecular slippage
    easily occurs in all three directions (slip planes). As a result, it
    is not strong enough to make a good bicycle frame.
    By adding various alloying agents to the aluminum, different
    characteristics can be obtained. These alloys of aluminum
    have a number which describe the alloying elements.
    6061 aluminum has small amounts of magnesium, silicon,
    copper, and chromium added to the pure aluminum. This
    alloy obtains its strength from microscopic precipitates (magnesium
    silicide crystals) that mechanically stop the slip planes
    in the aluminum crystals from sliding when force is applied.
    As an analogy, they work like putting sand in a sliding
    bearing.
    Aluminum alloys can also be strengthened by mechanical
    working. Cold-drawing the tubing is an example of mechanical
    working. This causes microscopic defects and strains in
    the aluminum crystal, which make it more difficult for the slip
    planes to move.

    Welding aluminum
    When welding 6061, and aluminum alloys in general,
    several undesirable things happen.
    With changes in temperature, aluminum changes dimension
    more than steel. When a weld puddle cools down, it
    shrinks and pulls on the adjacent material. With aluminum
    alloys this means a weld distorts the material more and
    leaves the material under high residual stress after the
    weld is complete. This residual stress adversely affects yield
    strength and fatigue life.
    If the tube had any strengthening due to mechanical
    working, this cold-work induced strength would be lost near
    the weld where the material was heated to high temperatures.
    Welding removes the strengthening effects of the T6
    heat treatment.
    The optimum distribution and size of magnesium silicide
    crystals are created by the T6 process, which involves a high
    temperature solution-quench followed by lower temperature
    artificial age. Exposing the material to the high temperatures
    of welding dissolves some of these fine crystals and make
    others grow large, weakening the material near the weld.

    Heat treatment of aluminum
    6061 loses so much strength after welding that we decided
    there was no alternative but to heat treat the entire frame
    after welding in order to obtain a high strength, long life,
    lightweight frame. By heat treating the entire frame to a
    T6 condition, the material is brought back to full strength
    throughout the frame structure. At 1000 degrees in the oven,
    part of the solution quench process, the aluminum is close
    to its melting temperature. All of the precipitates present at
    room temperature dissolve into the aluminum. This makes it
    so soft that all of the residual weld stresses are relieved.
    Of course we are not the only manufacturers to solution
    quench and artificially age the complete frame. Several other
    manufacturers of premium frames also typically do this on
    frames made of 6061 or other 6000 alloys.

    Often the frames made from 7000 alloys are not heat
    treated after welding at all. In other cases they are only
    artificial aged after welding, which strengthens the material
    which was hot enough for long enough to dissolve the
    alloying elements, but does nothing for the rest of the
    frame material.
    In these cases the alloy just got hot enough to partially
    dissolve the alloying elements, or just grow the strengthening
    crystals to a large size which weakens the material
    substantially. This is called over-aging. It is similar to what
    happens if you leave the material in the ageing oven for
    too long a time. Some of the crystals grow larger in size,
    while others shrink or disappear. The net result is that the
    weld is strengthened, but the tubing adjacent to the weld
    is weakened. So even though 7000 alloys claim a higher
    strength than 6061, it is probably less after welding.


    There is a lot more on the link, but I thought that some of you might find it interesting.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    Did you take the bike to your lbs before contacting the manufacturer? I'd definitely do that first.
    Good suggestions, borabora, but not quite that easy. I'm in fairly remote Alaska town with no road access to a town with a bike shop. The shop I bought it from is in Anchorage, 500 air miles away. I may end up shipping it to them, but I'm hoping we can handle this with email, phone calls and digital photos. It's a good shop with a good rep, so I'm hopeful something can be worked out. In this case the dealer/manufacturer is (sort of) one and the same. The shop designs the frame and farms out fabrication. Touted as made in the USA, but I'm not sure by whom.

    Interesting article, bradkay. Consistent with everything I've been reading about repairing aluminum. Looks like a new frame is in order. Only question is cost.
    The older I get the better I was...

  19. #19
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    "I'm in fairly remote Alaska town with no road access to a town with a bike shop. The shop I bought it from is in Anchorage, 500 air miles away."

    I can see how that makes things a bit more difficult. Hopefully things get resolved and you get a replacement frame at no or low cost. Not to mention shipping cost and rebuild which would be more costly for you than for us 48 contiguous folks.

    If you end up having to pay for your frame yourself then maybe consider a replacement steel frame given your unique situation. Yes they are heavier but they do ride nicely and of course they can be repaired fairly easily.

  20. #20
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    Since it is out of warranty, if I would ask if they offer a crash replacement discount on a new frame. You might get lucky and they warranty it, anyway. But a discount on a new frame would help ease the hit on the wallet some.
    A ride a day keeps the therapist away.

  21. #21
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    Cracked frame, what should I expect?

    At 270lbs, my primary route to a new frame is breaking the old ones.

    I have had several manufacturers offer warranty on frames that were outside of their warranties. When it's a broken weld, it's clearly a manufacturing defect. I think most manufacturers will chose to stand behind their products when given the opportunity.


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  22. #22
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    A tale of two bike brands...

    First of all, thanks to all of you who posted feedback on my "what should I expect" thread. Here's how my tale ended: Tonight I ordered a new Mukluk 2 fatbike frame from Salsa to replace my broken Brand X frame.

    I'm not going to trash Brand X by name. They make a nice bike, a bike that I loved and which took me on many adventures into the Alaska backcountry. When I started this process, I really wanted to replace my frame with the new Brand X, hoping to get some kind of a discount to offset the premium "boutique" price. For starters their new frames are made in the USA. That matters to me and I was willing to pay more for it. Even though my frame was out of warranty, I thought I had a good case to get something off the price - frame was not abused and broke at the weld a few months outside the time frame of the warranty.

    What I planned to propose was a discount of a couple of hundred dollars to bring the price down to that of the Taiwanese-made Mukluk or maybe have Brand X throw in a carbon fork, since the cheaper Mukluk also came with a nice new fork. I was going to need a new fork anyway since most new fatbikes are now spec'd with a tapered steerer. Say what you will, it seemed fair to me. I didn't think they owed it to me, but I thought they might want to keep me as a customer. Guess not.

    After not receiving an email response for nearly week and after being told on the phone that the owner, who was in the shop, would get back to me basically when he could get around to it. Three more days go by. I recalled my last discussion with the owner several months ago when I was having problems with my freehub. Specs had changed, he no longer stocked my version, so I has asked him to see if he could find one of the old ones, so I would have a spare. I was hoping, of course, to avoid having to rebuild my rear wheel if my freehub fell apart and I couldn't find a new one. He said he would look for one and get back to me. He never did.

    While waiting for Brand X to call back, I started looking more closely at the Salsa. Nice looking ride: Alternator dropouts, Anything cage mounts, suspension ready. I had narrowed my selection down to the Mukluk 'cause it would take almost all of my old parts, plus a few from the parts bin. I emailed Paramount Cycles in Anchorage and within a day I got a response from John, who answered all of my questions. Over the weekend, I thought of a few more questions and emailed them to Salsa headquarters. By Monday morning I was exchanging emails with Zach in customer service and getting my questions answered. The Mukluk was looking pretty good but the customer service was awesome. I ordered the new frame tonight from Paramount and cheerfully spent another $200 to have my front wheel rebuilt since mine Brand X hub, as it turns out, isn't compatible with the Bearpaw fork (front v. rear 135mm standards). Thanks Zane for handling all the details.

    So I'm excited at the prospect of my new Salsa, but feeling kind of crappy about the breakup with Brand X. Like I said, great bike. I was proud to ride it and always ready to recommend it to others. Made in the USA, too. Can't say that often these days. Customer service was great when I had $2500 to spend, but wouldn't take or return my calls when warranty issues came up. Wish things would have worked out different. Hello Salsa. I've heard good things about your customer service... As Bogey said at the end of my favorite movie, "I think (hope) this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship."
    The older I get the better I was...

  23. #23
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    the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Good luck.

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    Brand X Elsworth or Vantana are my only guesses. I am having a hard time getting a straight answer to my emailed questions to Ventana, time for a phone call. It seems silly that they talk about a service to refinish a frame and replace all the bearings but can't say your El Cuervo will cost $X to refinish but, we need to inspect the frame to quote the weld.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    First of all, thanks to all of you who posted feedback on my "what should I expect" thread. Here's how my tale ended: Tonight I ordered a new Mukluk 2 fatbike frame from Salsa to replace my broken Brand X frame.

    I'm not going to trash Brand X by name. They make a nice bike, a bike that I loved and which took me on many adventures into the Alaska backcountry. When I started this process, I really wanted to replace my frame with the new Brand X, hoping to get some kind of a discount to offset the premium "boutique" price. For starters their new frames are made in the USA. That matters to me and I was willing to pay more for it. Even though my frame was out of warranty, I thought I had a good case to get something off the price - frame was not abused and broke at the weld a few months outside the time frame of the warranty.

    What I planned to propose was a discount of a couple of hundred dollars to bring the price down to that of the Taiwanese-made Mukluk or maybe have Brand X throw in a carbon fork, since the cheaper Mukluk also came with a nice new fork. I was going to need a new fork anyway since most new fatbikes are now spec'd with a tapered steerer. Say what you will, it seemed fair to me. I didn't think they owed it to me, but I thought they might want to keep me as a customer. Guess not.

    After not receiving an email response for nearly week and after being told on the phone that the owner, who was in the shop, would get back to me basically when he could get around to it. Three more days go by. I recalled my last discussion with the owner several months ago when I was having problems with my freehub. Specs had changed, he no longer stocked my version, so I has asked him to see if he could find one of the old ones, so I would have a spare. I was hoping, of course, to avoid having to rebuild my rear wheel if my freehub fell apart and I couldn't find a new one. He said he would look for one and get back to me. He never did.

    While waiting for Brand X to call back, I started looking more closely at the Salsa. Nice looking ride: Alternator dropouts, Anything cage mounts, suspension ready. I had narrowed my selection down to the Mukluk 'cause it would take almost all of my old parts, plus a few from the parts bin. I emailed Paramount Cycles in Anchorage and within a day I got a response from John, who answered all of my questions. Over the weekend, I thought of a few more questions and emailed them to Salsa headquarters. By Monday morning I was exchanging emails with Zach in customer service and getting my questions answered. The Mukluk was looking pretty good but the customer service was awesome. I ordered the new frame tonight from Paramount and cheerfully spent another $200 to have my front wheel rebuilt since mine Brand X hub, as it turns out, isn't compatible with the Bearpaw fork (front v. rear 135mm standards). Thanks Zane for handling all the details.

    So I'm excited at the prospect of my new Salsa, but feeling kind of crappy about the breakup with Brand X. Like I said, great bike. I was proud to ride it and always ready to recommend it to others. Made in the USA, too. Can't say that often these days. Customer service was great when I had $2500 to spend, but wouldn't take or return my calls when warranty issues came up. Wish things would have worked out different. Hello Salsa. I've heard good things about your customer service... As Bogey said at the end of my favorite movie, "I think (hope) this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship."
    Damn, I have a on one frame here in Anchorage in excellent condition that I'm trying to get rid of.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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