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  1. #1
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    Cracked Thomson Stem

    Hi all

    I bought and installed this stem 2 years ago and the bike is rarely used. The bike is only for commuter ride for less than 30 times ever since.

    Last week, I found huge crack on the stem. Mailed thomson, but no reply.

    I lived overseas, the nearest distributor is in Singapore, but no email address (have someone over there to help me out with the claim, but still hoping for the result)

    Today, I search 'cracked thomson stem', and surprised with the result. How can someone claims the strongest built in the world with such poor product and service?

    Search for warranty information, but couldn't find it, anyone can direct me to it?

    Thanks all
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  2. #2
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    That be a picture of someones stem that does not own a torque wrench (or if they own one, they sure as heck didnt use it properly......)

    Thomson is awesome to deal with - I have never had a warranty issue on any of their product, but have talked w them on a few topics.

    Best bet is to call them.

    number can be foundon their website:

    www.lhthomson.com

    They will sort you out.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 006_007
    That be a picture of someones stem that does not own a torque wrench (or if they own one, they sure as heck didnt use it properly......)
    Yeah, I was thinking that crack looked like it happened due to over-torquing the bolts. I'd replace the handlebar, too, because it could also be compromised.

  4. #4
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    I'll agree with the others that it looks like the crack may be due to improper installation rather than a defect.

    But call Thomson. Since it's only a faceplate, I wouldn't be surprised they'd send you a new faceplate free of charge.

    And I second the idea of taking a careful look at the handlebar after removing the faceplate. It may very well be compromised, too.
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  5. #5
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    Thomson is THE best at what they do.

    Faceplate cracks while uncommon are not unheard of which is why they sell faceplates for ten bucks!

    And yes I believe torque to 4 nm.


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  6. #6
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    I cracked two of the face plates, on the third one now. Thompson gave me a new one after emailing them and sending the cracked one back. I used a torque wrench the second time, it still cracked when using the cross pattern to tighten. Made three passes, gradually tightening the bolt in the cross pattern. It seems like it's a matter of when, not if.

    Make sure you have equal gaps at the bottom and top after tightening the plate.

    I'm not buying another Thompson. Sure it's a good looking CNC machined piece, but that's about all it has going for it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rallyraid
    I cracked two of the face plates, on the third one now. Thompson gave me a new one after emailing them and sending the cracked one back. I used a torque wrench the second time, it still cracked when using the cross pattern to tighten. Made three passes, gradually tightening the bolt in the cross pattern. It seems like it's a matter of when, not if.

    Make sure you have equal gaps at the bottom and top after tightening the plate.

    I'm not buying another Thompson. Sure it's a good looking CNC machined piece, but that's about all it has going for it.
    i too have had issues with Thomson. they have done a great job of marketing themselves somehow as "the" stem and post, i dont buy it.

    overtorqueing? are you effing kidding me? so if it is overtorqued, it sure as hell shouldnt crack...it should be, well....overtorqued, and thats it. Overrated IMHO

    I also challenge any of the MTBRetards to prove that Thomson is in fact the so-called, "best". I assure you there is no data on file to support Thomson, or any stem (or post) for that matter, being the best. This whole MTBR notion of Thomson being the best is based on years of cutting and pasting of the same cliches over and over...

  8. #8
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    I'm a huge fan of sexy cncd parts, but I have no dilutions about it bing stronger for a given weight than a forged part.

    That face plate does look to be installed incorectly though, I don't see any gap between the stem and the faceplate.

  9. #9
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    if theres two parts on my bike that i absolutely never worry about, its the stem and seat post. neither are thompson. i dont get the draw, both are very low failure rate items from all the brands.

  10. #10
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    Ummm...if overtorqueing was the culprit, then shouldn't the handlebar have cracked first?? I would certainly hope that my stem would be stronger than my bars! I use RaceFace Atlas and Bontranger stems and never had a prob.

  11. #11
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    Thanks all for contributing.

    I'll try to contact them and see what happen
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayTee
    Ummm...if overtorqueing was the culprit, then shouldn't the handlebar have cracked first??
    Not necessarily. Though I have seen someone actually crush the bar at the clamp. The bar actually had a bulge in it where it had been squeezed into the cavity of the stem. (wasn't a Thomson stem - was on a bmx bike).
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  13. #13
    I'm SUCH a square....
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    Never used a Thom....never could justify the price. I will not spend $80 on a stem when I can get a good-looking, rock-solid, gorilla-strong stem for half that.

    Heard the stories for years...wonder why they still make 'em.
    A bike is the only drug with no bad side effects....

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigpedaler
    ...wonder why they still make 'em.
    Dude, bling is bling. Most the LBS would go out of business if no one upgraded. Any trail bike would function fine with SLX and easton EA50 stuff but our econony would suffer

  15. #15
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    I was going to put a Thompson stem on my mountain bike as an upgrade but my lbs told me that the faceplate crack quite often, so I went with RaceFace instead. If you have to buy a new faceplate, why not get a safer stem instead.

  16. #16
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    Funny that this thread came up......One of my riding buddies cracked the faceplate of his Thomson stem the other day and I couldn't believe it. I guess is not that uncommon.

  17. #17
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    I've cracked a thomson on both my road bike and mountain bike. And I DO use a torque wrench. They sent me a new faceplate for my mtb but would not for my road bike. I love their seatposts but will NEVER buy another stem from them.

    I was told that it was my fault that it cracked. Sharp edges on a machined part = cracks. I'll go for forged from now on. There is a reason that most online stores stock Thomson faceplates...
    What do I want to be when I grow up.....Dead!

  18. #18
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    Agreed with Fo here. The usual defense is "overtorqued faceplate", but if that's really a huge problem, then cheap forged stems should be cracking left right and centre. The vast majority of riders don't use torque wrenches, yet stem failure seems to be a fairly rare occurrence across stems as a whole. The very fact that replacement faceplates are available for this stem should be warning enough.

    CNC just isn't a good idea for bike parts that need to be strong. I went off the idea of CNC stems when my metalluragist buddy found a crack across his Thompson faceplace. Sure, he doesn't use a torque wrench, but he's not stupid about how he treats metals either. On the other hand, I've been riding for years with forged stems with the nuts cranked down about as hard as possible with no problems.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    CNC just isn't a good idea for bike parts that need to be strong.

    I don't get how a part made from a single piece of metal wouldn't be stronger than something with welds. But I'm not a metallurgist.

    I have seen the machines Thomson uses to test their wares against the competition, though. The failure point for one of their stems does come long after anything I have seen them test from a competitor.

    As for the face plate, those pictures show that little care was used in balancing the tightness of the bolts. It really isn't hard to do and once set up is pretty bomb proof.
    "Bikes aren't fast--people are fast. Bikes are overpriced. It's an important distinction."---BikeSnob NYC

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomsmoto
    if theres two parts on my bike that i absolutely never worry about, its the stem and seat post. neither are thompson. i dont get the draw, both are very low failure rate items from all the brands.
    Exactly

  21. #21
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    I will say that the ONLY time I have used a Torque Wrench on a Thomson, the bars were TOO LOOSE - luckily I found it cycling through the suspension, checking compression adjustments before a jump...

    crank it till it creaks (but don't quote me).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrantB
    I don't get how a part made from a single piece of metal wouldn't be stronger than something with welds. But I'm not a metallurgist.

    I have seen the machines Thomson uses to test their wares against the competition, though. The failure point for one of their stems does come long after anything I have seen them test from a competitor.

    As for the face plate, those pictures show that little care was used in balancing the tightness of the bolts. It really isn't hard to do and once set up is pretty bomb proof.
    Forged stems don't need welds. Forging can result in a stronger part than CNC'ing, which is probably why you don't see parts such as cranks produced from CNC machines.

    Though I'm not a metallurigist either- just read a bunch of stuff of stuff by Sheldon Brown

  23. #23
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    I have been to the Thomson factory, and met Thomson himself (RIP) and ridden the trails behind their factory. Although Thomson is not around anymore, I believe his son is continuing where he left off. Any company run by people who ride, who supports riders and events while building top quality componentry is good in my book. Tons of people crack faceplates being hamfisted wrenchers, and I don't blame any company for not warrantying something like that. I have NEVER seen a Thomson stem that was cracked/broken anywhere but the faceplate, they are STRONG. I have a few Thomson products but to be honest they came on bikes I bought, I don't have the coin to justify the purchase, but I still think they are top notch components.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311
    I have been to the Thomson factory, and met Thomson himself (RIP) and ridden the trails behind their factory. Although Thomson is not around anymore, I believe his son is continuing where he left off. Any company run by people who ride, who supports riders and events while building top quality componentry is good in my book. Tons of people crack faceplates being hamfisted wrenchers, and I don't blame any company for not warrantying something like that. I have NEVER seen a Thomson stem that was cracked/broken anywhere but the faceplate, they are STRONG. I have a few Thomson products but to be honest they came on bikes I bought, I don't have the coin to justify the purchase, but I still think they are top notch components.
    That said, how many cracked stems have you seen, and how many were CNC vs straight forged?

    I've only ever seen two cracked stems. One was a Thompson, the other was a crazy-light weight weenie stem. Still, 2 stems isn't enough of a sample size to really judge on. What's probably more relevant is that I've only managed to come across 2 cracked stems in ten years of riding.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    That said, how many cracked stems have you seen, and how many were CNC vs straight forged?

    I've only ever seen two cracked stems. One was a Thompson, the other was a crazy-light weight weenie stem. Still, 2 stems isn't enough of a sample size to really judge on. What's probably more relevant is that I've only managed to come across 2 cracked stems in ten years of riding.

    Agreed, breaking stems is BAD NEWS and you hear more often of broken forks and frames than you do stems. I personally cannot justify the price tag of the Thomson stuff, but I still think it is top quality high end stuff. I have one Thomson stem that is a work of art compared to most of the other stuff I've got.
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  26. #26
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    thomson has torque values in plain sight on all their stems and seatposts.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311
    Agreed, breaking stems is BAD NEWS and you hear more often of broken forks and frames than you do stems. I personally cannot justify the price tag of the Thomson stuff, but I still think it is top quality high end stuff. I have one Thomson stem that is a work of art compared to most of the other stuff I've got.
    quality and girly faceplates do not equate. In summary, there are plenty of stems and posts better...only sheep run Thomson

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    quality and girly faceplates do not equate. In summary, there are plenty of stems and posts better...only sheep run Thomson

    Sounds like your mind is made up then.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311
    Sounds like your mind is made up then.
    yes

    however, i reserve the right to change my mind at any point, to the extent where i may do an entire 180 and promote Thomson products...in which case Thomson products are rad and everything else sucks but until then, Thomson sucks ass and so do the morons led to believe Thomson products do not suck ass

  30. #30
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    I've seen cracked thomson faceplates before, i've also seen the stem wedges seize in place to the point of the bolt heads stripping when you try to loosen the wedge. This then requires many hours of labour to drill out the wedge bolts and the wedge to seperate stem from steerer tube.
    I don't post to generate business for myself or make like I'm better than sliced bread

  31. #31
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    This would be a great case study for an introductory course in machine design. Titled: "How too much metal in the wrong place can weaken a part".
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311
    I have NEVER seen a Thomson stem that was cracked/broken anywhere but the faceplate, they are STRONG.
    Below is a picture of a Thomson stem that I cracked. Note that it is not cracked at the faceplate. I used a torque wrench to install it. Thomson replaced it under warranty.

    I learned in my discussion with Thomson's representative that you should not put grease under the bolt heads; doing so can cause the stem bolts to become over-torqued, even when using a torque wrench. I was told that 36 inch-lbs (instead of the recommended 48 inch-lbs) is probably sufficient torque to secure the stem to the steerer if there is grease under the bolt heads.


  33. #33
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    i wish thomson made carbon stems

  34. #34
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    Damn! The stem in KevinB's photo is horrendous. Not only cracked around the steerer but looks like a crack going out to the bar clamp, too?

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by redwarrior
    Damn! The stem in KevinB's photo is horrendous. Not only cracked around the steerer but looks like a crack going out to the bar clamp, too?
    Yup.

    You can see that smaller crack better in this close-up:


  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle
    I'll agree with the others that it looks like the crack may be due to improper installation rather than a defect.

    But call Thomson. Since it's only a faceplate, I wouldn't be surprised they'd send you a new faceplate free of charge.

    And I second the idea of taking a careful look at the handlebar after removing the faceplate. It may very well be compromised, too.
    I take back my statement that it was probably installation error; possibly still was, but maybe not. I just had a faceplate (not Thomson) crack on me while installing. Must have been defective, because although the bolts were starting to feel tight, they weren't fully snug, kept turning easily, then snap. Seems the faceplate was bending or something, hence the bolts not snugging. Was a cheap stem, though. Handlebar still appeared fine.
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  37. #37
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    Wow. I seriously don't know how you guys are producing these catastrophic failures. I've been using their stems and posts for nigh on 8 years in one form or another and never had a problem.

    I'm not going to try and rip the Easton parts from your cold dead hands, though. Frankly I don't care what lights your fire. I'm just mystified as to how you break this stuff this way.
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  38. #38
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    Truthfully I see no issue, this is cycling and stuff breaks and if you look at the aforementioned failures it is always at the weakest parts (the thinest) and looking at the failures it looks due to improper torque, now you can have un-even stress even with a torque wrench on every bolt. it will just happen. The picture of the elite stem looks as if those clamps were WAY too tight. I have used torque wrenches on carbon parts and stopped way before the limit as i did not feel as it was safe. I currently own 1 Thompson stem and just sold a bike with another. I have never broken one or cracked one My carbon bars creek when I am putting pressure to power up a hill. I chose them due to looks and weight, i just don't like the look of forged stems. I will either go cnc'd or carbon wrapped.
    You believe that you forged stems are safer and not going to fail, well anything will fail, and i bet you that any product has had at least one failure, i just does not get as highly publicized and picked on as those products that get used the most. Failures happen it is the law of statistics, manufacturing, and engineering. Many forged parts have to have thicker clamps to be able to withstand the stress and thus are heavier.
    For those that call people a fred or sheep for using a certain product, just stop. You are no better for jumping on the bandwagon to bash certain products. If you have used the product and had issues with it give your input, but if it happened to a friend of a friend or you saw it somewhere, just keep you comments to yourself. People will use the products they want to use, and don't need someone telling them they are wrong for using them. I have not had much luck with Crank Brothers but I won't bash people for using them. I had a brand new PC-971 chain come on a new bike and it got 3 stuck links after 2 rides, I replaced it with a new one and never had another issue. I can list case after case of similar issues with highly used products, but the simple fact is they do happen and most will never have a problem.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrantB
    Wow. I seriously don't know how you guys are producing these catastrophic failures. I've been using their stems and posts for nigh on 8 years in one form or another and never had a problem.

    I'm not going to try and rip the Easton parts from your cold dead hands, though. Frankly I don't care what lights your fire. I'm just mystified as to how you break this stuff this way.
    It's called odds. Even if 10% of a given product fails (which would be a lot for a post, bar, or stem) the chances that any given individual would not have a problem.

    You hear this all the time "I've been using it with no problem, must be something crazy you all are doing". No, it's just the odds.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshS
    Truthfully I see no issue, this is cycling and stuff breaks and if you look at the aforementioned failures it is always at the weakest parts (the thinest) and looking at the failures it looks due to improper torque, now you can have un-even stress even with a torque wrench on every bolt. it will just happen. The picture of the elite stem looks as if those clamps were WAY too tight. I have used torque wrenches on carbon parts and stopped way before the limit as i did not feel as it was safe. I currently own 1 Thompson stem and just sold a bike with another. I have never broken one or cracked one My carbon bars creek when I am putting pressure to power up a hill. I chose them due to looks and weight, i just don't like the look of forged stems. I will either go cnc'd or carbon wrapped.
    You believe that you forged stems are safer and not going to fail, well anything will fail, and i bet you that any product has had at least one failure, i just does not get as highly publicized and picked on as those products that get used the most. Failures happen it is the law of statistics, manufacturing, and engineering. Many forged parts have to have thicker clamps to be able to withstand the stress and thus are heavier.
    For those that call people a fred or sheep for using a certain product, just stop. You are no better for jumping on the bandwagon to bash certain products. If you have used the product and had issues with it give your input, but if it happened to a friend of a friend or you saw it somewhere, just keep you comments to yourself. People will use the products they want to use, and don't need someone telling them they are wrong for using them. I have not had much luck with Crank Brothers but I won't bash people for using them. I had a brand new PC-971 chain come on a new bike and it got 3 stuck links after 2 rides, I replaced it with a new one and never had another issue. I can list case after case of similar issues with highly used products, but the simple fact is they do happen and most will never have a problem.
    you must ride an ellsworth given your level of tolerance for crappy parts. to each their own

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    you must ride an ellsworth given your level of tolerance for crappy parts. to each their own
    No, I don't like their design and yes i know of the failures. The problem I have is people criticizing others for the things they use. Why can't people on this forum let others use the parts they want to use and form their own opinions? There seems to be this constant need to critize others because they don't run the the same part or they haven't had the same issues. The more you produce an item the more chances for failure and manufacturing defects. If you produce 1000 units a year at a have a 1% problem rate then you will have 10 failures and they are less likely to be seen by the public. if you produce 100,000 units , with a 1% failure rate then 1000 failures and given the # of people on the forum, the issues will make their way to the internet. People use the products they want to use for various reasons, I don't generally buy into hype, but i analyze and compare the products that i want to use. I don't appreciate when people feel it is their given right to criticize others for what they have decided to use.

    I for instance will never use a Marzocchi fork, 4 of the 5 I have owned have leaked air or oil since day 1 and the fifth was such a pain to setup. Not to mention having to send it off for service is a pain. There is a thread in the DH or shock section about failures. People say they are crap and get on others for using them, but you have to take the situation into context. the majority of the forks present are used in FR or DH and many are single Crown designs. First FR and DH put high loads and forces on fork, combine that with taking away half your support (single crown) you are going to have failures. Also Marzocchi forks are generally* cheaper then comparable models from fox or rockshox, thus people just starting, younger people, or people with tighter budgets are going to buy them. Younger people and people just starting are not as smooth or haven't develped their skill as much as veterans thus are going to be more abusive to the forks. Younger people are going to take higher risks and do bigger stunts. With all these factors combined with the natural failure rate of any product you are going to see a high number of failures. Marzocchi has had to do something to keep costs down to keep the final product cost down, this may be removing extra material or a lesser grade. As i said i will never buy another marzocchi fork, but that is based on my experiences and i will not criticize those who do. Sorry for the sidetrack.
    Do i believe Thompson stems have a high failure rate, no, I believe that they produce many stems and due to natural failure rates and improper installations you will see failures at the weakest part of the stem. If it was a design failure and there were many failures then i would hope they would issue a recall and issue a redesigned faceplate. Looking at the OP first picture, it looks as if the bottom right bolt was at a higher stress level then the others.
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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshS
    No, I don't like their design and yes i know of the failures. The problem I have is people criticizing others for the things they use. Why can't people on this forum let others use the parts they want to use and form their own opinions? There seems to be this constant need to critize others because they don't run the the same part or they haven't had the same issues. The more you produce an item the more chances for failure and manufacturing defects. If you produce 1000 units a year at a have a 1% problem rate then you will have 10 failures and they are less likely to be seen by the public. if you produce 100,000 units , with a 1% failure rate then 1000 failures and given the # of people on the forum, the issues will make their way to the internet. People use the products they want to use for various reasons, I don't generally buy into hype, but i analyze and compare the products that i want to use. I don't appreciate when people feel it is their given right to criticize others for what they have decided to use.

    I for instance will never use a Marzocchi fork, 4 of the 5 I have owned have leaked air or oil since day 1 and the fifth was such a pain to setup. Not to mention having to send it off for service is a pain. There is a thread in the DH or shock section about failures. People say they are crap and get on others for using them, but you have to take the situation into context. the majority of the forks present are used in FR or DH and many are single Crown designs. First FR and DH put high loads and forces on fork, combine that with taking away half your support (single crown) you are going to have failures. Also Marzocchi forks are generally* cheaper then comparable models from fox or rockshox, thus people just starting, younger people, or people with tighter budgets are going to buy them. Younger people and people just starting are not as smooth or haven't develped their skill as much as veterans thus are going to be more abusive to the forks. Younger people are going to take higher risks and do bigger stunts. With all these factors combined with the natural failure rate of any product you are going to see a high number of failures. Marzocchi has had to do something to keep costs down to keep the final product cost down, this may be removing extra material or a lesser grade. As i said i will never buy another marzocchi fork, but that is based on my experiences and i will not criticize those who do. Sorry for the sidetrack.
    Do i believe Thompson stems have a high failure rate, no, I believe that they produce many stems and due to natural failure rates and improper installations you will see failures at the weakest part of the stem. If it was a design failure and there were many failures then i would hope they would issue a recall and issue a redesigned faceplate. Looking at the OP first picture, it looks as if the bottom right bolt was at a higher stress level then the others.
    too long to read, so i didnt bother but suffice it to say, i am sure i disagree with anything you say, unless there was some level of agreement with me in which case i agree

    In summary:


  43. #43
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    The image is true!
    were just not going to agree and that is fine, beauty of free speach, It's the criticizing others for using a part that I mainly don't agree with, which seems to go on allot. Oh well, Where's the "fighting on the internet is like" picture when you need it.
    Last edited by JoshS; 10-23-2009 at 10:03 AM.
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  44. #44
    Five is right out
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    you must ride an ellsworth given your level of tolerance for crappy parts. to each their own
    Oh, behave!


  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshS
    The image is true!
    were just not going to agree and that is fine, beauty of free speach, It's the criticizing others for using a part that I mainly don't agree with, which seems to go on allot. Oh well
    Fo himself does it a lot, but maybe you haven't been here long enough his sense of, uh, humor.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomn
    Fo himself does it a lot, but maybe you haven't been here long enough his sense of, uh, humor.
    Yeah, I got that, but it is others too, he was just the outlet
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  47. #47
    Neg reppers r my biatches
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomn
    Fo himself does it a lot, but maybe you haven't been here long enough his sense of, uh, humor.
    not trying to be funny, just stating facts, i.e.,

    -> parts i use trump parts that sheep use
    -> everybody else's opinions are retarded and should be ignored
    -> anybody not insulted by the above points is also retarded

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrantB
    I don't get how a part made from a single piece of metal wouldn't be stronger than something with welds. But I'm not a metallurgist.

    I have seen the machines Thomson uses to test their wares against the competition, though. The failure point for one of their stems does come long after anything I have seen them test from a competitor.

    As for the face plate, those pictures show that little care was used in balancing the tightness of the bolts. It really isn't hard to do and once set up is pretty bomb proof.
    When you forge a piece of metal it's grain changes with the piece, flowing with every bend and corner, lowering stress within the piece. When you machine a piece the grain structure is still that of the original stock.
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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    not trying to be funny, just stating facts, i.e.,

    -> parts i use trump parts that sheep use
    -> everybody else's opinions are retarded and should be ignored
    -> anybody not insulted by the above points is also retarded

    You suck at trolling.
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  50. #50
    Neg reppers r my biatches
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311
    You suck at trolling.
    I am not trolling...i am stating facts. if i hurt your or other peoples feelings that does not constitute trollling, but rather that people are too sensitive to my making valid points, as many others have done in this thread

    though if the filter is applied, i am simply saying that i think thomson is overrated, etc, and there are perhaps better choices. there are PLENTY of other products falling into this same bucket, many of which i fell prey to at one time or the other but nevertheless, thomson is overrated, period

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