Bike Warranty

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Codger, May 22, 2014.

  1. Codger

    Codger New Member

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    Beware "the best warranty int he business." A letter to Trek.
    Does the lifetime warranty mean it takes Trek a lifetime to honor it?
    I purchased a Trek aluminum bike in 2007. A year later the frame was defective. It took from May to mid-July before I was able to ride again because Trek's local rep would not agree to a new frame without it being sent to Wisconsin. Trek took its sweet time unconcerned about the amount of time taken and leaving me without a ride.
    I purchased a Trek Madone 5.2 in Oct. 2009. A brake appeared on the bottom of the chainstay after one summer of riding. I paid for the repair myself rather than send it to Wisconsin and be without a bike for months. 6 months later a break was found on the seat stay. I again paid for the same reason. (I weight 145 lb) In early May 2014 another break was found on the inside of the chainstay. Pictures were sent to Wisconsin and the retailer phoned as well as he knew this was a warranty issue. Trek said the pix were inconclusive and demanded the bike be sent back ensuring I would not have a bike to ride for at least another 6 weeks . So I paid again. The total in repairs to this defective frame is about the cost of a new frame. Worthless is the value of the "best warranty in the business" and lifetime = the length of time it takes Trek to honor the warranty.
     
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  2. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Just because a frame breaks doesn't mean it's "defective"; any lightweight frame can be broken if abused or just ridden long and hard. Lots of climbing and sprinting tends to kill them, particularly if you like to hammer in big gears.

    The Trek lifetime warranty only covers defects in materials and manufacturing, not wearout, fatigue, or "routine wear and tear due to extended usage". All the major brand warranties I've read contain an exclusion like this.

    Suggest you check out the Cannondale owner's manual and warranty (found online) for a good description of what life to expect from their race frames, what the warranty covers and what it doesn't. Trek may not be as "up front" as C'dale about the life of the frame, but it's clear enough from their warranty that fatigue damage isn't covered. Maybe the Trek salespeople gave you the impression that your Madone is a "lifetime" frame, buy one and you're done for life. But sorry, that's just not the case.
     
  3. Codger

    Codger New Member

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    A 60+ year old doesn't abuse a frame nor is he capable of riding long and hard or doing lots of climbing and sprinting. Only wish I could hammer in big gears. At 145 lb there is no undue use of this frame. Surely a $3500 bike should have a little more durability.

    But perhaps you miss the point -- ie the dealer believes the frame is defective. "Pictures were sent to Wisconsin and the retailer phoned as well as he knew this was a warranty issue."

    Trek doesn't care what its retailers think.
     
  4. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Didn't know your age, how many miles you ride, or that you don't sprint or do lots of steep hills. I know several riders in their mid-50s who do, still racing or training to race by riding lots of miles, steep hills, century challenge events, 5-10K miles every year. Agree that if you only ride say 1000 miles a year, mostly on flats or bike paths, I think your frame should easily last 10 years or more before failure. If that fits you, I'd agree your frame had to be "defective" , ie, not built up to Trek specifications. Even an ultra-light race frame should hold up well for 5K miles of gentle riding.

    Just to compare, I'm older than you and a lot heavier, 200 lbs. My custom built AL/CF frame is 10 years old, and has 36K miles on it now without any problems. I don't race, but ride a lot of hills and steep climbs. The 58cm frame is built of "heavy walled" Columbus Zonal aluminum in the Megatube shape, and weighed just under 1800 grams.....super heavy by today's race standards. The CF rear triangle is from a Taiwan source, with beefy-looked rear dropouts. The builder gave a "lifetime" warranty against defects, but also a two-year "performance" warranty on the frame against fatigue.

    A buddy of mine, about your age and weight, rides a steel bike with steel fork, complete with rear rack. His bike weighs about 5 lbs more than mine, but it doesn't seem to slow him down at all. He puts on lots of hard miles on "challenge century" events and can ride away from me any day of the week. He's had CF bikes, and raced successfully back in the day. But now he prefers the ride and durability of his "heavy-gauge" steel frame and fork.
     
  5. Codger

    Codger New Member

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    The issue is not the quality or durability of the frame. The issue is the length of time it takes Trek to honor the warranty. They are happy for the dealer to sell the bike and want you to refer complaints or problems to the dealer. But they will not trust the dealer when it comes to the warranty. As a result you are left without a bike to ride while they transport it back and forth across the border to Wisconsin. Took almost three months the last time. They did replace the frame but did not supply the correct headset which then had to be brought in from Wisconsin. when you spend $4000 on a bike you should get a little better service than that.
     
  6. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Can't argue with you about the time Trek took for warranty coverage in your case. I've heard stories of Pinarello taking that kind of time, but Trek is a US company. You paid a premium to get the Trek name and service, and agree they failed to justify their higher prices. Can't believe they treat all customers this way, and have to wonder if they have some problems or history with your specific dealer that caused delays.

    But, I do think the issue ultimately is all about the quality and durability of what they market. You never revealed how many miles you got on the frame, but if it's less than 10K, I'd say that's not enough. To me, even the best warranty isn't as good as a reliable, high quality product that doesn't fail. If the frame failed after say 5K miles, I wouldn't be impressed even with a two-week or two-day turnaround, and would wonder if the new replacement be any better.

    To me, when you spend $4000 for a bike, of course you should get good service, but more importantly, you should be getting a bike with a durable strong frame, fork and wheels. I understand they have to compromise to get the ultra-light weight that's so important to racers, but perhaps Trek could make a stronger, heavier line of CF bikes now for the rest of us. Maybe an "endure" line, with another whole pound or two of CF and dropout material. 99% of us would never notice the extra weight.....that's the one I'd buy.

    I know a rider who had his top-spec Madone fail in less than 2 years due to a drive-side rear dropout breaking. He's a strong guy, built like Hincaple, and did a lot of standing climbing on the bike. Maybe got 12K miles. He was told that the replacement frame has stronger, heavier dropouts which should hold up better for his tough usage.

    So, although I agree Trek has treated you poorly with their warranty delays, they did ultimately replace your 4.5 yr old frame. I think they've treated you worse by selling you a bike that wouldn't hold up to your usage and expectations. Hope you have better luck with the new replacement frame, and enjoy it for many years of carefree riding.
     
  7. ambal

    ambal Active Member

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    Trek have a horrid reputation in Australia and the UK.
     
  8. Colnago62

    Colnago62 New Member

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    In 1992, I bought a Kestrel and had terrible problems with the frame. I pretty much broke it every year I used it. They were, at the time, a very small company and it would take 6 months to warranty the frame. Luckily, I had another bike to ride. I bought a Trek specifically to avoid a repeat of that situation. So far so good.
     
  9. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    hmmm, I guess I'm going to have to go out on a limb here and get into trouble.

    Why the hell after having an issue with a Trek that Trek took it's sweet time to honor and go buy another Trek? You should read Einstein's definition of insane.
     
  10. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    +1.
     
  11. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Trek did a great deal of marketing in the last 15 years and are high profile in racing. Even before the Lance years they were the top seller in the world. I own a Trek that is still in great shape but it is a wall hanger from 1984.
    It seems to me that some of the best frame companies do minimal advertising and sell their product on reputation for the most part.
     
  12. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Wall hanger? why? I have an 84 660 and it's not hanging on a wall, though I have semi retired it as of last year when I got the new bike but I still strap on some stirrups and kick her in the side about 6 times a year.
     
  13. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Good you still take it out. I got out my old 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport last week for the first time in a couple of years. It's all OE, except for the tires, brake pads and the RD shift cable which I just replaced. The poor-quality OE non-stainless cable was badly frayed right where it bends around the downtube shift lever, but a $3 investment got me a new cable.

    Front hub seemed a bit rough when I spun it, so I took it apart to check condition. The grease was fine, ball bearings were fine, but the cone nuts (inner bearing races) had some light damage on in the tracks. Forgot how crude those old Normandy hubs were.....didn't last long, but easy to overhaul for a couple of bucks. Rather than start a search for new cone nuts, I just repacked and reassembled it, leaving some very slight play in the hub. While I was putting the 10-balls-each-side back into the grease, I tried to recall how many years ago I'd last done that......

    On the road, forgot how nice and stable the ride is with the longer wheelbase and heavy raked fork and the 1-1/8 (30mm) wide 27 inch rubber. On a choppy section of road, it just seemed to relax and cruise straight on through. Confident to ride no-hands, which I can't really say about my lightweight CF-fork "race geometry" bike.

    Believe I'd put it back in storage though. The low-gear on the Simplex 10 speed is just 42/28, which means it's a pretty hard pull back up the home-hill which has a short 14-16% section. Besides, I figure when I start putting miles on it, the OE stuff will wear out quickly, and Stronglight 93 chainrings seem to be a bit hard to find these days.
     
  14. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I have an 85 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe I picked up in showroom condition with only 250 miles on it at the time about 3 years ago, I've since put on about 500 miles, but the grease was all original so I redid the BB and the hubs with Mobil Polyrex EM grease which is waterproof. Mobil makes 2 kinds of this grease, one is EM and the other some number I can't recall, but the EM without the number protects the bearings against saltwater as well. The hubs on the Schwinn are French Maillard 500's which are sealed but not like today, they use cup and cones with loose balls and use an external seal, but they do rotate more freer than my 2013 Shimano 105 sealed hubs! However my understanding is that if my balls and or cones ever go bad they're an odd size...typical of vintage French made crap...however I also heard it depends on the year of the hub so I'm not sure about if mine are funky that way. Anyway I used the Mobil EM grease because of a long time long distance touring expert on the internet recommended it to extend the life of bearings, and the hubs and BB does seem smoother after I replaced the old with then new grease.
     
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