Is Ribble correct that frame crack is not their responsibility?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by happyhenry, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. happyhenry

    happyhenry New Member

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    Hi, the aluminium frame on my Ribble Winter Trainer cracked in two, two years after purchase. This was not the result of a collision or crash of any sort, but simply happened during a long ride.

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    When I got the bike I found it gave me severe back ache, as the frame seems to have been too small for me (the danger in buying online, I think). My local bike shop solved this by increasing the 30mm of spacers, between the frame and the handlebars, to 80mm.

    Ribble say that the crack has been caused by these extra spacers putting extra pressure on the frame.

    My bike shop has responded by consulting 8 different fork manufacturers and found no suggestion that stem heights could result in frame failure.

    Who is likely to be right, Ribble or my local bike shop?

    (Note, I have never had a collision on the bike. However I have come off it twice. The first time, in summer 2012 in a local park, it resulted in a mashed bike fork. The second time, in December 2013 - 6 weeks before the crack - I came off at 5mph on black ice)
     
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  2. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    How was the LBS able to add 50 mm of spacers, was the bike delivered with an uncut fork? Or did they use a steerer tube extender?
    And if the bike was delivered with an uncut fork, (or a fork with a steerer long enough to allow for that kind of adjustability, it seems really strange for Ribble to hold the customer accountable for making use of what was delivered.
    If steerer length was critical, I'd expect the steerer to have been trimmed to allowed dimensions on delivery.
    Or some over-the-top disclaimers and warning about how to assemble the bike.

    The weakness in Ribbles argument is that load-wise, the frame can't see any difference between someone adding some spacers, or someone using a riser stem. The overall geometry - where the handlebars ended up - is the main thing.
    So unless the bike came with some sort of disclaimer that it's only to be used with a certain stem - or smaller - then I can't really see how they can claim that spacers on the steerer contributed to this failure.

    Now, I can see two probable scenarios here:

    1) maybe your bike has a strengthening patch welded on to the bottom of the downtube where it meets the headtube. Where the weld blends into the base material of the dowtube would be an excellent place for a fatigue crack to start developing due to the heat affected base material
    2) damaging a fork to the point of replacement usually means that it has hit something head-on. This might have put a dent in the down tube. And that dent would then also make a nice starting point for a fatigue crack.
     
  3. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    I may be misunderstanding but when you say you came off the bike, once apparently hard enough to damage the fork, and while it may bypass some definition of "collision" it sounds like the bike has seen some trauma. Aluminum doesn't handle elastic deformation well, and is the material's biggest downside to being used in bicycle construction imo. While Ribble's response might be a stretch, the circumstances seem a little beyond normal "wear and tear". And with regards to Dabac's query regarding the addition of spacers, sometimes modifying a bike beyond a certain extent may void the warranty, so how indeed that was accomplished may have some bearing.

    Was Ribble informed about the accidents, or are they just aware of the extended spacing?
     
  4. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Mechanically speaking, for what the frame sees, where the bars end up is all that matters. Riser stem, or a steerer tube extender and a downward angle stem - same difference. It's like those Z-shaped cranks that gets reinvented every few years. It's the effective leverage that important, not the shape of the actual lever.

    But yeah, if the frame manufacturer had put a limit on where the bar is allowed to be, then going outside that range - no matter how - would indeed be a breach of warranty conditions.

    If the manufacturer is OK with a riser stem, but not added spacers (assuming the bars stay in the same place) then the spacers would be a formal breach of warranty conditions, and also ample proof that the manufactuer is better at CYA than engineering.
     
  5. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    How long was the frame warrantied for?
     
  6. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Look at your exclusions and terms of the warranty but you have the burden of proof that you abided by those terms. Photos are recommended, any testimonal from the LBS that supports your claim and research to see if anyone else has had similar issues with this frame or manufacturer. Check your states "Lemon Laws" and cross your fingers.
     
  7. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    A thied viable option: - if turning the fork can cause the brake to impact the down tube, that too could make a dent/scratch deep enough to be a possible starting point for a crack.
     
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