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View Full Version : Cracked carbon frames -- who has had problems?



Marcella
01-12-2012, 03:15 PM
I'm wondering how many people with carbon frames have had problems with cracks. And if so, what caused them?

I bought a Madone 4.7 WSD back in October 2010. Just over a year later, I discovered a crack in the top tube while I was cleaning the bike. I have no idea what caused it -- I've never crashed, I haven't dropped the bike or knocked it over or dropped anything on it. There has been no significant impact to the frame.

The LBS manager sent it to Trek, where they looked at it, scratched off a bit of paint at the end of the crack, and said they thought it was most likely caused by an impact (and therefore not covered by their warranty). In order to give me a definitive answer, they said they would have to cut off the top tube to look inside. After doing the math to determine the cost of buying a new frame under their replacement discount program (20% off) vs having the crack repaired, I asked the LBS manager to tell Trek to just return the bike to the shop so we could send it off to Calfee for repair.

I'm still waiting to get it back -- apparently Calfee has finished their work and it's in transit now.

I know carbon fiber can be very strong. But now I'm starting to wonder about the strength of mass-produced bike frames. Has anyone else had damage that was not caused by an obvious strong impact to the frame? Is this a fairly common problem or did I just get a lemon?

BTW the cost estimates were ~$1200 for a new frame, including replacing a few components that attach differently to a 2012 frame vs the 2010 model, vs < $400 for Calfee to repair the top tube and paint it gray to match the rest of the bike. For an extra $75 they would have repainted the Trek logo on it along with a white stripe that was part of the original design (but was actually painted off-center), but I saw no reason to pay extra for that.

Tim Kelley
01-12-2012, 03:22 PM
I have a Trek Madone 4.7 with around 8,000 miles on it. At one point or another, I've managed to destroy the cranks, derailleurs and multiple freehub bodies, but so far the frame has held up well to the abuse my Clydesdale weight has put on it!

How bad was the crack? Got any pictures to share?

Marcella
01-12-2012, 04:42 PM
I have a Trek Madone 4.7 with around 8,000 miles on it. At one point or another, I've managed to destroy the cranks, derailleurs and multiple freehub bodies, but so far the frame has held up well to the abuse my Clydesdale weight has put on it!

How bad was the crack? Got any pictures to share?

I took some photos before they sent the frame to Calfee, but I haven't uploaded them from my camera yet. I'm waiting to get the bike back so I can do the "after" pics at the same time.

The crack was a couple of inches long, I think. It ran lengthwise on the top tube.

jabberwocky
01-12-2012, 08:52 PM
I've destroyed one set of carbon bars (admittedly on my downhill bike, in a crash). Carbon fiber is an immensely strong material, but very sensitive to manufacturing faults and far more difficult to engineer than metals. From your story, I'm surprised Trek didn't take care of you. They have a good reputation for service. That said, I think with the down economy a lot of companies have gotten much more stingy with their service. This sure sounds like something that should have been covered under warranty. I think its important to buy from companies that stand behind their products.

I have two carbon bikes. An Ibis Silk SL road bike, and an Ibis Mojo HD mountainbike. Both are very young (built the Silk in september and the Mojo in July) so I can't comment on their longevity, but Ibis as a company is incredibly good about standing behind their products, so I'm not super concerned.

DaveK
01-12-2012, 10:42 PM
I probably would have put up more of a fight... if they had to scratch the paint off to tell I really don't see how they could claim it was hit or crashed. I'm very surprised Trek didn't stand by their product more. Water under the bridge at this point though. With Calfee's reputation I'm sure it'll come back better than new.

JimF22003
01-13-2012, 06:06 AM
I've had four carbon bikes, two Treks and two Cervelos. I've crashed one of the Treks and one of the Cervelos pretty hard, and I came out a lot more damaged than the bikes both times. I've taken all of them on some really rough roads too. I think it's pretty rare to have frame damage from ordinary use. On the other hand, Cervelo has had more than its share of cracks around the bottom bracket on some of their bikes.

The damage I had to have repaired on one of the bikes was from a dropped chain. The chain wedged in tight and I couldn't get off the bike in time, so i ended up grinding it in. I rode the bike that way for a few months, but there was a pretty bad gouge in the frame that really needed to be fixed. I think it was a $150 repair at Calfee.

Dirt
01-13-2012, 01:02 PM
I've got a 3 year old Cervelo and a 12 year old Colnago. Both are as awesome as the day I bought them. They have TONS of hard miles on them. Just sending the Cervelo off for paint in the next few weeks.

Brian Heiland
05-31-2013, 09:19 AM
I'm wondering how many people with carbon frames have had problems with cracks. And if so, what caused them?

I bought a Madone 4.7 WSD back in October 2010. Just over a year later, I discovered a crack in the top tube while I was cleaning the bike. I have no idea what caused it -- I've never crashed, I haven't dropped the bike or knocked it over or dropped anything on it. There has been no significant impact to the frame.

The LBS manager sent it to Trek, where they looked at it, scratched off a bit of paint at the end of the crack, and said they thought it was most likely caused by an impact (and therefore not covered by their warranty). In order to give me a definitive answer, they said they would have to cut off the top tube to look inside. After doing the math to determine the cost of buying a new frame under their replacement discount program (20% off) vs having the crack repaired, I asked the LBS manager to tell Trek to just return the bike to the shop so we could send it off to Calfee for repair.

I'm still waiting to get it back -- apparently Calfee has finished their work and it's in transit now.

I know carbon fiber can be very strong. But now I'm starting to wonder about the strength of mass-produced bike frames. Has anyone else had damage that was not caused by an obvious strong impact to the frame? Is this a fairly common problem or did I just get a lemon?

BTW the cost estimates were ~$1200 for a new frame, including replacing a few components that attach differently to a 2012 frame vs the 2010 model, vs < $400 for Calfee to repair the top tube and paint it gray to match the rest of the bike. For an extra $75 they would have repainted the Trek logo on it along with a white stripe that was part of the original design (but was actually painted off-center), but I saw no reason to pay extra for that.

Had a 2006 Madone 5.5
Started hearing and feeling creaking sounds while pedaling under load .
Problem worsened over time.
Adhesive joinery was starting to fail in bottom bracket area. The bottom bracket threads were cracking free of the carbon frame.
Frame was replaced by trek with a 2012 trek Madone 6 series frame.