Semi-rant

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#1
So I'm cleaning my bike yesterday and notice what appears to be a hairline crack encircling the tube just above the seatstays. "Yipes!" I thought to myself, "I would hate for this part to fail catastrophically while hitting 70kph on a descent or while hurtling along route 246."

The bike is a 2007 Felt F75, purchased in January at Y's bike shop in Akasaka. It's got an aluminum body and carbon front and back ends. That "crack" is around the aluminum tube a few millimeters above the point where the carbon stays are bonded to the frame.

I took it into the store today to see what my options were. Here they are:

A) Keep riding the bike and risk death.
B) Have the bike sent to Germany(!) to see if the "crack" really is that or merely a flaw in the paint. Oh, and the whole process could take "about a month," according to the Y's employee.

Both options kind of stink, if you ask me. But obviously, I've got to get the bike checked out. Imagine if they conclude that it's merely cracked paint. A month off the bike for nothing! Argh. And jeez, can't someone in Japan confirm whether the crack is structural or cosmetic?

Also, I will not be given a loaner bike in the interim, which I didn't really expect but would have been nice.

Y's is treating this as an issue solely between me and the manufacturer. This distancing of themselves from the problem means it is highly possible that I will be asked to foot all of the shipping fees and possibly reassembly fees (as is stated in Felt's online warrantee disclaimer). I imagine a smaller bike shop, where the ties can be more personal (and friendlier), would waive such fees. But Y's has made no mention of the possible fees involved, and I haven't asked. I am prepared to feign ignorance to the bitter end, and if they present me with a shipping bill, I will pull a :eek: and say ... well, I'm not sure yet, but it will be a moving bit of drama.

Has anyone else had to deal with warrantee issues? Is what I am seeing standard procedure?

What a pain!

EDIT: Felt has this on their website:

"For any Warranty claim to be considered, the bicycle must be brought into an authorized Felt dealer or Felt in assembled condition and accompanied by the original, dated sales receipt for the frameset."

My bike has a different stem than the one provided by Felt. Does this mean my bike is not in "assembled condition"? Certainly a different stem would not void the warranty, right?

I put this question to the Y's employee who's handling my "case." He essentially said, "We'll find out when it gets to Germany."

My confidence was not exactly inspired by his remark.
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
435
103
Tokyo
#2
Warranty

David,
You gave your money to the shop; the sales contract is between you and the shop. They cannot say the issue between you and the manufacturer. Good luck!

From a technical point of view, if the hairline is emerging from a weld, the metal near a weld, or a high stress point such as the base of the seat-tube slot, it's most likely a crack in the metal. If it is in a 'plain' area, i.e. just base metal, it might be a paint flaw.
Got any photographs?
 

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#3
David,
You gave your money to the shop; the sales contract is between you and the shop. They cannot say the issue between you and the manufacturer. Good luck!

From a technical point of view, if the hairline is emerging from a weld, the metal near a weld, or a high stress point such as the base of the seat-tube slot, it's most likely a crack in the metal. If it is in a 'plain' area, i.e. just base metal, it might be a paint flaw.
Got any photographs?
Thanks Alan. I agree -- they got my money, so they must bear some responsibility.

I don't have a photo, but attached is a picture culled from Bike Forums that shows a 2006 Felt F75 with a very similar crack, but about 5mm lower than mine. My crack is just above the sticker, which (the sticker) covers the point where the aluminum and carbon join. It the case pictured here, the bond between the materials broke. In my case, only the aluminum appears to have failed, but I would still say the affected region is a "high-stress point."

The person whose bike is pictured here got a free replacement (upgraded frame) and had all the related costs waived.

Hopefully, I will be as lucky.
 

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#4
Warranties...

I posted (& deleted) my last message because I didn't read all the information thoroughly.
As Alan says, it does sound like a "stress fracture" in the aluminum.
That said, you should get full warranty.
If the shop you bought it from (Y's) sold it to you new, it IS their responsibility to act as "go-between" between you and the manufacturer - THEY bought the faulty frame from them, so...
If on the other-hand, it was a second-hand bike that Y's sold to you, they might not have the original purchase documents, and may not be liable for anything.

I don't know, but it's possibly a dodgy situation.

If worse comes to worst, buy a new frame, and have all the components put onto the newer (better) frame - $200 on top of the price of the new frame - and possibly some cheaper up-grades.
Good luck! T
 

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#5
Thanks for your reply, Travis. Yes, I am the original owner of the bike, so the warrantee should cover any damage (unless Felt takes issue with the fact that the stem is different than the original).

Hopefully, my bike will be riding first class on the next flight to Berlin and I'll get some feedback soon.

The worst part is not having a bike during the prime autumn cycling season. I feel really strong on the bike right now, but this cyclus interruptus will really throw off my momentum.

Well, at least now I'll be able to spend more time with my kids!

D
 

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#6
Another photo

Here's another photo of the Felt with a crack very similar to the one on my bike. This time, the owner pulled on the seatstays to better expose the extent of the damage. Scary stuff!
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
435
103
Tokyo
#7
Blimey!

That looks quite serious. I'm surprised that a crack would occur on that tube as it is loaded in compression nearly all of the time. I would guess the bonding of the carbon seat stays set up some residual tensile stress in the aluminium, then a cyclic compressive load could crack the metal. When the compressive load is removed, the tensile stress would re-establish itself. Or they may not have heat treated the aluminium properly, which would severely reduce the fatigue life.

Anyway, even if it turns out to be just a paint flaw, it's worth getting it checked out; it would play havoc with your confidence on every ride thinking it might break :eek:
 

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#8
I would guess the bonding of the carbon seat stays set up some residual tensile stress in the aluminium, then a cyclic compressive load could crack the metal. When the compressive load is removed, the tensile stress would re-establish itself.
You took the words right out of my mouth. :) Every bike forum should have an engineer!

Seriously, though, I find your analysis comforting and strangely vindicating. "Of course that's what happened."

When I get the call from Germany and they explain to me that yes, there is a crack, but they don't know why, I'll quote you, saying, "Well, here's my theory ..."

Cheers, Alan. I'll be sure to follow up with any new developments.

As for riding in fear, my 17km ride to the bike shop yesterday through central Tokyo nearly did my head in. I barely sat down the entire time, fearing the extra load would cause the bike to shatter.:confused: Yes, I could have bagged it -- but during morning rush hour, that would have been ug-lee.

D
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#9
Sorry to hear about the bike problems, deej! I have carbon seatstays/alumi frame on my bike as well, and have heard that the interface can be a weakness (after I bought the thing, of course)...

Anyway, sounds like you're getting everything sorted, but for what it's worth, I've found the tendency in Japan is to undersell what they can do for you, just to avoid trouble with a disappointed customer later... I'll bet you'll have a brand new frame from Felt within the month.:bike:
 

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#10
Sorry to hear about the bike problems, deej! I have carbon seatstays/alumi frame on my bike as well, and have heard that the interface can be a weakness (after I bought the thing, of course)...

Anyway, sounds like you're getting everything sorted, but for what it's worth, I've found the tendency in Japan is to undersell what they can do for you, just to avoid trouble with a disappointed customer later... I'll bet you'll have a brand new frame from Felt within the month.:bike:
Thanks, Phil! Yeah, it was only after I purchased my bike that I did all the research on it. Hi, I'm lame. Still, I have really enjoyed the Felt and don't regret buying it.

And I concur with you on the overall excellentitude of Japanese customer service. I'm just turning all Woody Allen because it's "My Precious" we're dealing with here.

Ideal scenario: Early next week, I get a call from the bike shop saying Felt will ship me a 2008 F55 with full Dura-Ace, which is "one level" up from my current steed but has the same black-and-yellow color scheme. I mean, my entire cycling wardrobe plays off my bike's colors, so anything other than black and yellow is simply unacceptable. :) Think the dealer will sympathize? I didn't think so either...
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,656
475
103
Japan
#11
As for riding in fear, my 17km ride to the bike shop yesterday through central Tokyo nearly did my head in. I barely sat down the entire time, fearing the extra load would cause the bike to shatter.:confused: Yes, I could have bagged it -- but during morning rush hour, that would have been ug-lee.

D
I would have bunny hopped that pup as much as possible just to stress it extra! If it broke all the better. Get a full cash refund and buy another brand.
I know Kestrel had a problem with a batch of their bikes a number of years ago. The LBS here sent the frame back to Daiwa, the importers then and they sent it back to USA. The customer had a beef with the LBS and he got onto Daiwa which eventually gave the customer a new frame. The customer was happy the LBS was happy and Daiwa dropped Kestrel but at the end of the day it is the bike shop that has to fix things up for you. If they can't tell you the frame is safe then they are obligated to make it better. Don't let sucking teeth or 難しいですねー land you with a potentially unsafe bike. If it comes back as safe get the biggest lard ass dude you can find, switch wheels to MTB and after pumping the tires as hard as possible ride it down a few flights of stairs. If it doesn't crack, then you can probably rest easy. Good Luck. Might want to check the japanese forums for simillar probs.
 

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#12
Happy ending

Well, it appears this semi-rant has a happy ending (you called it, Phil).

Ys called me and said they have a new frame for me and will have my bike built up this week. It turns out the crack on the seatstays was more than merely paint damage. Scary.

Also, they said the replacement frame will be in a size 56 as I requested, down from the 58 I had been riding. The upshot is that I canceled the order on the titanium Panasonic -- sorry Thomas, you were so helpful! :warau:

I figured I didn't need two new bikes, and although I would have preferred the Panasonic, it was difficult to justify the cost when presented with a brand new frame. I had ordered the Panasonic and a Ksyrium ES wheelset together, so I will use the 50,000 yen deposit I made for them toward the wheels.

In the end, the crack enabled me to get a free new frame in the size I wanted, plus prompted me to splash out on some fancy wheels. All's well that ends well.

:)
 

evan06

Warming-Up
Jul 23, 2007
103
0
0
Yokosuka
#13
Is this common with Felt frames? I was actually considering a Felt frame. As I research more and more I am quickly being pushed back to sticking with Pinarello (my current fame). I will be in San Diego for 5 months before coming to Japan so I do plan to do some serious investigating into a new bike.

James
 

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#15
Yeah, great news Dave! Let's go for a ride on the new wheels when it's all set up to go...
Thanks, Phil. I look forward to riding with you again. By the way, excellent race report! That really made me want to give something like that a try. And it sounds like you've made the transition to clipless. How has that been for you so far?

Is this common with Felt frames?
Although I have read about one other similar case, I can't imagine it is a common problem. If it were, Felt probably wouldn't be in business and sponsoring a pro team. However, the incident does make me question the structural integrity of carbon/aluminum bonds. I'm pretty sure my next bike will not have an aluminum body with carbon stays. I'll probably go full carbon or full titanium (with a carbon fork).
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#16
And it sounds like you've made the transition to clipless. How has that been for you so far?
Brilliant, actually, far better than expectations. Instant boost to the average on my weekday 50km loop. Really made a difference on the hills and off the line at lights etc... still no Rasmussen up the slopes, of course, but being clipped in sure does help keep the pedals spinning, instead of the stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp with loose toe clips.
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
435
103
Tokyo
#17
That's great news David (Deej).
I can speak from experience with the Krysium ES wheelset - that red spoke really makes a difference!

"Normal Wheels"================================="One Red Spoke"
:climb02:​
:climb01::climb01:
:climb01::climb01: