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Enigma bikes: my tale of woe

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Enigma bikes: my tale of woe

Old 05-18-21, 11:46 AM
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Enigma bikes: my tale of woe

About 25 years ago I moved to the UK and took up cycling, but you probably don't want my life story, so I'll cut straight to the woe.







What am I looking at, you ask? That, my roadie friends, is the bad end of an Enigma, a make built not far down the road from me here in currently rainy East Sussex. It's 10 years old, and has seen a fair amount of mileage but nothing extraordinary (40k would be a stretch. I don't use a computer, so that's an educated guess.)

This was in fact the third frame failure. Last year the dropout dropped out



and four years previous, the bottom bracket first made its displeasure known (I wrote about it here).



This was sold to me with a lifetime warranty, which is now not being honoured unless I pony up the equivalent of $850 "for materials". I would be a fool to give them another dime, so that's that, I guess. They also said that 10 years is a reasonable lifespan for a high end bike, which I kind of wish they'd mentioned in the first place, as I would've gone elsewhere.

My reason for sharing these pictures is simple. If you're looking to buy an Enigma, consider this another data point. If you already happen to have one and it's given you no trouble, great: may it long continue. I wish you more luck than I've had.
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Old 05-18-21, 11:56 AM
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Sounds like you got good use out of it, but their refusal to honor the warranty is pretty sucky IMO.

edit: Their website now quotes a 10 year warranty. I wonder why....
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Old 05-18-21, 12:11 PM
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Yes, they changed the terms after I bought mine. The new terms are - what's the word? - sucky. It's academic to me now anyway.

I was quite shocked by the way they treated me, though as I mentioned in the story linked above, it was clear they were angling for an out with the first crack 5 years ago. Live and learn.
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Old 05-18-21, 01:53 PM
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Is that titanium?
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Old 05-18-21, 02:02 PM
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Absolutely not. Can't be.
Everyone knows that Ti lasts forever.
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Old 05-18-21, 02:13 PM
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I'll happily admit I was a bit of a sucker for the ti lasts forever shtick, even while knowing it ain't so. Which is why I went for a manufacturer whom I thought I could trust to act decently should the worst happen. More fool me.
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Old 05-18-21, 02:14 PM
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Show this to anyone who tries to buy a "lifetime" bike. No such thing.
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Old 05-18-21, 03:03 PM
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The weld in your second photo looks a little off. Like they messed up and re-welded it. Yikes.
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Old 05-18-21, 03:23 PM
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Well, they suck.
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Old 05-18-21, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
The weld in your second photo looks a little off. Like they messed up and re-welded it. Yikes.
That was the repair on a previous crack. If you read his link, he outlines the history of the cracking issues.
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Old 05-18-21, 04:07 PM
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Looks like poor stress relief around the welding. 10 years lifespan for a road frame is pretty pathetic really.
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Old 05-18-21, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Looks like poor stress relief around the welding. 10 years lifespan for a road frame is pretty pathetic really.
It broke @ 5 years the first time.
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Old 05-18-21, 06:15 PM
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Enigma will get all the negative advertisement they need here in perpetuity.
With nothing to lose, why not try to email the owners of the company?

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Old 05-18-21, 06:38 PM
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I always heard that with Ti, the welding is the key, and some of the welding on this frame - especially the previous repair - is quite sloppy looking. There are differing opinions as to the mystique of titanium welding - some maintaining that it’s super technically demanding, others saying that, at the end of the day, it’s just welding. Either way, there’s something to be said for going with manufacturers like Litespeed that churn out Ti. The frames may not be ”boutique”, but the builders have their act together. IIRC the Reilly Bikes mentioned in the linked article are one of the only, if not the only, firms that draws their own 6/4 Ti tubing, as opposed to rolling and welding sheets to form tubes.
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Old 05-18-21, 06:51 PM
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I'm sorry to hear of your challenges with Enigma. I fall directly into the mentality that a lifetime warranty on anything but wear and tear if advertised should be honored. Seems a shame that given every photo looks to be on or near a weld that the warranty would not be upheld. Alas, as you mention, lessons learned, although really there are no lessons to be learned here other than a company not standing by their (initial) commitment. I believe my Speedvagen is reasonably warrantied at 10 yrs, at least they make it clear.
Sorry though that you are out a frame and now in the market.
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Old 05-18-21, 07:34 PM
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No, those repeated frame cracks and failures should be a clear message to any company that's concerned about its QC that they have a real problem with their manufacturing processes.

Not honoring a lifetime warranty? Doesn't sound like Enigma is too concerned about its reputation.

=K

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Old 05-18-21, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
I always heard that with Ti, the welding is the key, and some of the welding on this frame - especially the previous repair - is quite sloppy looking. There are differing opinions as to the mystique of titanium welding - some maintaining that it’s super technically demanding, others saying that, at the end of the day, it’s just welding. Either way, there’s something to be said for going with manufacturers like Litespeed that churn out Ti. The frames may not be ”boutique”, but the builders have their act together. IIRC the Reilly Bikes mentioned in the linked article are one of the only, if not the only, firms that draws their own 6/4 Ti tubing, as opposed to rolling and welding sheets to form tubes.
Litespeed make some nice frames. I even have one.
But they can crack too.
Nothing is exempt.
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Old 05-19-21, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
I always heard that with Ti, the welding is the key, and some of the welding on this frame - especially the previous repair - is quite sloppy looking. There are differing opinions as to the mystique of titanium welding - some maintaining that it’s super technically demanding, others saying that, at the end of the day, it’s just welding. Either way, there’s something to be said for going with manufacturers like Litespeed that churn out Ti. The frames may not be ”boutique”, but the builders have their act together. IIRC the Reilly Bikes mentioned in the linked article are one of the only, if not the only, firms that draws their own 6/4 Ti tubing, as opposed to rolling and welding sheets to form tubes.
Welding definitely is a key part and it's not easy. I would guess these failures are due to stress cracks in the tubes rather than failure of the weld joint itself. Doesn't look like any shot-peening was carried out and probably not any other form of effective stress relief looking at the results! Probably just got too hot during welding. I'm a professional mechanical engineer, but welding is not my speciality so could be wrong!
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Old 05-19-21, 11:58 AM
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Lifetime warranty. I once had a video card fail that had a lifetime warranty. I contacted the company. They agreed that it had failed, but said that the lifetime of the card was until the next version came out.
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Old 05-19-21, 12:20 PM
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My condolences, that's a huge bummer. I've followed Enigma on various social media because they make some drool-worthy looking bikes, or at least they do a good job making them look good on the internet, but this is just not cool.

I can be understanding that sometimes failures happen but then the refusal to honor the warranty is the part that's just not OK. I don't know what the consumer protection laws are like in the UK but it's probably worth looking into.

On the flip side I know several people who have Ti bikes from Moots and Eriksen that are well past the 10 year mark and still chewing up the miles. (Eriksen is Bingham now.) So my non-expert layperson opinion is that it's all about the welding.
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Old 05-20-21, 04:24 AM
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It looks like the frame is toast. Time to get another bike and junk what you can off the other one.
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Old 05-20-21, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jack tone View Post
lifetime warranty. I once had a video card fail that had a lifetime warranty. I contacted the company. They agreed that it had failed, but said that the lifetime of the card was until the next version came out.
lol!
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Old 05-20-21, 04:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
It looks like the frame is toast. Time to get another bike and junk what you can off the other one.
I don't think anyone is doubting that!
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Old 05-20-21, 04:51 AM
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Oddly this tale doesn't feature in their "owner reviews" section. You should definitely submit a review.
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Old 05-20-21, 06:12 AM
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Thanks for the replies.

Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
Litespeed make some nice frames. I even have one.
Me too. Circa '99.



It wasn't a custom build so stopped being my favourite when the Enigma arrived, but it's just moved up the pecking order.

Originally Posted by znomit View Post
Oddly this tale doesn't feature in their "owner reviews" section. You should definitely submit a review.
I’ve had my share of rejection letters over the years, various degrees of hope dashed. Am reasonably confident any submission of mine would land straight in their circular file. I have written an open letter.
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