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My cracked Spec Roubaix bike frame - the resolution

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My cracked Spec Roubaix bike frame - the resolution

Old 09-26-22, 01:51 PM
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KiwiDallas
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My cracked Spec Roubaix bike frame - the resolution

I'd posted here in late July that I found a crack in the seat-stay of my 1-year-old Specialized Roubaix Sport frame. I took it back to my LBS, a longtime Specialized dealer, to handle the warranty claim.

As background: This was my fourth Specialized, all from my LBS. Spec Allez in the 1990s, a 2005 Roubaix, a 2008 Tarmac, and now the 2021 Roubaix Sport. So I'm a longtime customer.

A week later, the LBS manager called to tell me Specialized had denied my warranty claim. But out of the goodness of their hearts, Spec would offer me 35% off a new one under their Crash Replacement Program.

I asked the LBS manager: Do you think this bike was crashed? "No." Would you take this offer? "No." Will you pursue this claim? "Yes, absolutely." And he did, as we'll see.

I'm 64 years old and I drive my bike over to the local lake to ride the loop. The enormous frame stresses and the power generated by my aging body must have cracked a carbon fiber frame. Or else it was a problem in the CF fab and layup, which is what we all believe, at their Taiwan factory.

The claims process dragged on. Spec demanded more photographs of the bike to try to claim I'd crashed it. LBS manager told them, and me, "I've been in business 22 years and I know crash damage when I see it. This frame just broke." I added that if I'd been in an accident bad enough to break the frame, I'd be in the hospital. My LBS manager reached deep into three layers and 22 years' worth of contacts at Spec and finally got them to agree to send them, and me, a new frame. It arrived last week and their service manager grafted the parts from the old bike onto the new frame.

When I stopped by to see it, the service manager grinned. "I've got a surprise for you," he said. Indeed he did. They'd sent out an S-Works Roubaix frame.

I told him, "I've got a surprise for you." I went back to my car for an ice chest. I presented him with a case of boo-teek lagers, IPAs, and ales. Because I've never seen a bike shop that didn't run on beer. The LBS manager and shop staff quickly gathered around (hey, it was nearly beer o'clock in the afternoon).

Specialized really disappointed me in how they treated my warranty claim. The LBS - name happily supplied on request - really saved the relationship. They represented the customer well, they persisted with the claim, and they never abandoned me. I have more to say about Spec but let's wind this up now.

Pics:

Former Spec Roubaix Sport in silver with crack in frame:




New Spec S-Works Roubaix frame and my old parts:


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Old 09-26-22, 02:04 PM
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Nice story and great that you have an LBS who will fight for you.
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Old 09-26-22, 02:05 PM
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Glad you got that sorted!

I know the chain (the largest in DFW right?) and they are a good business. Good that they kept on it.
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Old 09-26-22, 02:55 PM
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Please post the name and location of LBS please - mostly just to give credit where credit is due. Not sure why it would be kept a secret.

Glad this got sorted for you and nice looking new bike!
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Old 09-26-22, 02:58 PM
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Nice story. Bummer they had to fight so hard for you.

How does the new bike ride??
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Old 09-26-22, 03:34 PM
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Persistence can pay off.

Whether it was or wasn't Specialized's fault I don't think any will argue that it's nice the bike shop stood by you and worked to get the issue taken care of.
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Old 09-26-22, 03:35 PM
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It's nice that it worked out for you, and it was nice of you to supply beer (as well as continued loyalty, I presume) to a shop that pushed the claim for you.

It seems like your shop manager used some connections at Specialized, and probably his position as a volume dealer, to get you a new frame. I hope you don't take this as some kind of admission from Spec'd that it was actually a random frame failure.
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Old 09-26-22, 04:07 PM
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I still don't think that was a random frame failure either. And as Koyote posted I'd not take it as an admission of that. I have a pretty detailed knowledge of how carbon frames are made and it's so unlikely that the layup gets put in the mold incorrectly that I don't think I've ever seen it happen. For that type of damage to occur you'd have to leave pieces of carbon out of the layup, so when you thought you had a complete frame you'd have to have leftover pieces of carbon. It's very unlikely that nothing caused that from the outside.
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Old 09-26-22, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
I still don't think that was a random frame failure either. And as Koyote posted I'd not take it as an admission of that. I have a pretty detailed knowledge of how carbon frames are made and it's so unlikely that the layup gets put in the mold incorrectly that I don't think I've ever seen it happen. For that type of damage to occur you'd have to leave pieces of carbon out of the layup, so when you thought you had a complete frame you'd have to have leftover pieces of carbon. It's very unlikely that nothing caused that from the outside.
Hopefully Specialized took the frame back to look at it. It may be that one should make a special Baby Boomer model of carbon fiber frames, that are just a little more robust than the racing frames.

If I was @KiwiDallas, I'd carefully look at how the bike is transported, how it is parked, and how it is stored. Falling, banging, etc.



Could hitting a pothole really hard cause some kind of compression damage?
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Old 09-26-22, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Could hitting a pothole really hard cause some kind of compression damage?
Not without destroying the wheels and pitching the rider onto the pavement.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Hopefully Specialized took the frame back to look at it.
They already know that this wasn't a manufacturing defect.
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If I was @KiwiDallas, I'd carefully look at how the bike is transported, how it is parked, and how it is stored. Falling, banging, etc.
Yup. If Kiwi comes back to the shop with another broken cf frame, they're not gonna go to bat for him again.
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Old 09-27-22, 06:31 AM
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Good on you for the final result, extra-special kudos to the LBS for the fantastic help and customer service. And, for whatever reason, good on Specialized. Having a good relationship with a LBS is a definite plus. In my mind, how and why the claim got to resolution does not matter much. I think no one can tell from a picture what caused the failure. I look at it as a good ending for all parties involved.
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Old 09-27-22, 07:58 AM
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ooops. sorry about the size of this photo.
This also happened to a buddy of mine. Similar failure, that probably started the same way. No crash. Just cranking up a hill.
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Old 09-27-22, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
I still don't think that was a random frame failure either. And as Koyote posted I'd not take it as an admission of that. I have a pretty detailed knowledge of how carbon frames are made and it's so unlikely that the layup gets put in the mold incorrectly that I don't think I've ever seen it happen. For that type of damage to occur you'd have to leave pieces of carbon out of the layup, so when you thought you had a complete frame you'd have to have leftover pieces of carbon. It's very unlikely that nothing caused that from the outside.
Clearly a case of JRA.😏
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Old 09-27-22, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by delbiker1 View Post
I think no one can tell from a picture what caused the failure. I look at it as a good ending for all parties involved.

I agree that it’s pretty hard to tell from a picture the definitive cause of the failure.

I do have sympathy for Specialized initial position. They get thousands of warranty claims that all start with “ I was just riding around”.

Looking at the picture that damage could have been caused by something as simple as the bike falling over, another bike smacking up against it, something like a car door hitting it in a garage.

In order to get “the horizontally stiff, vertically compliant ride” seat stays are not very beefy. Also the seatstay is designed to handle a certain load from the weight of the rider, and impacts up through the wheel, not so much a side impact to the stay. Thus it would not take much to crack the frame hitting it sideways at about the thinnest place on. the whole frame.

Carbon frames can be very strong, but if you hit at the wrong angle in the wrong place they will break.
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Old 09-27-22, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post

ooops. sorry about the size of this photo.
This also happened to a buddy of mine. Similar failure, that probably started the same way. No crash. Just cranking up a hill.
How old is that bike. Looks like maybe an 8 speed cassette.
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Old 09-27-22, 08:34 AM
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Ooooh - only glancing at the pic and not paying too much attention to the orientation of the bike, I thought that it was a chain stay crack and that it was buckling up (ie not in the same direction as the rear wheel rotation) and was confused at how it could have failed or been damaged in that manner. Now that understand that the bike is upside-down, and the crack on the seat stay is buckling in the direction of wheel rotation... yeah, I'd bet dollars to donuts that it picked up a stick in the spokes.

I guess the OP is, uh... fortunate?... that Spec replaced it for him, but I hope that legitimate failures don't see undue scrutiny to balance out.
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Old 09-27-22, 09:03 AM
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Given the nature of the thread, the interest in this expanded to knowing a bit more about actual manufacture/process for creating a frame of Carbon Fiber.
Not being a materials engineer, nor a designer, I have had some experience in the area of other fiber/resin materials and construction. BF does have it's unique properties and requirements for design/construction based on use.
So a quick google turned up this interesting article on CF Frame construction (link), in general. Certainly there would be differences in handling from smaller custom shops to large scale industrial methods. Given the extensive process and handing needs of Fiber /Resin materials/construction/product, it's obviously has many possible steps where weaknesses can happen, which might not have a 'visual' element.
Interesting stuff.
I would think that Specialized would be able to inspect the frame (destructively) and determine how the failure happened.
Anyway, in this kind of business, predominantly high end recreation, customer satisfaction is way more important to the bottom line than worrying about losses due to 'replacement'. Of course it's important to not let 'user damage' be a considerable element of cost, but even border line cases are best resolving quickly. I'm surprised Specialized made it so difficult.
Given the size and nature of this business, I;d be really surprised if a company the size of Specialized isn;t keeping a close eye on the internet and 'chatter'.
You can't please everyone, but taking a hit because of poor image management is easily avoidable.
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Old 09-27-22, 09:43 AM
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Still looks to me like it was damaged, not cracked from use.

It doesn't take much force to crush those pencil-thin seat stays.

The OP got a sweet deal from Specialized.
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Old 09-27-22, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post

ooops. sorry about the size of this photo.
This also happened to a buddy of mine. Similar failure, that probably started the same way. No crash. Just cranking up a hill.
I doubt this as well.
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Old 09-27-22, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post

Could hitting a pothole really hard cause some kind of compression damage?
Nope. Like Koyote posted you'd have a bunch of other damage as well.

If anyone cares, this is how I've seen carbon frames produced (at more than 1 facility). The pre-preg carbon comes in large rolls, they're stored in big ass refrigerators. The rolls are taken out when needed and all the little bitty and not so little bitty pieces are cut on a roughly 4 x 8 CNC cutter. Incredibly accurate, incredibly repeatable. They differ some depending on size and of course model of frame. The carbon pieces are then labeled and put in a bin. They go to production where the molds are. The person building the frame puts the pieces in the mold according to a 'layup schedule'. It's basically a binder with 'this piece goes here and that piece goes there' instructions. Every frame is done this way so it's pretty hard to screw one up. Also, the frames are produced in production runs so at any given time only one model and possibly a couple of sizes are being laid up. Again, this doesn't bode well for mistakes. It's not like 10 people are working on 10 distinctly different frames and the wrong collection of carbon pieces could end up w/ the wrong person/mold. Seeing as how this is done it's very hard to imagine that a worker doing lay-up could 'forget' to put a few layers in a seat stay as they'd have extra parts in the bin when they thought they were finished. So, again...the likelihood that this was genuinely a warranty issue are very minimal.
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Old 09-27-22, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
If anyone cares,
Thanks. I am now slightly less ignorant of the entire process.

What happens after the pieces are put into the mold, if you wouldn't mind?
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Old 09-27-22, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Ooooh - only glancing at the pic and not paying too much attention to the orientation of the bike, I thought that it was a chain stay crack
You are not alone in the universe. Then I read another post that mentioned seat stay. At first I was like "Why is dude talking about thin seat stays?" Then I went back and looked at the photo again.
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Old 09-27-22, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Ooooh - only glancing at the pic and not paying too much attention to the orientation of the bike, I thought that it was a chain stay crack and that it was buckling up (ie not in the same direction as the rear wheel rotation) and was confused at how it could have failed or been damaged in that manner. Now that understand that the bike is upside-down, and the crack on the seat stay is buckling in the direction of wheel rotation... yeah, I'd bet dollars to donuts that it picked up a stick in the spokes.

I guess the OP is, uh... fortunate?... that Spec replaced it for him, but I hope that legitimate failures don't see undue scrutiny to balance out.
I was very confused by the picture as well. Would a stick be strong enough to do that damage without hurting the spokes?
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Old 09-27-22, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
Nope. Like Koyote posted you'd have a bunch of other damage as well.

If anyone cares, this is how I've seen carbon frames produced (at more than 1 facility). The pre-preg carbon comes in large rolls, they're stored in big ass refrigerators. The rolls are taken out when needed and all the little bitty and not so little bitty pieces are cut on a roughly 4 x 8 CNC cutter. Incredibly accurate, incredibly repeatable. They differ some depending on size and of course model of frame. The carbon pieces are then labeled and put in a bin. They go to production where the molds are. The person building the frame puts the pieces in the mold according to a 'layup schedule'. It's basically a binder with 'this piece goes here and that piece goes there' instructions. Every frame is done this way so it's pretty hard to screw one up. Also, the frames are produced in production runs so at any given time only one model and possibly a couple of sizes are being laid up. Again, this doesn't bode well for mistakes. It's not like 10 people are working on 10 distinctly different frames and the wrong collection of carbon pieces could end up w/ the wrong person/mold. Seeing as how this is done it's very hard to imagine that a worker doing lay-up could 'forget' to put a few layers in a seat stay as they'd have extra parts in the bin when they thought they were finished. So, again...the likelihood that this was genuinely a warranty issue are very minimal.
And, then there are those built on Fridays. As the saying goes in the auto industry.
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Old 09-27-22, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Thanks. I am now slightly less ignorant of the entire process.

What happens after the pieces are put into the mold, if you wouldn't mind?
Heat and vacuum. Generally an autoclave is used. Once cured the mold is opened and the frame removed. Some finish work is done along the mold lines and areas like bottom bracket, head tube, etc.
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