Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Year in the Life of a Race Bike (carnage pics)

Like it or not, bikes are fiddly creatures. Looking back at my training diary from last year I put somewhere between 80 and 100 hrs on my race bike between April 1 and Sept. 30 (out of about 160 total) In the grand scheme, that's not a whole lot of time. Heck, most people drive their cars 100 hours between oil changes, and the functional lifetime of a Volvo 240 when cared for by grass-eating hippies is practically infinite, but over the course of one season my bike managed to generate a list of worn out and failed components that would make any 1970's British Leyland Saloon look like a picture of reliability by comparison. Though I am definitely impressed with / appalled at myself for being able to break this much stuff without really trying, Specialized hasn't called yet about that product tester position. Maybe posting the list on the internet will help...

Carnage from '08:

Worn out
  • 1 lower derailleur pulley (XTR 970)
  • 1 chain (SRAM PC-991)
  • 1 cassette (XT 760)
  • 1 set of pivot bearings (for Superlight swingarm)
  • 1 pair of headset bearings
  • 1 set of shift cables
  • 2 sets of shift housing
  • 1 saddle (WTB Pure V Pro - cover wore a hole)
  • 1 pair of pedals (Time ATAC XS carbon)
  • 2 sets of brake pads
  • NO TIRES!! they're almost dead and relegated to the training wheelset, but still...(Panaracer Fire XCs rule)
Catastrophically failed (or thereabouts):
  • 3 rims (2 Mavic XC717 1 Stan's ZTR Olympic - Taco, dent, broken weld, respectively)
  • 2 spokes (Wheelsmith DB15)
  • 1 upper derailleur pulley (XTR 970 - cracked in half)
  • 1 shock (Progressive 5th Element Air - oil leak)
  • 1 fork - 2x (Fox F100x - 1. oil leak and inertial valve fail. 2. bushings wore through enamel on stanchions)
  • 1 saddle (WTB Pure V Pro - broken rails)
  • 1 rollamajig (Avid - flex joint failed)
  • 1 hub bearing (in Tune Kong hub - failed seal on cartridge)
  • 1 suspension pivot (SC Superlight - bent)
  • 1 chainring bolt (generic - head popped off)
  • 1 chain - 2x (SRAM PC-991 - broken links)
  • Literally a pile of tubes
Breaking as much (expensive) stuff as I do, you learn quickly that a good story and a set of photos sent to a manufacturer goes a long way, provided you're not abusing the manufacturer's generosity too much. Of the list above, I was able to get the fork rebuilt (twice), saddle replaced, ZTR olympic wheel rebuilt, and pedals replaced (sorta) for free, and I got a second saddle at half price.

The best experience, by far, was with Stan's. After buying a rim and spokes from them and and building it myself, I tacoed it in about three rides. Not only did they replace the rim, pictured below with a broken weld, for free, but they actually rebuilt the wheel for me in the non-standard way I specified (with stainless-steel washers between the nipples and the rim).

On the downside, the new rim didn't look much better than the old one, though they assured me what you see on the right is normal.

WTB was good about replacing this saddle, which I ground through with my leg during the Landmine marathon race.

My favorite interaction, however was with Time,

who replied to the photos above with this message:


Our warranty does not cover wear and tear, and your pedals have been worn past the point of any repair. If you have worn out these pedals to this point in about a years time, then in all honesty, you should consider sticking with our pedals that uses an aluminum body or a different brand of pedals that use a metal body.

If you send us your current address, we will send you a pair of Aliums as a goodwill replacement.



info [at] timesportusa [dot] com

877-727-7661 toll-free phone

Never before have I had a company tell me explicitly not to buy their product. Maybe this is reverse psychology marketing: "Darn it, I CAN use your product whether you like it or NOT! You may think you know what's good for me, but I can do what I want, and I WILL buy your remarkably expensive plastic pedals over and over again, angrily sending their ravaged carcasses back to your US distributor and demanding recourse until the day they fail spectacularly in their weakness, causing me a horrific crash that ends my riding career. [pout]" They sent me free pedals though, so who am I to complain?

Anyway, as part of this whole "we're telling you all about our endurance racing experience", we've created a little spreadsheet that will list everything we break or wear out this year and what we replace it with. The running total of how much we spend is up at the top of the sidebar. Click on the number for the spreadsheet.

Image Credit:


Richard said...


Anonymous said...

Just hilarious, the best entry so far. The Time pedal story is priceless!

Anonymous said...

I want to point out that Im a 'grass eating hippie' and I managed to blow the engine in my Volvo 244 after only 18 years. Thats with it being service by the dealer! Maybe if Im lucky Time will buy Volvo when Ford sells it...

AChemEGradStudent said...

Nice dude. I broke a crankarm (Shimano FC-MC12) on my bike about a month ago. Turns out it was recalled in 1997, well before I bought the thing used in 2005 :-) Shimano is sending a new crank, bottom bracket, chain, and front derailleur to the shop for free, 11 years after the recall was announced!