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Frame Life

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
36,866
3,699
Sleazattle
I tore down my Superlight yesterday to inspect it for any cracks or damage. It still looks good but the bike as been through 4 years of very heavy use and I have had to replace every part on it except for the seatpost and stem at least once. No bike will last forever but how long should I expect this thing to last? I am worried that it will finally give way on my while tearing down the side of a mountain. I know no one has an answer for this just though y'all might be able to share some tales about old bikes.
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,659
26
behind the viewfinder
every bike and usage is different...tough to say. i've had steel bikes last a long time, and some aluminum ones fail after less than one year. the best is to do as you did: do a complete teardown and do a close inspection of high stress areas. if you've got some doubt, use dye penetrant.

or do as Ton says and go shopping. :D
 

splat

Nam I am
Well , when My Fat Chance failed after 9 years of Hard use. I call Fat city about, even though it had a Life time warrenty , they told me the life of a Mt bike frame was 5 years.

having said that my Hard tail is 8 years old and I keep beating the snot out of it with no problem.
 

I Are Baboon

Run, Forrest, Run!
Aug 6, 2001
29,441
2,009
MTB New England
This thread scares me. I will going on year 5 with my Quasi Moto in 2006 and I like to think I ride it pretty hard. :think: I wasn't even thinking about a new frame.

Damn, I've had it that long???
 

urbaindk

The Real Dr. Science
Jul 12, 2004
4,831
0
Sleepy Hollar
narlus said:
if you've got some doubt, use dye penetrant.
How does the dye penetrant work? I've used it to test hermetically sealed connectors used in electronics. We always did a destructive test (cross section) to see if the dye penetrated the seal. That would be sort of hard on the bike. I would love to cut up some bikes to see if they were cracked though. Any donations?
 

indieboy

Want fries with that?
Jan 4, 2002
1,811
1
atlanta
I Are Baboon said:
This thread scares me. I will going on year 5 with my Quasi Moto in 2006 and I like to think I ride it pretty hard. :think: I wasn't even thinking about a new frame.

Damn, I've had it that long???
i was thinking the same thing reading that.
 

The Toninator

Muffin
Jul 6, 2001
5,440
16
High(ts) Htown
I Are Baboon said:
This thread scares me. I will going on year 5 with my Quasi Moto in 2006 and I like to think I ride it pretty hard. :think: I wasn't even thinking about a new frame.

Damn, I've had it that long???
DAMN! has it been that long? Time for a new bike. let me give mbc a ring and i'll take care of everything :)
 

Rockland

Turbo Monkey
Apr 24, 2003
1,768
57
Left hand path
SkaredShtles said:
I personally think an aluminum bike frame should last at least a decade. Steel and Ti should last a lifetime. Unless you run 'em into the garage. Then all bets are off. :p
Hard & fast timelines just can't be applied. There are many variables that contribute to a frame's exact number of cycles to failure. Expected lifetime statements can only hold true given a larrrrrge saftey factor. Maybe in the future we will all ride bikes with integrated strain gauges & instrumentation. The day we should retire the bike a message will be automaticly sent to your personal communications device. :blah: :cool:
 

Polandspring88

Superman
Mar 31, 2004
3,075
0
Broomfield, CO
:( My bike is going on 5 years old as well. After 2 hard years of downhilling and hard use next year it gets retired. Now I just have to find a way to get $1000+ for a new one...
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
36,866
3,699
Sleazattle
This poor bike has really been beat to hell and back. The solid hanger has been bent and bent back twice. The left side chainstay has been ground in from riding a bent wheel that rubbed. The right chainstay has a good amount of aluminium removed from my heel rubbing it. Multiple small dents in the downtube, deep scratches every few inches from crashes. It has been a great bike though and if when I replace her it will be with yet another Superlight.
 

BurlyShirley

Rex Grossman Will Rise Again
Jul 4, 2002
19,183
1
TN
Westy said:
This poor bike has really been beat to hell and back. The solid hanger has been bent and bent back twice. The left side chainstay has been ground in from riding a bent wheel that rubbed. The right chainstay has a good amount of aluminium removed from my heel rubbing it. Multiple small dents in the downtube, deep scratches every few inches from crashes. It has been a great bike though and if when I replace her it will be with yet another Superlight.
Wow. You must be one of the few around here who actually RIDE!
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,890
4
Hypernormality
If you're starting to question your frame in your mind, it's time for a new one. Riding equipment that you don't trust is going to make you a) not enjoy your ride as much and b) make you hang back where maybe you shouldn't, possibly resulting in injury.

I recon 5 years is a loong life for a Alu frame that gets beat on. Alu work hardens remember... Brittle failure is not cool...
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,659
26
behind the viewfinder
jdschall said:
How does the dye penetrant work? I've used it to test hermetically sealed connectors used in electronics. We always did a destructive test (cross section) to see if the dye penetrated the seal. That would be sort of hard on the bike. I would love to cut up some bikes to see if they were cracked though. Any donations?
the way i've used it is like this (if i can recall it ok).

- clean the area of interest
- spray w/ the dye penetrant
- after a while, spray w/ the setting agent (i think that's it; i used 2 different kinds of sprays, one to seep in, the other to turn a color).
- wipe down, and look for any spider web dye prints

i could have it all wrong; it's been a while since i've done it.
 

jdcamb

Tool Time!
Feb 17, 2002
16,233
3,476
Nowhere Man!
narlus said:
the way i've used it is like this (if i can recall it ok).

- clean the area of interest
- spray w/ the dye penetrant
- after a while, spray w/ the setting agent (i think that's it; i used 2 different kinds of sprays, one to seep in, the other to turn a color).
- wipe down, and look for any spider web dye prints

i could have it all wrong; it's been a while since i've done it.
You got it right on. Thats how it is done...
 

hooples3

Fuggetaboutit!
Mar 14, 2005
5,247
0
Brooklyn
funny this thread came about....
yesterday i was riding my hardtail and noticing her age a bit. I looked at the handlebars that are now discolored. it looks sun-faded but i checked them out.. they are azonic double-walled, they dont have any stress marks though..
any back to my point... how often do you change handle bars/seatposts etc.??? i figure DH'ers do it every season.. but should a trailrider do it every few years or so??? just wondering!!
 

SK6

Turbo Monkey
Jul 10, 2001
7,596
0
Shut up and ride...
When there is material degradation as you described, the you have structurally altered the frame (In a good way! :thumb: ) and put yourself at risk for a failure.

It is important to remember, that anything designed and engineered, is done so with a specific purpose, and if there is anything that changes the structural integrity of the frame, than in essence you put yourself at some risk of its failure. In this instance it is unlikely, however, it is still a prevalent concern considering how hard you ride.

I personally would begin to look for another frame while riding your current one this upcoming season.

Just my 2 cents.
 

splat

Nam I am
It is why you need to have multiple bikes , so when one Breaks or on the DL , just grab another one and Go.


But I would also Email santa Cruz and ask then what is the life span of said bike . They probably have a lot more data on it , then any of us.
 

Angus

Jack Ass Pen Goo Win
Oct 15, 2004
1,478
0
South Bend
With Aluminum it's not just cracks either. by when I ran gears I had Klein's (I had 3 or them I normally run it for 2 years and get a new one) when Trek moved its MFG to Wisconson I didn't want to get rid of my Old Washington Adroit so I race it for 2 more years, I was going to run it a fifth season but during the off season winter rides it seemed I was crashing more than normal, nothing major but definitly annoying. I borrowed a friends Surly 1x1 on weekend to try singlespeeding and was suprised how well it handled a trail that had giving me some much trouble the week before on my Klein.
What it boiled down to was the Klein had gotten flexy with age, and it wasn't just the frame , the wheels and fork share the blame too,
but either way The frames do fatigue enough to cause a change in handling as they get older.
 

kidwoo

Celebrating No-Pants Day
Aug 25, 2003
22,479
2,152
In my pants
MunkeeHucker said:
What it boiled down to was the Klein had gotten flexy with age,
Yup, that's the biggest thing.

On a frame that has one stress point on the suspension like a simple single pivot heckler (heckler heckler heckler......you superlight people love that don't you?) you'll get a greater smackdown on a smaller area.

That dye thing sounds like a hassle. Something I've always done that works is take your two main components, a swingarm and the front triangle in this case, hang in on your finger or a piece of string and hit it sharply with your hand. If there's a crack in it, you'll hear it rattle.

But even if it's not cracked that doesn't mean you can't be on a bike that rides better without the age of that thing. In my opinion, 4 years is plenty. Plus there are just better designed frames out there now.
 

Reactor

Turbo Monkey
Apr 5, 2005
3,978
1
Chandler, AZ, USA
Westy said:
This poor bike has really been beat to hell and back. The solid hanger has been bent and bent back twice. The left side chainstay has been ground in from riding a bent wheel that rubbed. The right chainstay has a good amount of aluminium removed from my heel rubbing it. Multiple small dents in the downtube, deep scratches every few inches from crashes. It has been a great bike though and if when I replace her it will be with yet another Superlight.

Small dents on the front of the down tube aren't anything to worry about. The worst place for a dent is the tom middle of the top tube, right where most handle bars hit...

The worst part on the rear triangle is near the pivot, and shock mounts (if it has them)
 

Reactor

Turbo Monkey
Apr 5, 2005
3,978
1
Chandler, AZ, USA
I Are Baboon said:
This thread scares me. I will going on year 5 with my Quasi Moto in 2006 and I like to think I ride it pretty hard. :think: I wasn't even thinking about a new frame.

Damn, I've had it that long???

Titus don't make no ordinary bikes. Seriously the only fatigue failures I've heard of on Titus bikes are on the rear triangle, just infront of the disk mounts on disk bikes, a couple of years ago they started beefing up the swing arm just infornt od the brake mount.