Combing my hair….

….in a brand new style

Falling out of love

with 14 comments

On 9 September, my Seasons Tikit deposited me on the road. Following emergency braking, the left fork blade snapped, the front wheel twisted until the tyre jammed against the right fork blade and I went flying over the handlebars. This is what the bike looked like after the incident.

Front view after the fork failure

Front view after the fork failure

Luckily because I was on an organised ride I was quickly attended to by a doctor who treated my injuries. If you really want to see them, there is a photograph here.

When I returned home I emailed a set of photos with a description of the incident to Rob English at Bike Friday. I reproduce some of the photographs below:

Tyre in contact with right fork blade

Tyre in contact with right fork blade

Distortion to right fork crown

Distortion to right fork crown

Left fork fracture - image 1

Left fork fracture - image 1

Left fork fracture - image 2

Left fork fracture - image 2

Disc rotor flexed through distorted calipers

Disc rotor flexed through distorted calipers

The initial response from Bike Friday was positive. I reproduce it here:

“Dear Gareth,

Firstly I am very sorry to hear about the incident, and your injuries -
I’m glad you were at least able to finish the ride, but clearly not in
the manner which you hoped. Are things starting to heal up now it has
been a few days? And thank you for the clear description and pictures of
what occurred, this is really helpful in determining the cause and
ensuring that we make the fork stronger. My initial thought is that the
combination of the disc brake and the steep hills you regularly ride put
a much greater load on the fork than with a rim brake. So we will need
to reinforce the crown on the replacement bike, but I will review it
with the team to determine the best solution. Sorry that we didn’t get
it right the first time, but thank you for the opportunity to make it right.

So yes, we will of course repair the bike for you – it is likely we will
need to build you a new frameset, but I will have Jordan (our customer
service manager, cc’d on this email), determine the best course to get
your bike sorted out for you as soon as we can.

Best regards,
Rob.”

Now I was not particularly convinced by the suggested cause. Indeed, it was suggested to me by my engineer father that a less than complete circular weld at the crown was more likely to be the cause. (See the dark area at the top of the fracture in the two images above – the absence of bright metal is indicative that the area has not just recently been exposed to the air by the break). However, I was not particularly concerned to attribute blame. Bike Friday said they would repair the bike and that was good enough. Fedex were summoned at Bike Friday’s expense and the bike went off for repair.

However, earlier this week I got the bike back. I eagerly unpacked it and was pleased to see a new frame, including the new design seat post had been fitted. Unfortunately, it was at that point that being pleased turned to disappointment. The front wheel would not turn freely – the rotor rubbed noisily against the calliper and the rim was Pringle shaped. It seems that Bike Friday took the view that they would replace their frame but not repair or replace any components damaged.

So I don’t have a ridable bike. I am fairly sure that Tony Butterworths, my local bike shop, will be able to turn the Tikit into a ridable bike. But frankly, that isn’t good enough. The bike which was intended as a no fuss, low maintenance all weathers ride has already been to Tony’s twice (having been badly set up when it first arrived, and then to have this summer’s seatpost safety upgrade fitted) and I am getting fed up of spending money to sort out Bike Friday’s failings. It wouldn’t be quite so galling if they didn’t make such a play about their great customer service.

That’s it. I started as a fan of the Tikit and with good things to say about Bike Friday. Now I wonder why I didn’t just buy a Dahon.

Written by Gareth

October 15th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

14 Responses to 'Falling out of love'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Falling out of love'.

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your crash. I hope there are no lasting injuries. When I heard about your fork failure I assumed it was due to the disc brake. They put a lot of uneven stress on a fork which is completely different than a rim brake.

    I own a Dahon and if you need to fold your bike often you won’t be satisfied with a Dahon. The fold is cumbersome at best.They have also their fair share of quality issues and safety recalls.

    I can sympathize with your frustration with your bike though.

    =-(

    Vik

    Vik

    15 Oct 09 at 2:40 pm

  2. Thanks Vik. No lasting injuries, I’m pleased to say – I count myself very lucky

    admin

    15 Oct 09 at 2:47 pm

  3. Wow, that’s really bad. I trust your injuries will mend, but the bike — what a disappointment. As it happens, I just took delivery of an Alfine tikit. I don’t have but a very few miles on it — been occupied otherwise. I was prepared to be infatuated with it, but now I’m really wary. Be well; I’ll keep a watch for further posts.
    Andrejs
    Ithaca, NY

    Andrejs

    15 Oct 09 at 7:30 pm

  4. Hi Andrejs

    I hope you will be fine with yours – as I say in the post I think the root cause was an incomplete weld on my fork crown, so there is no reason to assume you will have problems. But well worth keeping an eye on the forks for chipped paint that might indicate undue flexing.

    admin

    15 Oct 09 at 7:58 pm

  5. Ouch! I’d add that while a disk brake does place much extra stress on the fork blade to which it attaches, that stress is considerably less with a 16-inch wheel than with the usual 26-inch wheel, because the diameter of the disk is a greater percentage of the outer diameter of the tire. I, too, suspect a bad weld, though I also would like to see extra reinforcement at the crown too when a disk brake is used. The fork appears to be made of straight-gauge, constant diameter tubing with no added reinforcement where the blades are welded to either side of the steerer tube to form the crown.

    Failure modes like the one you suffered require difficult, time-consuming stress cycle testing to weed out before production.

    John S. Allen

    15 Oct 09 at 8:03 pm

  6. That’s a very good point about the wheels size John, I hadn’t thought of it before.

    It is also helpful to have confirmation of the suspected cause. Sheffield is hilly, but not so hilly that one expects fork failure after 625 miles.

    admin

    15 Oct 09 at 8:05 pm

  7. What did Bike Friday say in response to the broken front wheel?

    Geof

    15 Oct 09 at 8:44 pm

  8. I have emailed them twice Geoff.

    Their first, I thought helpful, response was to suggest a number of ways I could try to see if I could free the disc brakes so that the wheel ran smoothly.

    When none of these methods worked, I emailed a second time pointing out that the wheel was buckled. They have not replied to that email.

    As you can see from the photographs it was not possible for me to fully catalogue the damage that needed addressing before I sent the bike to them as the front wheel was jammed against the fork. I did rather assume however that when Rob English said they would repair the bike I would get everything repaired.

    admin

    16 Oct 09 at 3:06 am

  9. Hello Gareth,
    My name is Jordan and I am the Service Manager at Bike Friday. The wheel was not damaged when we worked on the frame, and there was no previous mention (when you were shipping the bike to us) of damage as well. There has not been mention of money spent to “fix our failings” either, I would appreciate an opportunity to resolve these issues, I would also be upset if I were in your position, can we chat to resolve this?
    Thanks
    Jordan

    Jordan Bishko

    16 Oct 09 at 1:00 pm

  10. Jordan

    Thank you for ringing me. I think we both have a shared understanding that I did not catalogue the damage to the bike before sending it back, I sent photographs and then the bike. I sent it back in the expectation that all of the problems created by the fork failure would be resolved. You have now agreed that I take it to my local bike shop, they will do the necessary to make the bike roadworthy and Bike Friday will reimburse me for the cost. This is acceptable to me.

    We discussed the fact that since I have had the bike I have needed to take it to the shop on two occasions. We agreed that while this was not known by you personally, it was known by Bike Friday.

    Gareth

    admin

    16 Oct 09 at 1:31 pm

  11. Good advice for Andrejs & the rest of us: Check for signs of weld-cracks! Too bad it cost you an unexpected flight over the bars. (And hard landing. Ouch!)

    After a summer riding GGC’s former showroom-demo Cream Soda Blue “Just-th-Tikit” up and down the Mineral King Road in Sequoia National Park, California (26 miles; 7,100 vertical climb; one lane; blind corners; partly-roughly-and/or-unpaved washboard surface; bike-eating cattle guards; sections of 20%+ grades that turn legs to Jello going up & Kool-Stops to butter going down) I checked the faithful little bike with a magnifier for signs of weld separation.

    A-OK visually. Next stop, though, is the Visalia airport where I’ll have the folks who maintain my airplane check “Ol’ Blue” professionally.

    The bike goes to Art Center Pasadena (http://www.artcenter.edu/) on loan for the winter to a v. talented Czech student in the school’s transportation dept. as his intermodal school commuter. Diane Ledford (yellow Travel Tikit) and I (vintage, go-everywhere PR) want complete confidence there will be no unplanned flights like yours while our Czech friend is riding Ol’ Blue in the LA Basin’s Class B Airspace!

    Merl Ledford

    16 Oct 09 at 1:45 pm

  12. “want complete confidence there will be no unplanned flights like yours while our Czech friend is riding Ol’ Blue in the LA Basin’s Class B Airspace!”

    Brilliant comment Merl!

    admin

    16 Oct 09 at 2:08 pm

  13. Did nobody at BF try to ride the Tikit after they repaired the frame, to see if it was ride-worthy?
    I’ve been considering a Tikit to join my used Crusoe, but I think I’ll wait another year or two or three so BF can resolve the design flaws.

    My impression (with apologies and regret) is that BF Service have a great attitude but allow too many errors of implementation – poor quality control, in other words – and that they need to work on ‘doing it right the first time’. Am I wrong? Any ISO experts willing to consult with BF on this?

    Kate

    18 Oct 09 at 10:45 am

  14. Well they did say that it had been test ridden, but frankly you did not need to ride the bike to see the problems – spinning the front wheel was sufficient

    admin

    18 Oct 09 at 12:29 pm

Leave a Reply