View Full Version : Concerns about Serotta Nove

L Elliott
03-27-2008, 03:36 PM
I crashed last September on Cycle Oregon just out of Oakridge. "Rookie mistake" on a steep downhill - given the choice, I decided to take the ditch rather than go down on the chip seal. Transitioned more or less smoothly into the ditch and all was well until I stuck a log hidden in the grass. Upon recovery from the spill I found my beloved Serotta Nove in TWO (2) pieces. The carbon top tube had come unglued from the titanium head tube and the down tube had BROKEN in half!

To my astonishment both the dealer, Bike Gallery, and Serotta refused to acknowledge that the frame was flawed. The response to my inquiry about frame failure (complete with a full explanation of the crash together with pictures that clearly show the separation of the carbon top tube from the titanium head tube) was that the bike had been damaged by riding off-road and, therefore, the warranty was voided. (Ben how could you be so cold? I became interested in your bikes when you came along on Cycle Oregon a few years back.) Repairs (?) were offered at a mere $1,300. I declined as my wallet was empty and I had no wish to get back on a flawed bike, "repaired" or not.

Other than to lament the empty wallet, I gave the loss no further thought as I began the task of earning enough $ to purchase a Moots (check it out on-line or at Cyclepath on MLK, if you haven't looked at them) until I learned yesterday that another rider had had an identical result recently with the Serrota Nove in a spill on Germantown Road. I have not seen the bike nor have I spoken with the rider whose Nove also separated and broke but the information came from a reliable source.

Though I am deeply disappointed in the Bike Gallery and Serotta and will not do business with either again, I have no other axe to grind. But, if the information regarding a second Nove frame failure is true - and I believe it is - then I feel that a warning should go out.

Frame failure of this type is life threatening - if you have a Serrota Nove or other glued carbon/ti bike, please have it checked or consider changing bikes.
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03-27-2008, 04:13 PM
I disagree.

You broke the bike in a crash. As I read it, the other failure was also caused by a crash. Its the crashing that is life threatening, not the bike that fails after the rider has fallen off. Nothing written suggests that a frame failure caused the wreck itself, especially in your case when you admit it was a "rookie mistake."

03-27-2008, 09:47 PM
This is why I wouldn't own a carbon fiber bike if you paid me to. They fail spectacularly, without warning, and under circumstances that steel frames shrug off. The weight savings just aren't worth it, to me.

I'm sorry your bike is toast, but I don't think you have much recourse here. It doesn't sound like the frame was flawed beyond the inherent flaws all carbon fiber frames have. My suggestion is to replace it with a high quality, hand built steel frame.

03-28-2008, 08:36 AM
Hmmm.... I'm going to have to agree with the other posters, above.

Your frame did not fall apart while you were riding it. It broke when you crashed it. I would expect a lot of bikes of varying materials to also have damage or be broken if crashed like that.

Now, if your frame breaking caused your crash, I could see how you would have cause for indignation.

Did the second incident happen due to a frame failure?

Without that info, there really isn't much of a discussion to be had.

03-28-2008, 11:08 AM
A crash would definitely seem to invalidate your claim of unreasonable frame failure. I've never owned a carbon frame bike, though I've studied them a little. It's still very much an evolving technology. The research and development teams may have been working to solve at least part of the problem you experienced, which is the tubes separating from the lugs. There are one piece frames now that don't even have lugs that could separate. So, for $4000 or so, maybe less, you could try one of them.

Steel is the sure thing. Aluminum's not bad either. Use the busted carbon frame to make a nice wall sculpture and a reminder that the latest thing isn't always the best.

03-28-2008, 11:09 AM
L. Elliot,

I was at Cyclepath the other day and I saw your bike. I have to disagree with the other posters. Your bike failed due to the design. Yes, you crashed, but your bike delaminated from the lugs. I also expressed disbelieve that neither BG or Serotta would even discuss a crash replacement policy. Live and Learn I guess.

PS Your new Moots is sweet.

03-28-2008, 11:13 AM
Years ago I went off a country road at high speed, ejected from my bike and did a complete summersault through the air, landing in a ditch on my hands and knees with only a quarter-sized scrape on a knee.

The handlebars on my beautiful steel frame Univega were bent 90 degrees, which made the remainder of the ride interesting, to say the least. It wasn't until several months later that a buckling showed up on the frame. The owner of the LBS told me that the frame had been compromised and that they could no longer legally work on my bike, as they would be responsible for sending me out the door on an unsafe bike. It broke my heart to give up that bike for parts, but no way was I riding an unsafe frame.

Anyway, my point is that even a steel frame can fly through the air and come down just right/wrong to destroy the frame, although the actual damage may not be visible for a while. And in my case the frame wasn't faulty until I damaged it by going off the road in a moment's lack of attention -- I looked up at the vintage biplane flying overhead when I was at the abrupt edge of six inches of fresh pavement.

03-28-2008, 11:47 AM
Hey, maybe Ralph Nader has some thoughts on all of this?

03-28-2008, 12:03 PM
Elliot: I understand your dissappointment, but the fact is that no bike frame is warranteed to survive a crash, and this includes freeride and BMX vert jumping bikes. Enough force applied to any frame will cause it to fail, and bike crashes can apply tremendous amounts of force in unexpected and unpredictable ways. In the case of the two crashes mentioned here, the circumstances caused frame failures that show the weak point of this frame design, but that does not mean that the design is faulty or unsafe. It simply means that this is the first point on the frame to fail in a catastrophic situation. Any frame has such a point, and crashing is usually the fastest way to find it. Some manufacturers do offer various sorts of crash replacement programs, but they are in no way obligated to do so. It is nice, and very generous of them, but it is above and beyond any reasonable warranty, and would still cost you something; possibly more than the repair offered. What happened to your frame is a shame, but most of us, if we ride long enough, have a similar story. I'm glad that you are unhurt and able to move on to another bike.

03-28-2008, 12:25 PM
Anyway, my point is that even a steel frame can fly through the air and come down just right/wrong to destroy the frame, although the actual damage may not be visible for a while.

Yes, you are correct that steel frames are certainly NOT indestructible. I managed to ruin one myself in a crash a few years back, so I can attest to this.

I was merely pointing out that they're more likely to survive a crash than carbon would. Plus, you can often repair steel frames, whereas carbon goes to the dumpster.

03-28-2008, 02:57 PM
Hey steelsreal, ease up...do I go around calling you names? Surely you can find a better way to make yourself feel good.

To say carbon bike frames are not an evolving technology does not appear to be true, even to the casual eye. The process for producing carbon fiber material may have been in place for decades and been relatively unchanged (maybe, although even in that instance, improvements are developed and implemented into existing materials), but the way it's incorporated into bike frames today is not.

Don't I remember you saying you work in a bike shop? Well then, take a look at some of the new bike frames and you'll see exactly what I mean. Some high end carbon fiber bike frames appear to be using a monocoque construction that does not use tubes plugging into the head tube like the OP's. Rather, it's laid up as in the way a boat or and airframe would be constructed. Maybe that's just an illusion designed to fool all the "Fred(s)" out there.

"Why does a crash invalidate his claim? The severity and type of crash could affect the warranty process/outcome, however, a crash in no way invalidates a claim." Steelsreal

Why? Did Serotta offer some kind of guarantee to the OP, L Elliott against frame damage resulting from a crash? If that company did not offer warranty compensation for such a crash, why would they honor such a claim? Bikes, unlike most modern cars, are not built specifically to resist damage for a crash. It's all about performance and the ride. Resistance to damage from a crash is incidental unless as Val suggests "Some manufacturers do offer various sorts of crash replacement programs,...". In that case, a manufacturer probably would make sure that their bike can withstand damage from a type of crash that they guarantee against.

03-28-2008, 04:13 PM
steelsreal: I have no trouble believing that you have experience with manufacturers replacing frames that have been crashed, but this does not mean that this was actually covered under the warranty. Many times the warranty department at a manufacturer will make a discretionary decision to replace a frame under the "goodwill" heading. As you mention, this usually takes a bit of persuasion, and a call to just the right person, possibly a calling in of favors. In my experience (28 years in the bicycle industry), there is no written warranty on any frame available that states explicitly or even implies that the frame is still covered if it is crashed. Read the warranty carefully. Aside from what may be possible if you have a close relationship with the company, the fact is that any crash invalidates any written warranty. Crash repalcement programs come under the "goodwill" umbrella - the company is willing to take a loss on a replacement frame in order to keep a rider on their bike, rather than see threads like this on the internet. It doesn't mean that the frame is warranteed to withstand a crash, it just means that the company goes the extra mile for promotional purposes. This is not a bad thing, but it is not the same as a warranty.

03-28-2008, 05:38 PM
Carbon fiber is not 'an evolving technology'. It has been used for decades and the processes are now quite uniform and well understood. You clearly have no idea of what you speak. Sorry to have to let ya know that. The generalities you make with frame material comparisons, clearly show your limited understanding. I feel even worse now for comparing beelnite to a Fred in another thread. You are indeed the resident Fred. Congrats on your achievement sir!

seriously, try and pretend that the poster you are responding to is standing right in front of you before you post your reply. or are you this rude in person, too?

03-28-2008, 06:58 PM
Steelsreal, if you're so smart, why didn't you just offer that opinionated information in the first place? That's all you really needed to do, but instead, you'd rather be a jerk. Well, congratulations, that's exactly what you've proven yourself to be. For all that experience and knowledge, to still just be a jerk and an idiot to boot is pathetic.

And in the final analysis, you're still wrong about what I said about carbon fiber frames and evolving technology:

"The research and development teams may have been working to solve at least part of the problem you experienced, which is the tubes separating from the lugs." wsbob

Note: "may" . I'm not claiming new carbon fiber bike frames are capable of surviving crashes unharmed or that I'm any kind of expert on the issue. I'm simply saying that on the basis of what I've seen, they might be more resistant to separation, and that maybe the OP should check them out and find whether the manufacturer has built them for the expectations the OP has of the bikes they ride. Also, I never ventured an opinion that the carbon fiber tube construction frame the OP had issues with was inferior technology. Really, the only point I addressed, is that maybe some modern carbon fiber frames, that to my casual eye, look to be of monocoque construction, might be more resistant to tube/head tube separation than was the OP's Serrotta. Steelsreal, at least read what people have written before launching into a testosterone driven rage.

If you'd care to state your real name here on the website, I'll be more than happy to make extra effort to avoid ever doing any business with you whatsoever, wherever you happen to be employed; questions, purchases, the works.

*webmaster and everyone else: Sorry about the profane terminology, but occasionally, none other will do justice. Webmaster, feel free to edit as you see fit. Update: I decided to edit the profane adjectives out of the comment above on my own accord. They probably don't help the dialog for the readership this forum is probably intended for, and besides steelsreal has more than adequately demonstrated how out of control she/he is without the use of those words.

03-28-2008, 08:00 PM
Is Carbonfiber evolving or not?

Sure its been around for quite a while. The problem is that everyone wants their CF bikes lighter and faster! I doubt anyone here watched the F1 car race last week? Some teams spend over $500 million a year designing their cars, they want lighter and more arerodynamic cars each year. One mid pack team saw its carbonfiber suspension explode, on all 4 wheels when the car ran offroad and met a mild bump. The team that spent half a billion dollars had the governing body demand blueprints to ensure the whole thing was safe.

Bikes and suspensions in race cars might not be new technology, but since there is a continual push for lighter and faster ON road, problems can occur when "non standard" loads occur. Logs, big bumps, flying off curbs just can not be accounted for if you're trying to build lighter vehicals.

03-28-2008, 09:12 PM
It is also worth noting that, as I have mentioned, bike crashes can put unexpectedly high stresses on farmes in unexpected ways. One of the classic scenarios is to have the top and down tubes of a frame fail while leaving the front wheel and fork totally undamaged. I personally have done this and have seen it many times, with all frame materials. In certain types of crashes, the force is concentrated in specific areas, and the first item to fail takes all the damage, leaving everything else pristine. This does lead some people to conclude that there was very little force involved in the crash, buth this is not so, even at low speeds. If Serotta had noticed that this model of frame had a particular problem with sepatration at this joint, I am sure they would have been much quicker to respond to this claim. If they had designed the frame to fail in some other mode in this circumstance, they would have been very likely to request that the frame be sent in to be inspected. The fact that this has not happened would seem to indicate that they feel that what happened is actually the expected failure mode in a head on collision. Again, it is important to remember that the crash caused the failure, not vice versa. Something had to give. I don't know if this is the way that frame should fail at that point, but I have a feeling that the folks at Serotta have a pretty good idea - better than I do, and better than steelsreal does. It would be nice to hear from them. Anyone know anyone over there who could look at this thread?