The bike was bought in December 2009, so I've had it for 3 years 8 months, so it wasn't old. To be fair though I've probably done quite a few miles on it. It was my "not so great weather' bike, so living in Glasgow that meant it got used a lot. At a rough guess it has probably done about 13,000 miles. A fair mileage.
Is 13,000 miles a reasonable distance for a bike to fail at? That's a good question. If there are any specialists out there I'd quite like someone to have a look at the split to see if it was just lifetime fatigue. Anyone?!
Obviously I contacted Ribble to let them know about the incident and to see if they would replace the frame. Here is the response I got.
To be completely fair to Ribble, this is actually a reasonable response. Legally they didn't have to offer me anything, as the frame was only guaranteed for a year (I didn't actually know that). OK, they have offered me a slightly, 'soiled' frame, but they are right, I don't use a bottle cage. I could just take the frame and either build it back up (although I'd need to buy a few new bits and get an bike shop to install some of it..) or I could sell it on.Thank you for your email and attachments. Our alloy frames do have a 12 month warranty and as your bike was purchased in 2009 this warranty has now expired. As you are no doubt aware, all frames no matter the material will wear over time and usage and I can see from the image you have forwarded that this bike has covered a considerable amount of miles. Ordinarily due to the age and usage we wouldn't offer a refund or replacement, however under the circumstances we can agree to send you a replacement frame. This frame is brand new and unused, however the down tube bottle cage bosses are slightly out of alignment but I note from your video that a bottle cage is not currently being used on your Ribble Audax There is no manufacturing defect to be concerned about as we have sold thousands of this particular model and this is the first instance of a breakage of this type being brought to our attention. Please let me know where I can arrange to have your replacement frame delivered to.
I re-read the e-mail and it started to concern me. They didn't seem in the least bit surprised that my frame had failed, after all, I had done a reasonable amount of miles. Hold on though.....shouldn't a bike frame be able to last a reasonable amount of miles?! Are my distances really that excessive? Was the tool really fit for the job?
Let' be honest here, I bought the Ribble back in 2009 because it was pretty cheap. It had reasonable specifications for the price and it looked like it would do the job. It did until yesterday. However, I bought a bike that the manufacturer was only willing to guarantee the frame for one year. That has to say something about the quality.
I'm not saying that Ribble are a bad company. I'm pretty sure they do good bikes, but thinking about the riding that I do, can I really ever trust a bike again that's frame only has a one year guarantee?!! The company obviously doesn't trust it much.
I could still accept the frame and sell it on, couldn't I? No. If I can't trust the frame, how can I sell it on to someone else? How can I know that the person I'm selling it on to isn't going to ride it in a similar way to me? Being an honest person (I do try!) I'd have to be honest about why I had the frame to sell. It probably wouldn't be the best sales pitch.
That's it then. I'm stuck. I don't want to use the frame and I don't want to sell it, but Ribble have been reasonable. There is only one solution ....politely decline the frame and grin and bare the expense of another bike.
I've certainly learned from this episode. If a company only offers a one year guarantee on the frame, that bike is unlikely to be suitable for my type of riding. Sure, it might be fine for a rider going on the occasional winter training ride, but not a daily commuter, and certainly not in Glasgow with it's particularly potholed roads.
Perhaps, there is a bigger lesson here. Perhaps we, as consumers shouldn't accept bike frames that only have a one year guarantee. It really doesn't inspire confidence if the manufacturer doesn't have confidence in it.
So yes, I'm on the look for a bike. I think I've found one. I'm going against some peoples advice and considering an aluminium bike again. Am I mad?! Perhaps....but this one has a lifetime guarantee......