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Charge Plug frame failure

chug666chug666 Posts: 4
edited September 2017 in The workshop
Hi All,

First post is a long winded whinge about a broken frame- sorry!

I've commuted happily on my Charge Plug SS for 18 months or so, enjoying the low maintenance world of single gear riding. In wet weather I made sure to remove the seat post, turn it upside down to get water out of the frame, and sprayed some GT85 into it by way of TLC. Also occasionally gave it a squirt of waxoil for good measure, although I'm not convinced that was particularly effective. I clean it (occasionally), oil it (regularly), adjust the chain etc etc- so it has been looked after, albeit as a hard worked commuter beasty.

At the weekend, giving it a quick wash for the coming week, I found a big crack running horizontally from each side of the seat post slot. Did a double take, popped the seat post out, and it is possible to lift the top inch or so of the frame to leave a jagged gap. Not a good look. Its a 56cm (large) frame, I'm a bit over 6 foot so run a fair length of seat tube but well within the limits, and at 75kg I'm not particularly chunky, so I was really surprised to see it fail where it did.

Confession time- I bought the bike used, from a chap who'd had it a few months but preferred gears. He gave me the receipt, so I know it is a 2015 model. But from a warranty perspective I'm on dodgy ground. I thought it was worth giving Charge a go in any case, and was told there was nothing they can do to help (they weren't at all interested in investigating the failure from a safety perspective either). Similarly Evans, where the bike came from originally, were entirely uninterested.

So a few questions for the forum:

- has anyone else had a failure like this, and found the reason? If i buy a replacement frame I'm keen to avoid a repeat!
- any maintenance tips for a daily use steel frame would be great
- what replacement would you go for? I've looked at expensive (Cotic Roadrat), cheaper (il Pompino) and unknown (fabricrace light alu frame looks pretty good) but I really can'd decide...
- Do you think Charge (or Evans) should have done more, or am i being unreasonable as a dirty second hand buyer? I was careful not to demand a new frame from Charge, just pointed out the failure and asked if they would look into it, so o thought they'd at least want to see why it happened.

Will try to attach a photo, but I'm struggling...

Cheers all!


  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Unfortunately neither you nor the retailer / manufacturer have any idea about how it was used / abused before you bought it, so I can understand why they'd not be interested.

    If you're saying it's broken well above the insertion point of your seatpost, it sounds to me as if the previous owner might have ridden it with too little seatpost inserted.

    Whatever the reason, being a steel frame you might be able to get it repaired, but I'm guessing a replacement frameset could be cheaper, quicker and better looking.
  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    Is the metal particularly rusty and corroded where it has cracked and failed? It's more likely from the timeline given that it was simply fatigue (or manufacturing defect).

    Ironically, removing the seatpost each time the bike got wet to drain it might have been a contributory factor by putting stress on the area in question.

    I presume the length of the seatpost extended a decent amount beyond where the seat tube meets the top tube (and so the area of failure)? I did have a Fuji which failed in a similar area but the length of my seatpost was well beyond the minimum quoted in the owners handbook and I had no difficulty getting a warranty replacement having pointed that out.

    The behaviour of Evans/Charge isn't surprising given that you told them you weren't the original owner - they were under no obligation to help you, so they didn't. That, unfortunately, is business. If you'd claimed to be the original owner you might have done better.

    I had a second hand bike fail once, sent pictures to the original owner and got him to claim the warranty on my behalf. After being initially helpful he then went very quiet and I can only presume pocketed the proceeds of the warranty claim.

    In short, if buying second hand accept that you may well be left empty handed - I'd only do it from a trusted friend (who could claim warranty for me) or for something that I couldn't otherwise get, eg classic steel frame.

    Additionally, as someone who's on the heavy end of the scale (120kg ish) and rides a daily commute I can tell you that frame failures are not actually a rare occurence - you were unlucky for it to happen so soon, but if you ride any frame enough it will break - material doesn't really matter. I've broken steel, alu and carbon frames with an approximately similar number of miles ridden per breakage (although only one carbon frame so far so less significant stats wise).
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