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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My first post here, I'm hoping somebody has a good suggestion for how to proceed. I recently took my 14 year old Specialized Roubaix S-Works into the bike shop where I purchased it new. I had noticed some "decay" on the frame in 3 separate places. Two of the braze-ons were disappearing and there was something similar happening to the bottom bracket.
The manager at the shop said he had not seen anything like it before, and that he thought it made the bike unsafe to ride. But, he was confident that Specialized would cover it under the "lifetime warranty" and he agreed to contact them.
Specialized refused to cover the bike under warranty. They called the decay rust (on a carbon fiber bike?) and said that because of the rust and the fact that the bike was 14 years old that they would do nothing. I called Specialized directly and was told "we can't control the environment" and they again refused to do anything for me.
The bike is ridden in Massachusetts and Maine, and it's kept inside, always clean and dry. Not raced and no damage to the frame other then the decay.

Thoughts/suggestions?
- Do carbon fiber bikes rust? Is this typical ? It's the first I've heard of it.
- Is a 14yr carbon fiber bike old? Or is this just Specialized? Or just the S-Works frame(s)?
- If this bike has been ridden normally and cared for reasonably then how can Specialized justify not honoring their "lifetime warranty"?
- Is it typical for Specialized to not honor their "lifetime warrany"?

Constructive suggestions on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated!
thanks
 

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I am guessing the braze-ons and BB have steel threads and that is where the rust is. Carbon fiber does not rust.

Unlike with Trek, I have not heard anecdotes of Specialized warranties being unreasonably refused. Do you have any pics you can post of the damage/decay?

As far as how to proceed, does your bike shop think this is a defect? I'm thinking if they hound Specialized enough, they may agree to pay a partial amount toward a new frame.
 

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"Rust" is not limited to just steel. Perhaps "corrosion" is a better choice. The water bottle "braze-ons" on composite frames are either molded-in or just rivet nuts. I'd be surprised if these are in fact steel, but more likely aluminum instead. You mentioned that these were "disappearing", so something has corroded these. Do these have a white powdery appearance? Do you use sugary energy drinks? Do you sweat much during a ride? Do you regularly remove the bottle cages to clean and inspect these? Sugar and salt can can both corrode these as I have seen several instances that I had to deal with.

The enemy of composite is moisture. Once the braze-ons are gone, moisture can breach the frame through these holes and cause damage. You also mentioned similar issue near the BB. Again, water/moisture tend to collect down in this area and can cause problems since the composite structure is not really protected on the inside. How often is the BB inspected/serviced? Is there a drainage provision in this frame to prevent water from collecting down there?

Nothing lasts forever, and it's hard to say one way or the other who is on the hook without inspecting the damage. But most phone makers refuse to honor warranty on anything with moisture damage, and I suspect this may apply to your situation as well.
 

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"Rust" is not limited to just steel. Perhaps "corrosion" is a better choice.
Aluminum definitely rusts as well. Technically, rust is iron oxide. We call it corrosion, not rust when it happens to aluminum, but the end result is the same:

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"Rust" is not limited to just steel. Perhaps "corrosion" is a better choice. The water bottle "braze-ons" on composite frames are either molded-in or just rivet nuts. I'd be surprised if these are in fact steel, but more likely aluminum instead.
I doubt that rivnuts would be aluminum because they would be too easy to strip. But even if they are aluminum, it should be a relatively straightforward process to replace them. Perhaps the BB issue is the steel treaded insert for the BB cable guide? Or is it the steel BB cups (probably press fit)? The OP is pretty non-specific about what parts have corroded. I used to ride with a guy who sweat a lot AND apparently had very corrosive sweat. His steel frame rusted right out at the BB where the seat and down tube entered, and his aluminum components crapped out at amazing rate.

And yes, the definition of rust is corroded steel/iron. So other metals (obviously aluminum) do corrode, but only ferrous metals rust.
 

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The pictures you posted appear to be an aluminum handlebar, that is not part of the frame.
Yes that bar has extreme corrosion, do not ride with that bar! ha!
 

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I'm not trolling, that is what I think. He talks about the frame and then posts pictures of the handlebar, duh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am guessing the braze-ons and BB have steel threads and that is where the rust is. Carbon fiber does not rust.

Unlike with Trek, I have not heard anecdotes of Specialized warranties being unreasonably refused. Do you have any pics you can post of the damage/decay?

As far as how to proceed, does your bike shop think this is a defect? I'm thinking if they hound Specialized enough, they may agree to pay a partial amount toward a new frame.
Hi,
thanks for your response. I've attached some pix of the issues. The first picture is from the top tube, 2nd is from chainstay, 3rd is bottom bracket. Note that the braze-on with the most decay is on the chainstay, which seems like an unlikely place for either sweat or beverage?
I did check back with my bike shop (after getting over the shock of Specialized rejecting warranty coverage) and asked if they thought there was anything more that they could do, the manager thought they had done all they could...

thanks!
 

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I had noticed some "decay" on the frame in 3 separate places.
What is 'decay'? Bikes do not decay. Decay it what happens to organic materials.
Would help 100000% if you posted photos.

Two of the braze-ons were disappearing and there was something similar happening to the bottom bracket.
You can't braze anything onto a carbon bike. You join metals by brazing, not carbon. So we really have no clue what you're talking about.
Again.... photos.

Sure sounds like what you're attempting to describe is aluminum corrosion. The bottom bracket is aluminum. And other bits are aluminum.
If these things are corroding to the point of disintegration, you've greatly neglected your bike. That is no covered under warranty.

- If this bike has been ridden normally and cared for reasonably then how can Specialized justify not honoring their "lifetime warranty"?
Read your warranty

Specialized warrants the Products for a limited time from the date of original retail purchase against defects in materials and workmanship when used normally in accordance with Specialized’s published guidelines.

Corrosion is not a defect in material or workmanship.
 

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Hi,
thanks for your response. I've attached some pix of the issues. The first picture is from the top tube, 2nd is from chainstay, 3rd is bottom bracket. Note that the braze-on with the most decay is on the chainstay, which seems like an unlikely place for either sweat or beverage?




OMG that is extreme corrosion! Those are your cable stops (not braze on). They attach by rivets. They are aluminum. And your BB is aluminum.
Absolutely not covered under warranty. That is major neglect. It didn't just happen overnight.

I find it hard to believe that your shop hasn't seen that before. It's quite common among neglected bikes.

It might be repairable. You could drill out and replace the cable stops. There are various types available.


It's hard to tell how bad the BB is. If it's still structurally sound, sand it, prime, and paint.
 

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That BB looks terminal. The rest could be replaced as above. You could try and fix the BB, but it may not be doable or last very long.
Do you ride near an ocean? Do you sweat like a ...? You should start hosing your bike down after every ride.
 

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I can see why Specialized is not honoring the Lifetime warranty. The corrosion has pretty much killed the bike and that corrosion happened because of schmutz left on the bike after your rides. Did you clean your bike regularly?

That bike is 14 yrs old. I say it's time to get a new bike. Hose the new one down after your rides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·




OMG that is extreme corrosion! Those are your cable stops (not braze on). They attach by rivets. They are aluminum. And your BB is aluminum.
Absolutely not covered under warranty. That is major neglect. It didn't just happen overnight.

I find it hard to believe that your shop hasn't seen that before. It's quite common among neglected bikes.

It might be repairable. You could drill out and replace the cable stops. There are various types available.


It's hard to tell how bad the BB is. If it's still structurally sound, sand it, prime, and paint.
thanks.

  • that's good news that the cables stops might be replaceable. likely not something that I'd try, but the bike shop might be willing.
  • any suggestions on how to go about checking the BB to see if it's structurally sound? The shop where i bought it seemed to think not. I assume that's the reason that he said it wasn't safe to ride.

Neglected? Not necessarily.
- The bike was kept indoors.
- it was regularly ridden
- it was regularly serviced. Note that the bike shop didn't notice the corrosion until it showed up on the outside of the cable stops, and by then the inside was pretty much gone.

if you consider the possibility that the corrosion started on the inside and that it was pretty far along before it was detected, and then it crumbled when probed, then it might be easy to see why it looks the way that it does. Same with the BB, the corrosion was occurring underneath the paint and wasn't obvious until the paint chipped away.
 

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thanks.

  • that's good news that the cables stops might be replaceable. likely not something that I'd try, but the bike shop might be willing.
  • any suggestions on how to go about checking the BB to see if it's structurally sound? The shop where i bought it seemed to think not. I assume that's the reason that he said it wasn't safe to ride.

Neglected? Not necessarily.
- The bike was kept indoors.
- it was regularly ridden
- it was regularly serviced. Note that the bike shop didn't notice the corrosion until it showed up on the outside of the cable stops, and by then the inside was pretty much gone.

if you consider the possibility that the corrosion started on the inside and that it was pretty far along before it was detected, and then it crumbled when probed, then it might be easy to see why it looks the way that it does. Same with the BB, the corrosion was occurring underneath the paint and wasn't obvious until the paint chipped away.
Yep, text-book example of corrosion, complete with where these usually start, from the inside. There is really no sure way to check the BB integrity. Once the material is compromised, it will just continue to deteriorate. If there isn't enough material to maintain the structural integrity to hold the cup(s) in alignment, the BB will eventually fail. You can roll the dice and hope that when it fails, you are not too far from civilization and have cell signal, or think twice next time you're about to do an out of saddle sprint. While it's likely this will fail safe, there are instances where this can fail danger.

So how lucky do you feel?
 

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  • that's good news that the cables stops might be replaceable. likely not something that I'd try, but the bike shop might be willing.
  • I doubt it. They said they haven't seen anything like it before. I doubt they'd have the skill to fix it. (or willing to take the risk)

  • any suggestions on how to go about checking the BB to see if it's structurally sound? The shop where i bought it seemed to think not. I assume that's the reason that he said it wasn't safe to ride.
    You can't tell just by looking at it. Again... the shop should know this. Seems like they don't know or they just want to wash their hands of it and have no responsibility.
Neglected? Not necessarily.
Sorry. It's 10000% neglect. This didn't just happen. It takes months, to years, to get that severe. If you washed and inspected your bike regularly you would have noticed that when it was just surface oxidization and you could have prevented it.



if you consider the possibility that the corrosion started on the inside and that it was pretty far along before it was detected, and then it crumbled when probed, then it might be easy to see why it looks the way that it does.
Nope. I would never consider that because it's impossible. Corrosion starts on the outside and eats its way in. This picture is proof of that. You can also see under the cable stop the paint is blistering on the frame. Again... that didn't happen overnight.

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Thanks for the photos. What you've got is either sweat related or galvanic corrosion between the fittings and the carbon. As to the BB corrosion, it could be the same cause, exacerbated by the collection of sweat. Top manufacturers will use titanium fittings and BB inserts versus aluminum, or insulate the fittings from the carbon.

You might be able to find a carbon repair shop such as Calfee Designs, that can replace the corroded fittings and/or the rivets that hold them on, with titanium equivalents which are non-reactive with carbon. Or, they insulate the contact points. Same with the BB.

My guess is Specialized is aware of the problem, but they design the frame for a "reasonable" lifespan, gambling consumers will upgrade before the frame fails. I suppose if you and the shop were savvy, persistent, and a P.I.T.A., then you might get a replacement. I'd send their corporate customer service an e-mail focusing on the "Lifetime" portion of the argument and tell them if they choose to not make you whole, you're going to buy something non-Specialized and you will spread the bad word about their customer service.

For what it's worth, I had a 10 year old steel frame fail (Salsa Ala Carte) and when I went for a warranty replacement, the bike shop went to bat for me but Salsa said ten years was considered lifetime in their eyes and wouldn't replace it. I looked at it as an opportunity to try something else.

Let us know what you do.
 

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Additional: Reading tig's reply, it made me think it's possible the cable stops reacted with the cable end caps even though my experience has been for the most part they are non-reactive. Could be the alloy used in the cable stops, combined with sweat or the wear on the paint in the contact areas.
 

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Additional: Reading tig's reply, it made me think it's possible the cable stops reacted with the cable end caps even though my experience has been for the most part they are non-reactive. Could be the alloy used in the cable stops, combined with sweat or the wear on the paint in the contact areas.
It's possible it expedited the corrosion. Brass and Alum are close on the galvanic chart, but dissimilar enough to cause a galvanic reaction.
Again... it would take some time.

The ferrule at the rear derailleur is plastic though. And that is really corroded. Maybe it wasn't always a plastic ferrule.
 

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You might be able to find a carbon repair shop such as Calfee Designs, that can replace the corroded fittings and/or the rivets that hold them on, with titanium equivalents which are non-reactive with carbon. Or, they insulate the contact points. Same with the BB.
I would say this is your best hope right now. Although depending on what you paid for the bike and what it's worth to you, you have to factor if it's worth it as a repair like that won't be cheap. You will have to pay to ship it to them and back, not to mention the downtime in between where you will have no bike to ride.

In the grand scheme of things, 14 years isn't bad service for a bike that is ridden regularly. Let's say you ride about 3,000 miles per year like I do. That would be 42,000 miles. That being said, that kind of corrosion is definitely not normal if you are a fair weather rider who stores your bike indoors (not the garage or basement). Do you live near the ocean? Do you ride in rain or wet roads often? Winter riding on salty roads?
 
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