Frame failure - your experiences please


Über Member
Being tight I like to kid myself into thinking that everything should last forever - well, certainly large, non-wear parts like frames, bars etc.

My next bike will be steel as I don't like ally's predisposition to fatigue failure and get anxious about CFRP's ability to slowly degrade without visible symptoms and catastrophically fail essentially without warning.

On this subject I'm interested to hear / see examples of frame failures you've experienced; preferably those that have crept up on you (rather than resulting from accidents) but anything's welcome - ideally with a bit of info as to the bike's type / brand / age / mileage / history etc.

Here's my (thankfully) only one: 2004 Giant OCR3 road bike, aluminium, two horizontal-ish cracks in the top tube to seatpost weld; propagating forwards into the top tube and backwards into the seatpost tube. They also run through the entirety of the seatpost tube's circumfrence inside the frame that's bounded by the top tube.

They probably started at about 4-5k miles and grew slowly to how they are in the pics over maybe another 1000-1500 miles. I didn't notice them for a long time but they did cause the frame to creak on the pedal strokes (which I did notice when it started although initially wrongly diagnosed as a seatpost movement / fit issue):



I guess the failure is the result of cyclic, bending loading across the bike as my weight shifted from side to side with each pedal stroke.. starting at the weld due to internal stress concentrations from the welding process.

The seatpost wasn't excessively extended out of the frame, but I do think the problem was potentially exacerbated / even allowed to happen by Giant's stupid use of a short (90mm) plastic insert to allow the use a a 27.2mm OD seatpost inside the (IIRC, and stupidly non-standard) 31.8mm ID frame. IMO if the bike had been fitted with a long seatpost (or insert) that matched the ID of the frame and extended well down inside it would have reduced the loading on the frame and potentially avoided the failure all together.

Drilling the ends of the cracks out arrested their growth for a while (the bike's only been used a shopper / pub bike since and I've kept a close eye on the cracks), but one's cracked again from the leading edge of the hole and is already 6-7mm long after not a lot of riding, so I suspect the end is nigh. I was of half a mind to epoxy in a piece of ally tube down the length of the seatpost tube, but think I'll probably just let the bike die gracefully, strip it and scrap the frame.

So there's mine - let's see / hear your horror stories, please!
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Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Inside my skull
I had a chain stay crack and separate on a titanium bike. It had done about 100,000 miles. Nothing dramatic just a bit of noodley frame and creaking were first symptoms. Replaced under lifetime warranty.

Aluminium mtn bike frame went on down tube after about 30,000 miles. Bike retired and components used on other bikes or sold.


Legendary Member
Nr Cambridge
Never ever had a frame fail on me, ever. Must be something certain riders do to their bikes, maybe they are not so smooth in their cycling style or just too heavy for their bikes.


How much does it cost to Oldham?
Giant carbon w/alloy lugs- pulled the dt out of the head lug

Spesh stumpy steel- cracked seat cluster after many years commuting

Steel kona- Bent the dt and tt giving it full superman

Steel Kaffenback- same riding into a tree

Steel on one- wore through the chainstay with a slightly too big tyre

Crosslight evo pro 6- cracked through LH dropout after about 6 month.

Old steel butchers bike- bent it all ways kicking the front wheel in cos bakes were crap

Old old viking track bike- cracked at the top eye after many years commuting

Not necessarily in that order. Been through a few.


Europe Endless
The front mech bracket on my carbon bike came unrivetted, and when I removed the BB I was alarmed by the amount of loose, powdery stuff that was in there. The frame didn't actually fail, but I was nervous enough that I stopped riding it.
My 531 ST frame, OTOH, is still fine after about 30 years...


Legendary Member
I had a Specialized Tricross (aluminium) crack at the seat post/top tube end. The bike had been creaking for a while, changing saddles and seat posts didn't get rid of the noise, so cleaned the bike to take it to the LBS when I spotted the cracks. I'd done just under 42,000 miles on the bike, was changed for free under warranty.

The replacement was a diverge (again aluminium), that cracked after 5,000 miles, again replaced free, the replacement was another diverge, touch wood that one is still going strong 19,000 miles later
The night before the Cairgorm sportive which starts with a 45mph free wheel descent down from the Cairgorm Ski Centre I cleaned my Scandium Kinesis Gran Fondo to discover a massive crack on the right chainstay and almost identical one on the left chainstay :ohmy: Unfortunately it was just out of its three year warranty; Kinesis did give me 25% off a new frame which allowed me to afford a Ti Gran Fondo (I loved the Gran Fondo geometry but had doubts over another scandium).


I've had steel frames that rust where the paint gets worn. Chrome ends that rust. One where rust crept through from the inside causing the seat stay to break near the fork end. But I've also had a steel mercian track frame that I bought in 68 and was still racing on it 40 years later.

All four current bikes are alu. All about 10 years old and had no failures. One of them, a focus was in a serious crash and the bars were bent and the rear wheel disintegrated, but the frame and forks were not damaged and am still riding it.
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