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sock puppet
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought that this frame was one of the sexiest frames I have even seen... Purchased it in a heartbeat and built a sweet ride. I was leaving Scott Spark at home every time I was going for a ride or race... It lasted about 2 weeks. I rode it 2-3 times and raced one 8 hours race on my 4 person team. One day, I was taking my boy to the park, both on our bikes and I noticed that paint was chipping off of the non drive chain stay. Took a better look and to my horror, found out that the portion of the chain stay was looking like it was "rotting" for the lack of the better word... The bike was never crashed, even put on the ground. Not a scratch on it, except for this issue now. I squeezed the chainstay in the "healthy" area, and it was visibly flexing in and out. The "rotten" area - I could stick my thumb in, if I pushed harder. It was an obvious defect.

But not to Rocky Mountain and their "head of the R and D" department in St-Georges, who apparently assessed the frame as "crashed". Rocky Mountain offered a "crash replacement" deal, at $1200, which I refused. Just on a side note, a friend of mine crashed his Specialized S-Works FSR Carbon frame ($4000 value) and received "crash replacement" frame the next morning from Specialized INCLUDING rear shock - a complete brand new full suspension frame for $1200. He did crash his bike and was happy to pay $1200 for a brand new, year newer frame.

When I refused to accept a "crash replacement" deal, as the bike was never crashed or even leant against the wall, Rocky Mountain then came back with a discounted offer of $650 "no fault replacement". At this time, it was a question of principle. I did not want to negotiate what should have been a smooth and easy warranty replacement. I refused to accept this "deal" demanding that they back up their product the way they advertise it on their website and through other media. Rocky Mountain refused and shipped me my broken frame back.

I am a 46 years old MTB enthusiast, who races exclusively XC citizen events and endurance races in my age category. I have owned many high end bikes, including Ellsworth (Truth, Id, Enlightenment, Epiphany), Titus (Racer-X, Carbon-X), Scott (Scale, Spark) etc. I build my own bikes and maintain them meticulously. The den in my house is my bike storage and small bike wrench shop. On 3 occasions I had to deal with warranty issues, which were all taken care promptly and with respect to the customer and my needs. This is the first time I was denied warranty for what is an obvious defect in material - delaminating carbon fiber.

Unfortunately, after this fact, I did some research and found out that Rocky Mountain had quite a few similar issues with their Vertex Team Carbon. Many racers had to replace their frames due to this very same issue. Few friends that are in MTB racing arena shook their heads when they saw me on my newly built Vertex Carbon. They mentioned these issues, but I was confident it was not going to happen to me, and if it did - Rocky Mountain was going to stand by their product. Then, at the last 24 hour race, one of my team mates told me how he was haggled and mistreated by Rocky Mountain when he tried to warranty his Element 70... Seems that I was blind although my vision was 20/20.

I know that many of you are passionate about your Rocky Mountain bikes, and you should be. I felt the same about each and every bike that I owned, and still do.

I hope that this case helps those of you that are undecided on this frame, or Rocky Mountain in general. I am sure that Rocky Mountain warrantied many frames to your satisfaction, but it only takes YOU to be the one that is denied warranty - to stop caring about everyone else and get bitter taste in your mouth...

Vertex Carbon Team issue was my first Rocky Mountain frame and I was so excited about it. Unfortunately, it will be my last Rocky Mountain frame as well, and I will make sure that this warranty fiasco by Rocky Mountain reaches as many potential buyers as possible.
 

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sock puppet
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8,104 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
nope, sorry.

I wish it was, I would have taken $650 replacement offer. Wouldn't I?

It all started with clear coat peeling off - like you can see around the affected area. The area crumbled in as I was trying to figure out what was going on.

I really wish that I have caused the damage. It would have been much easier to digest it.



ilostmypassword said:
clearly looks like an impact has happened to me. there is a scrape/ ding mark mate!
 

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sock puppet
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thought about that option

as it could have reduced the amount of lost cash that I paid for the frame.

But as much as it sounds stupid, it was a question of principle. Accepting the "deal" would be acknowledging that the frame was crashed or otherwise damaged by me.

And that simply was not the case... My integrity is worth way more than $650.

I shared this story only to help those of you who are considering this frame as an upgrade... I believe it is way under-engineered and it will take time before it comes even close to it's competitors - like Scott Scale or Specialized S-Works.

I took Scott Scale through all the abuse that 2007 LaRuta race in Costarica could throw at it, and it looked like new on the way back home. In hindsight, I am glad that this bike broke before I took it to Costarica this year... Vertex Carbon Team does not appear to be ready for it's intended use. I do not know what Kabush is racing, but I am sure they didn't just pick the frame off the production line...


limba said:
Take the "deal", sell it and buy whatever you want.
 

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sock puppet
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
that is the first thing I checked

But the clearcoat and paint started to peel off, about an inch BEHIND the farthest point (toward the rear axle) where the heel would have contacted the chainstay...

Besides, my heels point a bit out, if anything. Also, if your heel rubs the chainstay - would not you be able to feel it and rectify the issue???

Trust me, I was looking for anything that I could blame on myself - it would have been easier to settle with RM and accept their offers. But even with best intentions, I could not find any reason to blame it on me.



rockyuphill said:
That's just about the place where your heel would hit the chainstay if you pronate while pedaling and have a size 10-12 shoe. Any wear marks on your heel?
 

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ups and downs
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That's also the widest spot in the rear triangle, it might have been shipping damage on the way to the dealer if the shipping carton was crushed in that spot. Do you still have the frame box?
 

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That is horrible . . . I was actually considering one of these frames but now will probably stay away - not just based on this, but with my overall distrust of Carbon, although this does not help.

Hopefully RM reconsiders and steps up to replace the frame. Whatever happened to believing the customer as opposed to assuming the customer is lying - maybe I am being naive???

Good luck
 

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I sympathize with both sides on this one. If your story is true you are obviously pissed. From Rockies perspective the frame definitely looks crashed.

Thank you for posting though, sometimes I get the urge for a super light carbon race bike but then I think "one crash and that's 2K down the toilet". I had a horrendous crash 2 days ago at my provincial championship race but somehow my 2008 Element 70 came out with only a bent up SLR saddle. Carbon... who knows? Also my much loved 2002 Trailhead frame has been crashed more times than I can count, and has numerous scratches from colliding with rocks that would have been the end of a carbon frame.
 

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In one sense, you have to sympathise with Rocky's warranty department - if you're selling a product that is both super-expensive to replace and super-easy to damage, then the warranty decision is particularly acute and difficult. If you gave a new frame to everyone who crashed and broke, you'd bankrupt the company. And yet if you deny warranty cover to in-good-faith claimants on the grounds that they're lying/mistaken, then you'll lose customers and guess what? Ultimately you could bankrupt the company.

I find it hard to believe that there's no way of differentiating between crash damage and a manufacturing fault, but if so problems are inevitable. Rockyuphill's idea is interesting, but surely the packaging is a standard feature and if it didn't protect this frame, there would be lots of similar cases - and any transit damage should come to light when the shop inspects the frame after unpacking it.

I think the conclusion is that the fundamental problem here is that carbon-fibre is not a viable material to make mtb frames out of - unless you're so rich you don't need a warranty.
 

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sock puppet
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
you mean:

did i not see the damage when i was building the bike, as i build all my bikes and maintain them in the den of my house. Not even in the garage, but in the den - where i have every single bike tool available under the sun?

No, i did not see any damage on the bike, and i almost licked every inch of it when i got it - i liked it that much...

I am very anal about my bikes. There is no scratch on any of my bikes that escapes my attention. The fact that I KNOW that this frame was not crashed or damaged in any way, including shipping, makes it easy for me to stay this path with Rocky Mountain and expect from them to warranty the frame. Money is not the issue here at all.





rockyuphill said:
That's also the widest spot in the rear triangle, it might have been shipping damage on the way to the dealer if the shipping carton was crushed in that spot. Do you still have the frame box?
 

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Is there anyway you can clean the area, including the dropout, really well and take a few more photographs? I wouldn't mind seeing a few photos of the backside of the chainstay as well if possible. Thanks.
 

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I work with carbon fiber in the medical industry. We do non destructive testing (aka high resolution Xrays ) I've seen allot of failures and that looks like something hit it. When Carbon cracks it looks like what we call a greenstick fracture. This means it breaks in lengths not in holes. IF the carbon had a hole in it, the fracture would go around the girth of the tube because it's spun. I wish I could agree that it was a frame failure, I cant agree based off what I can see, sorry.. :(
 

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sock puppet
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I do appreciate

your expert opinion, based on these pictures.

the most of the visible damage happened as a result of me trying to figure out what was going on with the chainstay. As I tried to describe - everything started with clear coat peeling off, for no reason. You can see in the pictures that clear coat peeled of way beyond the damaged area. That could not have been a result of an impact, could it? How do you explain that phenomenon?

When I noticed the first crack in the carbon, I started squeezing the area, which caused carbon to crumble like in the picture. I literally could push my thumb through it. The immediate are of the chainstay, that still looks intact - is extremely flexy. I can easily squeeze it with my fingers.

The best comparison is with plastic material that was exposed to high temperature, but did not melt - it is very crisp and weak. That is why I tried to describe the area as "rotted"...

Anyway, had I caused the damage to this frame, $650 would have been a pretty cheap price to pay for replacement, no? I would not have any reason to refuse it, would I?

cheers,




Traildawg said:
I work with carbon fiber in the medical industry. We do non destructive testing (aka high resolution Xrays ) I've seen allot of failures and that looks like something hit it. When Carbon cracks it looks like what we call a greenstick fracture. This means it breaks in lengths not in holes. IF the carbon had a hole in it, the fracture would go around the girth of the tube because it's spun. I wish I could agree that it was a frame failure, I cant agree based off what I can see, sorry.. :(
 

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sock puppet
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
the frame is at my LBS

I am still hoping that RM will do the right thing.

If they don't , I'll do what you asked me to do, when I pick up the frame.

O.

jpk1080 said:
Is there anyway you can clean the area, including the dropout, really well and take a few more photographs? I wouldn't mind seeing a few photos of the backside of the chainstay as well if possible. Thanks.
 

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ups and downs
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All the key people are already in Germany for Eurobike and then they'll be off to Interbike, so it may be a while before anything develops.

To come at this thing from the other side of the failure fence, what would it take to have a unprovoked problem with carbon in that kind of assembly? I would think that there would have to be an issue with the resin impregnation of the carbon sheet in that area, or a problem with the baking process that only affected the chainstay. You'd think that both of those should be able to be determined by an examination of the exposed carbon sheet. If it was just the clear coat that was providing the stiffness in those areas, then the criss-cross weave of the carbon should be able to be deranged manually as the resin should have bonded the fibres together during the baking process, even if the cured carbon fibre sheet were broken. If the rest of the chainstay has a squishy feel too, then the same type of failure should be able to be replicated by pushing on the chainstay with finger pressure. If that can be done then there must be a problem in the bonding/baking process.

I have a 50RSL frame and a Vertex Team RSL frame here, and neither of them are squooshy anywhere on the frame. My Vertex Team scandium tubes are hand squooshier.
 

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Im not sure if they use a flex agent in the clear coat or not. If the did use a flex agent and the clear coat peeled away it COULD have been a poor prep job. That still doesn't explain why the painted trim line is gone in areas outside the damage. The damage COULD have occurred without you knowing. Let's be honest here, if you didn't break crap while riding your just not riding hard enough. Any # of things could have hit your bike while riding causing damage. Carbon splinters outward from the damage (greenstick fracture) and is very hard to see. That is why non destructive testing uses xray to inspect aircraft bodies and propellers. The propellers have to be inspected every so often by xray because its the only way to see the hairline cracks before they become catastrophic.
Excerpt from a major Carbon Fiber Manufacturer
" Carbon fiber is very strong when stretched or bent, but weak when compressed or exposed to high shock (eg. a carbon fiber bar is extremely difficult to bend, but will crack easily if hit with a hammer)."

I completely believe you when you say you didn't break the bike. I too had an issue with RMB, but it wasn't a broken frame. From the outside looking in, I think RMB is being fair with the No Fault warranty. It sucks to hear it but that is my worthless opinion.. good luck
 

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sock puppet
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
yes, looking at the pics

I don't blame you for coming up with your scenario. As well, something COULD have caused the damage during the ride, without me knowing it.

However, I believe that this was not likely to have happened without me knowing it...

The painted strip peeled of in the same fashion as the clear coat... I could scratch it off the carbon with my fingernail, in the area where the clear coat was gone...

I think we have touched pretty much every angle of this problem, and I do appreciate your comments. They certainly offered a different prospective to me.

I will try to end this with RM in amicable way - we'll see if they will accept it.

thanks everyone,

O.


Traildawg said:
Im not sure if they use a flex agent in the clear coat or not. If the did use a flex agent and the clear coat peeled away it COULD have been a poor prep job. That still doesn't explain why the painted trim line is gone in areas outside the damage. The damage COULD have occurred without you knowing. Let's be honest here, if you didn't break crap while riding your just not riding hard enough. Any # of things could have hit your bike while riding causing damage. Carbon splinters outward from the damage (greenstick fracture) and is very hard to see. That is why non destructive testing uses xray to inspect aircraft bodies and propellers. The propellers have to be inspected every so often by xray because its the only way to see the hairline cracks before they become catastrophic.
Excerpt from a major Carbon Fiber Manufacturer
" Carbon fiber is very strong when stretched or bent, but weak when compressed or exposed to high shock (eg. a carbon fiber bar is extremely difficult to bend, but will crack easily if hit with a hammer)."

I completely believe you when you say you didn't break the bike. I too had an issue with RMB, but it wasn't a broken frame. From the outside looking in, I think RMB is being fair with the No Fault warranty. It sucks to hear it but that is my worthless opinion.. good luck
 
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