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2,939 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I Just totaled the mountain bikes i've owned, catergorized them in material type and calculated the % of broken, cracked frames per material type and here it is.

Alloy 12 bikes, 4 broken 33% failure rate
Steel, 1, no failure
Carbon, 5 bikes, 1 broken 20% failure rate.

Whats your stats.

8,328 Posts
just too many bikes to list them all...

In the days of hardware store huffy, broke them all at the steerer/top/downtube interface 'cuz no lugs

then there was a Trek OCLV that cracked in the BB area (warranty, free new frame)
otherwise, I haven't busted any except wear thru from chainsuck when I was a madman running sharkfinned chainrings 'cuz too broke to afford new, and I rode in wet mud and sand all the time, and either rode thru the chainsuck or backpedaled out of it, but holy hell I was not in any mood to stop and fuss about it..... kinda wears out aluminum chainstays....

12,434 Posts
I have only broken 4 bikes.

one was an early mantis Full suspension bike where I broke the swing arm (aluminum).

One was an early turner afterburner where i broke the bottom bracket (aluminum).

One was a replacement turner burner and it broke in the seat tube top tube weld area. (Aluminum).

I have owned 3 aluminum bikes and broken them all (100% failure rate for me).

One was a salsa el mariachi and broke the head tube weld (Steel).

I have owned dozens of steel bikes and have broken 1 so say 8% failure rate.

All broken riding arizona trails. Haven't broken any other bikes in the years of riding and dozens of bikes.

I have had 2 carbon bikes and have broken neither but they are commuting/gravel bikes so different horses.

118 Posts
Alloy- way too many to count the total- 8 broken frames, most just cracked at welds, one swing arm broke off, it was a Ellsworth isis single pivot.
steel- again way too many to count the total- 1 failed frame but it was from my knee hitting the top tube so hard it dented it and it caused the frame to be bent out of alignment. It was a azonic steel head.
carbon- still way to many to count- 0 failures yet…..

5,258 Posts
I've had one steel frame with a cracked brake mount tab.

One carbon frame with what was probably just a paint crack but replaced under warranty as a precaution. Never found out if the frame itself was cracked.

I broke a few steel BMX bikes back in the day but that's par for the course in BMX.

915 Posts
Every frame I've broken has been alloy. Except BMX frames, but as has been mentioned that's a different kettle of fish.
I didn't have much problem with breaking BMX frames. The forks always failed first. I'm at 100% failure rate on BMX forks bending.

Actually the same goes for rigid MTB forks. 100% failure rate on those too.

402 Posts
3 custom steel single speed mtbs 1 broke
1 ti hard tail broke, riding warranty replacement now
1 carbon hard tail broke, riding warranty replacement now
1 carbon full suspension unbroken
1 alloy road bike unbroken

Elitest thrill junkie
41,000 Posts
1st bike, steel rigid, bent rigid fork.
2nd bike, steel HT, no issues.
3rd bike, aluminum FS, no issues
4th bike, aluminum FS, dropout/pivot stripping/rounding issues
5th bike, aluminum FS, linkage ripped out of swingarm, not repairable long-term
6th bike, aluminum FS, no issues (but a really shitty suspension design)
7th bike aluminum FS, linkage bolt constantly bent due to poor design (extremely long bolt)
8th bike, aluminum FS, linkage bolt also bent for same reason, poor pivots like before too
9th bike, steel HT/rigid, no issues, but really poor SS dropout design
10th bike aluminum FS, real flexy, rear swingarm broke shortly after selling it
11th bike, aluminum FS, seat tube broke, but likely due to user error with too-long of a seatpost
12th bike, aluminum FS, no issues
13th bike, aluminum FS, no issues
14th bike, aluminum HT, no issues
15th bike, aluminum FS, poor cable routing sawed through swingarm, rear pivot bearings non-replicable, basically disposable rear end (major manufacturer)-real poor bike design
15th bike, carbon HT, hairline cracks near BB
16th bike, carbon FS, developed cracks near main pivot-warrantied and new frame supplied
17th bike, carbon FS, pivot hole bonding came loose, was repaired and held up fine, eventually broke seatstay in an accident with a rake, repaired. Further rear triangle damage may have been due to the original repair being too stiff or long term use with too light of a spring on the rear shock, that too was relatively easy to repair. Frame 100% functional and has seen a lot of abuse.
19th bike, carbon HT, no issues, except one day I accidently hit the seatstay with a hammer. Did a carbon repair "just in case" and it's been great for 3 years (total age around 5 years), have raced it hard in all kinds of conditions.
19th bike, aluminum HT, no issues
20th bike, carbon and aluminum FS, no issues yet

21th bike, aluminum FS-on order

Might be missing a few. The common thread seems to be design. Solid designs, whether carbon or aluminum, should hold up and work for a long time. There's a lot of ridiculous stuff out there that will never hold up in the long term and the bike just isn't engineered with simple replicable parts, like off-the-shelf bearings/parts. Yeti comes to mind with SI link, but also a few bikes that I owned throughout the years. Not only is there the issue of replacements down the road, these tend to not be the best/most reliable systems. Short term gains for long term sacrifices IMO. No real carbon vs. aluminum trend that I can see though. The Lamere fatbike was kind of shitty, a cheap chinese carbon frame re-badged and just not a good one at that. The carbonspeed CS-197 that I've had on the other hand has been outstanding. That's the one I accidently hit with a hammer. The Pivot FS bike developed a well-known flaw near the main pivot, covered by the company. The turner carbon bike had the rotating pivot issue, that was fixed by the company and I can't really fault anything else to the bike, those appear to be all my mistakes and if it wasn't carbon-fiber, DIY repair wouldn't have been possible either. Not against full aluminum or carbon. The reparability of CF is nice. I still remember landing a jump at Northstar a few decades ago and the linkage tearing out of my DH bike, real disappointing.
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2,209 Posts
Like stripes said “too many to remember”. Never owned carbon.
Owned at least 18 alloy frames and broke 3. One cracked down tube and 2 broken chain stays.
Owned at least 6 steel frames with 0 broken.
I did break 3-4 steel (cr-mo) BMX frames back in the early 80’s
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