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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I got a new fork yesterday. I got it just before to closing time at the LBS and didn't look it over too closely right away. I noticed this scratch in the steerer tube when I got home. This is my first carbon steerer tube and it makes me worried. Seems like it is right where the straight part of the tube begins to taper. Everything I find when I search 'scratched steerer tube' looks insignificant in comparison. What do you all think?

Update: Fork was returned. Getting the shop I bought it from to take the issue seriously was a nightmare. The three owners (former employees that recently bought it) all told me it was fine, one even said his Niner RDO fork has similar marks. I don't think any of those guys have a lot of experience with carbon steerer tubes. The rep at QBP wanted this fork back immediately after seeing these same pictures. This ruined my relationship with that shop which was disappointing as I had just bought a frame there.

One of the owners literally leaned in, squinted at this for about a second, looks up at me and goes, "pfft! that's nothing" with a red face.

Moral of the story: if your fork looks like this and the shop you bought it from doesn't take you seriously - get in touch with the manufacturer immediately! I came close cutting the steerer, installing, and riding this fork which would have ruined my chance at a return. It could have been considered a mark I made at that point.
 

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It's not a scratch, it's a defect and that fork should be returned.
Agree 100%

It's in the worst place too - major stress riser...

If you want an expert opinion contact Raoul Luescher of Luescher Teknik via his Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. But this one is a no brainer. I would not ride it regardless of whether a professional backed me up on this or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It's not a scratch, it's a defect and that fork should be returned.
Thanks. Good points. It does seem like it happened as a result of how it was manufactured rather than a scratch that happened to it after it was made. I'll return it.

Now I'm wondering if giving it a second chance on a replacement fork is a good idea. I'm reconsidering getting the Niner RDO Boost MTB fork instead. The fork in question is a Salsa Firestarter 110 Deluxe Carbon fork.

I also noticed that the way the carbon fork meets the metal around the steerer tube is a bit sloppy with what appears to be some rough overlap, some actual scratches, and some bubbles (porosity?) in the carbon. And every bolt appears to have been factory over tightened well enough to have left a little mark.
 

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I'd choose another shop after this. These guys could have inspected the product before delivering or selling it to you. It's very likely they are aware of the defect.
I'd like to give my business to guys who would be applying their expertise for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Totally agree that the fork has to go back but spill, what is the brand of fork?
It's a Salsa Firestarter 110 Carbon Deluxe.

I'd choose another shop after this. These guys could have inspected the product before delivering or selling it to you. It's very likely they are aware of the defect.
I'd like to give my business to guys who would be applying their expertise for me.
I can understand why you'd suggest going to a different shop. It does seem no one looked it over. I was a bit disappointed to have spent $600 on a fork that felt like no one had checked. What do you think about going with a different fork manufacturer?

Note the initialed white/green "Passed QC" sticker in the second pic.
For real.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A few employees at the local shop I got it at said it's nothing to worry about. I'm still a bit concerned. I have no reason to doubt anyone on here or any reason to doubt them. These guys aren't my friends and I don't know them well but I know they've been working on bikes a while. One guy said he's got a little nick on his steerer tube and it isn't a problem. I haven't seen anything like this on a carbon steerer tube in the photos I've seen when looking online. I sent some photos to Salsa and will call them tomorrow. Anyone here have any experience with this?
 

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A few employees at the local shop I got it at said it's nothing to worry about. I'm still a bit concerned. I have no reason to doubt anyone on here or any reason to doubt them. These guys aren't my friends and I don't know them well but I know they've been working on bikes a while. One guy said he's got a little nick on his steerer tube and it isn't a problem. I haven't seen anything like this on a carbon steerer tube in the photos I've seen when looking online. I sent some photos to Salsa and will call them tomorrow. Anyone here have any experience with this?
Send pic to salsa

Edit... damn i should have read it all.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I'd choose another shop after this. These guys could have inspected the product before delivering or selling it to you. It's very likely they are aware of the defect.
I'd like to give my business to guys who would be applying their expertise for me.
No, absolutely not. It's not the salesperson's job to understand the engineering. That's QC. The salesperson's job is to understand how the finished product fits in the marketplace, so they can best guide the consumer to the most appropriate product.

If you expect every person to be an expert every step of the way... everything will be obscenely 'overpriced.' You want an artisan at every step in the production line.

I don't have an opinion here because, like everyone else in this thread, i don't have the education/background to make the call. Contact the manufacturer, or let the salesperson do it, since you paid them for that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Agreed. It looks to me like a fiber may have just gotten pushed aside at some point in the process.

I am an engineer and have a pretty good understanding of structures. Without inspecting it, I could not offer an opinion as to if it is compromised.
Thanks, I appreciate the insight. What kind of inspection do you think this deserves?

I'll be calling Salsa to talk with someone on the phone about the email/pictures I sent. Any talking points you recommend?
 

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Thanks, I appreciate the insight. What kind of inspection do you think this deserves?

I'll be calling Salsa to talk with someone on the phone about the email/pictures I sent. Any talking points you recommend?
A close visual inspection should do it. I would expect Salsa to err on the side of caution. Potential liability is far larger than eating the cost of a fork.

I would be more concerned about the defect if it's located on the front or back of the steerer in relation to how the fork sits with the tire pointed forward on the bike. I would expect for force to be exerted in the fore/aft direction than laterally. Interestingly Thompson takes that kind of force difference into account in their seat posts as the front and back have significantly more material in the tube walls than in the side to side direction.
 

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Thanks, I appreciate the insight. What kind of inspection do you think this deserves?

I'll be calling Salsa to talk with someone on the phone about the email/pictures I sent. Any talking points you recommend?
that needs xray to confirm good or not

ultrasound is good but if you want 100% accuracy, xray

you see a void externally you bet there is a huge chance there are worse voids internally, in worse locations.
 

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You're not paying substantial money for something with obvious visual defects. Return it and take your money to another shop.
If I were the shop owner or sales guy on this deal there is no way I would let you buy this without knowing about the defect. I would have called Salsa or QBP and checked on availability for a replacement. Then let you decide on waiting or not. It's my personal integrity that comes into play not a job description.
 

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that needs xray to confirm good or not

ultrasound is good but if you want 100% accuracy, xray

you see a void externally you bet there is a huge chance there are worse voids internally, in worse locations.
I agree that an xray is the only 100% definitive way to tell short of a physical load test.

I do not agree that the one flaw shown leads one to the likely conclusion of worse voids elsewhere. That flaw looks like it could have been cause by a contaminant in the mold. I would need to see more bubbles to start to see that conclusion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I called Salsa today. They made returning it easy. The rep I spoke with said something like "Wow yeah that's right there on the seem. We should definitely get that back to look at." He also said it might be nothing but reiterated they should take a look. One of the owners of the shop I got it at tried brushing off my concerns by saying "that's nothing" after looking at it for less than 5 seconds and after I'd already explained that Salsa would cover freight and refund them. It was beyond weird. I do believe we are all entitled to expect more from shops. After tax, this rigid fork cost $650. I don't expect anyone working in a bike shop to have taken any engineering classes but shops are the final piece of quality control and that's one of the reasons brick and mortar shops still exist. I've worked retail and as a mechanic before and this really is not debatable.

Edit reason: note: the owner that said "that's nothing" has a BA in Business Marketing and is in no way more qualified than I am. I am concerned by his willingness to make this kind of a statement. I ride a good amount: 3,000 - 5,000 miles a year. My riding style is determined to exploit weaknesses. It makes me wonder if he understands the liability he assumes in saying that. I got feedback from a highly regarded engineer on this and while I can't disclose his name or the exact statement, he said it's got to go back. This was beyond bad. I feel super stupid for trying to give that shop any business. Shame on that shop, not Salsa.
 

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I got a new fork yesterday. I got it just before to closing time at the LBS and didn't look it over too closely right away. I noticed this scratch in the steerer tube when I got home. This is my first carbon steerer tube and it makes me worried. Seems like it is right where the straight part of the tube begins to taper. Everything I find when I search 'scratched steerer tube' looks insignificant in comparison. What do you all think?
Good question/concern. You might want to get these photos to the reps who sell this brand fork, also if your shop you got it from gives you grief over returning it, report that if they want to play hardball. If this indeed a threat to the carbon structure/layup then that shop should have returned it right away to have inspected and replaced. The major issue with this material is there being no room for error in the carbon lay up or MFG process, thats why I'm so against the shady Chinese carbon manufacture of these critical weight bearing parts of bikes.
 
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