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  1. #1
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Catastrophic rear derailleur hanger failure

    This morning riding on level ground at about 18 - 20 mph, I had my rear derailleur hanger snap in half. The result was a sudden and violent stop with the derailleur being snapped into two parts, the rear hanger being completely sheared from the bike, the chain chewing up the chain stay, the rear wheel coming out from under me, and several spokes broken.

    For the life of me, I can't figure out what caused the failure. I wasn't accelerating or pushing especially hard. All I heard was a sharp snap, and half a second later, my rear wheel comes completely undone. My heart rate went straight into the red zone as I unclipped and was actually able to dismount prior to hitting the pavement. I really don't know how I avoided injury, but found myself standing on the side of the road holding a bike with only one wheel on it. The rear wheel was laying off to the side of the road, and the rear derailleur was in two pieces laying about five or six yards back.

    A rider 30 or 40 yards behind me stopped and said he had never seen anything like it. He said he heard the snap and then saw me riding on just the front wheel for what seemed like 10 yards before getting off. When he saw the damage, he too was at a complete loss to understand what had just happened.

    So, I'm off to the LBS this evening to see if they can explain what may have happened, and if any of this is covered under warranty. What a morning!
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  2. #2
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Glad you're OK NOS88 and sorry for the bike....here's hoping the manufacturer does the right thing. If you don't mind, describe your bike ....make, material, etc....and let us know the outcome of course.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  3. #3
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    I have broken a rear derailleur, too, albeit not quite as violent. It snapped when I got back on my bike and took a "power stroke" to get going. I didn't lose any spokes or damage my bike in any way.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain
    Glad you're OK NOS88 and sorry for the bike....here's hoping the manufacturer does the right thing. If you don't mind, describe your bike ....make, material, etc....and let us know the outcome of course.

    Specialized Roubaix Pro with Ultegra. This is a full carbon bike and the chain did a number on the chainstays. I'm hoping that there is no structural damage. I'm now a believer in derailleur hangers that break off!
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  5. #5
    Just shy of 400W ranger5oh's Avatar
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    My guess... since this just happened to me, and I was able to diagnose the problem with the help of the LBS:

    Your chain wasnt installed properly, and the special link's pin came out a teensy bit. The pin caught on the derailieur pulled it forward, snapped the hangar, got thrown into the spokes... etc.

    I'd bet a dollar its the pin on the chain. Check the chain... and if it hasnt been touched since you bought the bike, it could be your LBS's fault...
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  6. #6
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Good time to test Specialized cf frame replacement policy. Others have had very good experiences with their warranty. Wonder if it depends much on how vigorously your LBS takes an interest.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  7. #7
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain
    Good time to test Specialized cf frame replacement policy. Others have had very good experiences with their warranty. Wonder if it depends much on how vigorously your LBS takes an interest.

    This is tricky. The bike is already a replacement frame from Specialized, because the original had the botton bracket bonding come undone. I'm begining to get the feeling that the cycling gods are trying to tell me I need something other than the Specialized.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  8. #8
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    Yeah, if you think about it the derailleur is not under any particular strain no matter how hard you are pushing. The tension is in the chain only from the top of the chain ring to the top of the cog you are in. The rest of the chain including the derailleur is pretty much limp with only spring tension from the derailleur keeping it from flopping.

  9. #9
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ranger5oh
    My guess... since this just happened to me, and I was able to diagnose the problem with the help of the LBS:

    Your chain wasnt installed properly, and the special link's pin came out a teensy bit. The pin caught on the derailieur pulled it forward, snapped the hangar, got thrown into the spokes... etc.

    I'd bet a dollar its the pin on the chain. Check the chain... and if it hasnt been touched since you bought the bike, it could be your LBS's fault...

    Good suggestion. I'll look at the chain tonight before going to the LBS.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  10. #10
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    Wow!! Glad your okay. That's a scary type of accident. Keep us posted as to what the cause might have been and of course to let us know how it gets resolved.

  11. #11
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    sorry to hear that, good thing you weren;t at speed.

    as an aside (and not to infere this is what happened to you), I bent a steel frame hanger once. Was my Oreo and after a short stop during a group training session, somehow the shift lever had 'moved' and the chain was now out of alignment. Getting restarted and still in the big ring, I stood and 'powered' (well, my idea of 'power'... ) the start. Chain jumped the gear, and literally smunched the Campy NR derailleur into a twisted mess, hanger bend down and back - I fall down, go boom. Come to think of it, I've fallen down and gone boom much toooo often
    anyway, now, whenever I re-mount I always back-spin the crank a rev and if the chain ain't aligned properly I'll know before I 'power' into the crank.

    - learning the hard way, one mistake at a time...

  12. #12
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    NOS88 - glad you're okay. That is a strange occurence and the ranger5oh explanation makes more sense than anything else I can imagine. Something like a pin meeting a piece, the whole mechanism getting jammed & the DR was what 'had to give'.
    centexwoody
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  13. #13
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ranger5oh
    My guess... since this just happened to me, and I was able to diagnose the problem with the help of the LBS:

    Your chain wasnt installed properly, and the special link's pin came out a teensy bit. The pin caught on the derailieur pulled it forward, snapped the hangar, got thrown into the spokes... etc.

    I'd bet a dollar its the pin on the chain. Check the chain... and if it hasnt been touched since you bought the bike, it could be your LBS's fault...
    Interesting theory. I had something similar happen recently although I'm inclined to think that it was a bent hanger (not that I remember any situation in which it might have been bent). It was about the third ride on anew bike I just built up (my first build - a Look 555 w/Ultegra). Going up a steep hill, I shifted to lowest gear and derailleur somehow went into the spokes. Fortunately, I was going slow so the wheel was intact, but the hanger bent and the derailleur broke. I replaced them both along with the chain.

    I suspect the hanger because the whole ride it was shifting really poorly - jumping around a lot and I kept twiddling the tension (in fact, this was one reason why I was not going so fast). Your theory is intriguing because it's an Ultegra 10-speed and after installing the chain with my 9-speed chain tool, I found out that there is a 10-speed chain tool. My LBS told me not to lose any sleep over it and had checked it out before the accident, but I'm a little leery of these 10-speed chains now. I installed a new chain (with a 10-speed chain tool) but I just bought a Wipperman (which uses a link) which I haven't yet installed.

  14. #14
    Mmmm, Blue Salsa.... BubbaDog's Avatar
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    +1 on the chain pin as a possibility. When I was building up my LaRaza, I bought a Shimano Ultegra chain from the LBS, which they graciously measured to proper length and installed. The hotshot tech didn't take the time to find the proper Shimano pin tool for the thin chain, so the pin didn't properly seat in the far sideplate. After putting about 100 miles on the chain, I noticed a clicking sound that didn't correlate to equal pedal rotations and was going crazy trying to identify it. It also started shifting by itself under any type of pedaling effort. When I finally found the problem, the side plate had already separated from the pin and was on the verge of coming completely apart. The LBS made good on a new chain, installed by a different tech with the proper tools under my watchful eye....

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  15. #15
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Interesting question: If I install a chain (or any other component) "incorrectly" or in a way that causes damage to the frame or leads to frame failure........and it can be shown so........is the manufacturer liable for replacing the frame.

    No lawyer here, but I am a consumer.....and if the maker wants to keep his PR and perception of reliability intact, he shouldn't quibble too much. I once took back and had K-2 replace 2 pairs of new skis for undulations that developed on the bases. They were "happy" to do so. I later concluded (thru intelligent speculation) the heat setting was malfunctioning on the iron I was using to wax the bases and I had damaged them myself. That was the probable cause, but I really don't know for sure. I think Specialized replacement policy is a marketing thing to assure those buyers who may have lingering doubts about cf's reliability that they won't be snookered if they "take a chance" on cf.

    Frankly NOS88, I wouldn't go in with any speculation at all. After all, it really is speculation in this case. Just show your LBS and say, "The damn thing broke-- I could have been hurt."
    Last edited by CrossChain; 08-03-06 at 12:40 PM.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  16. #16
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain

    Frankly NOS88, I wouldn't go in with any speculation at all. After all, it really is speculation in this case. Just show your LBS and say, "The damn thing broke-- I could have been hurt."
    Or go in wearing a body cast, and say "The damn thing broke..."

    Good lord, NOS88! You're "lucky" that all the damage was to the bike. What a terrible accident! I would have no idea what to do in those circumstances... Glad you're okay!

    But do get that fake body cast and see what happens...
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  17. #17
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain
    Frankly NOS88, I wouldn't go in with any speculation at all. After all, it really is speculation in this case. Just show your LBS and say, "The damn thing broke-- I could have been hurt."

    CC: Thanks for that last paragraph. I guess this little incident created more stress than I thought. Your comments allowed be to laugh out loud about this, and then I suddenly realized how much tension I've been carrying around for most of today.

    DG: I like the body cast idea. Know of anyplace I can get one?
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  18. #18
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    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Shaman's Avatar
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    +1 on the "It Broke" approach follow by a "Can you fix it?... Warrantee wise?"
    Personally, after that, I'm not sure I'd want to ride that bike again.
    You'll always wonder "what if?" instead of enjoying the wind on your face.

  20. #20
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    This is all in hindsight but I have only ever broken one derailler hanger. Luckily the the replacable type. It occured uphill at about 5 mph and luckily no other damage except to the shoe leather walking the bike home.

    The hindsight bit- Right from the strat of the ride, I had to adjust the rear derailler cable to get smooth gear changes. Couple of miles later and I had to adjust again and My adjustments are normally spot on. Then going up the hill I had a couple of problems so put in in the lowest gear and spun up the hill. Obviously the carrier was cracked and going right from the start of the ride.

    Warning-- These replacable hangers are what they sound- REPLACABLE. Giant bikes only have two hangers- one for mountain bikes and one for Road bikes. A lot of manufacturers only have a couple of different hangers or even one. Bianchi- which was the bike concerned seem to custom make for every bike. I had to take the pattern into the shop and wait 6 weeks for it to be machined up. Luckily my LBS ordered 2 when they found this out so I have a spare for next time.
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  21. #21
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Hi NOS88!

    I'm grateful that you weren't injured. Such accidents are always eye-openers.

    If my LBS experience is any indicator, Specialized will do right by you - just ask. Good luck with the replacement and keep us informed, please.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezen
    good thing you weren;t at speed.
    Nos - glad you weren't injured. That's a pretty cool trick, landing on your feet with frame in hand. I'd say at 18-20 you were pretty much at speed even though you didn't consider yourself to be pushing.

    Good luck with the repair/replacement.

    Caruso

  23. #23
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    glad you're OK... looks like it's time to get a fixie ... no more rear derailleur problems!

    train safe-

  24. #24
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    Wow, Nos88 glad you are ok.... great bike handling skills. Hope everything works out with the bike..... I haven't heard any negative buzz about Specialized anywhere on the web, I think it's probably just a couple of bad coincedences.... Ranger, interesting theory, sounds plausible.

    Nos88, you don't by chance have a digital camera do you? (Hint, hint)
    Carpe who?

  25. #25
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88
    Specialized Roubaix Pro with Ultegra.


    I'm glad you're alright, NOS88! Specialized Roubaix?

    Wonder if they have the same hangers as the Comp?


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