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  1. #1
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    chain cases "routinely" break?

    Hello

    Long story short, when I picked up my commuting bike from its tune-up the other day, the chain case was broken and held together with duct tape. It was fine when I dropped the bike off. The broken part was at exactly the point where the case is opened to access the chain.

    The mechanic first claimed that the plastic was brittle due to the age of the bike and exposure to cold. When I challenged that, saying that the bike is less than two years old and has NOT been exposed to cold weather (I don't ride when it's really cold and I store the bike indoors), the mechanic changed their story to "plastic chain cases are just really fragile, it's a problem across the industry".

    Does this sound right to any of you?

    This is only the second tune-up the bike has ever gotten, so only the second time the case has ever been touched. It's a Dutch commuter bike and supposedly is designed to be exposed to all weathers.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    tsl
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    Ham-fisted idiot "mechanic" owes you a chaincase.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Chainguards? tons are discarded from every Kids BMX bike assembly.
    they ship one in the carton, never to be used.

    you might seek out a metal one.. next..

    Traditional, ones on the streets of Amsterdam are of a truck tarp fabric
    over a steel support frame, no molded plastic.

    [ If you get the German Hebie chainglider ,
    it's plastic form is designed to go over the whole chain to keep it cleaner
    and keep the long skirt out of the chain..

    either 38t or 42 t chain ring & nexus or rohloff hub.
    an 1 from column A , 1 from column B approach.]


    now, what specific chainguard was it?
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-24-12 at 12:29 PM.

  4. #4
    Intrepid Bicycle Commuter AlmostGreenGuy's Avatar
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    That's why I remove all add-on parts before giving my bike over to shop. If they don't get broken, they get mysteriously lost.

  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Ham-fisted idiot "mechanic" owes you a chaincase.
    This would be my take on it. FWIW I have two chain case bikes, one is metal one is plastic. I have had the metal one bend by a so called mechanic that had no clue on how to remove it and tried used a larger screwdriver as a pry bar. Fortunately it could be bent back.

    If you need a replacement chaincase, best place I have found to order them is Dutch Bike Bits. They also sell the tarp/frame ones that fietsbob refers too.

    Aaron
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  6. #6
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    This was in the email I got back from the bike shop:

    I can verify that the (brand) hard chain cases are prone to breaking. (Brand) uses vinyl on most of their chain cases which is a preferable material since it is flexible. The hard plastic cases, as on the (your model), can be problematic and sometimes break with regular usage. The mechanics do take care, and open them up on a weekly basis, and they still break on semi-regular occasion.

    I still stand by the our assurances that (brand) are hardy year round bicycles, however, the hard chain case could certainly be improved upon. It's worthwhile to mention that this is an industry-wide problem. (Brand) has made some of the best efforts at covering their chain, but even the vinyl cases have their detractors, while many riders prefer the hard case despite its flaws. There is currently no perfect solution, just as a rust-proof chain has yet to be perfected. As a result, some ongoing maintenance is sometimes required.


    When I bought the bike (from this same bike shop) the chain case was mentioned as a selling point and NO ONE said anything about it being highly breakable and hard to replace yadda yadda. That was in June 2010.

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    (brand)? why hide the brand of bike? Heck, you should post the name of the shop to warn others. A shop that won't own up to their mistake isn't worth dealing with in the future.

    They still owe you a new one, it broke while under the shop's care. It doesn't matter if the chain case was made out of paper mache or dry leaves, you as the customer can reasonably expect the bike to be in the same shape it was when you dropped it off minus any repairs.

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    It does not matter if the part is poorly designed. They broke it, they should get you a new one. If they suggest replacing it with one they think is better, that would be fine, no cost to you.
    Last edited by shelbyfv; 02-24-12 at 01:40 PM. Reason: sp

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jim Kukula's Avatar
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    I bought a Workcycles Super Transport maybe 6 years ago. It has a vinyl chaincase that has yet to be opened up. I would probably not trust a bike shop with that... but that's because no bike shop anywhere near here would have any experience with such a thing. My bike has a eight speed Nexus IGH... I am very often in first but have never had a use for eight, so one of my projects is to reduce the gearing, probably with a smaller chainring if the crank arms permit it. I am working my courage up to confront that chaincase! I think I found some videos at Clever Cycles in Portland that deal with that type of chaincase.

    I noticed at the Workcycles website that it seems the more recent Super Transport models have the hard chaincase. I always though that those looked nicer. But maybe the vinyl is more durable. I have a chrome strip along the top that is dreadfully rusted by now.... certainly I have neglected it! Maybe I can find a replacement for that, to spiff the bike back up a bit!

  10. #10
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by margarets View Post
    This was in the email I got back from the bike shop: <snip>
    Was this snow job forecast on The Weather Channel?

    I like the part about their mechanics breaking them regularly. Sounds like a quality operation.

    Even if there is something particularly delicate about yours, their prior knowledge of that should cause them to be more careful. And to have a few in stock for when they break them.

    By the way, its isn't a matter of parts, or materials, or design. It's a matter of ethics. You break it, you bought it. Plain and simple.

    Find another bike shop--one that's not so ethically-challenged.
    Last edited by tsl; 02-24-12 at 03:52 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Funny this should come up...

    I was chatting with the my friend at the local bike shop yesterday and he told me he was not careful enough with a bike with a plastic chainguard on the crank and the guard broke. Now I know for a fact that these plastic chainguards are extremely cheaply made and are very prone to breaking. But my friend broke it and he is replacing it at his cost.

    Like tsl said - if you break it, you bought it. If the shop doesn't believe that maybe you should go in one day with your steel-toed boots and 'test' the impact resistance of the plastic parts on bikes on their sales floor. If they break... meh... they are prone to breaking and you certainly can't be held responsible.


    *I don't really think this is a good idea, but I think is an interesting perspective to point out to them if they are having trouble seeing. Windows are also prone to breaking when you throw rocks at them... it's an industry wide problem!

  12. #12
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by margarets View Post
    This was in the email I got back from the bike shop:

    I can verify that the (brand) hard chain cases are prone to breaking. (Brand) uses vinyl on most of their chain cases which is a preferable material since it is flexible. The hard plastic cases, as on the (your model), can be problematic and sometimes break with regular usage. The mechanics do take care, and open them up on a weekly basis, and they still break on semi-regular occasion.

    I still stand by the our assurances that (brand) are hardy year round bicycles, however, the hard chain case could certainly be improved upon. It's worthwhile to mention that this is an industry-wide problem. (Brand) has made some of the best efforts at covering their chain, but even the vinyl cases have their detractors, while many riders prefer the hard case despite its flaws. There is currently no perfect solution, just as a rust-proof chain has yet to be perfected. As a result, some ongoing maintenance is sometimes required.


    When I bought the bike (from this same bike shop) the chain case was mentioned as a selling point and NO ONE said anything about it being highly breakable and hard to replace yadda yadda. That was in June 2010.
    Hmmmm .... so we're barely in 2012. What was the warranty on the bike?

  13. #13
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    To follow up on some of the questions and comments:

    I'm not mentioning the brand because the bike shop is claiming that all brands have this problem. I wanted to see what the general opinion was rather than get into a discussion of this particular brand.

    The warranty was for one year. However, this is a quality brand, so it's reasonable to expect many years of hassle-free use out of it.

    The bike shop happened to have a replacement case (actually part of the case) on hand this time, so on that end things are OK. It's the lying and crap attitude I object to. Plus the bike is eventually going to need another tune up, so that chain case will have to be opened (and possibly broken) again. The chain case won't be easy to replace because it's Dutch, and perfectly colour-matched to the frame, etc.

    Thinking about it over the weekend, I still don't buy this guff about the chain case being just so extremely fragile. There are all kinds of plastic bike parts out there that take a lot more wear & tear than this chain case (especially since it was an internal part of this chain case that broke, that only a mechanic would touch) and they hold up for YEARS. And this one just happened to break only the SECOND time it's ever been touched?

    The kicker is, this bike shop is considered one of the best in the city. Their other mechanic who I've dealt with in the past is excellent (HE didn't break the case when he worked on it). This is a new mechanic, and I must say, when I talked to her, her attitude was pretty crap - that classic thing of talking down to me like I just don't know enough about bikes. Ugh.

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    I forgot to share with you this part of the email from the bike shop:

    I spoke with the mechanic about the tape and she requested I please apologize to you for not letting you know of her intention to use the tape. In this case, (mechanic) reported that the case's latch was broken already, but still connected until she opened it, at which point it snapped off completely. This is the same place these cases typically break, so it was no surprise to (mechanic) to see this. Usually, when this happens, she will call the customer to let them know their bike will be ready right away and mention her tape solution, which most customers are content with. In your case, she didn't call you and mention this since you were coming right after work and she presumed, wouldn't check your messages before you came by. She was off the floor when you picked up the bike, and so it went unmentioned. No deception was intended, but rather a series of irregularities that meant you were not notified, and didn't get the opportunity to voice your objection prior to coming in. I apologize for this.

  15. #15
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by margarets View Post
    It's the lying and crap attitude I object to. Plus the bike is eventually going to need another tune up, so that chain case will have to be opened (and possibly broken) again. <snip> her attitude was pretty crap - that classic thing of talking down to me like I just don't know enough about bikes. Ugh.
    This reinforces for me that it's an ethics problem, not a materials problem.

    If it was a materials problem and they were meant to be replaced when they're opened, then the shop would include it in the "plus parts" part of the tune-up. Around here tune-ups are advertised as labor only, "plus parts like cables, housing and chains, which vary by bike". Add "chaincase" to the phrase and everyone's happy.

    As for their reputation as the best in town, I've had similar experience with the alleged best in town. I've learned to value experience over reputation. And I've learned how to work on my own bikes.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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    So I sent this reply to the bike store employee, about a week ago.

    Thanks for your reply.

    If the chain case was already broken, why didn't the mechanic say so when I first asked about it?

    Thing is, the only other person to touch that case was the [bike shop] mechanic who tuned up the bike last year. So he would have had to break the case, and then get it to stick together without duct tape, so well that it held for almost a year, right up until the next mechanic opened it.


    Put yourself in my position. What would you believe?

    I am certain that when I bought the bike, no one mentioned that the case was so susceptible to breaking, even as soon as its second tune up. I plan to have this bike for many years, and naturally it will need many tune-ups. What you're telling me is that I must expect this difficult-to-replace part to break every time?

    If this is an industry-wide problem as you say, is [bike shop] telling the buyers of new bikes with chain cases about it? Finding out this way is a very nasty surprise indeed.


    I've had no reply. This demonstrates a level of indifference to customer service that has me hopping mad! I googled the employee's name and get this - she's the bike shop's "Public Relations Manager", and does PR for the shop's distribution arm as well. But what she really wants to be is a graphic artist. That's what she studied at university. (I got all this from her linkedin profile.) So cycling and PR are just sidelines for her. And it shows.

    I'm so mad I want to post the whole email exchange online, especially on local cycling forums, so that everyone can see this attitude for themselves. It's also a great example of TERRIBLE PR.

  17. #17
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    Wooaaaahhhhh

    Let me get this straight. So you went to pick up your bike and the chaincase was held together with duct tape, upon noticing this, you told the shop it was unacceptable and they replaced the broken part?

  18. #18
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    Devils advocet

    Tires routinely blow out but we cant expect a bike shop not to sell us a bike because it has tires. I do understand your frustration and have to assume (never a good idea) that it is more about being talked down to then the actual chain case breaking. It would be nice if people would own up to their mistakes but yet every day peoiple are whinning about being out of work but dont go look for a job or, and my favorite, the bank loaned me to much for my house and now I cant afford my mortgage. Please dont take this reply as rude or mean, just trying to see both sides. And if I missed something your story and the shop is infact incompetant, than atleast you know not to go back

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by digger531 View Post
    Tires routinely blow out but we cant expect a bike shop not to sell us a bike because it has tires. I do understand your frustration and have to assume (never a good idea) that it is more about being talked down to then the actual chain case breaking. It would be nice if people would own up to their mistakes but yet every day peoiple are whinning about being out of work but dont go look for a job or, and my favorite, the bank loaned me to much for my house and now I cant afford my mortgage. Please dont take this reply as rude or mean, just trying to see both sides. And if I missed something your story and the shop is infact incompetant, than atleast you know not to go back
    There is a big difference with her issue. A tire is a consumable part. If it blows and had normal wear and tear on it, it would be reasonable for a shop to ask the customer to pay for a new one.

    Its like a car, you bring a car into a shop to have the front brakes replaced. While test driving the car, the engine snaps its timing belt and has to be towed back to the shop. The shop would fully be in their right to ask the customer to either pay for the brake job and have the car towed out of the shop or pay for the brake job and pay to have the timing belt replaced. The timing belt is a consumable item. Now say that same car was being test driven and the mechanic hits a curb slightly and the alloy rim then suffered some road rash. Would the shop be within their rights to ignore the damage? Of course not, road rash from hitting a curb while test driving the car is not expected by the client and the client should be made whole with no charge to them which means getting a new or reasonably equal used alloy rim. The shop can't say "Well those alloy rims are just very weak and are known to get dinged up even with the slightest bump" and expect to get out of replacing the rim. The customer needs to be made whole.

    So chaincase not equal to consumable part which means shop should replace the chain case, period or give the client equal monetary compensation.

    As for the car snapping its timing belt while being test driven, that happened to me about 20 years ago when I was a mechanic. I replaced the brakes on a Dodge minivan, took it for a test drive and the timing belt snapped 1/4 mile from the shop. We had it towed back and the customer ended up paying the 400 dollar repair bill for the brakes and then had the minivan towed to a garage capable of repairing the timing chain.

  20. #20
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    I agree but I believe she said the LBS did replace the chaincase

  21. #21
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    It IS about the chain case breaking because it is a difficult to replace part for this particular bike. And the chain case - both its function and aesthetics - are a major selling point of the bike. I got lucky this time because they happened to have a replacement. Next time (and only now is the shop telling me there WILL be a next time) I'll be SOL. If that's freaking fragile and rare of an item, they should be a gazillion times more careful with it, not just slap on some duct tape and assume I won't mind.

  22. #22
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    Again with the assumptions, if the OP is not a she, my apologies

  23. #23
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    So... they cannot make a mistake? Again not trying to be harsh but mistakes will happen. What if you crash the bike and break the chain case? It would be broke and need to be replaced, the only difference would be who is at fault. If I haven't inflamed the conversation too much I might suggest a spare chaincase be kept on hand for any situation that may arise

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger531 View Post
    So... they cannot make a mistake? Again not trying to be harsh but mistakes will happen. What if you crash the bike and break the chain case? It would be broke and need to be replaced, the only difference would be who is at fault. If I haven't inflamed the conversation too much I might suggest a spare chaincase be kept on hand for any situation that may arise
    Totally different situation if I break the chain case. That is not what happened.

    And please - like you'd be OK with someone breaking part of your bike and excusing it with "mistakes happen".

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by digger531 View Post
    So... they cannot make a mistake?
    In my days as a bike mechanic, I made plenty of mistakes. We fixed our mistakes, that was just the way we did things. I would have taken a lot of **** for breaking a chaincase like that, but the only way to handle it is to fix it correctly.

    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    If you need a replacement chaincase, best place I have found to order them is Dutch Bike Bits. They also sell the tarp/frame ones that fietsbob refers too.

    Aaron
    I want one of those fabric chaincases. I don't understand how they work though, they must have a break for the chainstay somewhere.
    Last edited by unterhausen; 03-06-12 at 01:23 PM.

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