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Old 06-18-09, 09:10 PM   #1
Obiwan
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Novara frame bites the dust.. Shouldnt this be covered?

Hello everyone,

This is my first time posting up here but I have been reading the forums for about a year now.

I have been riding the same Novara for over a decade. I bought the bike because I have always heard good things about REI's service and bikes. Another big selling point on the Novara's was that (at least at the time I bought mine) they claimed a lifetime warranty on the frames.

Long story short is this, I ride the bike fairly agressively. Some street riding, some mountain trail riding, etc. I was on a ride with a group of friends a couple weeks back and came off a decent sized burm and landed square on the rear tire. I am 6' 1" and weigh a good 210. The framed actually buckled and broke the small pinch weld right below the seat. I got tossed pretty good as well. I brought the bike into REI to discuss it with them and see what options were available as far as repairing or replacing the frame. I mentioned the "lifetime" warranty and the bike shop tech said "well lifetime doesn't actually mean life time". Well then what the hell does it mean? Now I realize that there are wear and tear items on a mountain bike, like brake pads, tires, rims, pedals, cables, etc. So I would never expect those to be covered, but the frame?? Seems like the one thing that should be under the warranty is the part that buckled.

Now I can see a frame not being covered due to being run over a by a car, or crashing into a brick wall, or some other thing that wasn't directly related to regular riding. However this was riding and jumping a burm that was not very large.

Am I wrong in thinking this? He said the warranty only covers "defects in manufacturing". Well if the frame buckles because the factory used a very poor grade of metal (steel frame) and I am riding the bike the way they advertise them to be ridden (trail riding, jumping, etc) then should it not be covered? He of course did not have the final say and was going to talk with REI corporate and get back to me later.

What are peoples thoughts? Any and all info is greatly appreciated.

BTW I have no idea where Novara bikes are made these days but mine very clearly says "made in Taiwan" in three different places on the frame. (for those who wondered) My family and I have been riding on Novara's for almost 20 years and have never had a real problem until now. Hopefully it will be easily resolved.

Thanks


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Old 06-18-09, 09:27 PM   #2
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Well that's a very strange failure. It should be covered by the warrenty, IMO.
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Old 06-18-09, 09:32 PM   #3
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you did that to the frame without busting/bending your wheel or popping a tire? Must have been seriously fatigued.
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Old 06-18-09, 10:12 PM   #4
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That is pretty crazy. I agree that it seems like a warranty issuse.
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Old 06-18-09, 10:14 PM   #5
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the rei "warranty" is actually a 100% satisfaction guarantee, The way its not a lifetime warranty is that rei doesn't gaurantee stuff is indestructable, i've seen people return luggage cause the airlines dragged it on the tarmac and it frayed and other abuse of the policy. I've even had customers try to get me to say you can bring a bike back and trade it in for the new years model. Crap like this makes some empolyees jaded and annoyed at abnormal returns. But as the customer you always have the final say in the matter, if the tech or floor staff give you a hard time just get to a manager, they will always take care of you.

Now should it be warrantied? well at 210 lbs you shouldn't be jumping an old hardtail xc bike, how big a burm we talkin? Lifetime frame warranties usually exclude "improper use" ie don't jump of stuff on a hardtail xc bike

another problem is what will they warranty the frame with? novara doesn't make (to my knowlege) a mtn frame with canti-bosses, all disc now, and other stuff like the seatpost will prolly be the wrong size, you prolly have a threaded fork, so the headset and fork arn't compatable, they'd prolly have to give you a new bike

for the record, novara was made in taiwan, but in I believe 2006 they started being made in china
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Old 06-18-09, 11:34 PM   #6
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REI has a fantastic return policy rivaled only the likes of Performance and Walmart, who also seem to be willing to take anything and everything back. If you're not satisfied, they'll take it back, no questions asked. Unfortunately a lot of people take advantage of this, but your complaint sounds fair, so it doesn't seem like you'd fall into that category. Bet if you took it back and talked to a different employee they'd warranty the frame.
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Old 06-19-09, 12:33 AM   #7
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You got something in writing saying the way you rode this bike was warrantied (especially the jumping part)?

Can't say I've seen xc bikes come with that kind of blessing in the warranty.

Then there's the whole reasonable lifetime of the product concept from the manufacturer's viewpoint (and the legal opinions that go along with that) and the consumer's understanding of "lifetime"...google lifetime warranty definition or reasonable lifetime warranty for some ideas. What's REI's specific warranty say in any case? You do have a written warranty to work off of, yes?

What's the point of mentioning the bikes are made in Taiwan? Where the majority of good bikes are coming from...

In any case I'd think that 10 years of heavy use of a bicycle is quite reasonable, but if you think you got a warranty that meant for your lifetime, that's not necessarily unusual either.
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Old 06-19-09, 12:56 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your responses. Ill try and remember as much as I can here so as to respond to all comments.

The burm was not that big for one and there is nothing written or implied that says the bike should not be ridden or jumped about on with a 210 lb passenger. It is a large frame bicycle and is the proper size for me.

In Novara's/REI's own literature for 2009' for instance there is a man riding a bike and it says "looking for logs to roll over and jumps to hit". So as XC mountain bikes are concerned it is reasonably expected for us to jump them, ride them hard, and enjoy them. Not be afraid that the frame is going to buckle under us at any moment if we are a bit too romp happy.

Know I agree if I was dropping 10' jumps or something ridiculous then sure, your asking for trouble on a hard tail bike. However that was not the case and the burm was not that large. How large? Well off hand not sure anymore as I didn't measure it. I was more concerned about my damaged bike, fractured ankle, and how far we needed to go to get back to town.

The reason why I mentioned it was made in Taiwan is because I saw a thread on this forum recently where someone asked the specific question: "Where and who makes Novara bikes for REI". I have no idea who makes them, but I do know that my bike in particular was made in Taiwan. So if anyone had any info on recall's or weak materials, etc. used on those particular bikes then I would like to know.

I am not bashing the Taiwanese made bicycles, but as an Engineer in the automotive industry, I do know for a fact how poorly manufactured a lot of the chinese made components are for vehicles. However that's a whole other story and I do not want to de-rail this thread around that.

Again I appreciate all of the information and feedback in regards to the frame issue. I do not feel that I am out of line or asking more then is reasonable in assuming the frame would hold up to the type of riding I do. Im not a young pup anymore nor do I ride like one. But I do enjoy mountain biking and have been doing it for 30 years.

So the issue for me is the weakness of that area of the design. That falls under "manufacturing defect" from my stand point. Seems like a design or material defect from the thin material used and the spot welding near the seat post. I see that they changed that design a long time ago. Probably for good reasons.

I am speaking with REI and they have been fairly helpful so far. No idea what the final out come will be though.

Thanks
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Old 06-19-09, 01:03 AM   #9
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One more note. The bicycle has not had 10 years of "heavy use" It is (was) in fact in excellent condition for a bike it's age and our riding season here at almost 8000' above sea level is about 5 months out of the year. Which for me equates to far less as I travel frequently with my work.

If a manufacturer does not mean that the frame has a "lifetime warranty" but a 5 yr or 20 yr warranty then they should imply that specifically. Much simpler to say "has a 1 year warranty" if that is what is meant. So I feel it is fair to assume that when you say "lifetime" it can stand for a while.

Sears has a "lifetime" warranty on their hand tools for instance. It is exactly that, bring in any tool that falls apart regardless of it's age and they will replace it with the same or a newer version. Straight warranty which works exactly as stated. REI's warranty on their Novara frame's was relayed to me as such when I purchased the bike. My whole family rides Novara bikes and we have never had a frame issue or any other major mechanical issue ever. So I personally feel they are great bikes, I just may have one that had a weakness built into it and it was just a matter of time.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:06 AM   #10
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"REI has a fantastic return policy rivaled only the likes of Performance and Walmart, who also seem to be willing to take anything and everything back. If you're not satisfied, they'll take it back, no questions asked. Unfortunately a lot of people take advantage of this, but your complaint sounds fair, so it doesn't seem like you'd fall into that category. Bet if you took it back and talked to a different employee they'd warranty the frame."

They kept the bike there and have not said that it wouldn't be handled but the bike tech didn't instill much hope in me. I will find out in a few days.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:25 AM   #11
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They do indeed advertise that sweet jumps thing (nice what with them working in the Napoleon Dynamite thing) in the 09 catalog! That's asking for it! They don't seem to list a warranty, though, just that satisfaction guaranteed thing. Take your dissatisfaction as you've laid it out here and you should be able to get satisfaction, even if you have to keep taking it a step further up the ladder.

Over a decade on one bike to me is a lot, but I ride all year, too, can skew my thinking. Read more into it in that respect the first time around in any case...

Curious, the berms I use I don't usually "land" off, just careen around...this one had some sort of drop at the end?

Also, Taiwan is not China. Taiwan is THE place to make bikes these days. Most big US and European brands have much of their premium lineups made there. Good bet it's the Merida/Giant conglomerate that produced it, but I don't know. The quality is excellent for the most part in any case.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:42 AM   #12
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Yeah that "sweet jumps" thing is a bit funny when you link it with Napoleon Dynamite. Hadn't caught that the first time.

I do not know what REI's warranty is anymore on Novara bikes. I only know what it was at the time I purchased mine, and I am sure REI remembers what it was then too. It may have changed since then for all I know, but I assume I would be grandfathered in to the old one.

The burms are on fire roads here. We have hundreds of miles of fire roads that go through the wilderness here in NM. The roads have "burms" in them to keep trucks, poachers, wood cutters, etc. from using them. The burms are essentially a hole dug in the ground with the dirt piled on the other side. SO it really depends on which side you are coming from and how large the burm is. Most were dug long ago so they are relatively small and great to hop over when your zipping along the trails.

I have always wondered who makes their bikes and rumor was Giant for a while, then others said no. So I have no idea. Again I have never had a problem with any of their bikes and would be more then happy with another one. I just don't want this to get drug on as I am losing precious time in my riding season as a result. Especially being that we had all planned on riding/camping this weekend for the big F'day.
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Old 06-19-09, 01:59 AM   #13
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Just my two cents....but comparing a 2009 catalog description and an actual product from "over a decade" ago just doesn't work. Also, "lifetime warranty" is actually a relative term and does not (in most cases) refer to YOUR lifetime. What it refers to is the useful lifetime of the product. This is pretty standard across nearly all lines of manufacturing. Saying something is "in excellent condition" is also relative. You may have done damage to the bike some time ago and would never have seen it. There are LOT'S of things that could have happened.

Now, all that being said.......it would be totally peaches if REI gave you a new frame, I'd be happy for you, seriously...that would be service above and beyond. Although like someone else said, you'd most likely have to spend some dough on a new fork, seatpost, brakes, etc...

Personally, I say you got a good ten years out of a mountain bike frame....buy a new one.
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Old 06-19-09, 02:00 AM   #14
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To me this is a berm for bikes (although a big one) http://www.gravity-slaves.co.uk/raci...unnel_berm.jpg

What you describe we call tank traps. So I would call what you do to ride them jumping Not good for an xc bike if done too much...btw, was that a steel or aluminum frame?
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Old 06-19-09, 07:27 AM   #15
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Also, "lifetime warranty" is actually a relative term and does not (in most cases) refer to YOUR lifetime. What it refers to is the useful lifetime of the product.
And that's why I don't personally put much stock in the words 'lifetime warranty". It's a pretty vague and ill-defined term, if you think about it. Just what is the useful life of a product? It's all down to opinion.

For a 10-year-old bike, if I asked at all for a warranty-replacement, I'd ask nicely just once and leave it at that.
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Old 06-19-09, 02:15 PM   #16
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It's not a warranty issue. You've effectively "crashed" the frame by landing incorrectly off a jump.

The lifetime warranty, as originally proposed by the Schwinn Bicycle Co., is for the lifetime of the original owner, but only for defects in manufacturing. The fact that your frame is bent = abuse in the bicycle industry. The brazed joints failed only because of the crumpled seat stays. It's considered an indication that the design limits of the frame were exceeded.

It's been 10+ years since I held the title of 'Service Manager' in a bike shop, but if you had brought that bike into my shop, I'd deny warranty coverage too. However, I would work you a sweet deal on a 'crash replacement' frame.

REI will probably take care of you if you push the issue of their lifetime satisfaction guarantee.
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Old 06-19-09, 08:03 PM   #17
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it's an old bike .. it broke... so go buy a new one and quit being cheap
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Old 06-19-09, 08:55 PM   #18
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It's an old bike yes, but it should not have crumpled landing straight off a jump. It looks like I came off a house and landed on the rear tire, but I did not. The wheel did not even bend, nor did the tire pop. Wheel was straight and true in fact which is why it leads me to believe the frame was fatigued or improperly engineered in that spot. The metal was extremely thin when we inspected it at REI.

Either way it is what it is and REI and I came to an agreement. I test rode what bikes they actually had in stock in my size. A few that I was very interested in were not in stock Mainly the Bonanza as it is a good middle road bike for a fair price.

I test rode bikes for 4 hours back and forth trying to decide what I liked best. In the end I settled on the Ponderosa 29er. A bit heavy really but rides well.

They gave me the Ponderosa 29er free of charge and we called it a day. It was only a thousand dollar bike so it was a fair move..

Also I have some great real estate available on Saturn for sale if you bought that line above... LMAO...

Actually they gave me a decent discount (not enormous by any means) towards a new bike so I picked it up and called it a day. Not a bad deal and it worked out amicably for all involved.

SO I am again riding a Novara and will probably ride it for a long time. Even if I jump it off burms they said it should hold up better then the last.

THanks everyone for your responses and input.

Last edited by Obiwan; 06-19-09 at 10:18 PM.
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