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Crack in the head tube! Trek 600

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Crack in the head tube! Trek 600

Old 07-21-20, 02:49 PM
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Crack in the head tube! Trek 600


This photo from before our tour shows the crack that I didnt notice... it runs along the entire lower lug and as you can see wraps around to the front. I got in there with a dental pick type tool and its not like a deep or open crack, but it looks to me like the HT is done.

Posting for conformation and commiseration. I built this up for my sons and it saw a lot of great use over four or five years . My favorite and most challenging build with a mix of ultegra 9sp, flat bar, and rusty parts bin MTB mech. It was super light and ran great!
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Old 07-21-20, 02:53 PM
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I don't really see it in your pic- but the important thing is that you posted a pic. I mean, no one got hurt. Fortunately you noticed it before it became a catastrophic failure... I don't know what a HT failure would look like- but I imagine the front fork just elongating out to the front until the HT split.
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Old 07-21-20, 02:54 PM
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Old 07-21-20, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
I don't really see it in your pic- but the important thing is that you posted a pic. I mean, no one got hurt. Fortunately you noticed it before it became a catastrophic failure... I don't know what a HT failure would look like- but I imagine the front fork just elongating out to the front until the HT split.
Ive been doing some research on the failure mode and many say that it would not be catastrophic. The steering would get squirrely but the fork runs the length of the HT, and is secured by the stem.

I posted more pics. The Imron paint on these eta treks is prone to chipping and I was holding out hope that this was just sort of flex stress in brittle paint.

maybe it is? But maybe not.
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Old 07-21-20, 03:57 PM
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Standalone,
Sorry to see this but in the first picture it looks like a crack, be glad and consider yourself lucky that you noticed it.
Ben
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Old 07-21-20, 04:31 PM
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The bad news is that frame is toast.
The good news is it shouldn't be too hard to find a replacement.
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Old 07-21-20, 04:35 PM
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Best type of crack, actually. If it had completely broken while riding, the steerer tube would have prevented a complete collapse. In fact, the steerer tube is probably why it is not in two pieces now.

Sorry for the loss.
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Old 07-21-20, 04:41 PM
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If you want to confirm to yourself that it is, indeed, a crack, you could probably just push the bike forward while the front brake is locked and get the crack to open up. Loosening the headset a tad will probably allow it to open up even further.

Heh, maybe my Holdsworth/Claud Butler will fail there next. I bet you could chop it out and replace it easily enough! Slit the tube with a hacksaw, put a little heat on it, and peel it out of the inside of the lugs. Probably not worth it, but might be if you're sentimentally attached! Good time to add a lot of braze-ons, too!
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Old 07-21-20, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by xiaoman1 View Post
Standalone,
Sorry to see this but in the first picture it looks like a crack, be glad and consider yourself lucky that you noticed it.
Ben
Originally Posted by Hudson308 View Post
The bad news is that frame is toast.
The good news is it shouldn't be too hard to find a replacement.
Even better news is that my 13 year old would be outgrowing it shortly.

My buddy that I gave a similar sized Nishiki to is bringing it back over!

Originally Posted by balindamood View Post
Best type of crack, actually. If it had completely broken while riding, the steerer tube would have prevented a complete collapse. In fact, the steerer tube is probably why it is not in two pieces now.

Sorry for the loss.
Thank you.

I am grateful for my good luck too!
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Old 07-21-20, 04:44 PM
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It’s hard to be able to say goodbye to an old and reliable friend. Sorry for the loss of a great riding frame!

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Old 07-21-20, 04:52 PM
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I fixed a bike like that by replacing the head tube. It was nearly impossible to see the crack from the outside, but it was pretty clear from the inside. It's a little weird, I figured there was some thinning of the tube during filing and the frame might have been built under tension.
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Old 07-21-20, 05:13 PM
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Yes it is toast. If you really love the frame, you could have a framebuilder replace the head tube. Then of course you'd need a repaint too. It's probably going to be more economical to look for a similar used frame. With a powdercoat or DIY paintjob, it might be cheaper.
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Old 07-21-20, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
Even better news is that my 13 year old would be outgrowing it shortly.
I broke an old Trek frame at a similar age. Fastback seat stays and six months of loaded touring caused its downfall, but my dad insisted it was my fault for riding like an aggressive teenager.
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Old 07-21-20, 05:57 PM
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This seems relatively fail-safe as compared to the headtube cracks I've seen on aluminum frames.

I had someone set to come over to take delivery of a GT road bike recently, but when doing the final wipe-down I found a large crack going straight up the head tube from the lower race.
I almost didn't catch this(!), had to call off the sale and strip off the 6500 gruppo, ouch. Frame went to the recyclers.
Luckily I was able to spruce up a Specialized Epic in a similar size to make the sale with. Buyers don't grow on trees.

Moral of this story was to really check over any Goodwill-sourced bikes for possible reasons it got donated.
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Old 07-21-20, 07:32 PM
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What a bizarre place for a crack to start, any thoughts as to how that happens? Id think the fork would be leveraging against the head tube bearings, and supported buy the steering tube lugs. Howd this happen?
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Old 07-21-20, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Chr0m0ly View Post
What a bizarre place for a crack to start, any thoughts as to how that happens? Id think the fork would be leveraging against the head tube bearings, and supported buy the steering tube lugs. Howd this happen?
a google search for steel head tube cracks brought up a bianchi with the EXACT same crack. Thats a reasonable flex/stress point as I see it.

Headset installation could also be a factor. But its likely mostly a case of rust. This bike did time in New York City (Just like me lol) and came to me well used. I built it up from bare frame/fork/headset. I think teen ownership (two of them) and ongoing rain and touring use did the rest. It managed a 160 mile loaded tour last week, I discovered the crack during the post ride clean up today.

Sad but the frame served us for half a decade in its final act and will always be my favorite build even though I never really rode it myself.
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Old 07-21-20, 09:45 PM
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As I stated in my previous post, I think they probably thinned the head tube a bit much. I'm almost positive it happened at the tip of the head lug on the back of the head tube. The head tube gets flexed a bit while you are riding, so it's seeing a cyclic loading leading to fatigue. Once a crack starts, it's not going to stop.

It was pretty clear that was what happened on the bike I fixed. The other thing that was wrong with that bike was that the builder didn't clock the tubes properly so the miters on the tubes weren't closed up to the head tube. This allows a lot more flexing there. It's quite possible that happened on this Trek as well. When I saw the mis-clocked tubes, that's when I decided not to do this repair for other people any more.
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Old 07-21-20, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Yes it is toast. If you really love the frame, you could have a framebuilder replace the head tube. Then of course you'd need a repaint too. It's probably going to be more economical to look for a similar used frame. With a powdercoat or DIY paintjob, it might be cheaper.
my son is about to grow out of it. Hes not ready for one of the many 25 frames i have around but I will find him something good to last this coming year or two.



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Old 07-21-20, 11:28 PM
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Maybe it's my bias, since my first "real" bike was a brand new '82 613, but this generation of Trek frame had such a classic, iconic look, this one should hang on his wall as memento. Sometimes we just use things up, and if using them up means having great experiences with them, that's a good thing. Blow up that seaside photo of him and hang it inside the main triangle.
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Old 07-22-20, 02:06 AM
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My friend had a more vertical crack that ran almost a helical or spiral path around the head tube in a 1987 Schwinn Circuit. He had ridden to Santa Barbara from Ventura , about 45 miles and was cruising up State Street when he thought he had a flat tire because the bike was “ noodly” . He had to take the bus back to Ventura. He bought the bike new and rode it a lot. The Circuit was a Columbus tube bike high end and he couldn’t believe it. I had never seen a frame do that , but I guess it happens. There is quite a bit of force on a bike frame.
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Old 07-22-20, 04:00 AM
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Crack in the head tube!
"Slime in the ice machine!"
- Marvin Zindler
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Old 07-22-20, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Maybe it's my bias, since my first "real" bike was a brand new '82 613, but this generation of Trek frame had such a classic, iconic look, this one should hang on his wall as memento. Sometimes we just use things up, and if using them up means having great experiences with them, that's a good thing. Blow up that seaside photo of him and hang it inside the main triangle.
You are not wrong about that era, its an objective truth as well as a sentimental one.
I love that idea, and thought of it, too (the pic is a nice touch! I do plan on blowing up a series of them or maybe having a book printed of this around-long-Island-Sound tour) but alas we also have a small modest seaside home to go with the seaside photo no room! Maybe in the workshop, but come to think of it saving just the head tube and mounting that in a shadow box or on a wood panel would be a fine memento, patina on the badge and all. The rear triangle might be ready for a shop stool!
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Old 07-22-20, 06:39 AM
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Take it to a Trek dealer and ask for a warranty replacement.

repairable as noted, not economical
I have seen this type of failure before - typical was loaded touring involved and high miles.
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Old 07-22-20, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I fixed a bike like that by replacing the head tube. It was nearly impossible to see the crack from the outside, but it was pretty clear from the inside. It's a little weird, I figured there was some thinning of the tube during filing and the frame might have been built under tension.
IIRC, that model used a Nikko one-piece bulge-formed head tube (the "lugs" were integral with the head tube), rather than separate head lugs and head tube.

Drop the fork and look inside the head tube. If all you see is a couple small vent holes, then it has the three-piece head lugs/head tube. If instead you find large openings the width of the inserted tubes, then you have the one-piece head tube.
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Old 07-22-20, 01:32 PM
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Wait, I thought it's only CF frames that break.
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