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Broken Nishki Frame

Old 02-07-21, 04:19 PM
  #26  
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Given that Nishiki these days is a label for low to low-end hybrids, "mtbs" and kid bikes you'd not want anything they could provide you with even if they did replace this under warranty, so do not feel too bad. As the original purchaser, you've had almost 35+ years of riding this bike, that's pretty good.

FWIW, that "sudden" failure probably started with a crack some time ago which slowly spread over many rides until it reached the point where one more bump caused it to continue around the tube in what looked like a sudden failure, but what was in reality probably years in the making. It's a good reminder that those of riding old bikes would be well advised to clean them well and inspect them closely at least once per year.
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Old 02-07-21, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by gaucho777 View Post
Yikes! Glad you weren't seriously injured.
Thanks! It could have been a lot worse had this happened barrellin' down one of the short/fast hills - very lucky
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Old 02-07-21, 11:44 PM
  #28  
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Yeah no warranty on that one, Nishiki, is no longer in existence aside from as a name on some crap at Dick's. Any quality relating to Nishiki is long gone, now it is deluxe Wal-Mart bike.

The fact you have had it this long and no frame issues is great. If you loved the bike you could possibly get it repaired or just have someone build a new one. Plenty of awesome frame builders in the U.S. who do lugged frames and can make some really special stuff that will fit you like a glove and have whatever you want or need on it.
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Old 02-08-21, 12:24 AM
  #29  
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That is exactly why I like steel frames so much - the failure mode. The bike gave you real warning. You didn't heed it. (Yes, you looked but had you looked knowing the bike was trying to tell you something, you would have found the crack, which as others above have said, has probably been showing quite a while. Granted, we don't all check our DT undersides very often.) Then, when it did break, the rest of the frame did its best to keep the show together.

I would guess that an aluminum frame would more likely to break the top tube (or top tube/head tube weld) also and I would not expect a CF frame to remain in one piece. Ti I just don't know. I am hoping my ti bikes are so overbuilt I'll never face this.

I've fully broken steel chainstays, seat tube and a fork blade and ridden all of those home or to the race start/finish. Cracked chainstays (both) and fork blades (also both and it was scary). No crashes to date to cracked or broken steel or ti forks/frames. Had my life changed big time by an aluminum fork crown failure.

I'm getting more picky about what I will ride but I will also probably keep riding the bikes I love, maybe to failure. I will also (I hope) stick to materials that fail "nicely".

And the joke - the quick fix. Whittle a dowel to fit. Shove it in, hammer the halves together, do a sexy duct tape wrap and call it good! (Many years ago, racers drove dowels into the steerers of bikes they did not trust. There's precedent. That probably saved a few hard crashes.)

Ben
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Old 02-08-21, 04:03 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
That is exactly why I like steel frames so much - the failure mode. The bike gave you real warning. You didn't heed it. (Yes, you looked but had you looked knowing the bike was trying to tell you something, you would have found the crack, which as others above have said, has probably been showing quite a while. Granted, we don't all check our DT undersides very often.) Then, when it did break, the rest of the frame did its best to keep the show together.

I would guess that an aluminum frame would more likely to break the top tube (or top tube/head tube weld) also and I would not expect a CF frame to remain in one piece. Ti I just don't know. I am hoping my ti bikes are so overbuilt I'll never face this.

I've fully broken steel chainstays, seat tube and a fork blade and ridden all of those home or to the race start/finish. Cracked chainstays (both) and fork blades (also both and it was scary). No crashes to date to cracked or broken steel or ti forks/frames. Had my life changed big time by an aluminum fork crown failure.
The only such failure I witnessed out on the road was back in 1968, when a friend's bike's fork suddenly gave way at the crown. Steel, of course. In comparison, I once slammed into a tree at speed on a steep off-road descent while riding my 1987 Cannondale aluminum mountain bike, bending the (steel) fork. The aluminum frame was undamaged. I continued riding the same bike for 20 years after that crash.

As cyccommute and others have noted repeatedly in previous threads on the topic, steel is harder and more brittle than aluminum and is thus more likely to fail suddenly than aluminum.

For those who haven't seen it before, here's a report of the results of fatigue tests of high-end aluminum, steel, titanium, and carbon fiber frames, conducted in 1997. Two aluminum frames and one carbon fiber frame performed best in the tests, with no failures. To the surprise of the testers, all of the steel and titanium frames failed the fatigue tests. (Interestingly, one of the steel frames was a Nishiki, which failed at the seat tube/down tube/bottom bracket junction.)

12 High-End Frames in the EFBe Fatigue Test

Last edited by Trakhak; 02-08-21 at 04:10 AM.
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Old 02-08-21, 04:07 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
That is exactly why I like steel frames so much - the failure mode. The bike gave you real warning. You didn't heed it. (Yes, you looked but had you looked knowing the bike was trying to tell you something, you would have found the crack, which as others above have said, has probably been showing quite a while. Granted, we don't all check our DT undersides very often.) Then, when it did break, the rest of the frame did its best to keep the show together.

I would guess that an aluminum frame would more likely to break the top tube (or top tube/head tube weld) also and I would not expect a CF frame to remain in one piece. Ti I just don't know. I am hoping my ti bikes are so overbuilt I'll never face this.

I've fully broken steel chainstays, seat tube and a fork blade and ridden all of those home or to the race start/finish. Cracked chainstays (both) and fork blades (also both and it was scary). No crashes to date to cracked or broken steel or ti forks/frames. Had my life changed big time by an aluminum fork crown failure.

I'm getting more picky about what I will ride but I will also probably keep riding the bikes I love, maybe to failure. I will also (I hope) stick to materials that fail "nicely".

And the joke - the quick fix. Whittle a dowel to fit. Shove it in, hammer the halves together, do a sexy duct tape wrap and call it good! (Many years ago, racers drove dowels into the steerers of bikes they did not trust. There's precedent. That probably saved a few hard crashes.)

Ben
Interesting idea, but only if it was a crisis ...
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Old 02-08-21, 04:11 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by mech986 View Post
Glad you’re ok, that type of failure at speed would have been very dangerous if not fatal. That said, it doesn’t look repairable without a fair amount of money and repaint after a full tube replacement. Was the bike ever in a front end collision? The location high up near the head lug suggests a stress there that was unseen or rust under a cable guide or shifter clamp.

what size us the frame?
Yeah, it could be a rust issue and noted by the color inside the down tube, I've been caught in the rain a number of times over the years.
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Old 02-08-21, 04:14 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
That is exactly why I like steel frames so much - the failure mode. The bike gave you real warning. You didn't heed it. (Yes, you looked but had you looked knowing the bike was trying to tell you something, you would have found the crack, which as others above have said, has probably been showing quite a while. Granted, we don't all check our DT undersides very often.) Then, when it did break, the rest of the frame did its best to keep the show together.

I would guess that an aluminum frame would more likely to break the top tube (or top tube/head tube weld) also and I would not expect a CF frame to remain in one piece. Ti I just don't know. I am hoping my ti bikes are so overbuilt I'll never face this.

I've fully broken steel chainstays, seat tube and a fork blade and ridden all of those home or to the race start/finish. Cracked chainstays (both) and fork blades (also both and it was scary). No crashes to date to cracked or broken steel or ti forks/frames. Had my life changed big time by an aluminum fork crown failure.

I'm getting more picky about what I will ride but I will also probably keep riding the bikes I love, maybe to failure. I will also (I hope) stick to materials that fail "nicely".

And the joke - the quick fix. Whittle a dowel to fit. Shove it in, hammer the halves together, do a sexy duct tape wrap and call it good! (Many years ago, racers drove dowels into the steerers of bikes they did not trust. There's precedent. That probably saved a few hard crashes.)

Ben
If I'd have thought the frame would fail, I would have checked more closely - maybe a mile or so before it completely broke.
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Old 02-08-21, 04:37 PM
  #34  
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Did it creak at all? Give you any warning? All my bikes creak in some way, and that's not a problem. It's when the creak begins to sound different that there is a problem!
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Old 02-08-21, 06:52 PM
  #35  
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The warranty ended the moment the frame broke.
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Old 02-09-21, 12:49 AM
  #36  
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Didn't Nishiki use a few different manufacturers over the years?
I still have my 1977 International,
I believe it was still made by Kawamura, but I believe my 1980 was made by Giant.
I still own both bikes but the 77 International has been apart in the attic for years now.
I've seen a few broken frames over the years but very few were broken at the upper DT lug like that. .

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Old 02-09-21, 09:16 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
Warranties can vary depending on the market and era. That's a USA market serial number from 1982, so the bicycle is either a 1982 or 1983 model. While I don't have a 1982 USA catalogue, both 1981 and 1983 USA catalogues indicate 25 year warranties. Consequently, the warranty period was almost certainly the same for 1982 and the frame is well beyond it's warranty period.
Thanks, T-Mar. I forgot to post this eralier. I was hoping that the current wording on the Nishiki User Guide of "life time warranty" would give me a small edge. But if the catalog from that era says 25 years, I'm SOL :-) I definitely got my money's worth. I'm not sure repairing it would be the best answer. I think, I'll look for a newer frame with similar geometry.
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Old 02-09-21, 09:20 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by 27inch View Post
Didn't Nishiki use a few different manufacturers over the years?
I still have my 1977 International,
I believe it was still made by Kawamura, but I believe my 1980 was made by Giant.
I still own both bikes but the 77 International has been apart in the attic for years now.
I've seen a few broken frames over the years but very few were broken at the upper DT lug like that. .
Yes, it's my understanding that Nishiki did have frames made by different manufacturers. My serial number clearly indicates a Kawamura frame.
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Old 02-09-21, 09:58 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by 27inch View Post
Didn't Nishiki use a few different manufacturers over the years?
I still have my 1977 International,
I believe it was still made by Kawamura, but I believe my 1980 was made by Giant.
I still own both bikes but the 77 International has been apart in the attic for years now.
I've seen a few broken frames over the years but very few were broken at the upper DT lug like that. .
Nishiki was essentially a marketing brand, with the name being owned by various companies, depending on the country and era. The brand owner would have the frames contract manufactured. (the one known exception being Japan, where Kawamura owned the name). In the USA, the brand was originally owned by West Coast Cycle Supply, who used Kawamura as their main source but with Katakura supplying the high end models. After the boom, Giant was used to supply the entry level models. We've also seen C&V, USA market Nishiki from Araya, Dodsun, Fairly and a few unidentified sources. In the mid-1980s, in attempt to gain more penetration in the high end market, there were even a few models sourced from Italy.

The subject frame failure is typical of fatigue. Generally, a proper designed and manufactured steel frame will not fail in fatigue, as the stresses are not sufficiently high to exceeded the endurance/fatigue limit. In this case, the failure is right around the transition from the butt to the thinner, central section of the tube. This is a stress riser point. Also, the area is subjected to heat from brazing both the head lug and the shift lever boss. Excessive heat can lower the fatigue limit to the point where steel frames can fatigue from normal stress. I suspect the root cause is excessive brazing temperature. Most of the frame fatigue failures I've seen have occurred at stress risers within a few inches of a brazing point.
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Old 02-09-21, 10:02 AM
  #40  
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Glad youre ok OP!
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Old 02-09-21, 04:29 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
Looks like a classic "Can opener" failure. The point on the bottom lug was sharp and over the years of braking, it flexed into downtube and started a crack. Then the crack propagated until the whole tube failed. There was a great write up on this in one of the old Rivendell Readers.
Upon first view, it looked like it broke a couple of inches from the lug on top, but looking at the bottom, it's as you described. Right at the point of the bottom lug there was a "secondary" crack, but it looks like at the main break is right at the point on the underside of the DT that worked its way around and finally broke.
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Old 02-09-21, 04:37 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by scarlson View Post
Did it creak at all? Give you any warning? All my bikes creak in some way, and that's not a problem. It's when the creak begins to sound different that there is a problem!
It's possible that it had a "new" creak of type within a mile or so of the break. If so, I probably missed it, due to road noise/traffic sounds etc.
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Old 02-09-21, 04:39 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
Nishiki was essentially a marketing brand, with the name being owned by various companies, depending on the country and era. The brand owner would have the frames contract manufactured. (the one known exception being Japan, where Kawamura owned the name). In the USA, the brand was originally owned by West Coast Cycle Supply, who used Kawamura as their main source but with Katakura supplying the high end models. After the boom, Giant was used to supply the entry level models. We've also seen C&V, USA market Nishiki from Araya, Dodsun, Fairly and a few unidentified sources. In the mid-1980s, in attempt to gain more penetration in the high end market, there were even a few models sourced from Italy.

The subject frame failure is typical of fatigue. Generally, a proper designed and manufactured steel frame will not fail in fatigue, as the stresses are not sufficiently high to exceeded the endurance/fatigue limit. In this case, the failure is right around the transition from the butt to the thinner, central section of the tube. This is a stress riser point. Also, the area is subjected to heat from brazing both the head lug and the shift lever boss. Excessive heat can lower the fatigue limit to the point where steel frames can fatigue from normal stress. I suspect the root cause is excessive brazing temperature. Most of the frame fatigue failures I've seen have occurred at stress risers within a few inches of a brazing point.
I think T-Mar has accurately described the most likely scenario "-)
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Old 02-09-21, 04:41 PM
  #44  
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"Lifetime warranty" actually means the life of the company, not the actual product they build. I had a lifetime warranty on a product from a company whose business model included going bankrupt every 5 years. My "lifetime warranty" was only good for a couple of years!
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Old 02-09-21, 04:43 PM
  #45  
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I'm surprised no one's already told you it'll buff out...

Vintage steel frames are like he old Timex watches, they take a licking and keeping on ticking.
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Old 02-09-21, 06:23 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
For those who haven't seen it before, here's a report of the results of fatigue tests of high-end aluminum, steel, titanium, and carbon fiber frames, conducted in 1997. Two aluminum frames and one carbon fiber frame performed best in the tests, with no failures. To the surprise of the testers, all of the steel and titanium frames failed the fatigue tests. (Interestingly, one of the steel frames was a Nishiki, which failed at the seat tube/down tube/bottom bracket junction.)

12 High-End Frames in the EFBe Fatigue Test
An eye-opening article. Rather discouraging for us C&V steel lovers. Oh well.
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