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Old 11-14-10, 12:17 AM   #1
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OT: Advice about a new bike I bought last year...

I was repacking wheel bearings today on my 1992 Trek 400 when I decided to see how the wheels were doing on my 2009 GT Series 3 I bought from REI just over a year ago. I had replaced a broken spoke on the rear wheel last week, and knew it was spinning rather smoothly, but when I pulled the front off today (the first time since I bought the bike), it was rough.

I pulled the front hub apart and I found one of the cones in this state:

It was pitted about 2/3rds of the way around. The other cone had some minor beginnings of pitting. The hub itself has a few tiny flecks or dings on the side with the bad cone.

I'd be surprised if I had 2000 miles on this bike, between snowmaggedon, being out of town for an extended period during the summer, and sharing time with other bikes. I also mostly avoided rain on this bike, as it was new and all. I know it's a relatively cheap hub (some generic Formula hub), but this I did not expect from a new hub after essentially a season.

Initially I was planning on swinging a local bike shop tomorrow and buying replacement cones, but as I thought about it, I was sort of annoyed by the prospect of needing to do this on a new bike. I've worked on much older bikes with hubs in better shape, and that 1992 Trek 400 I was working on today must have been low miles and it was pristine in there. At least it had a better dust cap, with rubber lip tucked up against the cone.

So now I'm contemplating making the 50 mile trip down to the local REI and trying to negotiate my way into some free cones or to return the damn thing just on principle.

Am I being rational?

I dismissed the broken spoke as just a result of a machine built wheel, and the choppy frost heaven roads around here. Should I chalk up the hub damage in a similar manner?
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Old 11-14-10, 01:05 AM   #2
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I had a somewhat similar experience last year. I was going down a steep hill on my fixie, the chain came off after hitting a bump, wrapped itself between the cog and the dropout. The rear wheel was locked and the chain broke. Took a lot of concentration to stay upright. Couple of months later, I noticed some roughness in the Dura-Ace track hub. Sure enough, the cone was pitted just like yours on the drive side. I noticed that the axle also felt too tight. I think the pitting was caused by the accident as the cone was tightened by the dropped chain.

I am guessing in your case that the cone adjustment was too tight also. The wheel may feel just right, but may be too tight after QR is tightened. REI normally offers a free tune-up after 50 or so miles (after break-in). If you took advantage of it, you could put the blame on them. In any case, they should fix it for free if it's just a yera old.

Last edited by MetinUz; 11-14-10 at 01:06 AM. Reason: fixed typo
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Old 11-14-10, 01:39 AM   #3
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There are a number of things that could have caused this pitting. When I look at the photos, it appears that the overall quality of the cone is low. Many high quality cones have a machined surface and the durometer (hardness) of the metal is quite high.

So, based on your photo we know the cone is of marginal quality. The quality alone maybe the sole reason it pitted so soon although you can't rule out a poorly packed and/or adjusted hub for accelerating the process. As for the broken spoke on the rear wheel, that shouldn't have happened either.

REI has a very good reputation for backing up their products and will generally give customers the benefit of the doubt. I think you have a reasonable case for replacement of the front hub based on the condition of the hub races and the pitted cones. If the hub race is pitted however slightly, it will accelerate wear of any new cones that are installed. As a former field rep for a major bike company, this would be a no-brainer warranty.

Last edited by Tom Pedale; 11-14-10 at 01:40 AM. Reason: brevity
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Old 11-14-10, 07:25 AM   #4
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Yes, you are being rational. One of the only advantages of buying new, is having someone there to stand behind the bike. I love REI, and I really love their guarantee on bikes. That wear is ridiculous on a 2009 bike.

+1 I would be concerned about the hub cups as well. And I would have them inspect the rear too. Even if it appears smooth, it was most likely built out of the same "quality" parts.
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