Do I need a new bike?


I'm wondering if this is fatal or not. Bike shops in Cambridge don't seem to do welding.

[Thanks to all who commented. The answer turns out to be the Genesis, £600, plus some mini-mudguards. To make things more exciting I'm buying it via the govt's bizarre buy-your-bike-from-work scheme, which (if it all works out) saves me 40% tax plus maybe some other bits. For those happy enough not to live here, there is some weird tax-dodge scheme encouraged by the gummint whereby the company buys the bike (in theory), or maybe some other leaseholding company, you rent it for a year whilst making monthly payments, and then you buy it for a nominal sum at the end of the year. It is a job-creation scheme for accountants and tax lawyers.]

If it is fatal, I was looking at:

as a possible 6-miles-each-way commuting type bike on roads and cycle paths in Cambridge weather.

You may patronise me with your wise advice if you like.

Oh, and while Im posting misc stuff:


Do you like mimolette? I do. But Waitrose doesn't stock it. The Cambridge Cheese Company does but they are supercilious.

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1) Why not try a welder, rather than a bike shop?

2) Love mimolette - haven't had it for a year or so though. Must get some more.

Try these people:
They're Cambridge based.

You could get it welded (or replace the whole dropouts, and also the stays if they are also like this), but it might be symptomatic of corrosion in the frame as a whole, in which case you should definitely get a new bike before this one fails fatally. For you.

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 19 Mar 2010 #permalink

Uh, if i see correctly it's on the right side so you'll fall to the right when it snaps, so i'd say not fatal if there's grass or something else soft on that direction. but, that is not a bike, that's an accident waiting to happen.

I've done a good bit of patching. It certainly could be repaired. Most likely the best repair would be to remove the broken fitting and braze on a new one. It could work and last the life of the bike but odds are that if that part fatigued and failed there are other parts nearing the end of their useful life. Fatigued parts can look good, but fail suddenly. A failure at 30 mph can ruin your entire day. Even if you don't end up under a truck.

That and the price of a good repair is going to be, if you can get it done at all because of potential liability issues, a substantial part of the cost of a new frame.

My humble opinion is that buying a frame is probably the better repair. A new frame it will feel like a new bike and you won't have to worry about something snapping as you ride. Peace of mind is worth the price.

That's made of cheese, that is. Oh, hang on...

[:-) -W]

As others have said, it's brazing you want, not welding. Standard approach would be just to remove and replace the drop-out. An easy job that any normal bike builder would do (and other trades such as plumber, perhaps more messily), OTOH it's also a good excuse for a new bike :-)

(Just in case, I'm not really serious about the plumber - they might be able to do it, but you want someone who regularly handles thin tubing and knows not to overcook it.)

Uh, if i see correctly it's on the right side so you'll fall to the right when it snaps, so i'd say not fatal if there's grass or something else soft on that direction.

Unfortunately, W lives in good old Blighty, therefore, a drop to the right is much more likely to place him directly into the path of a following Alexander ALX300 than onto anything spongily soft and green.

W, if you want a new bike be brave and one! Please don't use us to provide your cross-breakfast-table justifications

NB. That one does look far too nice to be left mouldering in the shop

A good welder could patch that, however, it's going to cost more than the bike would be worth after the patch.

The bike you are looking at is not a good commuter - the position it encourages is not work-clothing friendly, it lacks built in fenders, paniers and a chain-guarding thing (which is also not work-clothing friendly. Great if you're going to put on some bike shorts and go for a 30mi ride - not so great for 6mis a day without the shorts.

If you really want a commuter bike, you should either get something like the Electra Townie or similar, or find a beater used mountain bike - wearing work clothes with your ass above your hands for 30 minutes a day is not fun.

[The work clothes bit is OK - my Enlightened Employer provides showers at work and is fairly tolerant of me stinking while I cool down enough to enter them. Paniers I don't need, but mudguards is indeed a good point. Maybe the chain-guardy thing too -W]

By Hipocrite (not verified) on 19 Mar 2010 #permalink

I certainly wouldn't suggest an MTB and I suspect William knows what he wants in a commuter. The pic looked dodgy but on checking the site they specifically mention mudguards, rack and 28mm tyres...looks pretty good to me (unless you want to go the super-robust-low-maintenance hub gear and dynamo route).

I'd replace the bike. Once you're seeing one weld fail, you've probably put enough miles on the bike that other parts are ready to go. A fork or stem or handlebar failure is a lot more apt to get you hurt than a rear dropout cracking.

That failure is not a weld failure, it's a fatigue crack in the middle of the dropout. The weld is at the end of the tube.

My beloved commuter bike (the Savage) had a similar failure, but in a slightly different location. I had it welded and it cost as much as the bike cost me when I purchased it from the thrift store. I'm very happy with it now, but I may be as happy or happier with another thrift store bike.

More importantly than life or death issues though, have you checked about the cheese? Their product sheet says they stock it.

Perfect opportunity to set up a tip jar for us who keep encouraging you to continue climate blogging, not fade away.

Call it the Keep William Off The Street Fund

I don't know about the dropout, but James has a crank he'd likely be willing to send your way.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 19 Mar 2010 #permalink

There's no welding on this bike - the dropout is brazed into the frame tubes. Welding will probably melt the brazing and woe and turmoil shall result.

Frame repair shops will do it: it's a vanilla repair. A good bike shop will send it away for you.

Dropouts do fail. It doesn't mean the rest of the frame is bad or dangerous. But your bike looks old. (looks like suntour derailleur and dropouts, and a freewheel not a cassette--is this a 80's Japanese bike?) It just might not be worth the price to replace the dropout.

[Ha, you win the olde cycle knowledge prize. Yes, suntour, a Lotus that I got second hand from an American who was doing his doctorate with me. I think I bought it from him in 1989; he had brought it over from the states in 1986; so it is at the very least 24 years old. A lovely bike; I cycled to Nis on it; that took three weeks. Ironic that it should end up lasting longer than the Mostar bridge -W]

Modern bikes are just nicer to ride. There have been a lot of improvements. Best to spend a lot of time test riding bikes and get what you like. My wife spent about 30 hours test riding when she got her first bike and it really paid off. Buy what you like and what fits best. The Aether looks reasonable but I'd recommend the Aether20 rather then the 10 if you can afford it.

For commuting fenders are a must--I remove them in the dry season but that might not apply to you.
If you don't have significant hills you may want to consider a single speed. They are cheaper, lighter and much more reliable. You may even consider a fixed gear (but use at least one brakes). Track bikes are just more fun--I've been commuting on one for 35 years. No need to ago new on a single speed.

Fit and how much you like the bike matters more then anything.

What's a 'credit-card tour'? The Genesis brochure says that's what your illustrated bike is good for once you've added mudguards. And once you've done that you might as well add another hundred or two (or... cripes! is that what they cost these days?) on the credit card and get yourself a Di Blasi folding moped. Much easier to stash at work and much easier on the buttocks. Yes, you'll have to pay for road tax and yes even though you're only ever going to hurt yourself you'll have to get 3rd-party insurance and, after a few years, annual MOTs from people who haven't a clue what they're testing for and yes you'll have to wear a full helmet and yes with those little wheels they're fucking lethal on anything bumpier than a bowling alley...

OK, never mind. As you were. (They're fun, though. Any offer over £1200 seriously considered. I might even throw in an inflatable canoe. The one fits neatly on the back of the other, giving almost unlimited mobility on land and sea.)

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 19 Mar 2010 #permalink

Of course you need a new bike.

Actually it does look as though there is a fair bit of corrosion all round. One repair leading to another gets expensive.

Replacement could actually be the cheaper option. But then you are also looking at a substantial upgrade as well.

By Tony O'Brien (not verified) on 19 Mar 2010 #permalink

"Do I need a new bike?" Only if you want a new bike! A frame shop should be able to fix you up with a new dropout, though. You might want two.

For commuting I always liked my old Cannondale. Nice upright position, 38mm 700C tires, 24 speeds, front shock, sprung seatpost, upright position. Very comfortable over the lousy potholed roads in Santa Cruz. That one got stolen, and I currently have a Raleigh on much the same mold, but it weighs a heck of a lot more, like over 30lbs. One nice thing about it is that it has a wide range 3 speed rear hub combined with a 7 speed freewheel. Basically no need for a chain guard since there is a close fitting guard on the crank. Never got my pants caught in it yet. Since it has mountain bike sized wheels though, it just doesn't roll out as well as the 'dale.

I'd say, get two!

By Rattus Norvegicus (not verified) on 19 Mar 2010 #permalink

You will, of course, have to take a salary reduction during that hire period.

A salary sacrifice occurs when an employee agrees to a reduction in pay in return for the employer providing a non cash benefit. The reduction comes out of the employee's gross, rather than net pay. This causes a reduction in income tax and National Insurance payments. Which is where the savings are made.

But I dare say that won't be too onerous :-)

Looks like it's brazed on. Simple repair! Any local frame builder / custom builder will do it for you. If your stays are polished, you won't even have to repaint it!