Today was the first failure of a frame that I built.
In May of 2012 I built myself a single speed 29er. Since it was built this bike has been ridden hard and often. The bike was used for bikepacking, commuting, epic weekend rides, gap jumps, racing, etc.
I ride hard; I can not even count the number of times that I crashed the bike.
Today was the last ride on the bike.
It was a typical commute in the rain with biker jacket. At one point my glasses were a bit fogged and splattered with rain. I overshot a turn and went at a fair speed into a nice little ditch. It was not really a crash but more of a hard abrupt maneuver where I managed to put my foot down without falling. After the “event” the bike seemed to be “mostly” fine. I noticed a strange new creaking sound.
It was cold and I wanted to get home so I ignored the creaking sound. I figured it was the seat rails, chain, stem, or something else. To be honest I thought it *might* be the frame but the bike was riding fine so I did not worry too much plus I was cold and it was dark.
On the climb up to Delta Ridge the creaking sound increased. At the top, there is a short off road section and I hit it with as much speed as possible so I could “power through” a short little hump that gets me on a little cut through trail. Once I was on the trail I knew the frame was broken. I was still under control but there was no longer any doubt so I stopped.
The downtube had cracked at this point but since it was still raining and still cold I tried to ride the home. I made it only a short bit before the tube broke completely. With the downtube broken I tried to ride but the top tube collapsed and then tore apart. It was hard to carry the frame so I hid it and walked the rest of the way home so I could drive back and pick it up.
From the way it looks, the crack formed just past the point where the down tube is welded to the head tube. The crack was not on the weld but rather just past the weld.
I will take some more pictures this weekend when I have more time and see if I can learn any more. The frame has seen a good bit of use and abuse in it’s short hard life. I can’t say for sure what the root cause is. It has been through a lot of crashing and really hard riding so it could just be accumulated fatigue. It may also have had a touch too much heat in that area but overall it was one of my better welds.