Earlier this week my dad called me out of the blue on Skype, and the first thing he asked with a big smile on his face was "what kind of bike should I get?" To back track a bit, my dad is/was riding a Cervélo S3 from a few years back (maybe 2015) so he’s not due a new one just yet.
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He then proceeded to tell me that he had been out for a ride, and on a short punchy climb, he went to drop a couple of gears at the back and his newly straightened derailleur hanger broke and the rear derailleur was pulled into the rear wheel — the wheel is okay, the derailleur is not.
Among the chaos, the unhinged chain destroyed the driveside chainstay and ripped the front derailleur — mount and all — along with the top few layers of carbon on the seat tube. Jokingly, I suggested he should swap to a 1x drivetrain and call it good, he didn't think that was very funny.
An unfortunate part of cycling is that things break, and quite a lot of the expensive components on our bikes are basically considered disposable. While carbon can be repaired, and there are a few outfits who are pretty nifty at it, sometimes it's best to let something go, and this is one of those occasions.
One of the lucky ones
For me personally, I’ve never had a part catastrophically fail quite like this. The limit of my component wrecking has stretched to a few snapped chains, a dented rim and a rear derailleur sacrificed to a rock garden.
I know that I’m one of the lucky ones, and eventually my number will come up, but there are horror stories galore about lightweight parts failing and leaving you with a much lighter wallet.
Worse, I’ve seen first hand a CX racer wrench so hard on his bars in a sprint that he sheered a carbon stem clean in half, and heard a story from a shop where it had a bike come in where the magnet for a powermeter fell off the frame, stuck to the chain, went into the rear derailleur, jammed and pulled it into the rear wheel, which just so happened to be an uber pricey, lightweight carbon clincher.
And, of course, who can forget some of the high profile part failures; when George Hincapie’s steerer tube sheared at the 2002 Paris-Roubaix or at this year’s event when Niki Terpstra suffered the same fate due to a pre-production Specialized Future Shock.
Over to you...
Have you had a component fail and lived to tell the tale? Have you tacoed a wheel, or broken a seatpost, or lost a rear derailleur to a spoked death? What about making a roadside adjustment and over tightening a bolt on a lightweight carbon this or that? Are you one of the many who's overcooked the brake track on a carbon clincher after a long descent?
Tell us your stories of mangled carbon, sheared steel and dented aluminium below.