Busted Wilier

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The hairline crack in the Wilier frame.

The hairline crack in the Wilier frame.

The above photo pretty much sums up where I’ve been (as far as road cycling is concerned) for the last five months.

As posted, April-May witnessed a catalogue of mechanicals and breakages on my Wilier as quite a few of the parts gave up the ghost at about the same time. During this period, one particular glitch wouldn’t go away: a creaking noise that worsened when climbing out of the saddle. I had my ultra-torque bearings replaced in March, but still the creaks continued.

I finally discovered what I suspected was the problem after a ride with Millsy. The hairline crack, just above the shoulder of the bottom bracket shell, was only visible if the light caught the veneer just right. It was more obvious when I ran my finger across it. I couldn’t recall having banged the frame, or ridden into a pothole, or wrenched it off the turbo trainer, or any single incident that could have caused it – but nonetheless, it was there.

I investigated my options:

Warranty replacement

My first thought was to check out whether I was covered under the Wilier manufacturer’s warranty. I took the bike into Cycle Surgery, where I’d bought the bike in August 2007. They firstly agreed with me that the frame was cracked, but secondly pointed out that Wilier only covers its frames under warranty for 48 months – and I was outside of this.

Note: Wilier currently offers a 5-year warranty on its frames IF the purchaser registers the product online within 10 days of purchase. I don’t understand why they are so strict about the 10-day window if you have proof of purchase – but then I won’t be buying another Wilier, so I don’t really care.

Insurance claim

My bike isn’t itemised on my insurance schedule because it is prohibitively expensive to do so. However, I am generally covered up to the value of £1500 for theft and damage to any of my property, and this includes my bikes.

I contacted my insurer, explaining that the bike was five years old, had developed a crack over the last few months, and that I had been advised not to ride it further on the road (by a guy at Cadence in Crystal Palace). Because the damage could not be traced to a particular incident, however, neither the insurer nor Wheelies Direct were interested – the crack was due to ‘wear and tear’, so I wasn’t covered.

This actually went back and forth for ages. I argued that the crack was a terminal failure, and not reasonable wear and tear; I could have invented an accident to explain the damage, but actually felt that this was exactly the kind of unexpected loss that I wanted to be insured against, so kept pressing my point. I didn’t get anywhere.

Olive branch / sympathy deal

Cycle Surgery had already contacted Wilier on my behalf to explore the possibility of either a discount on an upgraded replacement frame (like the Gran Turismo), or possibly a free swap to an older Izoard frame. The only offer to come back was a 10% discount on any new frame purchase – which wasn’t enough to persuade me to invest more money in the firm’s products, which I now consider to be unreliable.

Having spoken to a couple of other bike shops, though, I was persuaded that the shop floor team at Cycle Surgery (with all due respect to them, because they provide a decent service) might not necessarily have the ear of someone who mattered at Wilier. I was told about bike owners in similar situations who had been better compensated by going via an independent store – so I took the bike to my local shop, Dever Cycles, which also stocks Wilier.

Maurice, the owner of Dever, very kindly offered to see what he could do – i.e. call Wilier and speak to his contact there. I imagined that the frame could be sent to Wilier so that someone could see the damage first hand, but in fact this would likely have meant either losing the frame – which I wanted to keep for a turbo bike – or being obligated to buy another frame from Wilier. Three weeks later, the upshot was the same 10% discount offer.

New bike

So, after 6 weeks of phone calls and emails and toting the frame around to different retailers, I was back at square one. My only way forward now was a new bike (of which more later). I’d learned a couple of things though:

  • Don’t buy a Wilier. If you buy a £1500 carbon road bike, you expect it to last more than five years, even if you ride it year round. I was disappointed with Wilier’s warranty, and with its paltry compensation offer.
  • Pay attention to the term of your warranty. I suspect that a bike’s warranty doesn’t feature highly in most buyers’ criteria for choosing a bike (it didn’t for me in 2007), but it should do. Personally, I won’t buy another bike that doesn’t cover its frame under a lifetime warranty.

 

 

3 Responses to “Busted Wilier”

  1. pixelfibre January 3rd, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Eeek!
    That sucks mate – sorry to hear that.
    I guess they don’t make em like they used to, eh?

    Back to the old Reynolds 531 tubing then! ;)

  2. john smith April 9th, 2013 at 1:47 am

    sad to hear that.. but i am a Wilier owner for the past 10 years & i got 5 Wilier
    bikes & all of them have no problems so far.. i got 3 carbon & 2 aluminium Wiliers.. bought mine in ATB sales as they are a reputable Wilier Dealer in the UK.. hopefully you will find a brand that will suit your needs but as for me, i don’t have any problems with my Wilier bikes for the past 10 years..

  3. alastair April 9th, 2013 at 5:18 am

    @john I’m sure there are many satisfied Wilier owners out there. For me personally, however, I’ll never buy another carbon road bike that doesn’t have a lifetime warranty on the frame.

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