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Madone bottom bracket update.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


I want to follow up on yesterday’s blog, and the ongoing issues with my Madone’s bottom bracket.

I called the bike shop yesterday morning, and was told that the Trek factory representative, who only comes to the shop every two weeks, would be there that day. I guess the timing of the re-emergence of the problem couldn’t be better, as I’d rather have someone from Trek look at the bike instead of just the shop mechanic.

Madone Bottom Bracket Failure... here we go again.

Madone Bottom Bracket Failure… here we go again.

I’d planned to do a light recovery ride yesterday morning, but I didn’t want to chance arriving at the shop after the Trek rep had already departed, so I decided to get the bike down there right away.

The shop mechanic called me late yesterday afternoon, and informed me that the problem is indeed what I’d first suspected back in January: the known Trek carbon Madone bottom bracket/BB90 issue.

Trek’s “solution” to this ongoing (full carbon Madones from 2008 through at least 2012 can be affected) manufacturing/design defect is to install a slightly over-sized version of the BB90 bearing assembly, which they call “V2”. Based on my research, I believe the “V2″ bearing assembly to be nothing more than a stock BB90 bearing with a .05” sleeve around it.

Will the “V2” bearing correct the problem? My research leads me to believe it probably won’t, at least not permanently.

If this new bearing fails, Trek will have to replace the frame under warranty. Obviously Trek is trying to avoid replacing these very expensive faulty carbon frames, and that’s why they always try the “V2” bearing before replacing the frame. Maybe the over-sized bearing is a permanent solution for riders who don’t put out much power and/or don’t ride very often, so from a business standpoint I can see why Trek tries that first…

But I’m a consumer–a consumer who paid a lot of money for a name-brand, high-end bike. My expensive bike has suffered two failures in less than six months/1,500 miles, and the problem I’ve experienced has been a common one with full-carbon Trek Madones for at least five years. That sucks, and that is 100% on Trek.

This Madone is my fourth, and in all likelihood, final Trek. Trek knows there’s a major design flaw with these frames, and they continue to sell them.

I have high hopes that Trek will do the right thing, which means replacing the frame or even the entire bike. I shouldn’t have to play this back and forth game, wondering if the next failure will be 50 miles into a ride. Trek should replace the faulty frame (or the bike) and give me the product I paid for.

John Stone Fitness Comments

19 Responses to “Madone bottom bracket update.”
  1. Assuming Trek does replace the frame, will they replace it with another 2011 frame, or the 2013 frame that apparently doesn’t have this design defect?

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      • Any idea how common these failures are? I’ve been keeping a close eye on my 2011 Madone’s BB since I read your first post on the subject, but it looks OK with ~ 1500 miles on the clock.

        Selling the bike as craigstr suggests is one alternative, but we’d take a considerable financial loss as a result.

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        • Based on the research I did, I would say the problem is very common. Quite a few LBS mechanics have mentioned the problem, including Tommy Costello. Tommy replied several times (on FB) in response to the blog update I did about this problem back in January. Then, before I could even reply to him, he deleted all of his comments and unfriended me for some unknown reason. I still have no idea why he did that. Anyway, you might want to talk with Tommy.

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          • I did mention it to Tommy when you first raised the issue back in January. He once worked at a Trek dealership, so I thought he might know something about this, but instead he launched into a general denunciation of Trek’s disreputable business practices, while saying nothing specific about the BB issue. He seemed quite agitated, so I thought it best not to broach the subject again.

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  2. Every year I think about adding a Cf bike to my stable (a steel road bike and an aluminum road bike), but then I read stuff like this. Is carbon just not the right stuff to hold bearings and a shaft for pedaling?

    I’d rather be riding than dealing with problems like this. I hope Trek does the right thing here as lot of people read your blog.

    Good luck John and get a backup/rain bike.

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    • I don’t think the problem is inherent to carbon fiber frames or bikes. There’s no question that this particular Trek carbon frame has had ongoing issues, but there are some amazing, strong and reliable CF road and mountain bikes out there. In fact, my next bike is going to be an all-carbon 29er. Most of my friends ride carbon bikes, and have no issues whatsoever.

      Yep, I’d much rather be riding than dealing with this nonsense. Let’s see what Trek does. I’ve contacted them directly, and their response to this issue will be made public.

      As for a backup road bike, well, I hope my wife doesn’t see that suggestion or it’s going to be a long night. :p

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      • I’m typically late to the thread but wanted to add the following:

        * I agree that the issue you’re running into is probably not directly related to the frame being carbon fiber. If I understand the problem correctly, the same would occur with any frame material if the frame had been mismanufactured.

        * However, I do think that the problem may get worse over time because the frame is carbon fiber. The small amount of play combined with your riding style could have already permanently damaged the shell or where the shell interfaces with the frame. The new, larger bearings may or may not solve this.

        * IMHO the only benefit that carbon fiber brings to the bike world is weight savings. Other than that, the properties of the material are wholly unsuited to the rigors and stresses of regular, hard riding. I have seen more catastrophic (and expensive) frame failure in the last five years than I had in the combined previous twenty years. (Cracked, split, shattered, squashed, etc.) In 98% of these cases, the frame could have been saved had it been made of metal.

        In short, carbon fiber frames are disposable. Casual riders may never know the difference, but if you want a bike to last, CF may not be the best choice. Personally I’m unsure if the weight savings are worth it.

        Just to beat this totally to death, the other main issue with CF is that you have no idea what the frame is actually made of or how well it was constructed. Using chromoly steel as an example, you start with a recognized tube set (Columbus, True Temper, Reynolds, etc.) with defined properties. Next you have a construction method (TIG, MIG, brazed, lugged, etc.) Finally, you have a finished product where you can see the quality of the welds, the details to the finishing, the small details.

        Carbon fiber? Who knows what quality CF was used or how it was laid out. The finished product reflects Bondo and paint. Yeah, it looks pretty, but it’s all smoke-and-mirrors.

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  3. John do the managers at the bike shop know who you are? Im sure you didnt say anything like that to them but what I mean is their crazy not taking care of you better than this with as many people all over the world who read your sight everyday!

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  4. Hate to hear this John. I hope Trek does the right thing…REFUND!

    My question is what road bike would you pursue if that happens? I am leaning towards custom steel bikes…maybe building my own.

    Please Advise,


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    • I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. Apart from the issue mentioned here, I love my Madone and don’t want to get rid of it. I still have high hopes that Trek will do the right thing and take care of this problem once and for all. As mentioned in a comment above, I contacted Trek directly, and I’m waiting to hear back from them. I’ll keep you all posted.

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