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My Cannondale Slate bike and its faulty wheel bearing

Purchased in 2018. Warranty replacement of  the faulty bearing was refused

To complement my road bikes with narrow tyres, I purchased a Cannondale Slate bike to use on local unpaved gravel roads. I had to travel some 4000 Km to Melbourne to purchase the bike as there is no Cannondale dealer in Darwin and the Australian distributor dis-allows retailers to sell bikes across state borders. An entirely unreasonable restriction in my opinion.

slate bike with rack

I use this mostly on pavement with some hard-pack gravel roads and no really rough off-road riding at all. It is great to extend my rides into areas with unpaved roads.

But after about 9 months there were some strange intermittent noises from the frame. These typically occurred only every 30 Km or so and never occurred when on my workstand. I was unable to locate the cause as the sounds did not correlate with pedaling intensity or if I was seated or standing or with road surface type, they were completely random.

Because there is no Cannondale agent in Darwin I could not get any help to identify or repair the problem, which gradually became more frequent and concerning. Some months later, after being away on a bicycle tour on my  REACH bike, I searched for the problem more thoroughly.  It did not sound like a wheel issue as it was so irregular, but eventually I removed the wheel and the cassette and discovered the problem. It was a failed rear wheel bearing!

defective wheel bearing

The race holding the balls within the bearing had broken and occasionally it would snag and make a strange twang noise, then remain silent for many Km. before happening again. It was very difficult to identify the source of this noise and took me a few months to identify the cause.

Although the fault first occurred within the 12 months warranty period after purchase, I did not locate the problem for several months and it was now just beyond 12 months from my purchase. In the absence of a Cannondale service facility in Darwin I repaired the faulty bearing myself and asked Cannondale to provide a replacement bearing under warranty, as bearings should not fail so soon. I had ridden only about 11,000 Km since purchase.

However Cannondale refused to provide a warranty replacement bearing and chose to be pedantic about the more than 12 months since purchase until the fault was identified, even though the failure occurred long before that.

It is disappointing that Cannondale refuse to warranty such an obvious mechanical failure which was not due to normal wear or abuse. This is unlike my previous experience with Cannondale, who have now changed their attitude for the worse.

It surely is time to reconsider this previously respectable company and its now degraded engineering design capability and marketing responsibility.

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