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This is a Raleigh 06 grand prix. I've been trying to find a stem that gives me reasonable comfort. I ran a stem that didn't have the proper spacing and rode it a while observing a knocking sound with a little play in the handlebars. Eventually I got the appropriate spacers in and thought all was well. Then I saw this crack near the forks.

Was this likely caused by my stupidity? Is this a dire mistake or should I ride it cautiously and check regularly it to make sure it's not spreading? Is there anything I should consider doing to reinforce or protect further damage?

enter image description here

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    Probably repairable if that's a steel frame, but I wouldn't ride it until the repair is completed. I wouldn't try to jury rig reinforcement. It needs to be welded. – Carey Gregory Jul 5 '16 at 14:52
  • I'd personally junk it. – Batman Jul 5 '16 at 16:42
  • The crack may develop for quite some time. – mootmoot Jul 5 '16 at 16:47
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Was this likely caused by my stupidity?

I wouldn't go that far, but play in the stem/headset assembly certainly could have been a contributing factor. Just take a second to imagine to torque and force applied to that small area below the weld when you hit a curb or pothole if the assembly is not tight. The bottom of the headset is somewhat wedge shaped, and if the whole assembly is loose it can be like pounding up on it with a hammer each time you hit a bump. That said - it's a 10 year old aluminum frame and there can be myriad reasons for that failure.

Is this a dire mistake or should I ride it cautiously and check regularly it to make sure it's not spreading?

Considering that if this fails catastrophically at any speed you are likely to end up going head first into the pavement, I would personally not ride a frame with a crack like that.

It is possible to have a crack in an aluminum frame repaired by taking it to a specialty welder. That said, you could encounter a range of quality and durability issues with that repair. Add to that the fact that after the repair and repainting you will likely have spent at least as much as you would on a used but good condition frame, I would just replace it.

Is there anything I should consider doing to reinforce or protect further damage?

I would not trust my face, head or life to a homemade preventive repair. Junk the frame.

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Is there anything I should consider doing to reinforce or protect further damage?

In my opinion, the frame is toast.

You can drill a hole ahead of a crack to try to keep it from spreading. Determining where "ahead of the crack" lies is guesswork.

You can't see where the crack ends because:

  • it is three-dimensional: it could extend farther inside the tube than outside;
  • the crack you see in the outside paint job may not be as long as the actual crack in the underlying metal; and
  • the tip of the crack is very fine, perhaps too fine for the naked eye.

Good job:

enter image description here

Oops, missed! Crack will keep spreading:

enter image description here

Since this is a safety issue I really don't recommend this. However, that's one way you can stop a crack from spreading. It can also be welded closed.

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Maybe it's because the fork is too large for the frame.Therefore,causing the crack.

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    Welcome to Bicycles SE. We're looking for answers with more detail. Please consider expanding your answer to explain what you mean by "the fork is too large for the frame." Are you referring to the steer tube, or the fork itself? How could the size of the fork cause a crack? Are there other possible causes? A short, one-line answer like this is likely to get downvoted, flagged for moderator intervention, and possibly deleted. – jimchristie Jul 5 '16 at 15:41
  • ??? Can't I leave a possible problem or something? I'm not very good with explaining bicycles or should I just mind my own business if I have nothing good to say. – Banana Cyclist Jul 8 '16 at 11:14

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