Cracked frame

Stupidly rode into the back of a car, due to a moment's inattention. I pretty much hit it at full pelt, though I was riding uphill at the time.

The frame cracked, as this photo shows. Any idea what else is likely to be wrecked? Front wheel? Headset?

edit: Got a quote for a frame repair, for the two tubes, four to six braze-ons and a respray (which is assuming no headtube damage) I was quoted "at least £400".

  • Does the wheel spin normally? It is pretty hard to break a headset.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 11:12
  • Its worth contacting Soma and asking about frame repair costs. Based on the photo its almost new.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 12:27
  • Sadly, I'm in the UK so I think the cost of shipping it back to Soma it's going to be prohibitive. Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 13:38
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    Definitely the wheel, it sticks out further than the rack. It hit the rear bumper. Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 14:02
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    With old steel frames it was common for the fork to be bent when this happened. This is not obviously a problem in the picture, but it's hard to tell given the bent down tube, so you might want to compare with a similar fork on another bike to see if it seems wonky. Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


I've worked on a couple bikes that have had frontal impacts.

Check the underside of the downtube for any abrasions or rubber marks. You might find the front tyre has touched the downtube in the collision, giving you an idea of how far it bent and has come back.

Theres a fold in the downtube and I can see a completely broken top tube, so

That frame is unrideable as-is.

The unknown damage could include

  • Front wheel - Check it for trueness both left/right and up/down. Take the tyre off and check it over under a strong light looking for cracks or damage. If its aluminium its probably OK, but front wheel failures break people, so you don't want that.

  • Bent fork tines effectively reducing the rake and therefore trail and handling.

  • Fork's crown welds have been stressed leading to possible failure later.

  • Steerer tube may have been bent or distorted out-of-round which will weaken it.

  • Bearing cups/cones/sealed bearings in headset - they may be fine or they may have imprinted a dent into the bearing race surfaces with impact. The bearings themselves may have cracked or flaked or they may be fine.

  • Steerer top-cap and bolts, and spacers. These may have taken some level of impact and may be not as round or flat as they used to be. You have plenty there to compare, which is handy.

On the plus side I'd expect these parts to be okay (assuming none of them got crushed or incidentally damaged) so do check them out first before reuse

  • Brakes, rotors and calipers, lines and levers.
  • Handlebars, shifters, grips/tape, Stem.
  • Lights, reflectors and computer/phone
  • Everything on the bike aft of the drink bottle. It might slightly scratched/scuffed from subsequent fall, but there should be no damage from the impact with the car. So your transmission/groupset will be totally fine.

I note that the bike didn't fail you, so don't write it off.

Also, depending on liability, insurance, and so on you might have to discuss ownership with your insurance company. They may elect to replace it rather than repair it, if you choose to do a claim for an accident. Also, the car owner's insurance company may have a say in it too.

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    What an amazingly comprehensive list. Thanks. > I note that the bike didn't fail you, so don't write it off. You're suggesting I look into repairing it? It's not insured, and the car owner seemed happy enough to carry on his way, after a quick check that I was okay and telling me that it was my fault. Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 13:31
  • @RobWilliams You're lucky - if you are at fault then you're liable for damage to their car as well as your own damage. Do check if your home-contents policy covers your bike and rides... that's the accepted standard here in New Zealand. We don't have bike insurance or ride insurance or race insurance.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 22:11
  • @RobWilliams its worth contacting Soma directly for their advise.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 22:12
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    I've dismantled the bike and the bottom cup of the headset is scored imgur.com/a/sysPL. Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 11:47

The front wheel may be OK, the impact is resisted directly by the spokes whereas damage to frame comes through the forks acting as a lever.

Fork legs may be bent, headtube may be ovalized.

It's my understanding that steel frames can be straightened and re-welded, but the cost for having a frame builder do that (and having the frame re-painted) may be more than the cost of a new frame.

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    Good wheels can be very strong. On a fast downhill, I hit a driveway-exiting car hard enough to bend the frame so far that the wheel overlapped the downtube. The wheel was still true. I used the insurance money to buy a much better frame and transferred most of the components.
    – AShelly
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 18:02

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