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I just wanted to test lowering the stem on my new bike when I discovered quite an obvious scratch at the very top of the steerer tube. This is exposing fibers and inside the scratch feels a little softer when pressing with a fingernail as there seems to be little delamination on the top edge. I'm pretty sure this came from factory like that (maybe just cut a little inaccurate?) because I handled it really carefully when adjusting the handle bar and turning the stem initially. I'm not too worried because it's at the very top and doesn't seem to be a crack or anything. Am I wrong and should I get this exchanged? Or maybe file the upper edge down a little to avoid further damage? I could also lower the stem and put the spacers around the scratched area.

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  • Does your stem clamp over the scratch, or is the scratch covered by spacers?
    – Weiwen Ng
    Apr 19, 2023 at 19:50
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    Currently the stem is clamping over it but I'm thinking about lowering the stem and putting a 10 mm spacer on top.
    – conste
    Apr 19, 2023 at 19:57
  • Have you contacted the supplier? They're the ones liable for warranty.
    – Criggie
    Apr 21, 2023 at 12:20
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    Yes, I have. They offered to replace the fork. I just don't know if it's really necessary. A carbon bike repair service told me that this is probably nothing to worry about. Just hoped for another opinion here.
    – conste
    Apr 21, 2023 at 12:35

1 Answer 1

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Initially, I thought this might be a void that's at the surface. I believe that there is always the chance of a void, or a hole, in carbon fiber, but good manufacturing will minimize the incidence of voids. They would weaken the structure. The manufacturer designed that area to have a certain strength, and now there's a hole in the middle of the tube (or at the surface, in this case). Based on that, I would probably check my warranty options. If they refused and if you were sure you were lowering the stem, then this might be not so bad.

I'm a member (i.e. customer) of the Escape Collective, which has a Discord. It turns out that Raoul Luescher, a notable carbon fiber repairer based in Australia, is on the Discord as well. He would know better than I, and he felt like this was a scratch - although remember that we are on the Internet and he is making a visual diagnosis by remote (whereas he would use ultrasound to examine a frame). If it's a scratch, that could reduce your warranty options. Keep in mind that a scratch might propagate through the steerer as it gets stressed during riding - of course, I'm not sure if a void might do the same. In any case, I think that damage is probably more concerning than a void (or another similarly pre-existing failure).

I wrote this answer and then saw your comment that the manufacturer offered to replace the fork. I would go ahead and take the replacement. I don't know the probability of failure. But even if it is just a bit higher than the probability of a normal steerer failing in use, if your fork fails you are going down and those sorts of injuries can be quite nasty. Since the replacement is free, I would take it to minimize my risk.

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    Thank you for this detailed answer and especially your own further research efforts! Having the fork replaced under warranty is now also the route I will take. Some forum commenters have also made the assessment that the damage is not security related. But as you say, this is based on visual ratings only. I prefer to go the safer option and have the fork replaced free of charge, as the manufacturer expressly advised me to do so. Even if it's always a pity to have to go without the bike for a while.
    – conste
    Apr 21, 2023 at 18:00

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