Yes this is some news. About broken frames... and I'm sorry about that title.
Anyway, it comes via Pijin and basically it is that three frames have broken in comps over the weekend. One at the Masters in Cologne, one (@8:15) at NASS in the UK, then another at NASS. All three have just sheared off at the head tube. Nasty.
I'd heard a few stories of frames collapsing in exactly this way. But stories are one thing, to have three "on record" incidents, makes it all the more real. Not to mention making you wonder how many other frames bit-the-big-one in a less public way over the weekend.
I suppose when frames weights drop and drop like they have, you could say that this looks to be like the official bottoming out... ahem. The difficulty is that all the frames going around use a wide range of different technology and processes that means comparing by weight alone won't give you an accurate measure of strength. Heat treated tube sets v.s front triangle only v.s full post-weld, internally butted tubing v.s gussets v.s internally gusseted tubing, machined this, shaved that - a frame is not a frame is not a frame. Throw into the mix the possibility of poor welding and/or quality control and you're well and truly fucked!
Sunday's Ian Schwartz frame: keeping gussets alive and hearts out of mouths, 4.95 lbs
So you've got to be an engineer just to get your head around which frame to buy, but the information is out there. And you can be safe in assuming that if a manufacturer's description of a frame doesn't mention something, it ain't on there. Think of the description as their sales pitch - they're not going to leave out features that they've spent time and money putting into the frame.
I think the way Federal are doing things goes a step towards making life a little easier and is definitely something worth supporting. Apparently their 2010 frames will be coming out with three tiers of heat treatment options: Standard, Front triangle or Full Post-weld. That's on top of a butted and internally gusseted tubes - You know exactly what's going on and can choose the option that suits your riding... or the dollars in your pocket.
Federal's Notorious HT: Full post-weld heating, a bunch of other features, a respectable 4.6 lbs
In regards to these three breaks over the weekend: I'll leave the detective work on all the details of the frames to you, but it must definitely have some people feeling a little shaky. If you do happen to be aboard one of these frames, or if the whole thing is just getting you down, here's some light entertainment... pun intended.