How can I appraise this Casati bike frame my office might have ruined?
April 22, 2014 1:20 PM   Subscribe

I bought a good condition vintage Casati frameset for $380 4 years ago and have been riding it regularly since, without any issues. I recently slipped into a gap between two grates at the bottom of the ramp leading into my work garage and didn't hurt myself but the bike's back wheel was rubbing against the frame. I took it to a shop and they said the frame was bent (I think they said dropouts were bent). I relayed the information to my workplace and they are filing an insurance claim. My questions are as follows: could that damage have occurred somehow before without me noticing? How do I appraise the worth of my bike? I can't recall the model name and can't find a serial number, i just only see the brand and the columbus decal. And finally, is there anything else I should do in preparation for this claim?

pic of the bike in case anyone recognizes it
posted by qzar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
first: it's pretty hard to bend dropouts. is the shop sure that you didn't just pull the wheel out of the dropouts? or just get the wheel out of true a little bit?

secondly: you can appraise the worth of your bike by looking at completed ebay auctions.

thirdly: there are a lot of steel framebuilders, and many do repairs. if your dropout is bent, a repair could be as simple as bending it back into alignment. if it's actually damaged, it could be a reasonably quick bit of torchwork. either way, a framebuilder can give you a quote for the repair - and you might want to tack on a new paintjob while you're at it.

where are you located?
posted by entropone at 1:28 PM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's possible it could have happened without you noticing. It's more probable that it happened when you slipped into this gap.

FYI, I've realigned dropouts using a pair of these before. There's a point where you can't use those to align. I can't tell from the pics of your bike just how badly it's bent.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:49 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and usually the serial number is stamped into the bottom of the bottom bracket shell. Look there, but I can't really think of any way that would help you appraise it.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2014

I think you'd notice a bent dropout if it had been that way before. What you did is a perfectly good way to bend them, so yeah, that did it probably.

How bad is it? Steel frames can be bent back unless it's major.
posted by bradbane at 2:06 PM on April 22, 2014

Response by poster: I'm located in Brooklyn, the bike is sitting in the office garage in Chelsea (Manhattan). The bike shop guy definitely said the wheel was basically fine, and used a stick looking thing to measure the alignment on each side of the frame, which showed a half inch gap on one of the sides between the dropout and the wheel. That same side was the side the wheel was stuck against before he hammered the wheel back into shape (or whatever he did, I wasn't looking closely). The wheel now spins fine but he told me it was a "bandaid" and that I needed to get another frame.

I personally can't see a difference, but I have an untrained eye. And if this is any indication of anything, when he was inspecting the frame, his coworker who was off-duty that day popped in and glanced at the bike and said: "oh shit you're going to have to get a new frame". But again, it looks fine to me. I don't know. I just want to make sure I solve this problem now while my office is willing to pay vs later when it's too late (or I get hurt because the integrity of my bike is compromised).

how much do framebuilders charge for those types of repairs? Ballpark?
posted by qzar at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2014

Take it to Dave at BikeWorks. It will be maybe forty bucks to fix the alignment. Framebuilders who could do any more intenaive repair indlude Rosko, Horse, and Coast... All in Brooklyn.
posted by entropone at 2:12 PM on April 22, 2014

If a bike shop says you need to get "a new frame" instead of even suggesting that a steel frame can be repaired, either this frame is damaged much worse than you've described or you should find another shop for a second opinion.
posted by rhizome at 3:37 PM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Agreed that the dropouts on a steel frame should be repairable. They're just solid chunks of steel, and a framebuilder or welder or machinist should be able to put them back the way they're supposed to be. However, I find it a bit odd that the dropouts would've bent instead of the wheel; the rim of a wheel is a lot weaker (against being twisted and bent, anyway) than a dropout is.

I would expect that falling off your bike with the wheel caught in a grate would cause the wheel to come seriously out of true, but I would be surprised if the dropouts got screwed up. Not shocked, but surprised. If the dropouts were damaged then I'd expect the wheel to be damaged as well.

I'd get a second opinion, honestly. What your bike shop is telling you doesn't totally make sense.
posted by Scientist at 4:53 PM on April 22, 2014

I agree that what the bike shop is saying doesn't make sense. Bent dropouts should be easy to fix. If you need a whole new frame something much more serious has happened.
posted by werkzeuger at 10:44 PM on April 22, 2014

Response by poster: OK my office is going to get a second opinion anyway for insurance purposes so hopefully they can give me some more insight. Thanks for the feedback.
posted by qzar at 8:45 AM on April 23, 2014

Seriously, take it to Dave at Bikeworks.

A friend of mine crashed a steel bike into a wall, bend the headtube inward something awful. I'm pretty sure it was about $25 to bend it back into shape.
posted by entropone at 9:24 AM on April 23, 2014

The dropout alignment tools mentioned by spikeleemajortomohjesuschristgetashorterusername ;-) are the right way to handle moderately bent dropouts, and there's not much magic to that fix. But the "stick-looking thing" might have been a frame alignment tool, which would indicate that it is more serious - that tool is used to measure lateral damage to the rear triangle as a whole, which is something I can imagine happening if you dropped the rear wheel into a grating and fell sideways. Your frame may still be repairable, using something like what my boss used to call the "Frame Destroyer" (really just any really long lever wielded by a good mechanic) but the worse the damage is, the more likely it is that your bike will never be the same.

I don't know from Dave at Bikeworks but if he's just making a quick $25 bending frames back after they've been crashed into walls and had their head tubes bent inward something awful, he may not be the right guy for your baby. The problem is that steel fatigues when it is bent far enough to take a new shape; the greater the deformation, the greater the structural compromise. Minor straightening is totally okay for most steel bikes, but if it's badly bent it has also been badly weakened and needs attention from somebody who understands this before you resume careening around in Brooklyn traffic as if it would never break under you.
posted by richyoung at 1:53 PM on April 23, 2014

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