Article republished with permission of Simple Bike Insurance.
All cyclists and bike brands are different. Warranties are different from one another, too. Don’t get us wrong, we love warranties. Which is why we’re going to help you understand what they are, what they cover, and most importantly, what they don’t cover.
Before you start, time for a quick disclaimer. This is a general overview of warranties and its goal is to help you make the best decision for you as a rider. Not all warranties are created equal, some are better than others.
Essentially, a warranty is a guarantee. Whoever manufactured your bike promises, or guarantees, that if something breaks they’ll either repair or replace it. This of course depends on the type of warranty, the manufacturer, and the contract terms.
Usually cyclists are offered the option to purchase a warranty when they buy a new bike from a shop or retailer. If you’re lucky, sometimes your bike will automatically come with a warranty.
Either way, your warranty is a contract between you and the manufacturer or distributor (or the brand, if you will).
Warranties aren’t a contract between you and your shop. Shops usually work as the middleman to run interference between you and whoever made your bike. Remember this little tidbit, it’ll come up later.
If you don’t buy your bike from a shop, you may still be offered a warranty when making a purchase online. You’ll need to go through a shop or storefront, or send parts in directly to the manufacturer, if you make a claim.
Now that we understand what a warranty is, let’s talk about what each type of warranty promises. Clip in, we’re going to jump right into this.
This is the golden ticket of all warranties. The coveted jewel. The motherload. The … you get the idea, it’s a nice warranty. Some brands offer lifetime warranties for their bikes while others may offer the chance to purchase one. A lifetime warranty typically ensures that if something on your bike breaks, bends, or cracks, it’ll be replaced with the same part or even something better – regardless of how many years it’s been since you made the purchase. It’s important to note that this usually (although not always) means a part degrades because of a manufacturing defect. If something breaks because the manufacturer used a less-than-ideal material, you’re probably covered. If something breaks because you tried to replace your handlebars with rubber chickens, you’re probably not. But sometimes, if you’re fortunate, lifetime warranties might include part repair or replacement for normal wear-and-tear under normal riding conditions. It largely depends on the brand. This is a fancy way of saying: If your bike is run over by a truck, it’s not covered under warranty. Remember when we said that retailers run interference between you and whoever promises to repair or replace your bike parts? Fantastic! Let’s say your bike was actually run over by a truck (not fantastic) but you bring it in to try and get it covered under warranty anyway. There’s a decent chance your shop is going to know right away that your bike wasn’t damaged under normal riding conditions and you’re being sneaky. Just sayin’.
You’ve probably heard of and may already have a limited lifetime warranty. These usually sound something like “5-year warranty” or “10-year warranty.” Limited lifetime warranties for bikes and e-bikes are just that. They’re a limited version of a lifetime warranty wherein the brand promises to repair or replace bike parts within a certain period of time. Some brands are more generous than others when it comes to repairs and replacements. It’s certainly not unheard of for cyclists to get a part replaced with one that’s even better and more suited to their riding style. We’re not saying it doesn’t happen, but we are saying you should always read the fine print. It all depends on the brand and the specific warranty you’re getting.
Let’s say you’re taking your bike out for a spin around the neighborhood and you have a spill in the middle of the street. If your bike is damaged, it’s probably protected by your limited collision or crash warranty.
Now let’s say you’re taking your bike with you on a road trip to the hot springs. You pack up the car, slap your bike on the rack, and hit the road. Unfortunately, you didn’t secure it well enough and your bike is doing backflips down the highway. That’s, more than likely, not covered.
We know what a warranty is and we know the differences between each type. So what can you do to make sure you understand exactly what your warranty covers and what it doesn’t? Well, you’re in luck because we made a list.
Ask about warranty renewals and extensions. Ask how to submit a warranty claim. Ask about the process. The more questions you ask, the better off you’ll be in the future should something break, bend, or crack. Depending on the warranty benefits, it may be best to supplement with bicycle insurance.
The word “warranty” doesn’t mean the guarantee is “protecting the entire bike.” For example, you may have a 10-year limited lifetime warranty for your bike frame. This means your bike frame is covered under warranty, under certain conditions. Sadly, this doesn’t mean your entire bike is guaranteed to live for a decade.
This is basically the fun way of asking questions. Think about some situations you’d likely find yourself in or have experienced in the past. Do you take your bike to skateparks? Have you ever bent a frame on a trip? Great! Now tell that story to the manufacturer or shop rep and see if the warranty would cover those repairs or replacements.
If there is one thing you remember from this article, make sure it’s keeping your paperwork (also sometimes known as your warranty card). This is your ticket to getting a replacement or repair for a qualifying claim. Hang on to it and treat it well, friend.