Understanding Bicycle Warranties

Your bicycle warranty may not be covering what you think

All cyclists and bike brands are different. Warranties are different from one another, too. Don’t get us wrong, we love warranties. This 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.

Man on a dock with his bicycle and his arms stretched out

So, What is a Warranty Anyway?

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) of your:

  • Road bike
  • Mountain bike
  • BMX bike
  • E-bike (or electric bicycle or e-bicycle).
  • Commuter bicycle
  • Beach cruiser
  • Or another type of traditional bicycle

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.

It’s important to note that usually warranty coverage is limited to the original purchaser to be free from defects in materials and workmanship. If you purchase a used bike, the warranty might not extend to you. As well, if you sell your bicycle, your warranty might not extend to the new owner.

What Does Each Different Type of Bike Warranty Cover?

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.

Lifetime Warranty

This is the golden ticket of all warranties. The coveted jewel. The motherload. The … you get the idea, it’s a nice warranty that promises to replace or repair any defective product caused by the manufacturer.

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. Basically, defects in materials and craftsmanship are covered throughout the lifetime of your warranty period.

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. Typically, the seller is not responsible for incidental or consequential damages resulting from the use of your bicycle. This is a fancy way of saying:

If your bike is run over by a truck, it’s not covered under warranty. This is why it’s important to supplement warranty coverage with a bicycle insurance policy.

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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’.

Bicycle mechanic working on a bicycle tire and spokes

Limited Lifetime Warranty

You’ve probably heard of and may already have a limited lifetime warranty or a lifetime limited 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.

Limited Collision or Crash Warranty

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.

Find Out How To Get A Return Authorization

Let’s say your allegedly well-engineered and manufactured carbon fiber frame cracks. In order to claim a replacement or repair from your bicycle’s manufacturer you’ll need to:

  • Check your warranty paperwork to make sure it’s covered
  • Remember that (usually) proof of purchase is required to make a warranty claim
  • Contact customer service for questions to obtain a return authorization

A return authorization is basically the manufacturer’s way of saying “your warranty is valid, go ahead and send in the part to be repaired or replaced.” Sometimes a manufacturer will distribute a refund instead of repairing or replacing the part or entire bicycle.

Locate Authorized Service Providers

Depending on your warranty and its terms and conditions, you might need to find an authorized service provider. This means if you encounter a warranty-covered event (such as a crack in the bicycle’s frame), your manufacturer might ask you to visit an authorized repair provider in your local area.

Some warranty websites have an authorized service provider network search tool, others don’t. If you aren’t sure, read your warranty paperwork and contact their customer service team.

Warranty Pro Tips

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.
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Ask Questions. Lots of Questions

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.
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“Warranty” Doesn’t Equal “Full Protection”

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.
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Tell Some Stories

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.
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Keep. Your. Warranty. Paperwork.

If there is one thing you remember from this article, make sure it’s keeping your paperwork (also sometimes known as your warranty card). Hang on to a complete copy of guarantees or limited warranties provided by the seller (in this case, the manufacturer). This is your ticket to getting a replacement or repair for a qualifying claim. Hang on to it and treat it well, friend.

Supplement your bicycle warranty with bicycle insurance

Bicycle mechanic working on a bicycle tire and spokes
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