My son rides a Giant Rincon he bought new in 8/2008. A couple weekends ago, he was riding at Alafia when he went down an incline, rolled over a root at the bottom of the hill and found himself on the ground. When he went back to the bike, the steer tube had broken from the fork a little over an inch from where the fork enters into the frame. While we know it is outside of the warranty period, we took it back to the LBS we bought it from to see if there was anything that could be done. Upon further review, the mechanic called us to tell us the bike was clearly "neglected" as the bottom washer/seat was missing (my son did pick up some of the parts he found but did not return them with the bike) and they have assumed the steer tube was not adjusted correctly and "jack hammered" the tube until it broke. They suggested the damage was not done in a single ride but over perhaps a couple hundred miles of riding. When asked if other parts of the bike showed significant wear, they pointed to the gears and suggested they showed the bike has been ridden in excess of 2000 miles. Interestingly enough, my son just doesn't have the time to ride more than once a month, on average, and has mostly ridden the loop at Flatwoods until he and another son rode Alafia twice in the last 3 months.
The real question here is how likely is the above scenario? I can attest to the miles my son has ridden being somewhere less than 500 miles since he bought the bike. How much "play" is enough to cause this kind of issue? How common is this issue even with some play? While my son is not meticulous taking care of his bike, he does rinse the exposed dirt from the bike before he loads it back on the car. How is it possible the gears shows so much more wear than I know he could have put on the bike?
I am grateful, after the way the bike came apart, my son is OK but now am very frustrated to be in a contest with the bike shop as to what can and should be done. I honestly do not want to get something from either the LBS or Giant for nothing but I genuinely believe this to have been a defect with the bike that should be replaced.
Thanks for any thoughts and advice.