Posted by: Emily | September 19, 2010

Caveat Emptor

Several months ago I decided to get a training/touring bike and was choosing between the Van Nicholas Yukon and the Condor Fratello. Ny main reservation with the Yukon was the fact that if there was a problem it would be much harder to resolve with a company based in The Netherlands versus one in London. After much deliberation, however, I went with the Yukon. After all, what’s the point, or fun, in going through life thinking What If…

The bike arrived on Friday. Shipping had taken longer than anticipated as it had initially been sent to Ian due to a mix-up by Van Nicholas, but, after numerous calls with DHL, it eventually reached me. With much excitement I opened the box. I instantly knew something was wrong, but it took me a couple of minutes to work out what. Then it hit me. There was no rack and no mudguards. Whilst this wouldn’t have been a major problem in the normal scheme of things, I have a cycle holiday which is due to start on Thursday and a rack is therefore essential (and one of the main reasons for getting the Yukon as opposed to the Mistral). A more minor issue, but annoying nonetheless, was the absence of the two bottle cages I’d ordered and, like the rack and mudguards, paid for. The steerer tube was also uncut despite a specific request for the opposite.

I had planned to take the bike for a long ride this weekend to get a feel for it before my trip. This now seemed an unlikely prospect. Fortunately there is a branch of CycleSurgery less than five minutes from where I live so first thing this morning I took the bike over to get a rack, mudguards and bottle cages fitted. Everyone I dealt with at CycleSurgery was incredibly helpful and despite being very busy, they told me they’d have the bike racked up with mudguards and cages by the end of the day. Given Van Nicholas had forgotten so many items and sent the bike to the wrong place I figured that attention to detail was not high on their list of priorities so I asked the bike mechanic at Cycle Surgery if he could have a quick look at the Yukon whilst fitting the rack and let me know if he spotted anything that needed attention.

Feeling much happier than previously, I went home to do some more planning of my trip. Unfortunately, within a few hours I received a call from CycleSurgery with bad news. They told me the front wheel had a part missing and was damaged, my fork was damaged and the assembly work sloppy. The bike was not rideable. Had this been the Fratello, I would have simply taken it down to Condor and asked them to sort it out. Unfortunately, popping over to The Netherlands clearly isn’t an option. With less than four days until I’m due to leave for my trip, my Yukon is at CycleSurgery needing a new fork, front wheel, rack, mudguards and in all likelihood a full service just in case there’s anything else that needs sorting out. To say I am annoyed/upset is an understatement. In fairness to Van Nicholas, they are not yet aware of all the problems. I have sent them an email and hope to speak with them first thing tomorrow. Whether or not I’m able to get the Yukon rideable in time for my trip remains to be seen.



  1. Martin – despite what I wrote, I would suggest you don’t reconsider just yet….

    As I think I mentioned, at the time of writing that post Van Nicholas were not aware of the problems I’d had with the Yukon as everything happened over a weekend. I sent them an email last night and received an extremely prompt reply expressing great concern over all the issues.

    Less than 24 hours has passed and they’ve already sent a replacement rack, mudguards, fork and bottle cages via DHL Express (I should also be getting a new wheel from them) and they’re doing absolutely everything possible to ensure that I’ll be able to get my bike ready for my trip on Thursday.

    Although it’s unfortunate that the bike arrived in the state that it did, they really are going the extra mile to make up for it and although I don’t want to tempt fate, I’m extremely hopeful that the bike will be ready in time. Whatever happens, I’m very impressed with how they have responded to the problems and it has completely changed my attitude about Van Nicholas.

    As an aside – the Yukon itself looks really fabulous and as I took it to CycleSurgery I received several compliments. I can’t comment yet on how it rides, but I have high hopes.

    I will be writing a follow-up blog on all this soon.

  2. Thanks for that feedback on Van Nicholas, I have been considering buying a Yukon, disappointing that the bike has so many issues especially after they kept you waiting, may reconsider.

    • Pleased they sorted it, I was in Cornwall earlier this year on a Thorn Raven Sport, the hills were tough, good luck

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