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Carbon Fiber Bikes May Be Susceptible To Sudden Failure

May 22, 2013

Carbon Fiber Bikes May Be Susceptible To Sudden Failure

In recent years, major bike manufacturers have issued numerous recalls of carbon fiber bikes and parts due to sudden failure that can have catastrophic results.  Carbon fiber remains a popular choice among riders and manufacturers because it is less than one-quarter the weight of steel with similar stiffness.  However, many major bike brands have their carbon fiber bicycle components manufactured in China and Taiwan, which may not uphold the U.S. national safety standards. 

Carbon fiber bicycles and parts typically do not show external damage even if the structural integrity of the fibers is stressed.  Riders may not be able to detect potential problems or signs of failure, as the damage can often only be inspected once the part is broken.  If a carbon bike or part fails, the rider may suffer serious harm.  Common causes of carbon bike or part failure include:  

  •       Air pockets in the fork that are not visible until breakage occurs;
  •       Internal damage of a carbon fiber bicycle component after impact or a serious crash that is not visible to riders;
  •       Poor design or manufacturing of carbon fiber steerer tubes that can lead to cracking and/or breaking; and
  •       Chips in the paint or gel coat that can cause stress to the carbon fiber bike frame.

Proper manufacturing processes are crucial to ensuring the structural integrity and safety of carbon fiber bikes.  During the manufacturing process, the material is laid down in different orientations to afford maximum strength, and sometimes wrinkles or air pockets develop in the carbon fiber layers.  These wrinkles or air pockets can cause stress on the bicycle, and in turn, possibly trigger failure.

 On January 25, 2013, the CPSC announced a recall of approximately 12,200 bicycles imported by Specialized Bicycle Components due to a fall hazard.  The company recalled the bicycles because the steerer tube in the front carbon fork, which was manufactured in Taiwan, could break.  In years prior, other major bicycle brands have issued recalls similar to this one.  

 Individuals who believe they have suffered injury as a result of carbon bike failure from the following may have a claim against the bike’s manufacturer, importer, distributor, and/or retailer:

  •       Design defect;
  •       Manufacturing defect;
  •       Failure to warn;
  •       Breach of express warranty;
  • ·      Breach of implied warranty; and
  • ·      Negligence.

If you or a loved one has suffered a needless, catastrophic injury as the result of carbon fiber bike failure, the attorneys at Newsome Melton LLP can help you seek the compensation—and justice—that you deserve.

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