The tragic death of Richard Stanton in January 2015 and release of the coroners report last month is something the industry must take notice of.
Mr Stanton died due to falling from his bicycle after the unexpected and catastrophic failure of the 9-year-old alloy steerer carbon forks.
Coroner Lisbeth Campbell reviewed the incident and in releasing the report noted;
The failure of the fork was caused by a fatigue fracture occurring in the aluminium alloy steering tube inside the bonded fork assembly;
The fatigue crack occurred in a location where it was not visible to persons following the manufacturer-prescribed owner pre-ride inspection and technician service inspection methods; and
The fork has a finite structural life and, upon reaching that finite structural life, can fail catastrophically without warning.
The Coroners report can be found here.
The bicycle involved in the incident was a Trek, but with reports that most brands have suffered fork failures, with only luck preventing catastrophic consequences, all brands must take notice of this incident and the recommendations from the coroner.
The coroner made three recommendations which Trek has fully agreed to;
1 - update its bicycle owners manual to warn owners that bicycles are not indestructible and every part of a bicycle has a limited useful life.
2 – undertake a public education campaign to bring the issue of component life to consumer attention
3 – investigate the implementation of an upper ‘safe life’ for the bicycle front steering fork, after which the owner is encouraged to replace the part irrespective of visible damage.
The BIA recommends that all brands update their owners manual to reflect the coroners recommendation and undertake an education campaign for consumers that have purchased a bicycle. They should also work with retailers to educate all future consumers.
It was also noted that the bicycle had been involved in more than one crash, so brands should include information on the impact of a crash on a bicycle.
Due to its reference in the report, the incident also highlights the impact of the current mandatory Australian bicycle standard AS/NZS 1927:1998.
Many brands either choose not to meet the standard or utilise clause 2 of the Consumer Protection Notice No.6 of 2004 to sell bicycles which do not meet Australian standards.
CLAUSE 2. bicycles which are designed, promoted and supplied primarily for use in competition; are exempt from the standard
This clause is used to sell many bikes, which have handlebars greater than 650mm or bikes without chainguard/chain protection.
Whether you agree with the standard or not, if you utilise this clause, would it stand up when investigated by a coroner or lawyer if something went wrong with the bike?
The ACCC is currently reviewing the impact of the mandatory standard – details can be found on the BIA website.