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Old 06-19-16, 07:50 AM   #1
mcours2006
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Catastrophic mechanical failure!

I was two kilometers from home, riding in front of my wife. I was accompanying her to the yoga studio and then I would ride off to the grocery store. I noticed a rattling noise from the front wheel. I saw that the fender stay was loose. These are the fendrs: SKS Velo 42 Urban Mudguard Set | Chain Reaction Cycles

Anyway, I thought, I'll fix that when I get to the studio. No big deal. Well, it turned out it was a big deal. The stay came out of the clip, got caught in the lugs of the tires (which were recently mounted CX tires, wider and beefier than the urban touring tires I had ridden for the couple of years). The next thing I knew I was flying over the handlebar. The bike flipped over with me on it. That's how my wife described it watching from about 30 yards back. I was going maybe 25 km/h, possibly faster. I landed on my shoulder first, then my head hit the pavement. For those of you who've had serious crashes you know that the feeling is quite surreal afterwards, because you are never expecting it to happen.

My wife rode her bike home, got the minivan, and came back to pick me up.

Post-incident analysis:

1. My own negligence is to blame, first and foremost, because I should have stopped the bike right there an then to fix the stay. Also, I have inspected the clearance after mounting the CX tires and noticed that there was less clearance and that the lugs might cause a problem.

2. Discounting (1), because it wasn't even on my mind to do that this crash could have happened anywhere at any time, sort of like a ticking time bomb. The crash happened on a quiet, wide residential street and my wife was there with me. So I am lucky in that sense. It could have happened on a much busier street and I could have been going much faster, perhaps on a descent doing 40 km/h.

3. The injury I suffered is a badly bruised shoulder. There's probably some ligament and tendon damage, and perhaps fractured bone. I haven't gone for x-ray. Doctor says to wait a few days and see how it is before going to do the irradiation. Also a sprained thumb on the other hand. A piece of foam has chipped off on the inside of the helmet, but I don't think there is any serious head trauma. I did not lose consciousness. Immediately after the crash I got up and rolled on to the grassy curb. Still in total disbelief and shock.

Next Steps:
The bike is still in the van. I will have to have a look at it as soon as I have the use of my shoulder, which at the moment is still very sore and painful to move. I think I will ride without front fenders from now on.

Rest. I will be driving to work the next few weeks until everything heals.

The one positive thing I can take away from this is that other vehicles or the condition of the road were non-factors. I can't be so complacent with the maintenance of my bikes. Constant vigilance, not just while riding, but also with regular inspection and anticipating problems with your own machine.

Thanks for reading. I know it was long.
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Old 06-19-16, 09:03 AM   #2
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I am glad to hear that you're ok. It could of been much worse if it happened in heavy traffic...Personally I like to have some extra clearance between my fenders and tires. I am also using Planet Bike fenders, they don't have any clips to come loose, once they are tightened they stay tight, no problems ever coming loose...The only catastrophic failure I've ever had was when my crank arm broke on my fixed gear bike.
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Old 06-19-16, 10:33 AM   #3
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No need to give up the front fender. Just be more diligent in your maintenance. Any funny sound on my bike and I stop to figure out what it is. Crashing sucks. Lesson learned the hard way, but you'll never forget.
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Old 06-19-16, 11:21 AM   #4
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"a stitch, in Time, Saves Nine"
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Old 06-19-16, 03:58 PM   #5
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Ouch. Watch for unusual headaches, changes in pupil sizes, etc. Sometimes there's a delay before complications from head knocks set in. Be sure to let your wife know to watch for this stuff as well, because complications from concussions can make it impossible for the victim to take any rational decisions.

And every time I think about installing fenders on my bike I read about incidents like this. I don't ride in rain often enough to matter. I think I'll just keep getting wet the handful of times a year I'm riding in the rain. In fact I just finished wiping off the mud spatter from last week's rain. I might opt for a downtube mud guard instead. The rear rack already blocks most of the wet gunk anyway.
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Old 06-19-16, 04:29 PM   #6
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Look at your collarbone (clavicle) and shoulder positioning carefully.

Make sure everything more or less works, and then good luck for a speedy recovery.

Time for the N+1 Bicycle purchase?
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Old 06-19-16, 05:19 PM   #7
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Ouch. Watch for unusual headaches, changes in pupil sizes, etc. Sometimes there's a delay before complications from head knocks set in. Be sure to let your wife know to watch for this stuff as well, because complications from concussions can make it impossible for the victim to take any rational decisions.
Thanks for the advice. Other than being grumpier than usual (as we had Father's Day company for the in-laws), there hasn't been any unusual, but I understand your point: it's difficult for me to judge my own behaviour.

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And every time I think about installing fenders on my bike I read about incidents like this. I don't ride in rain often enough to matter. I think I'll just keep getting wet the handful of times a year I'm riding in the rain. In fact I just finished wiping off the mud spatter from last week's rain. I might opt for a downtube mud guard instead. The rear rack already blocks most of the wet gunk anyway.
I am thinking that myself now. After all, it's just a bit of water and road guck. It can be washed off.
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Old 06-19-16, 05:21 PM   #8
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Look at your collarbone (clavicle) and shoulder positioning carefully.

Make sure everything more or less works, and then good luck for a speedy recovery.
Thanks. Right now the shoulder is still sore as hell, so there's very limited mobility, but I daresay that it's improved since yesterday and the day before, so that's a good sign. I may opt for that x-ray if things don't continue to improve, probably by mid-week.

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Time for the N+1 Bicycle purchase?
Now how's that going to help??!!
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Old 06-19-16, 05:26 PM   #9
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I had a chance to assess the damage to the bike. The top of the rear rack is bent as is one of the vertical supports. The rear fender is also bent, beyond repair, I am afraid. The rear of the bike must have impacted on the pavement quite forcefully to do that. The right side shifter was turned slightly.

So the nearest I can figure when the front wheel seized I tumbled forward. The bike probably flipped once, with the right shifter making contact with the pavement first, then the rear end came down.
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Old 06-19-16, 05:26 PM   #10
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Lesson learned the hard way, but you'll never forget.
Lesson learned indeed.
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Old 06-19-16, 05:28 PM   #11
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I am glad to hear that you're ok. It could of been much worse if it happened in heavy traffic.
That keeps going through my mind as well. It's hard to think yourself lucky after a pretty serious crash like this, but things could easily have been worse.
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Old 06-19-16, 06:20 PM   #12
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Make sure you let us know of your progress. (I'm glad your wife was riding a good distance behind). It's strange that SKS would design something like this. I am not sure what you mean by "lugs", though.
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Old 06-19-16, 06:31 PM   #13
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Thanks. Right now the shoulder is still sore as hell, so there's very limited mobility, but I daresay that it's improved since yesterday and the day before, so that's a good sign. I may opt for that x-ray if things don't continue to improve
You were very very lucky.

I would have taken the x-ray right after the accident. You suffered a once in a lifetime accident that requires an x-ray for broken bones and other damage. This is not the time to worry about cancer 40 years down the road.

You discovered the danger of the front fender the hard way. There are fenders that are supposed to break lose when something like this happens. However, I don't believe you had one of those fenders.

If you Google "Front fender & accident", you'll see a number of horror stories. The one that come to my mind are the accidents involving ride share bikes like Citibike that come with fenders. The lawsuit states that Citibikes have a defective front fender but that is not the case. The front fender has a slight inherent danger that every cyclist must be aware of. In the case of Citibike, the rider suffered a crushed face.

After my accident, I will never use a front fender. There are people who use them for decades and nothing happens. However, when it does go wrong, it's a life changing moment you'll never forget.

Please, get an x-ray.
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Old 06-19-16, 06:48 PM   #14
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Make sure you let us know of your progress. (I'm glad your wife was riding a good distance behind). It's strange that SKS would design something like this. I am not sure what you mean by "lugs", though.
CX tires have more aggressive treads for traction on gravel, dirt, mud, etc. These treads, at least on my tires, protrude out more off to the side, presumably to improve traction on loose surfaces. It was one of this features which I believe caught hold of the fender stay, carried it until it hit the fork, then it stopped.
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Old 06-19-16, 06:49 PM   #15
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I consider any failure forward of mid top tube and mid down tube to be treated as potentially fatal. I have been very lucky. That said, the almost incredible string of luck that kept me from becoming a vegetable or dead instead meant a head injury that cost me my profession and many opportunities. Two years later I happened to be riding the old incredibly stiff Weinmann Concave rims in the wide 1 1/4" width when a fellow rider put his quick realease in my front wheel in a 30 mph + town line sprint. I rode the bike to a stop with 8 consecutive right side spokes cut out. If I had been riding my sewup wheels, a half dozen guys behind me would have piled on.

My deck has no more magic Jokers so I try to do my best to not temp fate any more.

Ben
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Old 06-19-16, 06:54 PM   #16
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You were very very lucky.

I would have taken the x-ray right after the accident. You suffered a once in a lifetime accident that requires an x-ray for broken bones and other damage. This is not the time to worry about cancer 40 years down the road.

You discovered the danger of the front fender the hard way. There are fenders that are supposed to break lose when something like this happens. However, I don't believe you had one of those fenders.

If you Google "Front fender & accident", you'll see a number of horror stories. The one that come to my mind are the accidents involving ride share bikes like Citibike that come with fenders. The lawsuit states that Citibikes have a defective front fender but that is not the case. The front fender has a slight inherent danger that every cyclist must be aware of. In the case of Citibike, the rider suffered a crushed face.

After my accident, I will never use a front fender. There are people who use them for decades and nothing happens. However, when it does go wrong, it's a life changing moment you'll never forget.

Please, get an x-ray.
This would never have occurred to me, and that's why I said that it was just a ticking time bomb. And here I was on this forum, extolling the virtues of fenders and how great they were for keeping crap off yourself and the bike's drivetrain. But I should have been more aware.

I have a set of MK2 fenders on one of my other bikes, and upon close inspection I believe that on the very small chance that the stay or any part of that fender were to fail and come in contact with the wheel or the spokes the thin plastic would just break, likely resulting in a bent spoke or just broken fender. I don't believe that it could halt the forward progress of the front wheel the way the metal stay would. Now if I were using slick tires, I would have been fine too.

I'd put on about 150 km on this setup prior to the accident, mostly off road on gravel tracks. Had this happened off road it may have even been worse as there wouldn't have been anyone around to help.
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Old 06-19-16, 07:00 PM   #17
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I consider any failure forward of mid top tube and mid down tube to be treated as potentially fatal. I have been very lucky. That said, the almost incredible string of luck that kept me from becoming a vegetable or dead instead meant a head injury that cost me my profession and many opportunities. Two years later I happened to be riding the old incredibly stiff Weinmann Concave rims in the wide 1 1/4" width when a fellow rider put his quick realease in my front wheel in a 30 mph + town line sprint. I rode the bike to a stop with 8 consecutive right side spokes cut out. If I had been riding my sewup wheels, a half dozen guys behind me would have piled on.

My deck has no more magic Jokers so I try to do my best to not temp fate any more.

Ben
I am beginning to see this. Makes me question the sanity of what I am doing. So what kinds of things do you do to mitigate this risk, because all kinds of things could happen on the front end? Blowing a tire? Though depending on the speed one could possibly maintain control and glide to a stop on the rim. Broken spoke? Again, you could likely maintain control and come to a stop. Broken front axle? Fractured carbon fork? Brake failure? But not likely both brakes. What other catastrophic failure would there be?
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Old 06-19-16, 07:08 PM   #18
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I'm one of those guys that has used fenders and never had a problem. But I can relate to your call for diligence. I will take the lesson here to heart and make certain to do a pre-ride check on my entire bike before pedaling off. Glad you're okay (at least per your post).
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Old 06-19-16, 09:41 PM   #19
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Fenders aren't worth either the hassles involved in tire size and clearance, or the danger they represent. For the 2-3 days a year when I might get mud spattered, I just throw a change of clothes in the panniers. When I'm riding in the rain, fenders are no use to me anyway as I don't bring a poncho and I'm going to be soaked regardless.
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Old 06-19-16, 09:59 PM   #20
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That was exactly how my first serious bicycle accident happened some 50 years ago, except that I wasn't aware of a loose front fender brace. Like the OP, I escaped with no serious injury, but the bike didn't do as well. The brace wound around the axle and pulled the rim in so the front wheel looked like Ms Pacman.

This kind of failure is why we don't see many single wire loop fender braces anymore. Where they are used, the practice is to pass them around the outside of the fender, so they can't get snagged on the rolling tire.
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Old 06-19-16, 10:18 PM   #21
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https://www.amazon.com/SKS-Front-Fen.../dp/B001N84RHU

Not sure it would have prevented your accident but they came with my fenders. I had a rear fender come loose, get caught in the tire and fold up like an accordion. Of course anything with the rear wheel has minor consequences compared to the front.

It's not just fenders though. My son had an eerily similar incident and injuries when he was going about the same speed and a stick got caught in his spokes. He landed on his shoulder and helmet. No structural damage to his shoulder but he got a bad case of road rash on that and his ankle. Still has the scars and it's been at least 3 years. The steel fork looked like a noodle but only a single spoke broke on the wheel.

A friend also had a pretty bad incident when she got too close to the rider in front of her and their wheels made contact with each other. Lets just say that that one took a lot of trips to the dentist before she was back to normal. Broken wrist too if I remember right.

So yeah, it's best if front wheels don't stop rolling. I don't know that I would write off fenders completely but there's some risks with knobby tires, minimal clearance and struts that don't break away that you're now aware of. You can fix those things. Your story made me double check my fenders but I'm pretty much ready to take them off for the summer anyway.

Here's hoping you have a speedy recovery, - both physically and psychologically. That kind of thing leaves a lasting impact on your psyche.

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Old 06-19-16, 11:21 PM   #22
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... So what kinds of things do you do to mitigate this risk, because all kinds of things could happen on the front end? Blowing a tire? Though depending on the speed one could possibly maintain control and glide to a stop on the rim. Broken spoke? Again, you could likely maintain control and come to a stop. Broken front axle? Fractured carbon fork? Brake failure? But not likely both brakes. What other catastrophic failure would there be?
I ride tires that scare me to think about blowing one at speed. After my painful crash 3 years ago from a blown rear tire, I have seriously considered going back to sewups. Still may. My wallet says no, but my brain says yes. Then there's the no more lucky card issue also.

Broken front axles are very rare and if you have a quick release, you won't even know it until you pull the wheel off. Broken spoke? Not an issue as long as you have lots. (I won't ride some of the new forks with very close fits to small racing size tires. No space above the tire just means that only small tires canm be used. No space to the side means that a broken spoke could vbe a real issue. And on a low spoke racing wheel? See my post above about that guy taking out my spokes in a sprint. If I had one of those forks, that ride would have ended quite differently.) Fractured carbon fiber fork. Not an issue for me. I leave them in the store. All my forks are steel and will be. Brake failures that matter here are almost always due to negligence. (I do not ride brakes I won't trust my life to, especially on my bikes that will see real hills.) I do my best to stay on top of my brakes and pads adjustment and condition, especially the front.

Thanks for bringing this up. I just realized it is that time of year when considering brake/rim heat on long descents with hard braking can be an issue. One of the smart preventative moves is to let a little air out of the tires before heading down. But that does require advance thought.

Ben
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Old 06-20-16, 12:40 AM   #23
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Broken spoke? Not an issue as long as you have lots. (I won't ride some of the new forks with very close fits to small racing size tires. No space above the tire just means that only small tires canm be used. No space to the side means that a broken spoke could vbe a real issue. And on a low spoke racing wheel? See my post above about that guy taking out my spokes in a sprint. If I had one of those forks, that ride would have ended quite differently.) Fractured carbon fiber fork. Not an issue for me. I leave them in the store. All my forks are steel and will be. Brake failures that matter here are almost always due to negligence. (I do not ride brakes I won't trust my life to, especially on my bikes that will see real hills.) I do my best to stay on top of my brakes and pads adjustment and condition, especially the front.
Agreed. Forks are steel, spokes are many, tires are thick with tread, brakes are kept in good repair. I also don't ride downhill at an out-of-control speed. I'm almost never in a hurry to get there, and I'm aware of the risks of hitting something in the road awkwardly.

I'm lucky - I hit a pothole straight-on with my first bike when I was seven years old, and face planted into the asphalt. Got a bloody lip, a bloody nose, and a life-long lesson in respecting the bike and the road.
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Old 06-20-16, 07:51 AM   #24
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Fenders aren't worth either the hassles involved in tire size and clearance, or the danger they represent. For the 2-3 days a year when I might get mud spattered, I just throw a change of clothes in the panniers. When I'm riding in the rain, fenders are no use to me anyway as I don't bring a poncho and I'm going to be soaked regardless.
I'd always felt that fenders gave me a sense of security, that if it rained my bike and I would be fine. But perhaps this sentiment is a bit misplaced. My bike and I be fine without fenders too, just a bit more dirty. And to be honest I can't remember the last time I rode in the rain.
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Old 06-20-16, 07:57 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Here's hoping you have a speedy recovery, - both physically and psychologically. That kind of thing leaves a lasting impact on your psyche.
Thanks. And thanks to all for your support.

To be honest I stayed away from the forum a few days because I didn't want to be reminded of the incident. It's still very fresh in my mind, obviously, but coming back on here does help. Life is not without risks, and when you get blind-sided like this it does make you take notice. I think psychologically I am fine to get back on the saddle. Physically, it may be some time.
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