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  1. #1
    Dept. store bike bandit
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    A word of caution to my fellow commuters (crash story)

    I'll state the moral of the story first, and you can choose to read the rest or not...

    Check your bike every single time before you ride! Especially if you park it outside in a public place.

    Last week I picked up a vintage road bike on the side of the road and spent hours working on it to make it look in like-new condition. Spent similar detail and funds equipping it to make it a good commuter/long distance ride. Pretty proud of it and love the smooth ride. Anyway...

    Yesterday I picked up a rack for it, and today was my first day commuting to school, though I've commuted to work in the past. I parked my bike outside the building I had class in and locked it to the bike rack alongside many other bikes. It's a pretty public area and hundreds of people go by every hour.

    I'm not really sure what happened exactly in this time period. Well, I'm sure that someone loosened my handlebars, not from the stem but at the part that attaches the handlebar to the stem, allowing the bars to tilt up or down. I'm not sure why. Cruelty, thinking of theft? I don't know. But I know that bolt was SNUG with thread locker when I put it on there. It couldn't have loosened itself.

    In any event, I find it easier to ride on the flats of the bars around campus, and when commuting in general, using the suicide levers to brake. So I didn't know it right away as they'd left it tight enough to where it wouldn't flop around, but not tight enough to stay in place if weight was put on the drops.

    I came bombing down a hill like I usually do at about 30 mph. I do so because it's a fairly busy road with a 25 mph speed limit, and I need to turn left at the bottom of the hill. This keeps me in front of traffic and out of the way.

    Anyway, I started turning left after bleeding off a little speed with the suicide levers. I was still moving somewhere between 20 and 25 mph. For the rest of the turn I chose not to use the suicide levers but give the regular brake levers a good haul to slow myself for my 90 degree turn. The drop bars completely fall out from underneath me.

    In retrospect I should have abandoned the regular levers and gone for the suicides, but I frantically tried to grab the levers again and may have gotten a half hearted squeeze in but I was still heading straight for the curb at 20+ mph.

    I had a choice of either eating pavement by trying to bank hard and slide or someone's front yard, I chose the latter. I'm not exactly sure what happened next, but the next thing I know is that I'm flying over the handlebars through the air. I hit my head pretty hard on the ground but managed to do a good tuck and roll before crashing into someone's bush. The bike was laying on the grass by the curb.

    What's amazing about all this is that somehow neither I nor the bike show much the worse for wear, considering I crashed into a curb at 20+ mph. I'm pretty sure that I must have leapt from the bike before it hit the curb hoping to save the bike and myself from any damage, but I don't remember doing it.

    We've both got a couple of scratches though. Here's mine:



    It's not much to look at, but I won't show it anyway in case it bothers people. My toenail somehow got ripped from the nail bed at the tip. I must have landed on my toes pretty hard at some point. My head hurt for a little while after the crash but doesn't now so I think I'm no worse for wear.

    The only scratch to the bike is here on the end of the pedal:



    When I jumped, it just have brushed the curb briefly before ending up in the grass. I also ended up with some grass in my luggage but that's about it.

    What's even crazier is that immediately after this, I turned around and went on a group ride on the bike which just concluded. It performed fine and so did I, so I think we're both okay.

    I was extremely lucky, all things considered. You might not be. CHECK YOUR BIKE!

    Stay safe out there guys.
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    I ride two different department store bikes of doom. Neither have exploded or caused small children to cry yet.

    198? Free Spirit Sovereign 12 speed road bike (Sears) - the smooth and comfy one. The commuter/hauler/touring bike.
    2011 GMC Denali 14 speed road bike (Wal-Mart) - the fast frankenbike. The racer.



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  2. #2
    Senior Member spunkyj's Avatar
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    I would conclude from this, and my own experience that I shared in response to another poster yesterday (http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-the-bike-rack), that school campuses in particular are bad for this kind of thing. Okay, so two anecdotes are not statistical evidence, but still. The concentration of a large number of kids of varying maturity levels into one small campus where there are tons of bikes locked up.... well, you get the picture.

    However, I lock my bike on the university campus where I work everyday, and haven't had problems yet (knock on wood!).

    Oh, and glad you're okay by the way!
    Last edited by spunkyj; 10-27-11 at 06:40 PM. Reason: addition

  3. #3
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Glad you are OK. Make sure to do a thorough check of your bike before you do any more riding on it. After a crash, the bike can look pretty good, but have subtle, life-threatening issues. Make sure the front wheel still fits in the fork (ie, that the fork wasn't bent.) Check the frame too using the Sheldon Brown string method.

  4. #4
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    It's good to see you're ok. I would avoid bike racks in general especially at a school campus. I've had the air let out of my tires once at a bike rack. There's a tremendous amount of bike envy at these racks and the cyclists who park there are often not adults. I once had someone losen the bolts fron the front wheel but that was obvious. Still, it could have seriously injured me if I didn't notice.

    Here's my solution. Park the bike about two blocks from the campus. In about three months, many of the bikes on that rack will be missing wheels or parts.

  5. #5
    Dept. store bike bandit
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    Thanks guys, glad I came out of this as well as I did too. I definitely plan on parking my bike somewhere else. I'm not sure where yet, but I'll figure it out. There's a spot where cops frequently park and there's a huge bike rack there. Maybe that would be a good place.

    Thanks for the suggestions on the bike also...

    I did the string check on the rear dropouts and spacing is even on either side of the seat tube. Front fork spacing seems okay, spins freely, bolts that attach the wheel aren't any looser or tighter than before and no clunks or play in side to side movement.

    From the side, the fork looks straight to me but I figure you guys have seen more bent forks than I have. Straight or bent?



    The more I think about it, the more I'm just amazed at how we both got right back up and rode on without problems. As soon as I hit the ground, aside from the head pain all I thought about was how the bike I'd just finished restoring was probably trashed. Probably burned one of my nine lives, lol.
    .
    .
    .
    I ride two different department store bikes of doom. Neither have exploded or caused small children to cry yet.

    198? Free Spirit Sovereign 12 speed road bike (Sears) - the smooth and comfy one. The commuter/hauler/touring bike.
    2011 GMC Denali 14 speed road bike (Wal-Mart) - the fast frankenbike. The racer.



    http://tickers.TickerFactory.com/ezt...rzg/weight.png

  6. #6
    Senior Member Chris_in_Miami's Avatar
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    Glad to hear that you (and the bike) survived with only minor injury!

    Not to cast doubt on your story, but it seems pretty unlikely that a vandal would target that bolt. I've had a similar experience with a too-loose bar clamp, but it was my fault as I'd just put the bike together. It wasn't obvious that it was loose until the first time I grabbed the brakes from the drops, then it pivoted down. I was lucky and didn't crash, but I double check those bolts when I build a bike now.

  7. #7
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    I, too, am glad you're okay!

    Given that it was a rebuild of a vintage bike, your first commute on it and first day locking it at that location my guess is that it was user error and not vandalism that caused the crash. I've locked my bike at public racks at schools and colleges for a really long time and (knock wood) have never encountered vandalism of that type. I did have someone steal a quick release bolt from my bike- fortunately I noticed before I rode off but I think you may be jumping to conclusions.

  8. #8
    Dept. store bike bandit
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    I see where you guys are coming from, I suppose it is possible. I do distinctly remember using locktite on that and other bolts I didn't want letting go in situations like that though, which leads me to believe someone else had a hand in it...especially since I'd ridden it for about 30 miles previously with no problem. But I do see your point, it's possible.

    Either way, it's gonna be parked in sight of a cop car tomorrow!
    .
    .
    .
    I ride two different department store bikes of doom. Neither have exploded or caused small children to cry yet.

    198? Free Spirit Sovereign 12 speed road bike (Sears) - the smooth and comfy one. The commuter/hauler/touring bike.
    2011 GMC Denali 14 speed road bike (Wal-Mart) - the fast frankenbike. The racer.



    http://tickers.TickerFactory.com/ezt...rzg/weight.png

  9. #9
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    If your campus is anything like mine it's extremely likely there's a security camera looking at the rack/entrance area. Might be worthwhile checking with security.

    You may have a sociopath that doesn't want to steal but just hurt cyclists.... I'd talk to security, if nothing else so that it's on the record.
    Last edited by Cyclaholic; 10-28-11 at 04:04 PM.

  10. #10
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    I had this same thing happen as well with my bike parked on campus, luckily for me I noticed at a less compromising time and was able to make my commute no handed(serious workout btw).

    For other campus fun I've had the air drained from tires a time or two, and had someone steal just one of my front brake pads.

  11. #11
    nashcommguy
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    Echoing others, I'm glad you're ok and am impressed w/your reflex abilitiy. Your weight-loss ticker is impressive, too. Been cycle-commuting myself for going on 25 years and can't imagine experiencing something like this. Various forms of harrassment, dogs, debris, etc., but never have had someone fool w/my bike.

    But, yeah, I'd definitely have a talk w/security and see if there is anything visual recorded in the same timeframe. Talk w/other cyclist-commuters and see if any of them have experienced anything like this as well.

  12. #12
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Most likely somebody was interrupted while trying to steal your bars...

  13. #13
    TortoiseNotHare BridgeNotTunnel's Avatar
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    I'm impressed, and glad you came out ok.

    Vandals are real.

    The chinese food delivery guys who work in the restaurant next to my building were definitely tampering with my bike in an effort to discourage my use of the bike rack right out side my building.

    They popped my rear tire, loosened the quick release on my front tire, put axle grease on my frame from their e-bikes, and possibly were responsible for some damaged spokes.

    One day I became fed up and walked into the restaurant with video rolling on my smart phone and started questioning the woman at the counter. I basically told her that I was positive they were responsible due to the fact that they were the only other people who used it and constantly are by the rack (they have four delivery guys).

    After some dirty looks from the delivery guys I realized that they got the message. One of them seemed to almost admit guilt by telling me, "that's your bike? It's safe now, no worries."

    I haven't had a single problem since.

    Public rack, I get there first, my spot, period.

    Other people told me what some of you said, "move your bike....", I'm too stubborn for that apparently, and this time it worked out.

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by borobike View Post
    I did the string check on the rear dropouts and spacing is even on either side of the seat tube. Front fork spacing seems okay, spins freely, bolts that attach the wheel aren't any looser or tighter than before and no clunks or play in side to side movement.

    From the side, the fork looks straight to me but I figure you guys have seen more bent forks than I have. Straight or bent?

    That fork looks OK to me.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator tractorlegs's Avatar
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    When I commute I lock my bike in front of a busy grocery store. I ride about half way to work then catch the bus the rest of the way. The grocery is diagonally across the street from a high school, so every day I check the bike before I take off on the homebound leg of the ride. Almost every day, my QR levers are pulled out/loosened! At first I thought it was attempted wheel theft, but it happens so much I think it's the same person every day just pulling my strings. No harm because I always check, but to repeat the op's word: Always Check!
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  16. #16
    Dept. store bike bandit
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    Thanks guys. I agree that it might be a good idea to talk with campus security if for no other reason than to inform them that someone might be messing with bikes on the rack.

    Been riding and commuting since with no further incident. I did notice that my front wheel is ever so slightly out of true, by maybe a millimeter or so. How much does a shop usually charge to true a wheel? I don't think that's something I trust myself to do.
    .
    .
    .
    I ride two different department store bikes of doom. Neither have exploded or caused small children to cry yet.

    198? Free Spirit Sovereign 12 speed road bike (Sears) - the smooth and comfy one. The commuter/hauler/touring bike.
    2011 GMC Denali 14 speed road bike (Wal-Mart) - the fast frankenbike. The racer.



    http://tickers.TickerFactory.com/ezt...rzg/weight.png

  17. #17
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    If you notice it, it's more than 1mm. I had the same problem with my crash. The front wheel was out of true. So I took the wheel out, trued it and then discovered that the fork was slightly bent. (I still think yours is OK though)

    Anyway, once I trued the wheel, it seemed OK and I've been using it for 300-400 miles since.

    I'm guessing you can get someone to true it for $10 if it's not totally out of whack.

    Does youhave a bike kitchen nearby?

  18. #18
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    It's good to see you're ok. I would avoid bike racks in general especially at a school campus. I've had the air let out of my tires once at a bike rack. There's a tremendous amount of bike envy at these racks and the cyclists who park there are often not adults. I once had someone losen the bolts fron the front wheel but that was obvious. Still, it could have seriously injured me if I didn't notice.

    Here's my solution. Park the bike about two blocks from the campus. In about three months, many of the bikes on that rack will be missing wheels or parts.
    I agree, back when I was in Junior High School, I had to go to summer school. Some kid not only loosened but removed the nuts from my wheels. When he saw me coming he threw them onto the roof of the school. His "defense/story" was that it was a "friends" bike and that they had asked them to remove the nuts. Uh, if that was the case then why the hell did he throw the nuts onto the roof of the school?
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  19. #19
    Senior Member silmarillion's Avatar
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    Hey Boro,

    Sorry to hear about that. Perhaps security will keep a closer watch on the bikes now. It's hard to believe someone would deliberately loosen your handlebars in an attempt to cause a total stranger harm. But you can never put it past some people. Glad you are able to walk away and tell us about it in relative good spirits.
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  20. #20
    VICTORY IS MINE! Snowman219's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    I agree, back when I was in Junior High School, I had to go to summer school. Some kid not only loosened but removed the nuts from my wheels. When he saw me coming he threw them onto the roof of the school. His "defense/story" was that it was a "friends" bike and that they had asked them to remove the nuts. Uh, if that was the case then why the hell did he throw the nuts onto the roof of the school?

    Man, don't you just hate stupids?
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    When I commute I lock my bike in front of a busy grocery store. I ride about half way to work then catch the bus the rest of the way. The grocery is diagonally across the street from a high school, so every day I check the bike before I take off on the homebound leg of the ride. Almost every day, my QR levers are pulled out/loosened! At first I thought it was attempted wheel theft, but it happens so much I think it's the same person every day just pulling my strings. No harm because I always check, but to repeat the op's word: Always Check!
    Okay, I have to ask. Why do you only ride half-way to work and take the bus the rest of the way? There's no way that I would do that.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman219 View Post
    Man, don't you just hate stupids?
    Yes, I do, and talk about someone who really needed to be in summer school.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member mgw189's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    When I commute I lock my bike in front of a busy grocery store. I ride about half way to work then catch the bus the rest of the way. The grocery is diagonally across the street from a high school, so every day I check the bike before I take off on the homebound leg of the ride. Almost every day, my QR levers are pulled out/loosened! At first I thought it was attempted wheel theft, but it happens so much I think it's the same person every day just pulling my strings. No harm because I always check, but to repeat the op's word: Always Check!
    someone stole the rear skewer from my bike last week.... I grabbed some non quick release skewers they also sell locking ones I also will now keep an extra set with me when I ride to work.

  24. #24
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    I'm just glad you are OK. I guess you wear a helmet?
    " If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand which feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countryman " Samuel Adams, 1772

  25. #25
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    buy some security bolts for both sides of your stem. http://www.securityfasteners.net/
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