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Failure of carbon steerer with very heavy rider

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Failure of carbon steerer with very heavy rider

Old 05-04-08, 11:10 PM
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pmseattle
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Failure of carbon steerer with very heavy rider

Today I was riding along the very busy Burke Gilman trail in north Seattle and at one point witnessed a crash several hundred feet ahead of me. When I reached the crash, there was a broken bicycle by the trail with a severely injured rider semi-conscious on the (paved) trail. Some people were already administering first aid and calling the medics. The injured rider had been on an older Trek OCLV with a carbon fork and carbon steerer. The steerer had snapped off about 2" above the fork crown, the fork seperated from the bicycle, and the rider smashed face-first into the pavement. The rider was extremely obese, well over 300 lbs. and probably over 400 lbs. ( my estimate from a comparison to two of my co-workers who weigh close to 450 lbs. each ). My uneducated guess is that the rider was too heavy for the bicycle and this caused the catastrophic failure of the fork.
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Old 05-05-08, 12:55 AM
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Why doesn't the cycling world sell steel bikes to the rider over 250lbs. Why sell a "light" bike to someone who clearly doesn't need it. We have become "weight weenies" because of advertising. Who ever sold that bike to that rider was absolutely negligent. If you are a light weight then a 16lb bike is probably 10 % of your weight and is good but a 300 lb rider that is 5% of your weight and you ain't going to be climbing any significant hills...If you have a heavy friend then steer them away from anything plastic and toward Ti or Steel with a Steel fork.

And remember that most bikes and parts are designed for those 180lbs or less...sometimes much less. Just look at the equipment list of the Paris-Roubaix riders and who usually makes it to the end...How many Zipp wheels failed this year and look at the 32H box rims that were on the winning bikes.
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Old 05-05-08, 05:41 AM
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My biggest gripe about bike marketing. Stuff made for 140 lb pros ain't gonna hold up for a person 200lb. I rode with a guy one time who was debating whether to get an ultegra hub vs. a dura ace hub and his query centerd on the weight difference. I looked at all 215 lb of him and just laughed. Also, be aware that many of these super light pro bikes and components aren't engineered to last 10 years, they are lucky to get one season out of that stuff.
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Old 05-05-08, 05:55 AM
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I agree, look at the wheelset on the bike. There is no bleedin' way that bike was built for someone that heavy.

I hate frivolous lawsuits, but if he bought that bike in a shop, whoever sold him that bike has some liability issues to contend with.
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Old 05-05-08, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Kotts View Post

I hate frivolous lawsuits, but if he bought that bike in a shop, whoever sold him that bike has some liability issues to contend with.
Isn't that jumping to conclusion a bit? What if the guy comes and buys the bike despite the store recomending him something else, is the store supposed to deny him the purchase.... then he'll sue them for some discrimination or some crap like that. Bikes are sold online too so how the hell can a seller prevent a heavy rider from riding a light bike?

As for someone mentioning some 10% rule.... so for a 300lb rider there will be a 30lb bike? Doesn't that eliminate 99% of bikes these days?

All bike materials fail but it just seems that CF gets more attention.

Anyways, I feel sorry for the guy but a lawsuit isn't his answer.
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Old 05-05-08, 01:06 PM
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Notice the Polar speedo sensor? This guy probably bought the bike hoping it would motivate him to ride more, lose more weight and not have to upgrade his bike years later after all of that happened. You know, the ol' "I'll get better and eventually justify this light weight bike" mentality.
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Old 05-05-08, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by skiracing View Post
Isn't that jumping to conclusion a bit? What if the guy comes and buys the bike despite the store recomending him something else, is the store supposed to deny him the purchase.... then he'll sue them for some discrimination or some crap like that. Bikes are sold online too so how the hell can a seller prevent a heavy rider from riding a light bike?

As for someone mentioning some 10% rule.... so for a 300lb rider there will be a 30lb bike? Doesn't that eliminate 99% of bikes these days?

All bike materials fail but it just seems that CF gets more attention.

Anyways, I feel sorry for the guy but a lawsuit isn't his answer.
You make a good point, but you read a few things into what I said. (Given the brief way I wrote it, I can see how you could.)

First off, I'm not advocating a lawsuit, just noting that there might be a liability issue for the shop. I'm not saying the shop is culpable, just that someone might accuse them of culpability.

Sure, a customer might insist on being sold a bike that isn't suitable for them, but unless the shop makes them sign a waiver, they could still get sued. They could still be sued even with a waiver, but they'd have a solid defense.

Either way, the event could cost the shop money, which is, in the accounting sense, a liability issue.
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Old 05-05-08, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by pmseattle View Post
..The steerer had snapped off about 2" above the fork crown...
Anyone know why it failed there? It seems like a more common failure area would be in the area around the bearings. (Although I haven't seen any steerer tube failures to compare).
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Old 05-05-08, 02:36 PM
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I suspect that it mostly boils down to bike makers needing to put down a "maximum load" rating on their frames. Same way that cars and elevators and airplanes are specified.
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Old 05-05-08, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by wirehead View Post
I suspect that it mostly boils down to bike makers needing to put down a "maximum load" rating on their frames. Same way that cars and elevators and airplanes are specified.
And riders should start wearing this kind of helmet:

Again, feel sorry for the guy.... hopefully it looked worse than it actully was. I'm 140 lbs without being pro and I'm still a bit paranoid of my carbon steerer failing. It doesn't stop me from riding but these things always happen without a warning it seems...
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Old 05-05-08, 04:11 PM
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I wonder what actually caused the steerer to break. I don't think we have any information on that.

We also have no idea of where the cyclist bought the bike.

Interesting speculation about all of this though.
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Old 05-05-08, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Kotts View Post
You make a good point, but you read a few things into what I said. (Given the brief way I wrote it, I can see how you could.)

First off, I'm not advocating a lawsuit, just noting that there might be a liability issue for the shop. I'm not saying the shop is culpable, just that someone might accuse them of culpability.

Sure, a customer might insist on being sold a bike that isn't suitable for them, but unless the shop makes them sign a waiver, they could still get sued. They could still be sued even with a waiver, but they'd have a solid defense.

Either way, the event could cost the shop money, which is, in the accounting sense, a liability issue.
Ha! Talk about lawsuits. What do you think could happen if the store refused to sell him that bike because the clerk thought he's too heavy?
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Old 05-05-08, 04:39 PM
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Aren't some of you assuming "facts not in evidence" here? The OP said it was an older OCLV bike -- not all bikes are purchased from an LBS. Maybe the hapless rider just purchased it on Craigslist...
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Old 05-05-08, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Old School View Post
Aren't some of you assuming "facts not in evidence" here? The OP said it was an older OCLV bike -- not all bikes are purchased from an LBS. Maybe the hapless rider just purchased it on Craigslist...
I don't normally see sigs as I turn them off to reduce forum clutter, but yours was worth a read. Thanks for that.
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Old 05-05-08, 07:17 PM
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Apparently lots of heavier riders ride carbon forks: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=240207

Read the thread, many of them exceeding the recommended limits.

I can't think of a single shop that would see a rider that large and recommend such a light frame. My bet it was eBay/craigslist.
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Old 05-05-08, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
I wonder what actually caused the steerer to break. I don't think we have any information on that.

We also have no idea of where the cyclist bought the bike.

Interesting speculation about all of this though.
I was about 150' - 200' away when the guy went down so I didn't see the event too clearly. The first people who stopped to help were some roadies who were just passing him headed in the opposite direction. One of these told me the injured man hit a ripple in the pavement where a root was growing underneath and had pushed up the tarmac, the fork flew off, and down he went. There are a lot of places like that on the Burke, it can be extremely rough even though it is paved.
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Old 05-05-08, 07:49 PM
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228lbs and I kiss my steel forks good night each day.
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Old 05-05-08, 07:49 PM
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See if you can find the guy's contact info, I'll make him an offer on the remnants of the bike.
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Old 05-05-08, 07:57 PM
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I see that a lot of people in the 200-250 lb range are using CF forks without much of a problem, but apparently this guy was well over 300 pounds, which is at least 50% more weight on the bike. I think for this rider, the chance of failure was extremely high when compared to a "normal" heavy rider of around 200 pounds.
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Old 05-05-08, 08:15 PM
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THis is something i was xpecting to happen to somebody with too much weight... Wonder if the fat guy will ride a bicycle again, hope he does. Wonder who was the guy he got the bike from, that guy must be able sell rocks in mars for sure.

Anybody can imagine how that frame could have been twisting each time the guy was doing some manouver? Anybody can see the Varices in those wheels? I can do this comments, Im like 210 sorry

If this guy was the original owner, wonder if trek will RMA the frame or the fork. If it doesnt do it what trek will say??? "no we can't because the rider was too fat... our bike are for normal people, aren't meant to be riden by elephants!!! No RMA for you!!!"

Nites
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Old 05-05-08, 08:19 PM
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My question is...where do you get blue zip ties?
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Old 05-05-08, 08:38 PM
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Here...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BPUQVW

and here

http://www.crazypc.com/products/8820B.html
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Old 05-05-08, 08:43 PM
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I was really just kidding, but thanks anyway ;-)
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Old 05-05-08, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by ultraman6970 View Post
Wonder if the fat guy will ride a bicycle again, hope he does.
I hope he wasn't hurt too badly to keep him away. I also hope that he is thinking something like "if I am too big for a bike, I am not destined to be here too long," and decides to stick with the exercise program.

I often see people who are way too heavy to be on bikes, but I have to think "more power to you" for deciding to do something. The problem here was not getting the big guy on the bike, but getting him on a light bike. When the rider needs to lose that much weight, shaving ounces off the bike is just silly.
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Old 05-05-08, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by froggmann View Post
I was really just kidding, but thanks anyway ;-)
Thats why I answered the question
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