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Did wreck cause problem or did problem cause wreck?

Old 11-18-20, 06:06 PM
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prime winner
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Did wreck cause problem or did problem cause wreck?

I bought my new 2021 Trek Verve 2 in the middle of October, had it about a month now. On Nov 1st I wrecked and needed 8 stitches just below my right knee, and also had several minor spots of road rash. When it happened, and since then, my thought was that I turned right into a parking lot, was going too fast and wiped out on some wet soil/debris. It was not raining but had been several hours prior. There was no standing water. When I got up I picked up my bike and my handle bars were turned one way and my front tire the opposite way. I straightened it together mostly, and then I put my chain back on. I then rode home, was just under 4 miles, and I do not recall hearing anything that sounded like damage from the wreck. After I got home I only noticed my right pedal is scuffed up, my right ergon 5 bar end is really scuffed up, and the left bar end a little scuffed up. No other apparent damage to the bike. The tires were not the stock bontrager tires, I replaced trem with new continental speed ride tires.

So today, 18 days after the wreck, I go to the bike to see if the handlebars are aligned because I remembered them being just a tad off on the ride home. They were a little off so I put one hand on my seat and the other hand on a handlebar grip, and was able to turn the handlebars without much effort. They were not loose, but I didn't have to put much effort in to it.

So, is it more likely that the wreck caused the handlebars and fork to be turned without much effort, or is it more likely that the handlebar and fork were not properly tightened and that's what caused me to wreck? Again, my first thought was fast I was going too fast (maybe 9-10 mph?) and wiped out on wet soil/debris.
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Old 11-18-20, 06:14 PM
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Russ Roth
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Without seeing the bike this would be hard to gauge but the fact that you could stand up and turn the bars with little effort would lead credence to the idea that the bars turning caused the problem, spin a wheel in your hands and then try to turn it back and forth like a fork would, there's actually a good deal of force needed to overcome the spin of the wheel and make it turn, of course the faster you're going the more force needed. So it is very possible that the handlebars sent you down; quill stems can loosen up in time which is why they should be checked annually but should be fine for years if done right, threadless stems I've never seen work themselves loose though I could see where if not properly installed right from the beginning they could loosed up. But in both cases the process of loosening is not measured in months with a proper assembly, its years if at all.
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Old 11-18-20, 06:15 PM
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It's very common for properly tightened bars to move in a crash, even at low speeds.
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Old 11-18-20, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by prime winner View Post
So today, 18 days after the wreck, I go to the bike to see if the handlebars are aligned because I remembered them being just a tad off on the ride home. They were a little off so I put one hand on my seat and the other hand on a handlebar grip, and was able to turn the handlebars without much effort. They were not loose, but I didn't have to put much effort in to it..
Sounds like the stem bolts are not torqued to spec, check before your next ride. Also check for stem/faceplate cracks and see if the bolts have treadlock applied.
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Old 11-18-20, 08:10 PM
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prime winner
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Thanks for the input everyone.

Originally Posted by SpeedRanger View Post
Sounds like the stem bolts are not torqued to spec, check before your next ride. Also check for stem/faceplate cracks and see if the bolts have treadlock applied.
I will definitely get it checked out before riding it again. I'm still a few weeks from being physically ready up ride and plan to take it back to the shop I bought it from so they can look it over.
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Old 11-18-20, 08:19 PM
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Crash sounds like user error, but it's happened to most of us.

If you aren't comfortable doing it, take the bike to the dealer for a check-up. I'm sure they'll be happy to do it, perhaps while you wait, since you bought the bike from them. They can ensure that the stem bolts are torqued to spec.
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Old 11-18-20, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by SpeedRanger View Post
Sounds like the stem bolts are not torqued to spec, check before your next ride. Also check for stem/faceplate cracks and see if the bolts have treadlock applied.
It was in a crash and should be replaced. That shouldn't even be a question. You don't necessarily see damage.

obviously inspect frame and fork as well. but it sounds like the handlebar got hit hard enough to move the stem on steerer.
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Old 11-18-20, 09:52 PM
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Is that a quill stem, looks like it. It could have been not tight enough. These things are assumed to be needing adjustment and tightening before riding when new. That straight bar would put a lot of sideways force if it hit square on the road. Unlikely it caused the crash.
I doubt the bike is compromised much, maybe the stem, but get it looked at. I wacked mine a few times like that, on a similar Alu bike.
Never lean on a slippery surface.

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Old 11-18-20, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
It was in a crash and should be replaced. That shouldn't even be a question. You don't necessarily see damage.


obviously inspect frame and fork as well. but it sounds like the handlebar got hit hard enough to move the stem on steerer.

Yes, the dealer most likely will replace the the stem and possibly the handlebars, it's likely mentioned (crash inspection) in the user manual.

Personally I check for obvious signs of damage, if none found I move on, but that's me. Yes, the OP should have the dealer check it out.

Also, I think the Trek Verve uses a adjustable quill stem, so get it checked.
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Old 11-18-20, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by SpeedRanger View Post
Sounds like the stem bolts are not torqued to spec, check before your next ride. Also check for stem/faceplate cracks and see if the bolts have treadlock applied.
You don't want or need loctite on those fasteners, you want grease.
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Old 11-19-20, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
It was in a crash and should be replaced. That shouldn't even be a question. You don't necessarily see damage.

obviously inspect frame and fork as well. but it sounds like the handlebar got hit hard enough to move the stem on steerer.
Huh? I have never even heard of a stem being damaged in such a crash.

Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
You don't want or need loctite on those fasteners, you want grease.
Truth.
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Old 11-19-20, 07:33 AM
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I wrecked a mtn.bike some years ago. It had a quill stem. When I finally got myself together and got up, the handlebar was pointed in the same direction as the top tube. I know for certain that the stem and all was tightened correctly. Think it would be more unlikely to happen with a threadless stem, but can see it happening with a quill.
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Old 11-19-20, 07:41 AM
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It is easy to misjudge the amount of torque needed, without a torque wrench, to properly torque a single stem bolt on a quill stem. Just my experience as a Clyde and having my dropbars rotate forward when under heavy force.
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Old 11-19-20, 08:03 AM
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I have crashed for too often on bikes with threaded and others with threadless headsets.

The bars can and will twist relative to the fork even if tightened properly because of leverage---all the speed and all the weight hits the bar end, which is a lever multiplying force.

However .... I learned long ago that before getting on a bike, you should do a "shake and bounce" test. I almost never get on a bike---even the one I rode yesterday and know is fine--without shaking it to listen for rattles, shaking and bounding the whole bike and both ends just a little, and checking the brakes and the bars a little---I once had a a set of drop bars completely rotate when I hit a really hard bump---I had hundreds of miles on the bike and I was mystified as to how it could happen, but it nearly made me wreck. So, shake and bounce, pull and tug a little.

Also, I assume that after I change or adjust Anything that it might loosen up a little after a good ride. I cannot explain the physics but I have seen the reality. Because of this after any work on my bike, I check for loose bolts after the first good ride (a spin around the block to "test" doesn't count.)

This is no joke. I have ruined a new crank arm because I tightened it perfectly when I installed it and it loosened up and rounded a little halfway through a long ride. I have also saved a crank by stopping halfway through the next ride to check---and tighten---the brand new replacement crank which had been tightened correctly but then came loose.

I have also found a loose headset doing a bounce check. Never before or since have I seen a headset loosen, but this one did, and there are so many ways for a loose headset damage a bike ... including ovalizing the head tube .... which makes the whole frame unusable ....

No way to tell if the stem was a little loose or you skidded .... having skidded on a wet leaf, I know how ridiculous it seems and how ridiculously easy it is, and how ridiculous I feel lying there saying , "Uhhhh .... I hit a leaf."

On the other hand, "why" is not the real issue here. What you differently in the future is what matters.

Check stuff,. It takes about a minute or even less for a quickie and it keeps you off the pavement or out of the LBS.
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Old 11-19-20, 08:25 AM
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I highly doubt that was the cause for your crash. If the handlebars would have rotated before the crash, you must probably would've noticed it before going down. Usually there is not a great amount of leverage applied to the handlebars when leaning into a turn - the frame/fork geometry takes care of turning the front wheel, and you just control the degree of the turn.

Having a loose stem while riding has happened to me a couple of times, fortunately at slow speeds. It didn't cause me to wipe out, the bike just went straight when I wanted it to turn.

It's also plausible that the stem can be rotated more easily after being forcefully rotated when being tightened, as the contact surface becomes stripped thus the friction between parts is diminished.
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Old 11-19-20, 09:00 AM
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I don't think I have ever replaced a stem or handlebar due to a wreck. Tape, for sure.
Without further details, I'm going to speculate that there is a lip at the interface between the sidewalk and the road and the OP took it at too oblique of an angle. Below a 60 degree angle, it's very common to wreck.
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Old 11-19-20, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Without further details, I'm going to speculate that there is a lip at the interface between the sidewalk and the road and the OP took it at too oblique of an angle. Below a 60 degree angle, it's very common to wreck.
Last way I wrecked .... the lip was invisible even in brad daylight, and I was riding at night .... tried to pull into a driveway to let a long string of traffic pass, and instead took a hard fall.

Tweaked my bars but just a degree or two. Chewed up a lot of skin but no stitches.
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Old 11-19-20, 09:16 AM
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Everyone has to find their own comfort level regarding proactively replacing a crashed handlebar. A shop sure would advise replacement, just for liability reasons.

For MTB, it is recommended to replace bars and stems every few years due to the (invisible) wear due to hard riding. Is it necessary? Not sure, but I like my teeth.

I see people riding with bent handlebars, apparently they have a different level of comfort than I. but I also use seatbelts in a car and wear a helmet on the bike. which really is stupid, because 99.99999999999% of the time they are useless, they are only needed the short moment of a crash.
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Old 11-19-20, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
You don't want or need loctite on those fasteners, you want grease.
I agree with greasing the stem binder bolt threads, but why no Loctite on faceplate bolts? I use Loctite purple, sometimes blue, on these bolts without any break and prevail issues during disassembly.
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Old 11-19-20, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by SpeedRanger View Post
I agree with greasing the stem binder bolt threads, but why no Loctite on faceplate bolts? I use Loctite purple, sometimes blue, on these bolts without any break and prevail issues during disassembly.
If those bolts are properly torqued, they will not back out while riding.

People seem to be missing a key point: the fact that the stem shifted during the crash is a good thing, as it helped dissipate force and hence helped prevent something (handlebar or stem or steerer tube) from breaking. (But to be clear: It would be very unusual for any of those things to break in a crash like this.)

Last edited by Koyote; 11-19-20 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 11-19-20, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
I also ... wear a helmet on the bike. which really is stupid, because 99.99999999999% of the time they are useless, they are only needed the short moment of a crash.
That's not even one crash on the whole planet every 1,000 years! I'm selling my helmet tomorrow ...
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Old 11-25-20, 03:39 PM
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Just wanted to give an update.......
Dropped the bike off Saturday 11/21 and explained the accident and that the bike was bought from them a little over a month ago. The associate that I talked to said that they could do their lowest level service package on it, roughly $80, then said hold on let him check with his boss to see if the check up could be done as part of the first year maintenance, boss said yes . I told the associate I was going out of town and in no rush since I wasn't physically ready to ride anyway. I got a text this morning, 11/25, stating the bike was ready. When I got back to town I picked the bike up and was pleasantly surprised. The technician that serviced my bike went over what he checked and what he did. Tightened the stem, adjusted the brakes, spot true'd front and back, and even washed it! All at no cost to me. I really do have an awesome LBS. I gave the guy a 20 and went home extremely happy and eager to ride again (safely).
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Old 11-25-20, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
It's very common for properly tightened bars to move in a crash, even at low speeds.
There is a point of view that parts can be tight enough to stay put in normal use, but loose enough to move in a crash to prevent damage. I don't know about stems, but I had some expensive brake levers that came with instructions to not tighten beyond the specified torque for this reason.
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