Bicycle Engineering Expert Opines on Brake Failure Leading to Crash


Bicycle EngineeringThis cycling case involves a bicycle accident that occurred due to an alleged defect in the bike’s braking system. On the day of the incident in question, the Plaintiff purchased a new bike from a major retail outlet. When the bike was first purchased, the Plaintiff verified that its brakes were in working order. Later that same day, the Plaintiff took the bike out to a local park for a ride. While traveling along one of the bike trails in the park at speed, the Plaintiff came upon a tree limb that had fallen in the middle of the path. The Plaintiff attempted to brake, however the brake mechanism did not respond, and the Plaintiff struck the branch and crashed. As a result of the accident, the Plaintiff suffered a number of broken bones, as well as a severe concussion.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have extensive experience as a bicycle engineer?
  • 2. Please explain your experience running diagnostic testing on bicycles- specifically brake systems?

Expert Witness Response E-007223

Expert-ID: E-007223

Over the course of my career in the cycling industry, I have assembled and serviced thousands of bicycles and worked in the design of bikes. In the world of specialty/independent retail bicycle shops, all bikes go through an extensive initial build by an experienced mechanic and then, at the time of purchase, are once again checked out prior to delivery to the customer. At mass retailers, much is left up to the customer to verify the bike’s quality of assembly, because the customer can pick the bike off the rack and simply walk up to the cash register without discussing the purchase with a sales associate. I have serviced hundreds of bikes purchased from mass retailers, because the customers were concerned and wanted it checked out by a trained mechanic. In my experience, the fault generally lies with the assembly vs the quality of the bicycle parts. All bicycles, whether $100 or $10,000 go through rigorous quality control checks before ever leaving the factory.

Expert Witness Response E-008625

Expert-ID: E-008625

I have more than 15 years of experience in bicycle accident reconstruction and have conducted brake performance testing on numerous cases. In addition to my work as a consultant and accident reconstructionist, I have 30+ years of cycling experience that includes racing, touring, commuting and recreational riding. I am a member of the American Society of Testing and Materials committee on bicycles which writes standards for bicycles and their components and am a bicycle safety instructor through the League of American Bicyclist. There are several reasons for break failure, however the fact that it occurred so shortly after the bike was first purchased indicates to me that there was some fundamental issue with the way the breaks on this bike were manufactured or installed.

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