Article

This article, by bicycle expert, Luke Elrath, introduces many of the safety features that are required on modern bicycles. It also discusses safe assembly standards for bicycle retailers.

Bicycle Safety Features

The illustration below calls out common concerns for proper bicycle assembly. Bicycles can be purchased from Independent Bicycle Dealers (IBDs) or from mass market retailers (big box stores). Both types of retailers have the same responsibilities regarding the safety of the product, but often have differing standards for the employees doing the assembly. The experts at Robson Forensic commonly investigate serious bicycle crash related injuries caused by improper assembly including brake failure, drive train failure and insufficient connecting hardware torque. If you seek an expert in the design, assembly, maintenance and repair of bicycles please contact Bicycle Expert, Luke Elrath, to discuss your case and how we can help.

  • Seat post must have a permanent mark showing the minimum depth that the post must be inserted into the frame.
  • A red rear reflector is required that is mounted such that it does not hit the ground when the bicycle falls over.
  • Bicycles must have front and rear brakes, or rear brakes only. A bicycle with hand brakes only must stop a 150 lb rider moving at 15mph in 15’.
  • A colorless or red rear reflector is required in the rear wheel spokes
  • Bicycles with a single front and a single rear sprocket must have a chain guard over the top of the chain and at least 90% of the part of the front sprocket that the chain contacts. It must also extend back to within at least 3.2” of the center of the bicycle’s rear axle.
  • Recessed colorless or amber reflectors are required on the front and back of the pedals.
  • A colorless or amber front reflector is required in the front wheel spokes.
  • A colorless front reflector is required that is mounted such that it does not hit the ground when the bicycle falls over.
  • The handlebar stem must have a permanent mark showing the minimum depth that the stem must be inserted into the fork.

Other standards not shown in this illustration include: 1) When the hand lever is pushed down with 10 pounds or more applied 1” from the end of the lever, the brake pads must contact the braking surface of the wheel. 2) The ends of the handlebars must be capped or covered. 3) When the handlebar/stem assembly is twisted with a torque of 35 ft-lb, it must not move or show any signs of damage. 4) A bicycle must be able to tilt 25 degrees to either side with the pedals in their lowest position without the pedal or any other part of the bicycle (other than the tires) hitting the ground.

 

Featured Expert

J. Lucas Elrath

Luke has worked as a product manager for large and small bicycle manufacturers, raced competitively on the road and on the trails, and has worked as a metropolitan bicycle courier. While working at Trek, Luke commuted by bicycle more than 20 miles each way and he regularly engages in recreational rides longer than 100 miles. Luke’s casework includes all matters related to bicycles, including bicycle design, maintenance and construction, rider actions, and event organization.