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In this document our bicycle expert, Luke Elrath, highlights several of the bicycle components that we commonly find have been improperly installed, leading to injury; included in this list are the seat and seatpost, brakes, pedals, handlebars, and wheels.

Common Issues in Bicycle Assembly

Training, education, and experience are the bases on which the legal industry establishes an expert, this concept is grounded in logic and is applicable to all industries, including bicycle assembly. It is logical to conclude that someone with the proper training, education, and experience can better assemble a bicycle than someone who lacks that experience. This logic is reinforced time and time again through the experience of our casework.

More than 70% of all bicycles purchased in the US are sold through mass market retailers rather than dedicated bike shops. The issue that we commonly encounter in our casework with bicycles purchased at mass market retailers is a failure due to improper assembly. The items highlighted below are the components of the bicycle that we commonly find have been improperly installed, often leading to severe injury.


When investigating a case involving a claim of improper assembly, it is important to check the following:

  • How long was the bicycle ridden between the time of purchase and the incident?
  • Did the bicycle buyer consult any employee about the bicycle at the time of purchase?
  • Was the bicycle assembled by a store employee or an independent contractor?
  • What qualifications and certifications are held by the person assembling the bicycle?
  • Who supervises the bicycle department employees at the retailer and what are their qualifications?
  • If built by an employee, what training documents are used?
  • Are the tools used for assembly supplied by the employer? If so, is there a list of these tools?

Interesting facts about the US Bicycle Market:

  • Average selling price for a mass market bicycle is $78. Quality control is essential at this level to ensure robust construction.
  • Due to the price pressures and low profit margins, cost savings efforts in materials, manufacturing techniques, and assembly time may compromise rider safety.
  • The number of certified bicycle mechanics assembling bikes at independent bicycle dealers is much higher than certified mechanics at mass market retailers.
  • Some mass market retailers hire assembly contractors to build bicycles. Often these contractors are paid by the piece; incentivizing haste and compromising assembly quality.

FORENSIC BICYCLE INVESTIGATIONS

Among our bicycle experts you will find professionals who worked for some of the most recognizable bicycle brands in the world, engineers who have designed and constructed roads and bicycle trails, and passionate cyclists who use their bicycles for commuting, training, and competitive racing.

For more information visit our Bicycle practice page.

 

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. In addition to assembling bikes as a product manager, he also learned to design and build his own frames. He is a licensed League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor. He is licensed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association as a tour guide and skills instructor. Luke’s casework includes all matters related to bicycles including bicycle failures, improper bicycle assembly, rider actions and event organization.