All about bicycles, electric-assisted bikes, technology and safety in the press

In our daily work as we deal with bicycle safety, technology and user manuals we come across lots of safety risks. The most frequent ones are published in articles of the leading German special-interest magazines TOUR – Europas Rennrad-Magazin Nr. 1, BIKE – Das Mountainbike Magazin Europas Nr. 1 and E-Bike – Das Pedelec-Magazin to make this information important for the sector accessible to a wider public.

For many years now the Eurobike Show Daily accompanying the annual international Eurobike Show has given us the opportunity to publish our perspective on major developments in the cycle industry in full-page articles.

We also speak regularly in independent lectures about all topics relating to bicycle technology and bicycle market. In addition, we are regularly cited by further special-interest magazines or trade journals as well as more and more by radio and television and in their media reports, which shows us that we are completely right with our information. The section NEWS informs you about the latest news from our specialist fields. The reports and publications of this section are listed chronologically or according to topics of interest.

SAZbike 22/2014

Bicycle developers set the course for the future in Munich

During the 5th International Bike Development Conference in Munich there was once again discussion about making development targets transparent. In view of this objective, about 50 participants from the bicycle sector responded to the invitation of the organizers of Munich Expo. The lectures focussed on the topics engineering, operational strength, e-bike and ergonomics. On these occasions new interesting development approaches were presented and discussed which may possibly influence, if not determine the bicycle market in future.

Pedelec riders feel anxious

The demands of cyclists on their product differ a lot, indeed. This is something the developers of Magura had to state, as confirmed by Christoph Kern. In his lecture the Magura developer referred to various fringe conditions in the case of disc brakes. In this connection the brake inventors have to consider again and again that their products are mounted on various bicycles and are used by various rider types on different surfaces. "A brake must meet different requirements and function in all cases. The fringe conditions are versatile, but the most important thing is the safety of the user", Kern adds for consideration. Therefore, brakes should be adjusted to the respective vehicle classes, have an easy-to-understand assembly and maintenance and stand for quality by standardization.

Especially in the case of e-bikes, the brakes will play a decisive role. Due to higher speeds and mountains, the loads will increase and the requirements on the brakes will increase. Moreover, pedelec riders use their vehicles more frequently and sometimes also with more luggage. This makes reliable products inevitable. “For the design it is obligatory to build frames and brakes on which people feel safe on the pedelec”, therefore demands Dirk Zedler. In the opinion of the expert the riding stability must be improved, in addition: "In parts, pedelecs have such a poor riding behaviour that you become scared on them." Zedler is convinced that other vehicles (e.g. cars) with such kind of inacceptable safety level would have long since been removed from the market.

Less development of the trekking bike

Especially the wobbling of some bicycles which is often criticized in the media is a thorn in the side of the Swabian tester. In his opinion the reason for the defective quality lies already in the development of the bicycles. Many e-bike frames are designed on the basis of the geometry of trekking bikes.

However, this type of bicycles has experienced an only inferior technological progress in the past years, because many developers had focussed on sports bicycles. Now there was the problem that the loads on e-bikes could not be transferred one to one on trekking bikes and would therefore require new innovation in this field. "Often the behaviour of a pedelec differs from what the rider is used from a normal bicycle", says Zedler.

To ensure the necessary riding stability, e-bike riders therefore need steering precision by wider handlebars as well as rigid forks, frames and wheels. In addition, Zedler argues in favour of more tracking stability which is achieved by high gyroscopic force, long overtravelling and balanced weight distribution "The rider’s centre of gravity must be not only on the rear wheel", the expert therefore requests. The weight should also be placed on the front wheel, as the wheel can hereby be balanced out much better and will not slip in a bend. "Most accidents happen, because riders do not know how to cope with the riding behaviour and react wrongly", underlines Zedler. He adds, however, that not every unrest of the frame would lead to a fall and that riding stability could also be achieved with critical designs. To make the rider fit for that, a riding training can be useful.

Hands off second-hand bicycles?

The objective of the entire e-bike and bicycle development must be the provision of riding fun, user friendliness and safety. "For a successful product all three points need to be tested", requests Zedler. Especially due to the e-bikes the attention of more and more authorities will be drawn on the bicycle sector in future. They will see to it that legal regulations, such as the product liability and the product safety law will be observed. Dealers will also be concerned by the legislation. For example, a dealer turns into a manufacturer by putting his name/brand on the frame. He must subsequently assume all legal requirements of a manufacturer. The same applies when the dealer sells second-hand bicycles.

"If I were a dealer and knew the legal text, I would never sell second-hand bicycles", Zedler adds for consideration. According to Zedler, the judgement of the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court will have consequences (see SAZbike of 2014/10/13), especially on the user manuals. "We have to implement now what the law requires. We have to learn to categorise and to provide accurate definitions. We have to solve this alltogether. We no longer produce fun articles, but we provide mobility", the expert urges the participants. Serious testing therefore comes first. This costs a lot of money at the beginning, is however less expensive than winding up a recall. "We will experience that authorities order recalls. Authorities may also close down companies", warns Zedler, who still makes out black sheep in the sector.

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Author: Thomas Geisler  

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