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.

TOUR 06/2021
Reading time 5.5 minutes

Cracking points

In two tough races in spring the fork steerer tube on the bike of EF pro Tom Van Asbroeck and shortly afterwards the handlebars of superstar Mathieu van der Poel broke. Coincidence? Or is carbon still a risky material after almost 30 years of development? The TOUR report reveals

The crack happened under the eyes of the public: During the spring race Le Samyn the handlebar drop of Mathieu van der Poel’s Canyon Aeroad broke. Miraculously, the cross world champion did not go down. But the missing handlebar piece and the loosely dangling shift brake lever reminded us that carbon involves certain risks. Even companies with a lot of technical expertise like Canyon are not invulnerable to damage to their products. The handlebar breakage presumably due to the interaction of the shift brake lever fixing to the carbon handlebar, is however an unusual incident. Forks break much more frequently.

This year for example during the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race. The Factor Ostro VAM’s fork of EF pro Tom Van Asbroeck failed above the head tube - luckily without severe fall. Bike manufacturer Factor analysed the damage and identified a defective steerer tube expander and improper mounting as cause. In 2019, the Swiss pro Simon Pellaud went down during the Tour du Doubs when the fork of his Bianchi Specialissima broke during the sprint. Pellaud fell, but was lucky and did not injure himself seriously. He wrote on Twitter that he would never forget the moment when he suddenly held the handlebars in his hands during pedalling, but that he made it across the finish line before he went down and was able to avoid the barriers. He also published the photo of his broken racer but deleted it soon. Copies of it are still available on the internet today.

Is this a random accumulation of problems with carbon components? Rather not. The number one problem area on road racing bikes is not the handlebar, but the steerer tube, says graduate engineer Dirk Zedler, who as a tester and expert witness has an overview of what happens when bikes break (see interview). Google also finds far more hits on broken forks than on broken handlebars. Zedler says: “Although the products have become safer all in all in recent years, it’s in particular the stem clamping on carbon fork steerer tubes that still involves risks.”

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Author: Robert Kühnen


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