Another bicycle show with still more loud and colourful innovations all around the bicycle. What gets the average cyclist out of it?
DIRK ZEDLER: The age of revolutions is over; the wheel is not reinvented every year. Today’s bicycles are very sophisticated, they have come of age in terms of adjustability, suitability for daily use, gear system, lighting and brakes. The “innovations” that have never been suitable for daily use from the beginning on die out, such as the full-suspension trekking bike.
If bicycles have experienced such a strong technical development, why would your office write more than 500 expert’s loss reports per year? Is it due to the number of accidents the bicycles are involved in or still to material deficiencies?
ZEDLER: Material defects only rank third when it comes to the cause of loss and are very seldom with current materials. Defective assembly or adjustment ranks first and is followed by wrong and non-matching combinations of components. Serious accidents not only happen in road traffic, but are also due to the failure of bearing components, such as stem or seat post, which often results in crashes and injuries.
What are cyclists doing wrong?
ZEDLER: Most mistakes happen when unprofessionals or unskilled mechanics tinker with the bike. Many of them tighten the bolts at handlebars and stem much too tight, which leads to a breaking of the bearing parts. Or they do not tighten the seat post bolt correctly. A consequential breakage also results in a crash. In the early 90ties, both aluminium and carbon materials were yet at an early stage of development; but the problems of these years have been overcome. Today, carbon has become much more good-natured; still you need expert knowledge for an appropriate assembly.
What must the average cyclist bear in mind when he buys a bicycle?
ZEDLER: First of all, You should look for a specialized cycle shop, as a good deal bicycle from a hypermarket is of rather poor quality. You should have the possibility to do a test ride on the bicycle you want to buy. The dealer should adjust the bicycle to the rider and measure the rider to choose the correct frame size for him.
How much do I have to spend?
ZEDLER: That depends on how often you ride. The gear and brake systems of plain and expensive bicycles are nearly identic. For 500 to 600 Euro you can buy already a good bicycle with hub dynamo, good lighting set and convenient fittings. If you are commuting by bike five days per week, you should plan to spend 800 to 1000 Euro. At this price you get components with a higher durability.
And once you have bought the bicycle?
ZEDLER: You should grease the chain every now and then and check the tyre pressure rather often. The correct pressure is marked on the tyre side, whereas the lower value is for light-weight cyclists and the higher value for heavier cyclists. That keeps the risk of a puncture rather low and enhances the riding performance. And, you should have the bicycle serviced in a specialized workshop once a year, the best period being the early winter months.
Earlier, you have talked about the bicycles that have come of age; another problem child is, however, the kid’s bike.
ZEDLER: To buy a super cheap bike for your child at the DIY store, is a very bad choice. Being low priced is the only advantage with these bikes. If the child falls off the bike, the parents do not notice that it was actually due to the bike: Instead they blame the child for falling off the bike. It is more recommendable to opt for a good bicycle from the second hand bicycle market of the German cycle association (ADFC) or to resell there the own high quality bicycle.
The trend goes towards the e-bike. Reasonable or not?
ZEDLER: It is reasonable to some extent with many unreasonable aspects on the other side. As there are some companies bustling in the e-bike boom that are exempt from any bicycle history and manufacture the most disastrous bicycles. Whoever is interested in buying an e-bike should opt for a renowned brand from the specialized retailer.
Info: The engineer Dirk Zedler has been working as a publicly sworn bicycle expert for 17 years and runs an office with 13 employees. Furthermore, Zedler is the author of technical articles for the cycle magazine "tour".
Author: Lorenz Koch