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

The most common safety risks that we come across in our daily work around bicycle safety, technology and operating instructions are also published by us in articles in the leading German special-interest magazines TOUR (Europe's road bike magazine no. 1), BIKE (Europe's mountain bike magazine no. 1), MYBIKE and EMTB in order to make this information, which is important for the industry, available to a wider public.

For many years now, the Eurobike Show Daily, trade fair magazine of the annual Eurobike Show, has also given us the opportunity to publish our view of major developments in the cycle industry in full-page articles.

We also speak regularly in independent expert presentations about all areas of bicycle technology and the bicycle market. In addition, we are quoted by further special-interest magazines of the industry and the trade as well as increasingly by radio and television in their media reports, which shows us that we are spot on with our advice. The section "News" informs you about the latest news from our specialist areas. The reports and publications of this section are listed chronologically or according to areas of interest.

Eurobike Show Daily 2023 - Day 3
Reading time 4:00 minutes

The number one cause for recalls

Dirk Zedler on: fork steerer tubes made of carbon

Light and ultralight road bikes, time trial bikes, cyclocross and gravel bikes usually have carbon steerer tubes. For 20 years, such steerers have been the number one cause for recalls in the cycling industry. Manufacturers, dealers and users are equally called upon to ensure their bikes are safe.

The biggest names in the cycling industry are always competing to achieve the best ergonomics, handling properties and, of course, the lowest weight. It comes as no surprise that carbon with its captivatingly good properties is the most sought-after material for lightweight builds. Early attempts to use the material for frames and forks during the late 1980s and early 1990s were often unsatisfying, making aluminium the most popular lightweight material for a number of years. In 2003 Scott pioneered the first large-scale production frame weighing less than 1,000 grams with its CR 1, and since then the carbon wave has been unstoppable.

Tremendous progress has been made with carbon as a bicycle material. Nowadays, no user of any well-established brand needs to be afraid of the once dreaded ‘sudden death’, i.e. abrupt and total failure of their frame. The rims of disc brake wheels, cranks, handlebars and seat posts have also become very reliable. Only steerer tubes keep causing problems.

What exacerbates the situation is that impending steerer tube failure often occurs on the inside, i.e. under the stem, spacers and headsets, invisible from the outside. We know from the many related recalls we were involved in over the years that riders do not notice the impending failure. The deterioration becomes apparent only once the handlebar including the stem comes off in the rider’s hands – a picture known from many a spectacular race-day photo. Unfortunately, with the handlebar detached from the fork, crashing is unavoidable.

Hidden defects with many potential causes

There are many reasons why this high-performance material is difficult to master when used for steerer tubes. The influencing factors include:

  • 1. The quality of the steerer tube
  • 2. The quality of the expander or compression plug
  • 3. The quality of the stem
  • 4. The installation conditions
  • 5. The quality of installation and maintenance

All this means that manufacturers have a hard time getting to grips with the problem. In cases where all components are left as they were in series production, the manufacturer is able to optimize points 1 to 4, leaving only installation and maintenance. This is where the trouble starts. Many tinker with bikes without the right tools (e.g. a good torque wrench) and useful aids, which in this case is a carbon-specific assembly paste to increase friction between the components.


Read the entire article here.

Foto: Zedler-Institut

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