The dark side of the boom: court and insurance cases

Higher prices, more complex technology: increase in court cases and insurance cases where bikes are involved. That's why more bicycle experts are needed.
On the face of it, there can be little doubt that the cycling industry has done some stellar work over the last few years. Intricate drive systems with powerful batteries are boosting sales of higher-priced e-bikes. Lots of progress has also been made in ergonomic design, safer braking, brighter lights and the transport of children and cargo.
In a related and welcome development, a new and well-heeled type of clientele is streaming into bike shops, meaning



all the pricey bicycles and e-bikes actually get ridden. On the flip side, all these factors also lead to higher caseloads for insurance companies and courts.

More expensive bicycles – increased volume of claims to settle

In Germany alone, there were around 84,000 incidents involving cyclists and cars in the year 2021, according to the Federal Statistical Office. The vast majority of these crashes had car drivers as the responsible party, which means the driver’s insurance has to pay for the damage. But how exactly is the insurer supposed to settle the claim? Can the bicycle or e-bike be expected to be repaired, or should it be filed as a total loss?
While bike dealers often issue quotes for repair jobs in such cases, there are many reasons why they cannot (and should not) provide expert opinions on the questions raised. Sometimes the insurance company cannot bring itself to trust the quote provided by the bike dealer. Thus begins, more often than not, a veritable odyssey for cyclists looking to have their damage compensated.
Some insurers try to solve this by partnering with fast-turnaround appraisers, but in our experience these often quote figures that are far too low to truly compensate for the damage incurred.
If no agreement with the insurance company is reached, going to court is the only avenue left for the claimant. Reaching a final verdict and finally settling the claim can easily take one or two years.

Accidents due to material failure? – A chicken-or-egg dilemma

While it is rare, some cases involve the cyclist are involved in serious crashes without influence from any other road user. Bike dealers and the police taking down the accident usually explain the cause as rider error, and broken handlebars are simply seen as a consequence of the crash itself.
But is this really what happened? Did the component have the strength required for its proper use? Were the components used on the bike actually compatible with each other? Were they installed correctly? Did they allow for sufficiently stable riding? Not only do the competent parties frequently fail to examine these important questions with the required know-how, they often do not ask them in the first place.

Defects on the bike, repair bottlenecks or buyer’s remorse?

Much more often than material failures leading to accidents, buyers lodge complaints about defects on their bikes. Some of the most frequent reasons for such complaints are noise coming from the bike or e-bike, inadequate battery range, disappointing torque delivered by the motor, insufficient gear shifting performance, accelerated wear, unsuitable frame sizes, and so on.

Many bike dealers are familiar with such complaints; it is all in a day’s work to them. But that does not mean that the problems can always be solved finally and to the satisfaction of dealer/manufacturer and customer. A low point during my work as an expert for the courts was complaints about noises coming from the drivetrain. An examination quickly revealed that the chain was simply not sufficiently lubricated. I came across this in not one but two separate court trials.
A few drops of oil could have prevented two months-long lawsuits and costs of several thousands of euros per case.

Well-founded investigation – genuine bicycle and e-bike experts needed

Germany alone has several hundred publicly appointed and sworn-in experts for motor vehicles. Their network covers the whole country so that the courts, attorneys and insurers can fall back on enough expertise to professionally clarify any questions arising around cars in any region of the country. This is the reason why judges have been able to decide many issues, with the outcomes having virtually binding effect for the industry as a whole. This is extremely helpful for trade and industry.

But how many certified bicycle experts are there in Germany? The answer is… ten.

That number is unacceptable and fails to reflect the importance of the bicycle with regard to its technology and its significance as a mode of transport and sport device.

As a result insurers and courts are too often forced to use experts with no relevant experience, who often end up causing more damage than good. Once an unqualified or incompetent “expert” opinion is out there, removing it can be a long and arduous, sometimes even futile, quest.

Opportunities and the way forward

All this means that we as an industry should not just focus on selling great products but also make sure our aftersales service game is on point. Which includes dealing with the dark side of our success. The technical know-how required to assess damages and faults exists in many places. The task now consists in training bicycle specialists and turning them into true experts.

The prerequisite for such training is a qualification as a master bicycle mechanic, technician, or a university degree in the field, as well as several years’ experience in the cycling industry.

Further education courses to become a recognised expert are offered, for instance by the Gesellschaft der Fahrrad-Sachverständigen (

Membership in an association such as the Bundesverband der Fahrrad-Sachverständigen e.V. in Germany ( where bicycle experts come together to exchange ideas, is also recommended.

Good bicycle experts are a cornerstone of a more professional cycling industry as a whole and help to turn the bicycle into a true and serious alternative for mobility over short and medium distances.

Photo: Zedler-Institut

Motor vehicle experts and field loss adjustors of insurers (two-day event)

© Zedler-Institut
After this “Basic” training course the participants will be able to evaluate information about the bicycle (e.g. model year and purchase price), to assess and calculate repair scopes and to determine the replacement value of bicycles in line with the market.
Experts and field loss adjustors of insurers will go into detail with measurement methods on bicycles / e-bikes in the test workshop. The agenda not only includes test runs with more than ten completely different bicycles but also a tour of the test laboratories.
Register now for the “Basic” training course on one of the following dates:
October 12 and 13, 2023
February 15 and 16, 2024
You find further information on our website.


Employees of the cycle industry (two-day event)

Tour of one of the test laboratories © Zedler-Institut
After this training course participants will be able to make a big step forward and a difference between a simple cost estimate and an expert's report. The course not only provides the terminology of loss settlement, but also the structure of a bicycle / e-bike expert's report including necessary documentation. The agenda not only includes how to take photographs of a bicycle, but also a tour of the test laboratories.
Register now for the “Basic” training course on one of the following dates:
September 28 and 29, 2023
January 22 and 23, 2024
February 5 and 6, 2024
You find further information on our website.


Office adjustors of insurers (one-day event)

© Zedler-Institut
After this training course participants of this “Basic” training will be able to use bicycle terms, to assess information about the bicycle (e.g. model year and purchase price), to verify cost estimates (e.g. scope, prices) and to check replacement values of bicycles and e-bikes for plausibility. Knowledge about the contents of a bicycle expert's report will also be imparted. Practical work in the test workshop is not provided.
Register now for the “Basic” training course on one of the following dates:
October 17, 2023
November 29, 2023
January 31, 2024
You find further information on our website.


“Advanced” training course expert's reports bicycle and e-bike

Practice in the test workshop / © Zedler-Institut
Electronics and carbon are daily business for experts in the cycle industry. What you need is, however, profound expertise. The “Advanced” training provides the background knowledge that is necessary to also make comprehensive loss assessments of bicycles and e-bikes with carbon components.
On the basis of the “Basic” training where all target groups are brought to the same level, there is no differentiation with regard to


the target groups within the “Advanced” training.

In the field of e-bikes, the participants will have gained an overview of the relevant systems on the market and the diagnostic options of the individual components from different manufacturers, after the training. Test routines to detect loss on relevant individual components are performed together.

The high-tech material “carbon” will be reviewed in detail, the material properties will not only be described, but also presented. Different test options will be shown and assessed from the technical and the expert point of view. Losses/damage are reviewed by using real examples from expert practice. There will be a live presentation of the crash test of a carbon frame.

This is to impart the knowledge on different loss mechanisms on bicycles in order to properly assess a claim in the two-day event.

Register now for the “Advanced” training course on one of the following dates:

November 6 and 7, 2023
November 23 and 24, 2023
February 26 and 27, 2024
March 14 and 15, 2024

You find further information on our website.

Taming the wobbly jelly

CST test / pannier rack stiffness Zedler-Institut

A lack of riding stability has been a recurring phenomenon since the mid-90s. Dwindling steel frames made of tubes losing more and more weight and carbon frames with insufficient fibre layups are only two reasons for that. Fortunately, in the case of sports bikes there has been reached an all in all high level.

With the batteries on the pannier racks e-bikes developed into the completely wrong direction. This seemed to be overcome, but




currently, simply cut open down tubes are also likely to minimise the riding safety. To hide the battery for a nice look, some manufacturers risk actually the health of their customers.

Basically, the solution is very simple: Even though there is no standard, test procedures have been established globally for more than 25 years. If you apply them to work on riding performance, the influences of the (test) riders remain unconsidered and the products gradually improve. Without ifs and buts.

You find more information on the options in our Performance portfolio.

Many Performance testing systems are also available for your team to be used on your own.


Photos: Zedler-Institut

Climate protection concepts on the international level

© Zedler-Institut

Sustainable mobility and climate protection are much discussed topics not only in Europe. In Ecuador, people are also working on projects in this field. For this reason, a delegation from the Ecuadorian city of Ambato, with which Ludwigsburg has a climate partnership, came to the twin city recently to




gather information and ideas for their own projects. The Department of Urban Development, Climate and International Affairs of the City of Ludwigsburg also arranged an appointment for the South Americans with the Zedler-Institut.

As a beacon company in the field of climate protection, founder and managing director Dirk Zedler welcomed the delegation led by the twin city’s Mayor, Dr. Javier Altamirano, and presented the Zedler-Group's sustainability and climate protection concept to the guests. The South American experts from the urban departments mobility and road traffic safety delved into the world of cycles and showed themselves impressed by the awarded climate positive company building, the lived philosophy of the company, the possibilities that cycling offers for mobility and the exhibits.

The findings gained were shared and exchanged with Swabian “local food”, i.e. pretzels, Maultaschen (stuffed pasta pockets) and braided yeast bun.

Mayor Altamirano, did not miss the opportunity to let Dirk Zedler know through the accompanying interpreter: “There should be more people like you”. An exuberant ¡Muchas gracias! and a warm South American embrace of the host by all the guests at the end underlined their thanks once again for the informative morning.

Photos: Zedler-Institut

Recertification accomplished

The award of the company building already, occupied in 2017, as a climate-positive building in use in 2020 was a milestone for the company. We are all the more proud of the fact that the recertification was successfully completed for the second time this year and that it is valid until February 2025.

The climate-positive award is given to buildings that




make a significantly positive contribution to climate protection through a negative annual CO2 balance.

The DGNB certificate “Platinum” for sustainably operated mixed uses was also renewed and remains valid until February 2025. On this occasion, an overall level of compliance of 89.3 % was confirmed once again with top scores.


Photos: Zedler-Institut