BIKE 02/2019

“Anyone who imports frames from Asia becomes manufacturer”

BIKE: What means the breakage of the test frames?

Dirk Zedler: This confirms our experience that manufacturers of major brands basically focus more on this field. The development from 2005 until today mainly brought about an improvement of the impact resistance and the overload capacities. The manufacturers not only focussed on producing as light as possible, but on making the bikes more robust and more impact resistant in view of making them better absorbing the impacts. Because cracks caused a lot of stress in former days. Therefore the improved impact resistance not only serves to protect the cyclist, but also the manufacturer. If a good, current model year frame of a reputable manufacturer cracks, they know that this cannot have happened during riding, but that the frame must have been involved in a real accident.

What means an impact energy of 80 joules and what causes this kind of load?
This is a common impact that may occur during any ride following a riding error when bumping into a root or tree stump causing maybe a flat tyre or a run-out of the front wheel. These are also common previous damages that are not apparent on carbon frames whereas aluminium frames may show already minor deformations. We therefore make the impact test prior to the fatigue test, as such kind of impacts are foreseeable misuse that should not render the frames unsafe as a consequence of such misuse.

How often do frames fail under 50 joules of impact energy?
Fortunately in the test lab they hardly fail any more. The manufacturers that have their products tested in our lab go far beyond. The 80 joules are therefore to be regarded as initial hurdle.

Are there any experiences with no-name brands from China?
No. But there are resellers (tendency decreasing) that order a container from China and have the products tested by us before putting them on the market. In these cases failures actually occur more often. And in this point we see the differences with regard to the real brands providing quality control with which we have been cooperating quite long already. They are on a much higher level.

Is there experience from the end consumer side with direct imports?
Not directly. It has been ascertained in our loss adjusting division however that such products are reported stolen more often. We notice in particular counterfeit products which are then no longer available for inspection.

What about product liability in the case of direct imports?
Looks bad. Anyone who imports goods into the EU is considered manufacturer, even if he wants to be end consumer only. He thus assumes full responsibility.

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