Bike manufacturers follow the adage that a bike must have at least two of the following characteristics: being lightweight, durable or cheap. Plaintiffs have claimed that carbon-fiber bikes are lightweight and cheap but not durable. Some of these bicycles may cause catastrophic injuries.
Carbon fiber became widespread in the bicycle industry in the mid-2000s and was used in all types of bicycles from commuter to mountain bikes. Front forks, handle bars and other components built from this material sell for $100. Entire bicycles may cost less than $2,000.
Experts agree that all materials fail. Faulty aluminum, steel and solid titanium have caused accidents. But, cracks and dents in most substances are visible.
Carbon fiber that is manufactured well is quite sturdy and safe. Fissures in defective carbon fiber, however, are hidden beneath paint. Unlike other materials which buckle or bend, carbon fiber can break easily and shatter into pieces.
When this substance fails, it fails in a spectacular manner. These failures have caused bike riders to fly off their bicycles onto a road or trail.
There were several recalls concerning carbon fiber bikes. Concerns are also growing over the wear and tear suffered by older models or bicycles that were poorly maintained.
Now, several mechanics use a white glove test involving wiping carbon-fiber parts with a cotton glove. A snag in the glove while wiping the material indicates that it is damaged.
Manufacturers of these bicycles created multiple business layers, including overseas entities, to fight liability. However, an Illinois appellate court ruled that a bicyclist could sue the Taiwanese bike manufacturer and an American-based company in charge of its retailers.
That plaintiff's bike shattered after its front fork broke in half even though it did not strike an obstacle or pothole. She crashed helmet-first into the pavement and suffered a fractured spine, a concussion and tore ligaments in her left thumb. She claimed that a manufacturing defect in the bicycle fork's carbon fiber.
The court's opinion may encourage other lawsuits as failures and accidents are rising. An attorney can help plaintiffs in Ohio seek compensation for medical expenses and other losses caused by defective products.