Case Description

A cyclist was involved in a solo bicycle accident after riding several blocks from a bike shop where he had just had the bicycle repaired. The cyclist testified that the front wheel separated from the fork as he was pedaling along, causing him to crash. The cyclist further testified that he did not hit anything in the road and/or encounter rough road, such as a pothole. The cyclist brought the bicycle into the shop to have a front fender and rear rack installed, and he alleges that the mechanic failed to properly reinstall the front wheel after removing it to install the front fender. Immediately after the accident, the cyclist brought the bicycle back to the bike shop to have it repaired.

Steps Taken:

ARCCA’s expert conducted a comprehensive accident investigation that entailed:
• Reviewing the deposition testimony of the cyclist and bike shop mechanic;
• Reviewing a photograph of the subject bike at the accident scene taken by the cyclist;
• Conducting a forensic inspection of the subject bicycle;
• Assessing the cyclist’s description of his incident with the laws of physics; and
• Documenting the front fender installation procedures.

Final Findings:

ARCCA’s investigation demonstrated that it was not necessary to remove the front wheel to install the fender provided that the quick-release lever did not cover the front fork eyelet for the fender stays. The bike inspection demonstrated an absence of forensic evidence, such as abrasion marks on the bottom of the fork dropouts that would be consistent with the fork’s interaction with the road. The bike inspection also showed that the bike mechanic had used lock-tight on the bolts for the rear rack. Examination of the scene photograph revealed that both fender stays detached from the fork, the front fender (including stays) did not exhibit any evidence of a crash, and the front wheel was lodged between the inner chain ring and bottom bracket.

ARCCA’s investigation also determined that bolts attaching the fender stays to the fork drop-outs could not have worked loose in such a short distance, especially given that there was evidence that the mechanic used lock-tight on them. Additionally, if in fact the front wheel separated, the front wheel would more than likely have caused damage to the front fender, including the fender stays. The assessment of the cyclist’s description revealed that it was not consistent with the laws of physics.

ARCCA’s expert concluded that there was no liability on the part of the bicycle shop and that the cyclist staged the accident.