Biker sues Specialized, LBS over cracked rim injury

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Biker sues Specialized, LBS over cracked rim injury

Viewing 14 reply threads
  • Author
    • #267380

      The rider was seriously injured during a race when his wheel failed.

      The suit says the front rim of the wheel split more than an inch and the tire was bound around the fork of the bike.

      He’s only suing for $200K, which is definitely a lot of money, but my guess is medical expenses will eat most of that.

      What do you guys think: Is it fair to sue the manufacturer and the LBS? The lawsuit alludes to some kind of design flaw with the wheel set so I’m curious to know if others have experience with these wheels…

    • #267421

      Yikes!!…poor guy.  This is a tough one. He had the wheels for six months, so lord knows what he did with/to them in that time. And MTB racing is an inherently risky activity. Unless they can show Specialized and the LBS knew of some design defect and failed to inform folks my inclination is to shrug and say “that’s life.” – But we Americans sure do love to sue one another.

      That said, I am running home and checking my Roval wheelset with a magnifying glass tonight. :- O

    • #267426

      And MTB racing is an inherently risky activity.

      Yes, but that statement shouldn’t apply in this case. It shouldn’t be risky because the parts you bought catastrophically fail during their intended use.

      I don’t think the LBS should be brought into the case. Likely they were not trying to kill their customers – I’m sure they had confidence in the wheelset they sold.

    • #267431

      Yeah, seems strange to sue the bike shop. Like they were in on a conspiracy with Specialized to sell a wheel they all knew was poorly designed…

    • #267436

      If the rim was defective or under-built for its intend purpose or engineered incorrectly then Specialized/Roval need to pay for the guys medical bills.   Doesn’t seem like the LBS should be held responsible unless they put  XC wheels on an Enduro bike or sold XC wheels to a 300 pound guy or something like that.

      When aluminum rims fail, they bend.  When carbon fiber rims fail, they break catastrophically.  It’s the way carbon fiber is—very strong and stiff until it’s not.

      However, if the rider picked a bad line and biffed, that’s on him.  I’ve picked some bad lines and crashed and bent rims.  I certainly didn’t blame the bike manufacturer.  Mountain biking is a risky sport.  That’s why I love it!

      As for the rider, he needs to get back on that horse as soon as he heals up.  Maybe with a stronger set of rims!

    • #267505

      Carbon fiber wheels? No thanks.

    • #267509

      This one really depends on the specifics of the case. According to the article the shop said it would be GTG for his intended usage; but as we all know, “any machine can be a smoke machine if you use it wrong enough…”which is kind of part of the game and this is another example of people wanting to play but not pay the price when things go wrong. On the other hand, if the article omitted (for possible defamation reasons) an allegation of some manufacturing flaw in the wheel (ie. and undetected void, an irregularity in the layup, etc.) there could be a case.

    • #267510

      What strikes me is this this guy has been racing for a while. It would seem he may have some idea on his own what kind of wheels he would want or would best suit his purpose. The LBS should be knowledgeable so as long as their recommendation was appropriate I don’t understand their liability in this case.

      The rider does seem very reasonable in his suit. The amount here probably will mostly be eaten up by medical costs but there may be some left over for counseling and a new bike and gear.

      Based on my experience in the safety world and accident investigation it would seem the wheel could be inspected and tested. If there was as defect then Specialized should settle out of court. Seems like a no brainer.

      Mountain biking is risky and that is one of the elements most of us like about it. Safe isn’t usually fun. Comfortable but not fun. We take precautions and use our equipment within its limits and expect it to preform. I think the biggest safety factor should be our skill and we work on it.

      We pay companies for a product to perform correctly when used correctly. They are responsible for the quality of product they put out. Specialized is a big enough company to handle owning there was a defect and paying.

      • #267511

        A much better way of stating the point I was trying to make…

    • #267534

      From the information we have, I can’t see any reason to sue.


      Unless there is some obvious defect or negligence, he has a serious uphill battle. Mountain Biking is a dangerous sport to start with, racing pushes the dangers even further.


      There are so many things that can go wrong that are outside of any manufacturers control. They can’t engineer risk out of a sport like this.


      Every time you throw a leg over your bike you’re assuming a serious degree of risk. sounds like it’s time he accepts the choices he made and the risks he took.

    • #267535

      What I find interesting is that Specialized redesigned and re-released the wheel just after.

      • #267537

        I feel like they update stuff like that all the time anyway.  Nothing about that stands out to me as abnormal for the industry.


        Especially with how fast wheel and tire trends are changing…

    • #267538

      Not enough information to come to any conclusions. But… What kind of maintenance was done on the wheel over the 6 months he rode it? It is owner responsibility to inspect a bike and components for damage and necessary repairs/adjustments before every ride. A shop recommendation before purchase doesn’t guarantee a part won’t catastrophically fail if it isn’t properly maintained for 6 months. The lack of information regarding these issues seems to me to indicate that proper maintenance was not done. had it been, there probably would be documentation of it in the story. Combine that with the hard riding of a winning racer and I’m not surprised that a failure occurred. I wish the rider a speedy recovery regardless, but I am not in support of the lawsuit.

    • #267654

      As much as I am anti-litigation I wrestle with the issue of a catastrophic failure of a part.  But first, to be clear, the LBS should not have any liability here.  According to the article they made “a recommendation” for a wheelset.  That should in no way leave them open for any liability.  (Possibly if they built the wheel or had just worked on it prior to the race???)

      Now, as for Specialized, i’m not  sure I feel the same.  Yeah, MTB’ing is a dangerous sport, but shouldn’t we expect a part to perform to its specs?  If this were a car and a part failed resulting in injury I think most would say the owner should be compensated for damages sustained.  With that said, we don’t know if the wheel was maintained appropriately which, if it wasn’t, may have resulted in the wheel failing (and assuming that Specialized had posted such a warning).

    • #267672

      I wouldn’t read too much into the LBS being named in the lawsuit. The attorneys are just doing their part in casting the joint & severable liability net as wide as possible. I’m actually surprised that the race organizers weren’t a named party, but perhaps the race waiver would be too difficult to overcome in the courtroom?

      As others have mentioned we don’t have all the details. And we don’t know what was said and done in the manufacturing, sale, setup and maintenance of these wheels. I don’t think the LBS or Specialized wants to see any of their customers seriously injured; that’s just bad for business….and, of course, the plaintiff doesn’t want to be injured, that’s just bad for him.

      I couldn’t find the documentation that came with my Roval Control wheelset so I went on-line. It’s an alarming, yet amusing, read…… but not much different from other wheel manufacturers (carbon or aluminum) that I could find.

      Take a look at the bike documentation from your manufacturer – you might be surprised at what they expect from you in terms of on-going care and maintenance of your bike’s components.  😉

    • #267837

      Robert Dobbs, you are dead on about the expectations that the companies expect sometimes with the stuff they sell. I assume most of that is put in there for liability reasons. They set a standard that is expensive or so extensive it keeps them from being blamed. Recently took a dropper post off my bike because a $75 part failed after 18 mos.  Averaged out I get to ride about once a week so this part should not have been worn out. Turns out after looking into it the company expected you to replace this $75 cartridge every year. For that price I could put a new dropper post on every other year.

    • #267847

      Yep, the nature of lawsuits is that a jury determines who was at fault, if anyone.  The rider (or his lawyers) apparently have two theories:  that the rim/wheel was defective as sold, or that the bike shop made a faulty recommendation (slim chance), or failed to properly maintain or “diagnose” the wheel when engaged to do so.

      They’ll get to dig around among Spesh’s product defect reports and the reason for the redesign and question the bike shop people.  It will be a pain in the butt to them. but that’s a cost of doing business.

      Trying to say what’s “fair”** at this early juncture, before all of the facts come in, is pure speculation.  The bike shop could have missed an obvious crack in the rim, or over-tightened the spokes, or God knows what else.  Maybe Spesh knew the rim was over-delicate and redesigned it for that reason.  We just don’t know.

      Yes, mountain biking is an inherently dangerous undertaking.  But here there’s at least some evidence of a failed and possibly defective product and injuries resulting.  When you make and sell products specifically designed for people to engage in a dangerous undertaking, suits like this are a cost of doing business.

      People who are anti-litigation frequently don’t know what they’re talking about and are sucked in by erroneous and fantastical reporting of certain anomalous lawsuits (the McDonald’s coffee case, for a brilliant example).  God forbid they are ever seriously injured as a result of negligence or a defective product.

      **Reminds me of my contracts professor, who, when someone said “it isn’t fair” in class, asked “are you God?”

Viewing 14 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.