Posted On: June 1, 2007 by Mark R. McKenna

Dangers of Mountain Bike Quick-Release Hubs Revealed

Recently there have been several cases of serious injury caused when quick-release hubs have become disengaged from the front fork of mountain bikes. This is a phenomenon well-known to bike retailers and manufacturers, who can become liable for their negligence if they improperly repair, build, design or manufacture the bicycle. For example, as far back as 1996, a California jury awarded a 26-year-old plaintiff $3.4 million for severe head injuries caused when the front wheel came off of the man’s bike during a ride.

The case, described in an article by Michael Dougan of the Examiner, involved the front wheel of the plaintiff’s Mongoose bicycle, which had come loose during a two-hour bike ride in 1993. The wheel came off because the quick-release device designed to secure the wheel to the front fork did not have the safety devices that have been incorporated into many bicycles since 1989.

“A quick release consists of a long skewer that passes through the wheel's axle. One end is fitted with a nut and the other with a short lever that must be closed to tighten the wheel to a bicycle's fork or frame. The popular device, used in place of nuts and bolts, allows cyclists to remove and reinstall a wheel quickly without a wrench.

Safety enhancements adopted for quick-release mechanisms include special washers or a small lip on the fork that prevents wheels from falling off if the quick-release is disengaged, said a spokesman for the Baltimore-based League of American Bicyclists.”

Defense attorneys for Merida Industries, the Taiwanese company that assembled the plaintiff’s Mongoose bicycle, argued that the safety devices were not necessary if the quick-release mechanism was properly tightened.

During the trial, attorneys for the plaintiff showed jurors a chart listing 15 other lawsuits against Mongoose and Merida. The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that these cases highlighted the dangers of quick-release hubs, which allow a bike's front wheel to be removed for easy transportation and storage.

World-famous bicycle racer John Howard also testified at the trial. Mr. Howard apparently testified that he had once been injured when his quick-release mechanism failed and the front wheel popped off his bike.

The plaintiff now has seizures because of the accident. He also suffers from the onset of a rare disorder, caused by the incident, which prevents him from taking anti-seizure medication.

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