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The Future of Bicycle Inspection: Part 1

22 April 2022

When first introducing our damage assessment solution to bicycle retailers and workshops, we often ask them if they had previously considered offering standardised bike inspections as part of their service/workshop offering. Interestingly, of those that require convincing, the responses fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • “We don’t see many damaged bikes coming to us”.
  • “We have our own method”.
  • “We send it to someone else if we notice a crack”.
  • “This seems important for warranty claims, but we want to remain neutral”.

Over the coming weeks, we will provide a summary of the use cases of standardised bicycle inspections for bicycle businesses to provide insight into the increasing importance of this service.

Part 1 focuses on preventative vs reactionary inspections, dispelling the myth that inspections are only necessary for damage that can be seen, or following a known accident or incident.

Part 1: prevention vs reaction

There is almost no limit to the ways in which damage can be sustained to a carbon frame or component, from minor or major crashes through to drops, bumping sharp items, or even objects such as rocks being flicked by other cyclists’ wheels or passing vehicles. Some bicycles may even contain manufacturing anomalies that could ‘propagate’ (travel through the material) over time.

When this results in significant surface damage that is noticed by a cyclist, it is an obvious and urgent signal to have an inspection performed. However, the problem with carbon fibre parts is that the damage may propagate internally, leaving the surface seemingly intact and giving the cyclist (and even untrained mechanics) a false sense of security, leading to not having the bicycle inspected properly (particularly given the time and cost to send it to a professional). Of course, internal damage left unchecked leaves the cyclist unknowingly at elevated risk of a catastrophic failure which can result in major injuries, or worse.

 "Considering there can be hidden issues, why do so many of us continue to ride our ageing carbon bikes and buy used carbon bikes without taking them for check-ups - at all, never mind regularly?" - Road.cc

Whilst not enough on its own, it is important to note that visual inspection comprises a critical component of the inspection process in identifying potential issues. However, the name is misleading as it involves much more than a cursory glance over a bike. Rather, it comprises of a systematic and documented process under optimal conditions – things not normally considered by the untrained cyclist or local mechanic. Such tasks include the use of flashlights at certain angles and the use of microfibre cloths to uncover any stray fibres.

We believe that if we can train and equip local retailers and mechanics to perform standardised carbon fibre inspections, and do so on a global scale, we can therefore make this vital service more accessible and affordable for cyclists. By doing so, cyclists are encouraged to ensure their equipment is inspected more regularly after known incidents, but also as part of regular bicycle services to monitor the occurrence and propagation of damage over time. Where potential issues are found they can be monitored, repaired, or replaced as necessary, giving the cyclist (and future owners) greater confidence in their safety and a historical account of their bicycle.

In the next edition of this four-part blog series, we discuss the critical importance of ‘pre-purchase’ and ‘pre-sale’ inspections as a means of protection for both buyer and seller; and for the industry as a whole.




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