The Future of Bicycle Inspection: Part 4
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 the few that require some 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.
The final blog in this series covers inspections as a critical component of the insurance and warranty claims process.
Missed our previous posts on this topic? Click here to read part 1 (prevention vs reaction), click here to read part 2 (pre-purchase/sale inspections), click here to read part 3 (post-impact inspections).
Part 4: Inspection for warranty and insurance
At its core, Cycle Inspect seeks to instill a sense of consumer confidence to the bicycle inspection discipline through standardised methods that bring consistency, quality, and objectivity. We do this with the intention to up-skill reputable bike shops; and mobile and sole trader mechanics so that all cyclists know exactly what they are riding or buying – and make appropriate decisions.
What happens, then, when new bikes don’t meet expectations?
In most cases, manufacturers offer limited warranties that extend to the first (original) owner only. Whilst the terminology differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, these warranties typically cover processing or material faults and manufacturing defects in materials or workmanship. In other words, a fault which was already present at the time of purchase (also referred to as, worryingly, a ‘risk transfer’). The length of the warranty varies and, in some cases, does so by component and often need to be returned to an authorised dealer in a suitable condition to be considered for a replacement or repair. If a frame or fork has undergone an external repair the warranty is void.
The question is then, what poses a risk? Without access to a 'layup pattern' (shapes/directions of carbon sheet) it is a tough question to answer and as this is considered the most important part of a carbon bike’s design, it is not likely manufacturers are ready and willing to release this information for the public good. We at Cycle Inspect therefore take the view anything that the presence of any anomaly is something that, if identified, should be monitored.
What is the role of the bike shop and trusted mechanic in the warranty claims process?
Often, we hear bike shops prefer to remain “neutral” in this regard by avoiding any efforts to classify anomalies as potential flaws of the manufacturing process. The solution here is to simply “strip and ship” and hope the customers receives a good outcome. In the same we Cycle Inspect seek to empower local bike shops to assess damage, we feel there is also an opportunity to assist manufacturers.
Of course, we do not intend to override a manufacturer’s warranty claim process but to move forward cooperatively under their guidance. A larger network of inspection specialists operating under standardised inspection processes only strengthens a manufacturers’ ability to address warranty claims more quickly, efficiently, and objectively. We believe that as part of a regular bicycle servicing routine, carbon inspection can monitor potential manufacturing defects to assist retailers and manufacturers to understand the risks of hidden anomalies and to monitor for any propagation from this over time.
What is the role of the bike shop and trusted mechanic in the insurance claims process?
Cycle Inspect take the position that all bike shops and mechanics who service and maintain any amount of carbon fibre bicycles have a duty of care to identify and assess for damage risk (whether visible or hidden). If they don’t have the skills themselves to ensure safety for the owner, then an appropriate referral to someone with the appropriate skills and experience (such as a CI-accredited technician) needs to take place.
In short, this duty of care is a call to action and the ideal outcome for both bike shop and customer is for the inspection to occur there and then and with no delay, with our research suggesting that almost 3 in 5 cyclists would prefer their local mechanic to do this.
If the #righttorepair movement has taught us anything, it is that the emphasis needs to be on ensuring longevity and avoiding premature obsolescence through repair, but insurers require objective and reliable data to process claims with confidence. Cycle Inspect’s standardised inspection procedure ensures all technicians are operating from the same manual, thereby reducing subjectivity; with our damage assessment tool providing further confidence by accounting for a range of additional contextual factors not considered through existing methods of damage inspection.
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