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Judge and Gavel
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  • Richard L. Duquette

CARBON FIBER BIKE Repair and Recovery

First, a little background on Carbon Fiber (CF). The industrial fiber is called polyacrylanitrile, or PAN for short. Most CF has a tensile strength/stiffness of 33 million pounds per square inch. Alternatively, there is CF pre-impregnated and reinforced with epoxy (Pre-Preg).

It's heartbreaking yet, not uncommon to see these works of art damaged. If this happens to your ride, here are several different options to recover for damage to your carbon fiber bike.

You probably know an engineer or two. Ask them to calculate the degree and mechanism of force necessary to create the damage. This can help determine if your bike accident was scientifically sufficient to crack the carbon fiber or if it was a preexisting manufacturing defect that gave out.

I'd also take a quick look at the warranty on your bike. See what's described and disclaimed. Ordinary wear and tear is often expected, whereas misuse of the product is not covered. Warranty coverage will normally depend on the disclaimer language. Further, in light of the fact that carbon fiber is touted as superior in strength, it might be foreseen that a mere tipping over of the bike (as opposed to an accident) should be covered because you are not intentionally misusing it, and this accidental contact might not be expected to shatter a 33-million-per-square-inch-strength carbon frame!

Another factor to consider is the product advertising. Business and Professions Code Section 1700 et sec might afford you some relief from sharp business advertising practices if the product literature can reasonably be understood to cover your accident. Don't push it unless it's clear from the literature your bike is covered for minor mishaps. Advertising representations must be fair. Nowadays, class actions are commonplace and provide both, a manufacturer deterrence and a consumer remedy for false or misleading representations.

If your bike was damaged out of the use and maintenance of your car, submit a claim to your auto carrier. If you have no luck with that approach, try reviewing your homeowner's policy for accidental damage coverage. Your agent might help you with this and it could get you a new bike frame set.

In case you need to do more testing, choose the method used to diagnose your damaged frame. Some non destructive testing includes, ultrasound, x-ray, electrical current/voltage, infrared, black light - paint analysis and the good old human eyeball inspection.

You might shop for a second repair opinion by calling Craig Calfee at 800.965.2171. He repairs carbon as well. View his website at (photograph your bike before you send it out for repairs.)

In any event, make sure you trash the bike if it gives you a high speed wobble as this is a sign of potentially dangerous damage to the integrity of the frame.

I hope the above information will help you in the event your carbon bike is damaged in an accident.

Ride Safe, Ride Strong!


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