Friday, October 27, 2006

NJ Moves to Ban Unsafe Quick Releases

Proposed Law Would Require Safety Devices on Wheels
10/27/2006--(TRENTON) - A detailed description of legislation sponsored by Assembly members Paul D. Moriarty, David R. Mayer, and Joan M. Voss that would prohibit the sale in New Jersey of bicycles with “problem prone ‘quick-release’ front wheel assemblies” was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on October 19.

The legislation titled A-2686 would make it an unlawful to sell adult and children’s bicycles equipped with conventional “quick-release” wheels in the state, unless they were equipped with a secondary fail-safe device to prevent the accidental release of the wheel.

Responses from the cycling community were swift. “The New Jersey proposal is looking at the bike as a toy or plaything, not as transportation,” wrote Steve Faust on ebikes, an electronic exchange in New York. He noted that quick releases are critical for taking a bike apart when parking, so the front wheel won’t be stolen.

Mr. Faust also noted that many companies had already designed safety catches on the front of their forks, to prevent the wheel from coming off it the quick release is open or loose: “It has been standard practice to include these catches on pretty much all cheap and mid range bikes for well over a decade,” he added.

But according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, these requirements are only voluntary and still have not met formal approval by the subcommittee that focuses on bike issues. (See below for current, federally defined standards that are enforceable under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.)

The topic was however a part of the overall meeting agenda by the CPSC bike subcommittee this past May, which was held in Toronto, Canada, and was attended by representatives from Trek Bikes, Fox Racing, Specialized, Huffy, Cannondale, Cervelo, and Sram, among others. But no agreement was reached at the meeting, leaving the industry open to self-policing and self-imposed standards.

Quick releases on the front end of children’s bikes, predominantly in the market’s low-end are to blame, said cyclists overhwhelmingly. Either the equipment is faulty, or the parents do not pay attention, having neglected the bike in the corner of a garage for months on end, and allowing children to use the bikes without first inspecting them.

Parental fault may well have been the reasoning of Superior Court Judge Michael Dufficy in a Marin County, California ruling in favor of Wal-Mart and Dynacraft BSC Inc. in a lawsuit last May where plaintiffs claimed that their children suffered disabling accidents when the front wheel of their bikes came off while riding.

The 12-person civil jury rejected claims that the Wal-Mart and Dynacraft. knowingly sold bicycles with a defective quick-release lever that caused the front wheel to fall off. Three of the children had brain injuries from their falls.

Mark Webb, the plaintiff’s lawyer, claimed that Judge Dufficy did not allow evidence at trial that Dynacraft had paid $1.4 million in civil fines in 2004 for not reporting defects in some of its bicycles to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but then allowed Dynacraft to provide the jury with a letter by its lawyers that aimed to show they were in full compliance with the agency.

NYCycleNews checked CPSC records to reveal that Dynacraft recalled 500 of its mountain bikes in 1999 due to the quick release mechanism not functioning properly. The company has had several other bike part recalls according to the organization's records.

They are not the only company with such recalls: On Sept. 29, Full Speed Ahead, Inc. of Woodinville, Washington, recalled more than 1,300 bike quick releases. In a statement, CPSC said that “an internal part in the lever mechanism can break, reducing clamping effectiveness and rendering the unit inoperable, potentially causing a bicyclist to fall.” The quick release mechanism reportedly failed 12 times, "with no injuries," according to CPSC. The mechanisms had been sold integrally on Scatto Bicycles, but also separately as a kit for $49.95 during the time period of October 2003 to September 2004.

And in July of this year, Shimano Inc., of Osaka, Japan recalled models of its quick release mechanism used on high-end bikes, citing 19 silver colored models of which 8,500 were in the market and were defective because they could open, causing a cyclist to fall head first.

Consumers were advised by the CPSC that they should stop using the skewers “immediately” and return them to the stores where they were purchased. The quick release skewers had been distributed to bicycle specialty stores and dealers nationwide from November 2005 through March 2006 and had retailed for between $13 and $44.

Readers are urged to contact the following sponsors of the bill with their comments and questions:
Assemblyman Moriarty
(856) 232-6700

Assemblyman Mayer
(856) 227-5900

Assemblywoman Voss
(201) 346-6400

James Sverapa IV
(609) 292-7065

SHIMANO RECALL (July, 2006) Description and Models:
This recall involves quick releases supplied after November 1, 2005 with Shimano front hubs and front wheels on the following road racing and MTB bicycles. Model numbers included in the recall are: HB-5501, HB-5600, HB-6600, HB-7800, HB-HF-08, HB-M756, HB-M760, HB-M760, HB-M960, HB-M965, WH-7801, WH-7801C, WH-7801C50, WH-7801SL, WH-R600, WH-M965, DH-2N71, DH-3N71 and DH-3D71. Only quick releases with silver skewers and without a round sticker on the back of the quick release lever are involved in this recall. Remedy: Consumers should stop riding immediately and take the quick release device into their local bike dealer or retailer for a free inspection and repair.

Consumer Contact: For more information, contact Shimano American Corp. at (800) 353-4719 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at

SCATTO RECALL (Sept. 29. 2006)
Full Speed Ahead (FSA) Scatto bicycle wheel quick releases. Description: The Full Speed Ahead Scatto quick release was sold as standard equipment for RD-400 and XC-300 bicycle wheelsets and also separately. The levers are laser etched “FSA” and the end pieces have a distinctive round shape. Sold at: Bike shops, catalogs, and Web sites sold the recalled quick releases nationwide from October 2003 through September 2004 for $49.95 per set.

Remedy: Free replacement. Consumers should stop using the quick releases and call Full Speed Ahead toll-free at (877) 743-3372 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or write to Full Speed Ahead, Inc., 12810 NE 178th St #102, Woodinville, WA 98072.

Provisions pertaining to federal bike requirements as per the Consumer Product Safety Commission Code of Federal Recommendations, CFR in Title 16, Part 1512. Bicycles that fail these requirements are banned under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
Wheel Hub Requirements copied from CPSC summary paper: pg 4.

it appears that QR may NOT be required to have safety tabs, but they must have positive identification of open/closed.

What requirements must wheel hubs meet? All bicycles (other than sidewalk bicycles) must meet the following requirements:

(1) Each wheel must have a positive locking device
that fastens it to the frame. Use the
manufacturer’s recommended torque to tighten
threaded locking devices. The locking devices on
front wheels (except for quick-release devices)
must not loosen or come off when a tester tries to
take them off using a torque of 12.5 ft-lb applied
in the direction of removal. Once fastened to the
frame, the axle of the rear wheel must not move
when it receives a force of 400 lbf for 30 seconds
applied in the direction that removes the wheel.

(2) Quick-release devices with a lever must be
adjustable to allow the lever to be set for
tightness. Riders must be able to clearly see the
levers and determine whether the levers are
locked or unlocked. When it is locked, the
clamping action of the quick release device must
bite into the metal of frame or fork.

(3) Front wheel hubs that do not use a quick release
device must have a positive retention feature that
keeps the wheel on when the locking devices are
loosened. To test this, release or unscrew the
locking device, and apply a force of 25 lbf to the
hub in the same direction as the slots in the fork.
See §1512.18(j)(3) for this test.


Fritz said...

Well, that would be mighty inconvenient. As far as I know this is the first attempt to directly legislate restricting QR use.

bicycle rider said...

Much of the parts spec on department store bikes is substandard and they often go to the sales floor with the quick releases poorly installed or on backwards. This however in no way means the conventional quick release used on real bikes, in use for over half a century, including by racers riding in harsh conditions and at extreme speeds, is in any way unsafe in design. And where there are genuine manufacturing or assembly errors by bike companies, the cycling industry, unlike the wallymarts of the world, recalls the parts. If people do not know how to use a product, it is their fault, not the product.

Chris said...

I don't know that QR use should be outlawed, but I think there are ways to make it safer. I guess lawyer tabs are pretty standard fare on bikes now, but another way to make it safer is by using this new style of bicycle quick release, that doesn't require any adjustment. You just open and close the lever when you want to take the wheel off, no tightening required. This is also a good way to stop people who think that the lever is a handle that they just use to get the wheel really tight.