QR skewer & disk brakes claimed as a contributing factor in fatal accident involving a RadRunner

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
A fatal accident involving two children descending a steep hill on a RadRunner is the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit in California brought against RadPower Bikes by the parents of the child passenger who died. BRAIN reports that the lawsuit argues the rider "was likely unable to stop the bike and lost control of the bike, because her hard pull on the front brake caused the wheel's quick release mechanism to unthread, loosening the wheel." The New York Times reports "the lawsuit claims that the Rad Runner’s disc brakes in conjunction with a quick-release mechanism for detaching the front wheel is a known safety hazard in the bike industry." A comment on the r/ebikes sub-Reddit linked to an image demonstrating how the braking forces involved might lead to pushing a QR skewer out of downward facing dropouts. What might be possible solutions that can be retrofitted if the court makes a determination of whether this was in fact a contributing factor?
 

JohnJohn

Member
Region
Canada
Read that the other day. No idea on retrofitting but it's worth noting the father is a lawyer and went after the helmet maker too.
 

retiredNH

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
A lawsuit can allege anything it wants. Doesn't need to be true. During pre-trial negotiations and/or during a trial, both sides produce evidence. Then things get really complicated....

It's also curious how this "downward braking force" idea persists for bicycles. It's true for cars, for a variety of reasons, but bikes are NOT cars. They dont have the same weight distribution or suspensions.
 
Region
USA
Why would a parent allow a child to use any powered vehicle before they are ready? Even unpowered bicycling can be risky for children that are untrained and unsupervised when supervision and training is required. Riding two up on an ebike and pushing the bike past its safety point would seem to point towards those sorts of problems. However, we live in a litigious society, so this type of court response is not unusual. I feel sad about the loss of a child, but I hope it doesn't hurt the company too much.
 

mschwett

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
A lawsuit can allege anything it wants. Doesn't need to be true. During pre-trial negotiations and/or during a trial, both sides produce evidence. Then things get really complicated....

It's also curious how this "downward braking force" idea persists for bicycles. It's true for cars, for a variety of reasons, but bikes are NOT cars. They dont have the same weight distribution or suspensions.

it’s not really “downward braking force,” it’s a rotational force in reaction to the rotor getting squeezed “above” the dropout. there is a downward component which wants to push the axle “out” of the dropout if the dropout goes straight down or mostly straight down. it was discussed in a little more detail on another thread here, or maybe it was at a different forum, but it’s real. easily solved of course but i have no idea if rad has done so or not.

the diagram referenced in the first post explains it better than my very rusty physics:

6405BAF7-535B-4490-8C91-762ABA1415F5.jpeg
 

JohnJohn

Member
Region
Canada
Has anybody ever heard of anyone getting injured from this before on a Rad? Can't help but wonder if the shaking and wobbling the bike was doing going down the hill was caused by dropouts that were floating before the descent.

I've also never heard of an 11 year old rider (with a 12 year old on the back) of an ebike with little experience, training or handling awareness going down a pitched hill. That seems like a poor recipe to begin with.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Just about everyone of my N+1 bikes has vertical dropouts on the front fork. They all have lawyer lip clips, which I think was the main industry answer to lawsuits on this in the past.

I suspect the topic is quite controversial in bike design circles. There's always going to be a researcher/subject_matter_expert to support any position you want in court. I'll buy onto the issue being something that could happen, but unlikely for me.

I remember a Trek recall in 2015 for over a million bikes, sold from 2000-2015. The lever of a skewer, if loose, could jam in the rotor and jam the wheel, flipping riders over the bars. One rider was paralyzed, per the news, Their fix was a lever that couldn't rotate into the rotor., I made sure none of mine can do that too.
 
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ExPatBrit

Active Member
If you insert the quick release stake in from the left with the release lever on the right when riding it will gradually back-off and the wheel will come loose.

Most mail order bikes require the front wheel to be attached during assembly this is a common mistake.

Installing it from the right the forward rotation of the wheel tend to prevent this.
 

Headdamage

Member
Region
Canada
I've never heard of this sort of failure before, I can picture how it might happen if the wheel is in the air and has enough rotational energy but in the real world I don't see it happening. Especially when the center of gravity shifts forward and effectively traps the wheel between the ground and the dropout.
 

Comfortably Numb

Well-Known Member
I've never heard of this sort of failure before, I can picture how it might happen if the wheel is in the air and has enough rotational energy but in the real world I don't see it happening. Especially when the center of gravity shifts forward and effectively traps the wheel between the ground and the dropout.
Exactly what I'm thinking, but who knows with a second person on the back. Could the weight distribution affect things? Frankly, I think the lawsuit is ridiculous. CN
 

Tars Tarkas

Well-Known Member
It's hard for me to see Rad's liability here. The component being speculated about here is one the owner of the bike installs and should maintain. This is a horrible tragedy, of course, and no one wants to blame the parents, but no matter what kind of bike, or other conveyance, who thinks it's a good idea to let 11 and 12 year old kids double down a a steep hill? Where was the parental oversight? Would parents paying attention to what their kids were doing let them do this on a top-end bike?

TT
 

dodgeman

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Macomb, Illinois
When I was a kid by the time I was that age I was riding bikes and doing things with friends for hours with no parental supervision.
 

Tars Tarkas

Well-Known Member
When I was a kid by the time I was that age I was riding bikes and doing things with friends for hours with no parental supervision.
It may depend on which side of the line a motorized bike that takes a key to operate falls. Yes, or no, an 11 year old kid has free reign to use it whenever/however she wants? The parents wouldn't be allowed, under law, to sue the manufacturer if the kids were free to do whatever they wanted with daddy's Glock and something went wrong. Should they sue Chevrolet if the kids took a joy ride in mom's car and they had an accident?

I'll grant that a bike seems kid-appropriate. Not sure what a reasonable age limit ought to be though for a motor-powered bike.. I'm sure some would say 16; maybe some would say12. Some would probably say 4 and add that, "well, at least they are playing outdoors." What's right?

I was doing all kinds of things on my bike when I was 11 too. Bikes were much simpler then. A fancy bike was a 3-speed "English" bike. That wasn't me. And no motors, certainly. There would have been hell to pay for both of us if my best friend Mike had "borrowed" his big brother's motorcycle and taken me for a ride, even if we survived. We were smart enough to know that because our parent's drew lines and let us know where they were. (It never would have crossed anyone's mind back then to sue the motorcycle manufacturer!)

TT
 
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retiredNH

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
It may depend on which side of the line a motorized bike that takes a key to operate falls. Yes, or no, an 11 year old kid has free reign to use it whenever/however she wants? The parents wouldn't be allowed, under law, to sue the manufacturer if the kids were free to do whatever they wanted with daddy's Glock and something went wrong. Should they sue Chevrolet if the kids took a joy ride in mom's car and they had an accident?
Firearms are the only category of product that I know of where the manufacturers are protected to some degree by Federal law.
I suspect the real issue with this bike accident is that the parents are trying to extort some money out of Radpower for a situation where Rad had very little involvement. We need to remind ourselves that all too many negligence lawsuits are not dependent on any underlying science or engineering, but dependent on emotional appeals. Since the plaintiff (the parents) are essentially working for themselves in an attorney capacity, they just need to wear down Rad to the point where it's cheaper to settle for a modest (but undisclosed) amount than to continue to battle, where attorney costs for Rad are probably well over $500/hour if they use outside counsel. Doesn't take much from the plaintiff side to get Rad to say "here's a few 10s of thousands. Now go away"
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Those kids were 11 years old.

From the Rad Web site

Who can ride a Rad Power Bikes ebike?
Riders must be at least 16 years old
(or whatever the minimum age to ride an ebike is in your local area).
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Much as my heart goes out to any parent who loses a child, this seems a clear case of both negligence and lack of proper parental supervision by the parents who owned the ebike. Simply pulling the battery and putting it in a locked cabinet would have rendered the attractive nuisance (see swimming pools) moot. I see no mention of the lawyer parents of the girl who died, suing the people who left the bike out to be ridden by the children. Those are the true responsible parties IMO (granted what I know is limited to what has been reported) However, a big company has deeper pockets. Ultimately it is a cynical decision as to who to sue.
 

Gordon71

Well-Known Member
A fatal accident involving two children descending a steep hill on a RadRunner is the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit in California brought against RadPower Bikes by the parents of the child passenger who died. BRAIN reports that the lawsuit argues the rider "was likely unable to stop the bike and lost control of the bike, because her hard pull on the front brake caused the wheel's quick release mechanism to unthread, loosening the wheel." The New York Times reports "the lawsuit claims that the Rad Runner’s disc brakes in conjunction with a quick-release mechanism for detaching the front wheel is a known safety hazard in the bike industry." A comment on the r/ebikes sub-Reddit linked to an image demonstrating how the braking forces involved might lead to pushing a QR skewer out of downward facing dropouts. What might be possible solutions that can be retrofitted if the court makes a determination of whether this was in fact a contributing factor?
Legal bullshit in my opinion. I just checked the QR on my Rad Rover and it was just as tight as when I installed the front wheel over 3,000 miles ago.
 

ExPatBrit

Active Member
This is why we can’t have nice things!

If anything the parents have a case against the actual owner of the bike. The child who was injured was a passenger sitting on the rack. Not sure what happened to the other child who was piloting.

IMHO I actually see a lot of behavior like this from youngsters, many of them just “throttle” the bike around .

Not sure what the answer to this problem is. More restrictions or stupid warning stickers?
 

Tars Tarkas

Well-Known Member
Firearms are the only category of product that I know of where the manufacturers are protected to some degree by Federal law.
I suspect the real issue with this bike accident is that the parents are trying to extort some money out of Radpower for a situation where Rad had very little involvement. We need to remind ourselves that all too many negligence lawsuits are not dependent on any underlying science or engineering, but dependent on emotional appeals. Since the plaintiff (the parents) are essentially working for themselves in an attorney capacity, they just need to wear down Rad to the point where it's cheaper to settle for a modest (but undisclosed) amount than to continue to battle, where attorney costs for Rad are probably well over $500/hour if they use outside counsel. Doesn't take much from the plaintiff side to get Rad to say "here's a few 10s of thousands. Now go away"
If a lawsuit is purely a mathematical issue for the defendant you are probably right. If it's about finding true liability, I think there is very little, if any on Rad's part, based on what I've heard. I'm not saying what's going to happen with the lawsuit, but I think it ought to be dismissed.

I don't know how the RadRunner is shipped, but my Rover came with the front wheel off the bike. It was up to me to put it on correctly, and, subsequently, to maintain it. I like and prefer a QR hub on the front and I've used it a few times and never had a bit of trouble with it. Rad never once had anything to do with installing the wheel or the axle, other than the written assembly instructions, which, as I recall, also recommended having the work done by a pro if you felt uncomfortable or incapable of doing it yourself. Plus there was an 800 number for tech support.

If I were the parents and felt the need to sue someone I think the only appropriate party to sue would be the parents of the other girl, but as noted, Rad has deeper pockets and will likely settle. That's not justice, it's blackmail. But, I don't disagree with your point that that's the way things work.

TT