Factor Crash in the Tour of Moselle

In case you missed it, and you likely didn’t if you follow outlets like ours, Maxime Roger crashed after the bars detached from the steerer during the time trial at the Tour of Moselle last weekend. He wasn’t seriously hurt and will get back to racing in no time.

I ran the video, like everyone else, and since then Richard Wittenberg, who runs Factor’s marketing posted on Facebook that it was the mechanic’s fault.

…The rider requested an additional spacer be placed on the bars just prior to the start. The new mechanic did not put in the correct bolts to accommodate the larger stack. The bolt did not have the correct engagement and it failed.

For those like me, that have had bike parts fail, that statement is just as problematic as the crash itself, but it does absolve Factor, according to them, from questions about the quality of their frames.

I wrote about how the consumer beta tests bikes in 2013, after another failure put me in traffic without brakes. And, the industry is enjoined in ongoing product liability lawsuits regarding quick releases and failed forks.

The bike, as a consumer product, is unique in that it’s accessible at every price point, and can cause great harm if used improperly or something on it breaks. A bike buyer can purchase pretty much what the pros ride even if their bikes aren’t meant for the masses. To that point SRAM dodged the proverbial bullet when no reported harm was caused by their hydraulic brake failure.

Factor is a new brand in the business, establishing themselves with a pro team, and I met them at PressCamp earlier this year. The bikes are in the factory-direct premium category and priced as such.

Industry veteran Dave Koesel ranted on Facebook about the media not doing their job regarding the crash, and I responded with

That’s not our job.

As I said in the comment thread, if anyone isn’t doing their job, it’s the industry for accepting product failures and recalls as a matter of doing business. It’s become acceptable, it seems, for parts to fail. Just look at the number of recalls listed on the CPSC.

Back to what happened at the Tour of Moselle, a letter from the director of the race was shared with me, again, blaming a young mechanic and Rogers for requesting a different bar.

We should accept that for what it is, sure, but that doesn’t change the larger issue of safety in the bike industry. In June, there was another handlebar and stem recall and there’s a long list of failures in races.

The most famous being Hincapie’s crash at Roubaix. Earlier this year, a Shimano wheel imploded and Terpstra’s stem and steerer tube detached. After that embarrassing crash of their flagship product, Specialized owned the issue, with Sinyard out front apologizing for the mechanic’s error.

At the top of the sport, everything is pushed to the limit and crashes happen. What you can do about it is make sure you have a good mechanic working on your bike and pay attention to those recalls.

Also take note of how a company behaves when a product they sell famously fails.