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Joseph Love left facially disfigured after crashing head-first into barrier; retailer fights case

A cyclist left disfigured when the steerer tube of a bike he had bought from Halfords allegedly snapped is suing the retailer for £1 million.

Joseph Love, then aged 19, suffered severe injuries to his face in the incident in Gravesend in February 2009 which he says have “wrecked” his life, reports Metro.

Gerald Martin QC, acting for Mr Love, told the High Court that the steerer tube of Mr Love’s £250 Saracen Raw 2 bike had sustained a “sudden and catastrophic failure,” with the cyclist hitting a crash barrier head-first.

He said: “We ask the court to bear in mind that Saracen marketing literature for the Raw 2 bicycle would lead an ordinary person to assume that fairly robust riding is to be expected – as it says, 'give the trails a kicking'."

Mr Martin claimed the bike was “defective at the point of sale.”

His client, now aged 24, said that the bike had been assembled and inspected by Halfords staff, and that it had also undergone a full service at the retailer with no defect found.

James Medd, acting for Halfords, described expert evidence prepared on behalf of Mr Love as “deeply flawed.”

The case continues.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

59 comments

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spence129 [21 posts] 3 years ago
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Same thing happened to me but not a halfords bike, a £1000 bike and I went over the handlebars face first in to the road, thankfully just one scar!

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bollandinho [66 posts] 3 years ago
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My Boardman CX that was built by Halfords had almost everything on it done incorrectly, to the point that the crank fell off while I was riding. Luckily, I was going slowly at the time, but it could easily have been a terrible crash.

The poor training and often a bad attitude make Halfords a dangerous place to buy a bike, and I hope that Joseph Love can get things back on track in his life after his crash.

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Leodis [423 posts] 3 years ago
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Just picked up a 2nd hand in good nick Boardman Comp, the amount of 2nd hand Halfords bikes where people have been sold bikes too big for them is unreal, have a look on eBay its quite funny.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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intrigued, things don't usually just break, there is usually a reason. Potholes, jumping off kerbs, crashing into walls.

assuming it Is this bike or a model year variation of?

http://www.evanscycles.com/products/saracen/raw-2-2007-mountain-bike-ec0...

Forks won't be brilliant, but RST aren't that bad, would guess a steel steerer press-fitted into an Alu crown, just like most other suspension forks out there.

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mrfree [79 posts] 3 years ago
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Crank also fell off my Halfords bike a month after buying it. Landed on the road and a bus went over it. My friend's bike from Halfords also had his crank fall off.  39

My mum also unfortunately bought a bike from Halfords and the thread on the freewheel wore off making it useless.  39

3 bikes, 3 failures. Basically in my eyes it's poor quality bikes built by underqualified staff.

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notfastenough [3722 posts] 3 years ago
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Bollox re the lights and guards, that's just a way of saying "anything you've done to it, AT ALL, voids the warranty".

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notfastenough [3722 posts] 3 years ago
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Bollox re the lights and guards, that's just a way of saying "anything you've done to it, AT ALL, voids the warranty".

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md6 [181 posts] 3 years ago
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I wonder how adding mudguards and lights could damage the bike, unless they were installed with a hammer and nails, or a blow torch

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Mart [110 posts] 3 years ago
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The article states that there was a catastrophic failure of the steerer tube not a loose bolt etc. As much as I don't rate some of the Halfords staff, this is possibly a misuse issue as they are drawing attention to its supposed ruggedness.
Normally, if you are suing for a defective product you would go for the manufacture and not to the supplier. So one can only assume that they believe it was assembled incorrectly.
As for the mudguards and lights, this should only be mentioned if it has a direct effect to either incident or for example holes were drilled for the fitting. We should however wait for all the details.
My advice for everyone buying any bike from any retailer is to check every bolt yourself or someone you trust with your life.

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cat1commuter [1422 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

Forks won't be brilliant, but RST aren't that bad, would guess a steel steerer press-fitted into an Alu crown, just like most other suspension forks out there.

I'd be surprised if a steel steerer failed. I think that aluminium ones are dodgier than steel or carbon fibre, since they can fatigue, for example this incident, which the rider won compensation for.

I can't see how lights and mudguards could damage the steerer tube!

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CanAmSteve [255 posts] 3 years ago
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Surprised there isn't more of this - Evans sends bikes out with pedals falling off, for example.

For those that had cranks come off - were these by any chance Shimano's left arms? The ones that are positioned by a cheap plastic "screw", held in by a thin plastic clip and then clamped with two bolts which must be tightened sequentially with a torque wrench?

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Grizzerly [364 posts] 3 years ago
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My daughter fell in love with a kiddy-bike in Halfords (about 9 years ago). I said that I would take it home & assemble it myself, but they insisted that they should do it, & charged me £18 for the privilege.

When I got it home, I had to spend an hour taking it apart & putting together properly.

The 'mechanic' had regaled me with stories of his youthful rides using a 10 tooth fixed 'cog'. Stupid, dangerous git.  14

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ajmarshal1 [417 posts] 3 years ago
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Broken steerer aside, I'm surprised by the accounts of cranks and pedals falling off etc. Who doesn't check their bike over before they take it for a ride? And why the hell wouldn't you? That's not to say Evans / Halfords etc aren't in the wrong for being incapable of even doing the basics correctly but if you don't check your bike over yourself you're mad.

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MKultra [393 posts] 3 years ago
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I have had the odd MTB in the end of year sale from Halfrauds over the years as there are bargains if you know your stuff but I have never ever let them set up a bike for me. You don't have to let them do it, the warranty still applies on the parts and material faults. What you wont have come back on is stuff that should have been done before it was put on display - ie the crank bolts. Having said that I have never known the likes of Evans send bikes in a box with the pedals fitted so I am not sure how they would "fall" off...

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Saint Mikie 41 [61 posts] 3 years ago
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Recently bought a Boardman Hybrid for the wife as she fell in love with it from Halfords against my better judgement. No surprise that all the gears were set up wrong so within in two weeks of buying it went into Hargroves to have the gears done properly.

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Yorkshie Whippet [602 posts] 3 years ago
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Not a fan of Halfords, however;

According to Metro, the bike was bought in May 2008 and the crash happened in Feb 2009. That means the six month service would have been in Nov 2008 and the 12 month service not due until May 2009. So it had been used for quite a while and was in between services.

It also states that the steerer failed then he hit the barrier, or maybe he hit the barier resulting in the forks snapping? Why was he riding towards a barrier and what kind of barrier?

What does "a sudden and catestrophic failure" of the steerer tube actually mean. The stem bolts came loose, the steerer tube itself snapped, the crown seperated? How did the failure occur, forks splayed out or forks fold into the frame?

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djpalmer32 [88 posts] 3 years ago
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I took my Carrera Vulcan V-Spec into Halfords, Milton Keynes for a full service. I did and m-check prior to a ride and the handlebars where loose where they meet the stem. The gears were also noisier and hadn't been adjusted properly.

It always surprises me that Chris Boardman sells his bike through Halfords when they have such a bad reputation.

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workhard [396 posts] 3 years ago
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I bought a Boardman XC Pro HT MTB from Guildford Halfords a few years ago. It was fine. I rode it home off-road 25 odd miles. It was fine. A week later I rode the entire SDW on it. It was fine. I've ridden it up and down mountains in Austria. It was fine. Spain. It was fine. France. It was fine. I'd done the Trans-Cambria on it. It was fine. I've hit the Surrey Hills and various trail centres countless times. It was fine. I've raced it. it was fine. I "bombed it" down the local woods last Saturday morning. It is still fine.

Now if you want another boring story I could tell you about rather different tale of the Spesh Rockhopper I got from an LBS.

Bad service is everywhere. you don't have to look far to find it. It isn't the exclusive reserve of Halfords.

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Percespb [24 posts] 3 years ago
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I think it's wise to check any new/serviced bike over before riding.
We bought a bmx for my son from Halfords.
Having waited a few days for it to be ordered and built by the shop and
been told it had been checked over by them, on getting it home brake pads had to be adjusted to hit the rims.
Fairly fundamental stuff.
Needless to say I checked the whole bike with spanners after that.

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bollandinho [66 posts] 3 years ago
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When my crank came off (an FSA Gossamer, not Shimano) I was pretty new to cycling, hence the fact I bought a bike from Halfords...

It's not brilliantly helpful to say that "Anyone who doesn't check a bike before they ride it is mad" in this context. It's unlikely that someone who is buying a £250 MTB from Halfords in the case above, is going to be have the tools/knowledge to do that.

Why would they expect to know better than the professional bike builders at a big and trusted company? To people who spend less time and energy than us thinking about bikes, Halfords are trusted to do the job.

The fact that their standards and training are so low is a big, big problem for cycling in the UK, particularly when they are endorsed by people like Chris Boardman and British Cycling.

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spence129 [21 posts] 3 years ago
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A lot of people are talking about misuse and servicing. My forks/steerer were carbon. The road bike was never misused and 4 months old and had been checked over by a shop 2 days before. I was accelerating at a roundabout stood up and it just snapped! I went over the bars and was led in the road at a busy roundabout.

£1m seems a lot though unless he was a model and his face was his money maker!

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don simon [988 posts] 3 years ago
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I think the outcome of this could be quite interesting based on the marketing pitch of

Quote:

He said: “We ask the court to bear in mind that marketing literature for the Saracen Raw 2 bicycle would lead an ordinary person to assume that fairly robust riding is to be expected – as it says, 'give the trails a kicking'."

I have always wondered about how many so called mountain bikes are being described incorrectly in order to boost sales.
I am not one for supporting the blame and sue culture, but I would like to see some of the less honest marketing bull being reigned in.

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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spence129 wrote:

£1m seems a lot though unless he was a model and his face was his money maker!

I thought that too, but with a name like Joseph Love it does sound like he would be well suited to a certain line of work.

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Nick T [1057 posts] 3 years ago
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You wouldn't check your cam belt was properly installed after taking your car in for a service, why would you want to on a bike? May as well do it all yourself if you plan on checking every bolt and cable when you get it back.

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velonista [7 posts] 3 years ago
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Isn't it interesting that people who are always propagating the urban myth of the so-called "cheap Chinese carbon crap" spontaneously combusting mid-ride, how they always conveniently neglect to bring up the fact that we hear way more often factual accounts -- like this one -- about cheap British crap failing in real life?

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dave atkinson [6301 posts] 3 years ago
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velonista wrote:

Isn't it interesting that people who are always propagating the urban myth of the so-called "cheap Chinese carbon crap" spontaneously combusting mid-ride, how they always conveniently neglect to bring up the fact that we hear way more often factual accounts -- like this one -- about cheap British crap failing in real life?

you're reading this because somebody suing halfords for £1m is newsworthy. if your chinarello fails and you land on your face, who you gonna sue?

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levermonkey [681 posts] 3 years ago
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Something doesn't sound right.

No retailer is going to void a warrantee because of the fitting of standard accessories surely.
Define "fairly robust riding". Don't forget this is a £250 bike.
Did the steerer tube fail in the impact or before it?
What does "severe facial injuries" that have "wrecked his life" mean?
Why wait five years?

Sorry, everything is too vague and doesn't add up!

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PpPete [35 posts] 3 years ago
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ANY new bike from a major retailer needs checking.
Had a new "parent helper" turn up at the kid's MTB club I coach at. While the kids went through their M checks as they do every week, I checked hers, a brand new B'twin hybrid. Old school type quill stem - top bolt was so loose bars could easily be turned independent of wheel.  102

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paulmcmillan [97 posts] 3 years ago
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5 miles after I picked up my boardman the saddle gave way.

It hadn't been tightened properly.

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I don't have a million though.....

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jollygoodvelo [1625 posts] 3 years ago
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Mart wrote:

Normally, if you are suing for a defective product you would go for the manufacture and not to the supplier. So one can only assume that they believe it was assembled incorrectly.

Not sure this is correct. IANAL but SOGA (as revised) puts the duty to supply goods of merchantable quality and fit for purpose on the vendor. The manufacturer is then pursued for redress by that vendor.

Example: I buy a Sony TV from Currys. Turns out to be a dud. I take it back to Currys and get a refund/replacement. Currys then go back to Sony and say 'you gave us a bad product'. (In reality, supply contracts have an allowance for a certain percentage of DOA e.g. 5% and therefore the cost of the contract is discounted appropriately).

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