Breaking Your Bicycle

AuthorChristopher Waters
breaking your bicycle » 95
chapter 4
Breaking Your Bicycle
We are used to the scope of car recalls. But if you look beyond the
auto industry, you will discover that bicycles and bike equipment
are also the subject of recalls for a variety of manufacturing and
design defects.
A quick visit to Health Canada’s product safety webpages reveals
the pace of these recalls.1 In 2020 alone, various manufacturers
recalled their frames, forks, helmets, bike child seats, pedals, and
fenders. Given that a top-end bike can be a pricey investment, it
is understandable that cyclists fear faulty manufacturing. More
important, given the kinetics of bicycle riding, cyclists need to be
secure when riding their bikes: their lives depend on it. Even the
cheapest bicycle must be safe from defects that could result in injur-
ies, or even death. A cyclist relies on the competence of bicycle and
component manufacturers, and on that of the retailers who sell and
service these items. Cyclists may also expect (somewhat naively it
turns out) that governments are regulating safety standards for
bicycles and cycling gear, and if they are not, that the cycling indus-
try is at the very least setting voluntary safety standards that are
widely adhered to by manufacturers.
As this chapter outlines, the law says quite a bit about the dut-
ies of those who make and sell goods to consumers. The three key
areas I will focus on are: express contractual warranties, statutory
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“implied warranties,” and product liability rules. I will begin by look-
ing at the regulation of cycling safety standards in Canada.
this chapter’s takeaways
The government does not regulate bicycles and bicycle equipment as
stringently as it does cars or many other goods. However, bicycles
are a consumer product, and bicycle sellers and manufacturers owe
duties to consumers.
Bicycles often come with express warranties, which are contrac-
tual promises. These promises are binding when there is an immedi-
ate contractual relationship between the seller and buyer (known
as “privity of contract”). Warranties oered by manufacturers (as
opposed to sellers) to consumers may or may not be legally bind-
ing the law is a bit uncertain in some jurisdictions but at the
very least consumer protection laws would likely penalize deceptive
warranties from manufacturers.
Sellers retailing bicycles also sell with “implied warranties” that
their products are reasonably t for their purposes (that is, riding).
Again, whether an implied warranty exists depends on several con-
siderations, including whether a buyer relied on a bike seller’s advice
and expertise in making the purchasing decision.
Whatever may be the case with these contractual rules, bicycle
sellers and manufacturers can be liable for negligent manufacture
and design of bicycles and their components.
They also have a related duty to warn of any inherent dangers or
dangers associated with the use of their products, and since this duty
is ongoing, product recalls are relatively common (including with
bicycle equipment).
regulation and safety standards
When you ride a motorcycle or drive a car, you are present in a
vehicle whose safety is comprehensively regulated by the Canadian
government. All motor vehicles manufactured in Canada for the

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