Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Apparently a lot of cyclists experience crazy calamities like Mike who shared his stick in the wheel disaster last week: https://www.roadbikerider.com/mikes-wheel-collapse/. We received some great comments on the subject and I heard some good stories on Facebook.
But the best one so far came in via email from Russ Wood, AKA DangerRuss (how appropriate!). He’s General Manager of Mike’s Bikes of Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto, California where the streets are packed with pedalers. Russ’s photos and story are another lesson in what can go horribly wrong.
Given your article on wheel deconstruction in the ‘RoadBikeRider’ newsletter I thought you might be interested in what a plastic bag can do.
Please see the attached pictures.
I was in the final miles of a local century when a lightweight plastic bag blew under my bike and got caught up in the chain and rear derailleur. Fortunately, I was moving slowly and was not injured in any way.
My bike however was a different story. The bag bent the rear derailleur into the wheel taking out all of the carbon drive-side spokes on my Hunt wheel. The chain was also tweaked and unusable.
Miraculously, this story has a happy ending.
As I was standing there (dumbfounded) looking at my bike, a gentleman came up to me and said, “I’ll pay for it.”
At first I did not understand what he meant. He then told me that the bag was his and that it had gotten out of his control and blown under my bike. He felt he was responsible. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses.
Fortunately, Hunt has an excellent crash replacement warranty and provided a new wheel. This all happened two weeks before I was scheduled to ride Cycle Oregon. Hunt really came through with the wheel and SRAM had all the parts I needed for replacement!
The man then Venmo’ed me the money (over $850) for replacement parts. Lucky for him I work in a bike shop and receive significant discounts. The retail value would have been about $1300!
My faith in humanity was restored by his kind and generous act.
The only thing I can think to add is that now I guess we all need to watch out for blown baggies – and let’s be even more careful about dropping those ziplocks we packed our PB & Js or homemade energy bars in while we’re riding with others! Who knew they could do such damage?!
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s cycling streak ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.
larry english says
yeah a plain old stick can do that too
Bill Melnick says
Seeing this makes me wonder how steel spokes would have held up. I’m not knocking carbon, but I’ve always been leary of carbon spokes.
Stephen Andrews says
Exactly the same happened to me on the way home after a a few hours out in windy weather, and a bag blew across the road, It got caught in the chain/derailleur which got pulled through the spokes. No one nearby to take ownership of the bag, A Campag Record derailleur and a ProLite Bracciano rear wheel trashed. Walking home in my socks to avoid trashing my speed play cleats worked though.
Why didn’t you just remove the cleats??
Brian Nystrom says
And destroy the soles of his road shoes?
George Wishbone says
Plastic bags aka urban tumble weeds are easy too see and best to avoid! % ¤
I had similar damage. We have a 6 AM group ride in a large, local cemetery (no one complains) with some short but steep climbs. I was going up one of these, slowly, but at full gas. I ran over a 8″ long piece of whippersnipper filament that curled into my spokes, rotated to the top and fell into my derailleur. Result was a broken Record derailleur, destroyed chain, bent Shamal Ulra rear wheel, several broken spokes and a walk home with the bike on my shoulder. An expensive day!
Here in New Jersey the bags are illegal. Nevertheless that doesn’t mean an errant one can’t happen. Thank you for sharing the story and the pics. It never occurred to me that a bag can do so much damage. I used to think it was no big deal to run over a stick, but since reading about wheel destruction, I stopped running over sticks.
Joe VanLeuven says
This happened to a racer in a breakaway group of two on the final approach to the Paris Roubaix velodrome many years ago. Race over!
Peter Goodkin says
A bag got caught in my chain and I snapped the derailleur hanger because I applied too much force thinking I could ride through it…not so.
John Trester says
A good lesson for all. No one, pro and amateur and civilian alike, should be dropping anything, no matter how small or sticky. Carry it with you until you can dispose of it properly. Any loose plastic will eventually end up in the Pacific/Atlantic/Gulf Garbage Patch.
angel saulo velazquez says
A bag cost me about 500$ (2001) to fix everything it damaged rolling into my rear mech, very similar to that picture.
I had plenty of sticks get wrapped up in rear wheels and rear derailleurs, when I was mtb’g. Seeing the damage of what getting a plastic bag wrapped into a chain and derailleur is quite incredible ! What is even more incredible, is this person offering to pay for the damage ! Pretty remarkable that this man would do that !
Jim Langley says
Thanks for the great comments and weird stuff wrecked my bike stories everyone!
As a previous reader noted, so glad to be in NJ where they have banned these hideous bags. And shockingly enough they are no longer blowing around like tumble weeds.
Warren cronmiller says
Had a similar experience. Fortunately I was 4 mi from a bike shop, just pretended I was a skateboarder fr 4 mi.