Bad crash - guidance appreciated on checking my bike

So I had ordered the various tools and parts and was eagerly awaiting the last delivery this weekend so I could tackle replacing my bottom bracket (see thread below):

Anyway - this has been somewhat scuppered.

On Thursday afternoon I went for a short easy ride and somehow ended up crashing out on a relatively flat, smooth, clean, wide and completely traffic free road, with no potholes or surface gravel and great visibility, in dry weather, ironically only about 1 mile from home after having taken it reasonably easy.

I don’t honestly fully remember what happened. I have a vague recollection of two aspects:

  • a blue car to my right / rear
  • wrestling with the handlebars

I am not confident in the reliability of these recollections as it could have been my mind playing tricks on me, given what happened after that. I have subsequently been told that the reliability of memories imprinted just prior to concussive events is flaky at best. For example, a blue car may just be a memory from earlier in the ride and have no basis in fact whatsoever.

Outcome was:

  • I was knocked out completely unconscious
  • the people who found me (some time later) reported that I was having a seizure / fit of some kind and had wet myself (embarrassing)
  • I have three broken ribs on my right side
  • I have multiple bad bruises, swelling, grazes and cuts - vast majority on my right side
  • I have some air trapped between my right lung and my chest cavity - I seem to be belching quite a a lot :confused:
  • I have a very small bruise and even smaller amount of blood on my right lung
  • I have concussion

Overall I feel like I’ve done 12 rounds with Mike Tyson.

My bike helmet (good quality Mavic) took a massive impact and is super broken / split at the top rear. My head hurts and I have a small tender lump near the crown of my hair.

I’m a big guy and after the Doctor at the hospital saw the helmet he was categorical that without it, in his view I almost certainly would have been another fatality statistic :flushed:

It is my intention to write to Mavic and thank them for their product - as I believe it saved my life on this occasion.

I’m still in Hospital under observation and am hoping to be discharged tomorrow assuming everything checks out. I’ve had multiple X-Rays and CAT scans and thankfully apart from my ribs (4th, 5th and 6th) I appear not to have broken anything else and crucially my head CT scan came back as good.

Options for what happened appear to be narrowed down to:

  • unexpected and severe gust of wind
  • car hit me from behind and drove off
  • I had a fit / seizure whilst riding for some other reason (never had one before and felt well and healthy up to this point)

Guess I will never really know and it’s almost unimportant now anyway, I’ve mentally moved on into ‘recovery’ mode and am focused on the future.

My question is in regard to my bike (Cannondale - Synapse carbon disc Ultegra from 2017). I’ve not had a chance to check it over but my girlfriend tells me the wheels are not buckled but the handlebars look a bit twisted and the chain is off.

Obviously I want to extremely thoroughly check all aspects of the bike and frame. I will take the opportunity to do the bottom bracket (clearly) and at the same time give it a sort of ‘service’ and replace with new (or upgrade) any obviously broken components.

Please can I get a sensible steer from those in the know, on an approach / list of checks to undertake other than just ‘looking at it’ so that I can be super thorough and therefore confident that once I’ve done any work, I will eventually go back out riding on a safe bike - in particular the frame and braking systems (hydraulic discs).

Thanks in advance
Dave :+1:t2::+1:t2:

Sorry to hear about your crash…but glad you are still here. Heal fast and well.

First step for the bike would be to take it to a reputable (preferably higher end) LBS and have them inspect it. Depending on what they say, additional steps could be needed but start there. Have an expert inspect it.

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First off. I hope you are okay and heal up quickly. Sounds like you are in good spirits which is awesome.

I’ll offer this point of view - if you fixed up the bike - the worst thing that could happen would be the handlebars, fork/steerer or frame failing catastrophically and without warning and maybe putting you in the hospital again. How much is that worth to NOT be in the hospital again? If it’s more than the cost of a new bike, maybe think about just replacing it.

I’d have no problem swapping the components to a new bike. If the wheels are not dented I’d be okay riding those. I would almost certainly replace the handlebars.

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It sounds like you are doing well. Accidents suck, but you seem to be on a good recovery road. That’s great news.

What you should do about the bike? Accident, carbon, I would tear everything down for inspection.

Remove bar tape to completely expose the handle bar, remove the handle bar, remove the shifters, remove the stem, remove every single component, remove the fork from the frame and inspect the steerer tube, etc.

Remove the wheels, remove tires, and inspect. Remove the saddle to inspect the saddle and saddle rails, remove the seat post and inspect for damage.

Remove the crankset and bottom bracket and headset to fully inspect the frame inside and out. Remove the bottle cages. Remove internally routed cables, etc.

Then, wash every component, squeaky clean (no need to wash bearings). Dry it. Inspect with a light at different angles. If you can get a borescope, that would be great too. The seat stays can’t really be inspected that way, so go over it with a fine toothed comb, the same for the chain stays. Look for discoloration, bulges, cracks, etc.

If the wheels are carbon, definitely inspect. If they are alloy, also inspect, both looking for cracks. The alloy may be dented.

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Wishing you a speedy recovery. Concussion stuff can linger as long or longer than the more overt stuff, so take it slow.

On the frame, there are a few things you can do. Personally, I’d strip down the frame of all components, particularly if it’s due for new cables. Careful visual inspection with good light and magnifying optics (like the glasses used by jewelers). Bend and twist the frame/fork and look for cracks. You can use a broomstick through the head tube and bottom bracket to get some twisting force, need 2 people. You aren’t gonna hurt it if it’s not already damaged. If you have access to one of those cameras on a flexible wire, use it to look down the tubes you can access, but the exterior inspection should catch issues. You can also use the squeeze and tap method just looking and listening for bad spots on the frame, but my experience is that the careful visual inspection while flexing the frame will catch everything because you’ll always at least have some micro cracks on the clear coat when the underlying carbon is damaged. Those cracks will widen and shrink and it should be obvious if it’s a problem. If any doubt, take it to a specialty shop that does carbon repair.

I would never trust a bike shop to do a proper inspection (that my life depends on) unless I personally knew the person doing the work.

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With carbon frames, you can have a crack underneath the surface. You can have on the surface no evidence of a crack. One of the ways to detect is by ultrasound to see if there are cracks under the surface. Since this is not practical, companies offer crash replacement warranties for carbon bicycles.
Carbon is not like steel, where you will visibly see the cracked surface. In that regard, I consider carbon bicycles like bicycle helmuts. Personally, if my bicycle was involved in such a bad crash, I would replace it with a new one, by the crash replacement warranty. Hope you heal without complications.

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This!

I had a bad crash a couple of years ago: I was not too badly off, but the bike took some damage and I was worried about the possible damage to the carbon frame. [The wheels were a write off.] So I went to a professional carbon frame tester and repairer. He had worked for Boeing and was very highly recommended. This is his site: http://luescherteknik.com.au/. Expensive – but I have only one life.

You can glean a lot of information here about what to do, what to look for and how to find a tester [I guess that you are not in a position to use this guy’s services!].

I’m sorry to hear about your crash and injuries. I hope that you recover well. And I hope that this information will be useful to you.

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Oh, and I forgot: be careful about concussion – see for example episode 255 of Ask a Cycling Coach.

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Thanks everyone, all great helpful pointers and I do appreciate the various good wishes as well.

Thanks
Dave

Sorry to hear about your crash and injuries sound rather nasty.

Just out of interest. Assuming you’re in UK and so riding on the left, an overtaking car would pass you on the right. I wonder if it’s worth taking a close look at the right hand side of your handlebars to see if there is any impact there? I appreciate that it would have to be a very close pas to hit your handlebars and miss your arms, but I wonder if a wing mirror hitting your dropend thingys could have caused it? It could have even been some muppet passenger reaching out to hit you.

And personally, with no skills at bike maintenance myself, I think I would use this as a trainer only bike. Strip off the nice parts. Buy a new bike, otherwise you’ll always wonder…

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