Doh! I forgot my bike was on the roof.

careful Posts: 720
edited May 2013 in Road general
Bit of a long story this one, but yesterday I learned three lessons:
    1 to remember the extra height when my bike is on the roof 2 that carbon frames and lighweight wheels can be surprisingly strong 3 that I chose the username "careful" because I do have a history of being accident prone and not being very careful at all
Yesterday I put my Bianchi Infinito on the roof rack with the intention of a ride in less familiar roads. I often do this, but usually put the bike in the back with the rear seats folded down. I normally only use the roof-rack if there are others sharing my car. Anyhow, with the bike on the roof I pulled into a likely looking car park (at 5-10 mph).

Suddenly there was a horrible grinding/metal tearing sound. Yep, I had paid no attention to the height restriction goal post, and yep, it had ripped my bike off the roof. Thats the "funny" part of the story, now for the interesting part. I expected to find my frame in about three pieces.
The front wheel (Fulcrum R3) had been squeezed under the steel girder (which was undamaged) leaving paint along about a foot of the tyre. The girder had then hit the top of the front brake, then the head tube, just below the Bianchi badge.
The roof rack was the popular Thule Pro Bike type where the wheels sit in an aluminium channel, and the frame is supported by a hinged arm that closes around the down tube. The force of the collision had pushed the bike back, buckling the roof rack channel downwards and forcing the back wheel down so had that it left a sizeable dent in the car roof and the top of the tailgate. The jaws of the rack had twisted sideways and failed, fortunately allowing the bike to escape. I dont care about the car (its only a car) and the rack is totalled, but I was worried about the bike. Very close inspection however showed that:
    one brake arm a bit twisted (managed to twist it back so it is useable until I can get a replacement) and the adjuster was bent almost invisible crush damage to the gel-coat on the unpainted part of the carbon head tube just below the Bianchi badge. This is a very sturdy part of the frame, and there is no visble damage to the carbon weave. no damage, not even a scratch to the down tube which must have forced the jaws of the rack to fail no damage, not the slightest buckle, to either of the wheels despite the rear one forcing a groove into the car roof and tailgate door
After a close examination and a bodge to the front brake I did a 60 mile ride with no problems at all. Carried out a very close visual examination of the frame and wheels today, and again, no damage. Carbon frames and lightweight wheels are stronger than I thought.


  • stueys
    stueys Posts: 1,332
    Sounds as if you were lucky. Personally I'd get the bike checked by a pro, carbon can suffer damage that you can't see and the time to discover this is not at 35mph down your favourite hill. Making it through 60 miles riding without incident is a good indicator but I wouldn't assume that means there isn't some damage.
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,496
    tbh i'd be worried about how much force the fork - steerer tube junction has been subjected to, if the impact force was on the wheel and brake then the fork/steerer will have got the brunt of it

    if there has been damage it's a seriously bad point to have a subsequent failure, i'd at least drop out the forks and have a very very close look at the junction for any sign of damage, and try flexing it at several different angles to check if there's any detectable give or any noises
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • careful
    careful Posts: 720
    I will drop the fork just in case, but thinking about the forces involved, first the front wheel got squeezed beween the rack gutter and the goal post. Here all the forces would be on the wheel without the forks or steerer etc being involved. The front of the head-tube then took the brunt of the impact at nearly right angles where the head tube is very meaty. The forces were then though the frame itself. Again I will inspect the inside of the head tube. The part that I was most worried about was the shear forces from the jaws of the rack to the down tube and I was expecting to find the down tube at least cracked. Not even a scratch, certainly no sign of a crack even to the paint. I will drop the forks this evening and report back!
  • careful
    careful Posts: 720
    Had a good look at the steerer, and gave it a good tug in various directions, looked inside the head-tube. All looks perfect - wow I was lucky!! In the absence of any surface damage I wont bother with any specialist examination although I accept that this is good advice and I would certainly do so if there were any suspect paint cracks etc.
  • nick300zx
    nick300zx Posts: 219
    I did the same thing last year.
    Luckily my wife's Hybrid took the full force. Ripped the bikes, still attached to roof bars clean off, bouncing off the boot of her X-Type on the way!
    We sat there for a few moments stunned. Amazingly when we got out the bikes were still upright on the rack. She had a small scratch on the head tube. My carbon bike was un-touched.

    lesson learnt!
  • goonz
    goonz Posts: 3,106
    Pictures or it didnt happen.
    Scott Speedster S20 Roadie for Speed
    Specialized Hardrock MTB for Lumps
    Specialized Langster SS for Ease
    Cinelli Mash Bolt Fixed for Pain
    n+1 is well and truly on track
  • careful
    careful Posts: 720
  • bernithebiker
    bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    I have a Thule roof carrier too, but only use it very rarely, precisely because I fear this is going to happen to me one day.

    Most likely on the approach to a French motorway peage where some lanes have a 2.5m height restriction.....
  • Lycra-Byka
    Lycra-Byka Posts: 292
    Opinion not advise here-

    I personally would not get it checked. I would of visually checked for obvious damage to carbon and then rode it a bit carefully for a few miles. Then, just forget it.

    If its checked by a pro that doesn't guarantee it won't fail after the check anyway.

    Sounds like an expensive 'doh!' moment, could of been worse though. Lesson learnt
  • mick_cornick
    mick_cornick Posts: 175
    Did this once myself, luckily the height restriction bar was the gated type and just swung open......after a sickening metallic clang!
  • smidsy
    smidsy Posts: 5,273
    Too many IMG and URL things there. Should be like this
    careful wrote:
    Yellow is the new Black.