One Way crashworthiness

I’ve mentioned previously that most of my bicycle commuting over the past 20 years has been on skinny tire “racing” style road bikes. A close encounter with a car on these bikes almost always results in a bent or broken wheel and often results in little plastic and metal bits scattered all over the road.

The Raleigh One Way bicycle looks superficially like a classic road bike, but it’s made of stronger stuff: butted Reynolds 520 steel tubing, CroMo steel fork, and fat, flat-resistant tires. The Alex AT400 rims on this bike have gotten mixed reviews — some folks report bulletproof endurance on potholed streets, while others report constant spoke breakage. While I haven’t had any problems with these rims, another bike with similar Alex AT450 have proven unreliable for me.

A few moments ago, a really cute blond in a Dodge Neon assisted me in a spontaneous and realistic test of the Raleigh One Way’s ability to survive a collision. Emily passed me then braked hard to make a right turn in front of me — simulating the classic “right hook” for our test.

The One Way’s braking performance is somewhat disappointing; I squeezed hard on both brake levers with enough force to normally stop me on other bikes I’ve used, but I only managed to shed about 10 mph of speed (guesstimate — I wasn’t looking at the speedometer). I’m running the freewheeling singlespeed cog so I don’t have capability to skip with the fixed gear. I was going about 22 mph before I hit the brakes. I’ve been thinking that I need to change the stock brake pads out for something a little grippier, and this test reinforces that thought.

Although I hit the rear of the car with enough force to flip me and the bike upright and over the trunk, the bike came through without even a scratch. The big fat cyclocross tire and sturdy rim absorbed much of the impact of the crash. The handlebars needed some minor adjustment, but other than that a post-crash inspection revealed nothing mechanically wrong.

In our post-crash debriefing, I thanked Emily for her serendipitous assistance in testing the One Way.

Read more about the Raleigh One Way Bicycle.

Disclaimer: No plastic crash test dummies were harmed or damaged in the performance of this test. Don’t try this at home; Emily and I are what they call “professionals.”

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0 thoughts on “One Way crashworthiness”

  1. danimal says:

    I got right hooked last night, but I was able to stop in time to not crash into the car. The driver then proceeded to yell at me that it was my fault for going too fast as he sped off. Great times. I’m glad you and your ride came out of it okay.

  2. Eric J Smith says:

    Cute blondes. Crashes. Dodge Neons. What no pictures? 🙂

  3. pedalmaniac says:

    Aren’t you supposed to use crash test dummies for these tests?

  4. Warren T says:

    Yikes! I hope you’re okay. Certainly with all the traffic cams out there we’ll be able to see the encounter soon on YouTube?

  5. Joe says:

    Cute blondes. Crashes. Dodge Neons. What no pictures?

    I second the question!!!

  6. Jett says:

    So, for your next test you’ll swap out the brake pads and run a video camera, right?

    Although I don’t test crash them, I like my AT 450s. What sort of problems have you run into?

  7. tom says:

    Just one more example of why disc brakes make so much sense.

  8. Fritz says:

    I had the camera with me but didn’t think to snap photos until afterwards. I’ll try to do better next time. Given that my last run-in with an automobile was in 1987, though, it might be a while.

    Disc brakes will probably work on a singlespeed’s front wheel, but they kind of go against the whole simplicity of running a singlespeed in the first place. There’s probably enough moving parts and things to maintain in a single disc brake mechanism as in the whole rest of the bike combined. I don’t know if disc brakes can work on the rear wheel with flip flop hubs and the horizontal rear wheel adjustment that the One Way and similar frames have.

  9. […] brakes directly in front of me while veering to the right. I had just a split second to react and slammed into the back of her car and flipped over her […]

  10. […] mishaps. My commute takes me through very heavy urban traffic. Last year, I was right hooked and I hit the car at about 15 mph. The steel bike I rode required only a slight handlebar adjustment. While my Roubaix is a little […]

  11. […] hooking me as they pass and then cut right at the last minute to get into the gas station; one time an actual collision happened, though with little injury or damage to myself and my bike(and a pretty satisfying dent in the […]

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