Spokesman is unconvinced this industry could handle itself when the lawyers come snapping. Are you insured? Does your mechanic have a certificate? Do you deal with after sales service or pass the blame?

SPOKESMAN: Could you defend your case in court?

Just who runs our country? Politicians! Mainly an incompetent, lazy, bunch of non-employable ex-public schoolboys or shop steward types. None of them could run a real business. Ninety-nine per cent of legislation is coming out of Brussels and our Parliament has fast become nothing more than a parish council with very little clout left.

No wonder I cannot understand all the new CEN information. It’s more like non-information that Brussels continues to pump out by non-elected fools. Who in our industry will translate what it all means? Is a mountain bike a mountain bike or a pile of junk from a dodgy Far Eastern sweatshop? How many of these imports have been tested to destruction by the manufacturer when there’s one factory making the frames, another the forks, a third the parts? Where is the testing sourced? Try asking a Chinese factory for the test information on a product. It is not that the parts have an approved BS mark (does that still exist?); I just do not know. I only know a bike has to have a bell; well, it should leave the shop with one attached.

There is information coming out for EPACs (electrically power assisted cycles) EN 15194, but what the information relates to I have no idea. The problem will be what to do with all those electric bikes that will not conform to legal standards. I suggest you don’t buy any until all the facts are known.
Which leaves the question of what to do when a fork breaks and a child is hit by a big red bus, suffers terrible injuries, and his or her parent is hell-bent on taking you to the cleaners for a few million pounds to see the child through the rest of their life. My answer is to only purchase from the industry’s leading companies where someone answers the phone. Stop selling junk bikes – leave that to the big discount boys. They will have the financial power to fight lawsuits and, if needs be, settle them before further precedent is set.

Cycle shop owners will have to get themselves sorted, as we are now in the American society of sueing for all one can get, even for the simplest problems. The shops can no longer fall back on the supplier every time something goes wrong. There does seem to be this understanding that it is always back to the supplier for an escape route. Mainly because the shop is just not trained to deal with difficult problems of breakages or malfunctions. After-sales service is the responsibility of the seller not the supplier. Most suppliers will deal with warranty issues efficiently and without complaint – sometimes I wonder why, when I frequently see the way product is returned to my warehouse.

So if something goes wrong have you sourced insurance cover? When standing up in court has the mechanic, nowadays more a ‘technician’, got his Cytech certificate in his hand? You can no longer say you have 50 years’ experience. You may have 50 years of really lousy skills. Who knows how qualified a person is without certification to a standard?
Cytech evolved because of a court case where an ex-ACT President stood in court, unable to qualify his years of experience because he had no proof he was experienced. This is what it takes today. You have been warned. Running a cycle shop has to be more than a hobby; in today’s world there has to be a separation between hobby and business with so much red tape and legislation. Turning the key in the door every morning is a hell of a responsibility. Have you covered your back…

■ So Carlton is now a Pickwick Club member and I have turned down three invitations to attend the dinners. Oh, what have I missed, could I have been a Dickens character? We have enough old characters in the trade already. A straw hat and clay pipe just would not fit my image. Sorry Gary and Bob, I did not realise it was so important. Who will invite me now?

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