The graphics on the SHOK website are provocative: children with bloodied, lacerated faces. All the injuries were caused, say a group US parents, by defective bikes sold by Wal*Mart. American IBD Trophy Bikes calls bikes bought at Wal*Mart, BSOs: Bicycle Shaped Objects, but is Wal*Mart wholly to blame for the JRA injuries?

Wal*Mart: Stop Hurting Our Kids, argue parents

Many of the SHOK parents still shop at Wall*Mart but won’t buy bikes there. The bikes they claim are defective injured their children when front wheels came out while the children were ‘Just Riding Along’.

All the bikes "failed" because front wheel QRs were not sufficiently tightened up.

"She didn’t even know the bike had a quick release, since she was not given instructions or an owner’s manual. She had never heard of a quick release until after her son’s accident."

"He knew the front wheel had a quick release, but didn’t know what that meant since he wasn’t given a manual."

Specialist bicycle retailers usually check to make sure their customers know how QRs work. Supermarket staff are generally not trained to offer similar advice. It would be highly unusual for supermarket ‘bikes-in-boxes’ to not have user manuals included in the boxes.

The ‘QR not done up properly’ issue impacted on the specialist bicycle trade in the 1990s with some high-profile compensation payouts. Owner manuals were improved, bike stickers created and ‘lawyer’s lips’ retention bumps added to front forks.

In 2003, Bob Burns, Trek’s US-based General Counsel, told

"Virtually all ‘defective quick release’ claims that I have seen relate to an improperly used quick release. Either the consumer has ridden with the QR open; ridden with the QR closed like a wing nut (rather than closing it over the cam); or ridden with insufficient tightness to the adjusting nut to engage the cam. You can generally determine this by examining the dropout surfaces, which will show the marks left behind as a consequence of the loose clamp force.

"We take great pains in our owner’s manual to explain how to use a QR, as do most good cycling books."

The SHOK website is a name-and-shame campaign but the parents are also suing Wal*Mart for "civil conspiracy, fraud, product liability, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence and conscious disregard to safety and breach of warranty."

The suit is scheduled to go before a California jury at the back end of the year.

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