Jonathan Weatherley died when the bonding on his Kinesis Racelight T carbon forks separated under braking, an inquest has ruled

A Coroner has recorded a narrative verdict in the death of a cyclist who was fatally injured after his carbon fibre forks separated under braking in August 2015.

Jonathan Weatherley, 43, was found by a passerby in Twinstead, Essex, on August 23 with multiple injuries and attempts to save him were unsuccessful when emergency services arrived.

Senior Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray concluded that the bonding on the Kinesis Racelight TK2 separated. The Racelight T carbon forks have since been recalled by UK distributor Upgrade Bikes.

“Jonathan Weatherley probably applied braking through his front brakes for some unknown reason, causing the bonding between the carbon fibre blades and aluminum crown to fail as a result of the fact that the bonding material had not adequately bonded these two components together. Jonathan died as a result of his injuries sustained in this accident,” the Coronor said.

>>> Recall of Racelight T carbon forks

Law firm Leigh Day confirmed they are taking legal action against the supplier, Upgrade Bikes., although it is believed that Mr Weatherley did not buy the bike directly from them.

“We are now investigating the manufacture and supply of these forks to find out how this product came to be on the market and whether any other cyclists may still be at risk,” said Thomas Jervis of Leigh Day. It is believed that Mr Weatherley did not buy the bike directly from Upgrade Bikes.

  • viola surveh

    To be fair, I have had the following fail in fatigue, none composite:
    Raleigh 531 race frame, bottom bkt shell (1983 frame)
    Raleigh Technium bonded aluminum, downtube at the shifter boss (1988 frame)
    Eddy Merckx Reynolds 753 frame, Downtube at HAZ at head tube lug (1993 frame)
    Gios Compact Pro columbus (Dedaccia can’t remember) 2001,chain stay at dropout HAZ
    Countless Rigida 1320 rims
    Countless DT spokes
    Countless Campagnolo Record rear hub axles (pre cassette)
    Titanium Seat Rail (forgot brand–nice saddle)

    My brother fatigued a Viscount at the downtube HAZ at head tube braze (he did not fail the Al fork–replaced it with Tange before that would happen!)
    He also fatigued a TA crankset spindle at the left side bearings and had to ride home with the right foot.

    Metal will fatique. Carbon will fail catastrophically (due to undetected prior damage) as will glue joints (without damage)–which is what happened in this article. Full composite (no bonded joints) are very good in fatiqgue because you can measure the residual life. Can’t do this reliably with high strength metals. (Technical explanatio ntoo long for this post).

  • Stevo

    Nothing to do with strength, or weight even. And yes, I have broken or had cracks in all the parts you mention. Alloy cranks seem to be particularly prone to fatigue failure, and it was quite common for steel frames to crack in the area of the rear drops-outs.

  • David Chadderton

    Ah well, you are much stronger than me and can break cranks, frames and chaining’s.

  • Simon Daw

    Cause the fork blades to fall off of the fork crown? How, exactly? I think you need to check your mirror before you make accusations of stupidity, chum – you’ve managed an A*. This had NOTHING to do with the steerer whatsoever. The crown and the steerer were still attached and functioning normally.

  • The Awakening

    Extremely sad situation. My condolences to the friends and family of Jonathan Weatherley. Terrible situation for him to die at the side of the road. It is almost unbearable to think through what must have happened that AWFUL MOMENT on that day, when the carbon forks failed…

    It has made me think about how lucky I have been, in the situations where I have had to say;

    “For the Grace of God go I”

    It isn’t only carbon forks that fail though. I have been able to recall an incident to the
    best of my ‘memory banks’, where a steel fork gave way…

    A fork blade came loose from the fork crown. There was a failure in the metal of the fork blade, at the weld into the fork crown. I wasn’t braking, I was going up a hill, instead of down it…

    I was VERY lucky!! This was just a ‘bog standard steel’ frame, not 531, because I couldn’t afford a 531 frame at that time.

    I am not going to name the brand of the bike or the shop, for obvious reasons!! It is all a long time ago, so I’ll try and be brief about what occurred.

    I took the bike back to the shop and eventually met the representative of the bike manufacturer, who profusely apologised and couldn’t have been more helpful. It was agreed what they would do and replace the forks under warranty.

    So I returned to the bike shop, after the forks had been changed by them, but IMHO, I think they replaced with a pair old forks they had at the shop. When I next cleaned my hubs, a couple of cracked and broken ball bearings had been placed inside the front hub… It wasn’t a coincidence, I had cleaned and maintained the hubs before the incident and shortly afterwards I could hear this cracking from the hubs!! Why would somebody do that to me?

    What do you do? Go and seek legal redress? I didn’t do anything more, BECAUSE they or whoever it was at that bike shop have it on their conscience!!

    What I do is go back there and buy a tube of glue or some patches, that is all. Every time they see me, they have it on their conscience…

    I hope that the family gets answers, from the legal claim that they are pursuing.

  • Stevo

    I don’t think abuse comes into it. I am pretty careful with my stuff and have had just about every major component fail at one time or other. The only metal parts I haven’t yet manage to lose to fatigue failure are stem, brake levers and callipers, front and rear mechs, hub bodies, QRs, pedal bodies, cones, bearing balls etc.

  • CanAmSteve

    I note the recall notice is well tucked away on the Upgrade website. In the US, similar recalls are usually effected with a stark warning on the suppliers’ and manufacturer’s home page so it is impossible to miss. No one going to Upgrade’s site would never know unless they hunted for it

  • David Chadderton

    Hmm, obviously I only have good quality metals in my bikes and do not abuse them.

  • Andrew Payne

    Never had any carbon fail but I have had steel and aluminium – even Ti fail and everything from cranks to saddle rails via frames and axles.

    In this case it’s a manufacturing issue not materials.
    Reading wider, Kinesis have issued a recall but only 10% of owners have bothered to return their forks.
    Shit happens, the broken fork caused the accident, it’s not clear what killed the chap. Not shifting blame, no one should have to die because of a poor product, this guy really hit the perfect storm.

  • dourscot

    Aluminium can also fail – no material is immune from poor manufacture or use.

  • dourscot

    The reason the fork failed is known if you read the story – the bonding was faulty between two components.

    I think what the “for some unknown reason” is mean to refer to is that he might have applied the brakes with more force than usual. The cause of that sudden braking s not known.

  • richard

    Not to many years ago .. Cateram 7s were recalled for major cracking issues … Which model.. The upgrade stainless steel model.. Badly manufactured/ engineered things can fail materials are not inherently dangerous just different..

  • richard

    They were recalled .. And yes they were intended to meet current safety standards..

  • David Chadderton

    I have nothing made of carbon fibre. My trust remains with aluminium and stainless steel.

  • Howmanyjackos

    Cycling industry seems keen to badmouth cheap immitation components. …and quite able to use them? The issue here is profit over basic function.
    Profit over safety…and now a life lost.
    Many so called counterfeit or cheap chinese parts are certified and tested appropriately. I assume the blame in manufacture will be the retailers defence here. ..not them rebranding cheap crap and selling it on..

  • Bungle2010

    Well if they were sold in the UK then they should have complied with all the relevant safety standards.

  • Howmanyjackos

    This is desparately sad. Were any safety standards ever claimed with these forks? or was the price tag and retail brand suitably high end.?
    The retailer /importer has a responsibility here , and a responsibility to make sure all are recalled. .

  • hawkii

    99% sure it’s referring to what directly caused him to apply the brake, not the effect he expected when he did.

  • Michael

    “Jonathan Weatherley probably applied braking through his front brakes for some unknown reason”

    To slow down, at a guess.

  • llos25

    I think you should read more carefully what I have written and then perhaps you will not write stupid comments.If you understand how a bike is constructed you know a defective A headset can cause the forks to fail.

  • hawkii

    I thought that at first, but it’s probably a legal point as in “the reason for which the brakes were applied – in this case the front brake as it’s relevant to the fork separating – is not known”. It’s what caused him to apply the brakes, not what he expected to happen when he applied the brakes.

  • Steve Barlow

    i had one of those…best thing I ever did was chuck it in a skip ! Rubbish.

  • Simon Daw

    No – the reason the forks failed is known: inadequate bonding. The reason he braked is unknown; possibly an animal in the road or possibly the road surface (it’s an extremely narrow, rural road, with an appalling surface at that location). Personally, I’d say it was more likely to have been the latter.
    Anyway, it’s not that relevant; if the forks hadn’t failed at that point, they’d have failed the next time he applied sufficient pressure to the brakes, presumably.

  • Simon Daw

    And now read the article again. The forks failed at the bond between the blades and the fork crown; nothing whatsoever to do with headsets. What the article doesn’t say is that the coroner’s statement is based upon an expert witness’ report, which made it clear that the bonding between the blades and the crown was inadequate. The forks have been recalled after multiple failures, not just this one.

  • MJ

    I thought the same, amazing what the humble comma can do to the way a sentence is read.

    “The panda eats shoots and leaves” “The panda eats, shoots and leaves”…

    Pretty basic really…

    “applied braking through his front brakes and, for some unknown reason, the fork failed”

  • llos25

    I have never known a pair of carbon forks fail under normal use that does not mean they haven’t but I have seen some botch jobs made on the A aheadset that would make you cringe that would eventually result in fork failure .

  • Stevie

    ”probably applied braking through his front brakes for some unknown reason”

    I’m going out on a limb here, maybe it was to slow down?