British based cycling team Saint Piran and French bike brand Lapierre's UK representative Raleigh have both instructed lawyers in an over £100,000 dispute following alleged safety concerns with bikes they supplied, Cycling Weekly can reveal.
Cycling Weekly understands that the Cornwall-based team first instructed lawyers in April 2022 to take steps to recover costs of well in excess of £100,000 that they say arose in large part due to having to source alternative bikes to replace its fleet of 60 Lapierre models.
Both Raleigh and Lapierre have strongly denied there are any issues with the bikes supplied to the team and say there are no design problems with the models concerned.
Saint Piran had a sponsorship deal in place for the current season with Lapierre. However, in November 2021, they first noticed what they claim were potential safety issues with some of the 60 bikes supplied, a mixture of 2021 Lapierre Aircode DRS and Xelius SL models. At that point the team took their riders off the bikes and began dialogue with Raleigh.
Last week Cycling Weekly reported that Saint Piran were due to ride S-Works and Trek bikes at the Tour of Britain due to the safety concerns.
However Raleigh claimed the brand's research had proven that the problems were due to Saint Piran staff overtightening the headsets.
Saint Piran claims there were 23 separate episodes that caused safety concerns including; seven fork failures, multiple replaced frames and 14 marked steerer columns that they said were “potentially susceptible to failure”.
The latest statement released by the team said: “Saint Piran’s lawyers have in fact written to Raleigh on 22nd April 2022 and have since been in correspondence with Raleigh (UK) Ltd’s own lawyers. The dispute is ongoing.
“Since September 2021, the team has suffered problems with headsets on the bikes regularly working loose and with frame and fork failures."
The team went on to acknowledge that initial efforts were made by Raleigh to reach a solution to the problems including the replacement of stems, although issues continued to occur.
Raleigh UK's spokesperson said that the issue is not “with design or manufacture but with over tightening of the bike's headset components by Saint Piran”.
Due to having to source alternative bikes for its riders as well as purchasing replacement parts and addressing other issues, Saint Piran said they incurred costs of over £100,000.
Saint Piran are also adamant that an independent report carried out has identified causes that would not arise through product assembly.
“There have been suggestions from Raleigh’s representatives that the issues might have arisen through incorrect assembly by St Piran’s mechanics – that is entirely rejected.
“The team arranged an independent report to assess the likely cause of the issues, which identified causes other than the mechanics assembly of the bikes. That report was shared with Raleigh and is challenged by them. Raleigh has offered a further independent inspection, but that has not yet been progressed,” said the team.
A wider issue in the ongoing legal battle appears to be who was used to carry out independent reports and inspections with both parties at loggerheads on the issue. Raleigh previously said that it had reached out to Saint Piran to attempt to agree on who carries out any investigations.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “An offer was made to use an independent expert. This was not taken up. Now three months later Saint Piran appears to be trying to use the threat of publicity. Raleigh has at all times engaged constructively with Saint Piran to address its concerns and is disappointed with the new approach to resolving their claim.”
The UK bicycle distributor is looking to continue to reach a resolution out of the public eye.
It added: “Raleigh UK Ltd, on behalf of Lapierre in the UK has previously responded through formal legal correspondence to the claim made by Saint Piran. Raleigh UK Ltd has responded to all allegations made by Saint Piran and disagree with all points made.
“Given that Saint Piran decided to proceed down the legal route, Raleigh UK Ltd will only discuss the matter further through the legal framework outlined. Raleigh UK Ltd will not comment anymore through the media channels on this specific subject.”
This story was amended after publication to refer to Raleigh as Lapierre's UK representative rather than the French brand's UK distributor.
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