Planet X insurers facing legal claim of £10m after bike collapse causes paralysis

Dr Daniel Graham was left paralysed after his front forks collapsed in 2020

Planet X gravel bike
(Image credit: Planet X)

Planet X is facing a legal claim for up to £10 million after a cyclist was left paralysed for life after the forks broke on his Tempest titanium gravel bike, The Times reported this week.

Dr Daniel Gordon, 30, broke his spine when the front forks on his bike "sheared in two" on a grass slope in August 2020, an accident which left him paralysed in the lower body.

Now, the doctor is suing Planet X's insurers, Arch Insurance (UK) Limited and Chubb European Group SE, who deny responsibility for the failure of the bike. It has not yet come to court.

Nathan Tavares KC, Gordon’s barrister, said in his claim: “On the evening of August 20, 2020, the claimant took the bike out on its first proper test ride since purchasing it.”

"The bike appeared to the claimant to be properly set up and without any obvious defect or safety issue.

"The claimant commenced his journey on the A82 Glenurquhurt Road in Inverness and travelled north along the edge of the Caledonian canal before branching off to New Craigs Hospital," he continued.

"The bike was not fitted with any bags or luggage. The claimant wore a helmet.

"Upon leaving the hospital location at around 9pm, he rode the bike down a grassy slope situated off a track running through the hospital grounds known as New Craigs Forresters.

"In the course of descending the grass slope at a speed of about 25kph, which is terrain and a speed the claimant will say ought to have been well within the capabilities of the bike, the carbon fibre front forks suddenly and without warning sheared in two at the base of the steerer tube, causing the front wheel of the bike to collapse rearwards.

"This resulted in the claimant falling forwards heavily, impacting the ground whereupon he sustained severe life changing injuries."

Dr Gordon, who was in training to be a doctor at the time in the incident, is back in education now, alongside competing as a disabled athlete. His lawyers said that his career options are "severely curtailed and he is significantly handicapped on the labour market".

Lawyers for the insurers insisted the bike had been “appropriately tested” and inspected, and said there had been no previous complaints about the type of bikes.

They said: “Planet X purchased the forks from a reputable supplier and there was evidence of the testing of the relevant products to appropriate standards, on which matters Planet X reasonably relied.”

The forks were manufactured by a Chinese company which supplies “the said forks” to “many brands of bicycle in the UK and elsewhere”, the lawyers said.

In June, Planet X's future was secured after it was sold to Winlong Garments Limited, a company funded by private equity firm Baaj Capital LLP.

The Sheffield-founded company was reported to be heading towards administration, but on Friday evening it was announced that it had been sold. All of the company’s 33 employees have transferred to the purchaser as part of the sale.

According to a press release, the sale followed a seven week process, which "generated significant trade and financial investor interest". The decision to explore "sale, refinance and investment options" came after a "dampening of demand" which followed the Covid pandemic.

Planet X and Dr Daniel Gordon were contacted for comment.

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