One Way crashworthiness

I’ve mentioned previously that most of my bicycle commuting over the past 20 years has been on skinny tire “racing” style road bikes. A close encounter with a car on these bikes almost always results in a bent or broken wheel and often results in little plastic and metal bits scattered all over the road.

The Raleigh One Way bicycle looks superficially like a classic road bike, but it’s made of stronger stuff: butted Reynolds 520 steel tubing, CroMo steel fork, and fat, flat-resistant tires. The Alex AT400 rims on this bike have gotten mixed reviews — some folks report bulletproof endurance on potholed streets, while others report constant spoke breakage. While I haven’t had any problems with these rims, another bike with similar Alex AT450 have proven unreliable for me.

A few moments ago, a really cute blond in a Dodge Neon assisted me in a spontaneous and realistic test of the Raleigh One Way’s ability to survive a collision. Emily passed me then braked hard to make a right turn in front of me — simulating the classic “right hook” for our test.

The One Way’s braking performance is somewhat disappointing; I squeezed hard on both brake levers with enough force to normally stop me on other bikes I’ve used, but I only managed to shed about 10 mph of speed (guesstimate — I wasn’t looking at the speedometer). I’m running the freewheeling singlespeed cog so I don’t have capability to skip with the fixed gear. I was going about 22 mph before I hit the brakes. I’ve been thinking that I need to change the stock brake pads out for something a little grippier, and this test reinforces that thought.

Although I hit the rear of the car with enough force to flip me and the bike upright and over the trunk, the bike came through without even a scratch. The big fat cyclocross tire and sturdy rim absorbed much of the impact of the crash. The handlebars needed some minor adjustment, but other than that a post-crash inspection revealed nothing mechanically wrong.

In our post-crash debriefing, I thanked Emily for her serendipitous assistance in testing the One Way.

Read more about the Raleigh One Way Bicycle.

Disclaimer: No plastic crash test dummies were harmed or damaged in the performance of this test. Don’t try this at home; Emily and I are what they call “professionals.”

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