I was hit from behind with quite a clunk, which tipped me off my Triumph Tiger 800. Luckily I received only bumps and bruises, but because I hit my head on the kerb I want to claim for my helmet as well as the damage to my bike.
My problem is that the rear wheel took a big hit and, even though the tyre remained intact, when I took the bike into my Triumph dealership they were very unhappy about me keeping the wheel. My dealer told me that the wheel was light and not really designed for being hit from behind. He also said that as it is a safety-critical cast part it should not be reused after a significant impact, and he wants me to replace it.
The other driver’s insurers are saying that there is no visible damage and they will not entertain such a claim. What is the answer? Should I ride a bike with a wheel that a Triumph dealer has said should be replaced, or do I make a fight of this with the other driver’s insurers?
I am in complete agreement with the dealer. Aluminium alloys are indeed light but brittle. They are designed to have certain forces put through them, and all manufacturers’ design engineers will carefully consider what forces would go through a wheel in all of the uses a motorcycle would be subjected to, even extreme use.
However, a two-tonne car hitting a wheel from behind even at relatively low speed, combined with the leverage of the cast spokes, would generate huge forces at the hub which the wheel would not really be designed to take.
So here is what I would do. I would invite the insurers one last time to pay for the wheel, but explain that if they do not then you will get a consulting engineer to report on the wheel. Advise the insurer that they will have to meet the costs of the consulting engineer if he supports your claim that the wheel should be replaced.
A letter from the dealer who also advises you of this would also be useful. The dealer is not independent, but he is right, and if you still do not get satisfaction then you are going to have to take the driver’s insurers to the small claims court.
In the meantime, if I were you, I would pay for a new wheel because I would not want to be riding on a cast wheel that had been subject to the type of forces your rear wheel has experienced. Chances are your wheel probably would be alright, but you would not want to find out the hard way that it was not.