The curious case of broken wheels: Who’s to blame?

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Bajaj Pulsar RS200 Accident - 7

It was only the other day that a Bajaj Pulsar RS200 had its front alloy wheel broken, allegedly under heavy braking, leading to injuries to the rider and pillion. The internet reacted, like it always does at everything negative, and fumed at Bajaj’s quality.

While the incident should not have occurred in the first place, to Bajaj’s credit, the Pune based company promptly responded to the incident, immediately sending a team to Mumbai to conduct a full analysis of the accident ravaged vehicle for further investigations. While the result of this exercise is yet to emerge, we are pressed hard to think about measures to avoid such untowardly incidents. We did our bit of research, and have come up with a few thoughts, which we think would be beneficial to our readers.

Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (4)

On 23rd July 2009, X-BHP member Binoy from Kerela took out his pristine, red Yamaha FZ-16 to grab a late night bite. Little did he know what was to befall on him. As Binoy hit the highway, he upped his pace and was doing over 100 kmph, when he encountered a car’s headlights blazing straight at him, and approaching fast. Someone was making a beeline for him in the wrong direction!

Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (6)

He realized the fact a little too late, and slammed the brakes hard. Moments later, he found himself on the road. He had missed hitting the car, but during heavy braking, the front alloy wheel just gave way, and all the spokes snapped clean from the central hub. Luckily, Binoy got away with minor injuries as he was wearing a certified, full-face helmet, but was still bed-ridden for a week. This incident is remarkably similar to the one involving the Pulsar RS200.

They say that two wheels move the soul, while four move the body.

Mahindra XUV500 alloy wheel brakes (4)

This Mahindra XUV500 driver couldn’t be more grateful for being on four wheels that day, back in April 2015, when one of his SUV’s alloy wheels broke when he was driving.  Team-BHP member Rakesh was doing 30 kph in Chennai, when suddenly; the vehicle’s front left alloy wheel gave way, dropping Rakesh and his ride rather unceremoniously on the tarmac. Speeds were low, and resultantly, injuries sustained were none.

Mahindra XUV500 alloy wheel brakes (1)

It turned out that the breakage issue specifically pertained to the “Speed” alloy wheels that come as an optional accessory for the XUV500. Apparently, these flimsy wheels come from a “damaged” batch. Following the incident, Mahindra conducted a silent recall, and replaced the wheels of all cars fitted with the ill-fated wheels free of cost.

It can be safe to assume that Bajaj Auto isn’t the sole manufacturer to be inflicted with this issue. But who’s to blame for these scattered incidents? Is it the manufacturer, the suppliers, or the users?

Manufacturers catering to a larger crowd, be it Yamaha, Bajaj, Mahindra or anyone else, should definitely pull up their socks when it comes to quality control. When a supplier or vendor has been supplying a component over a long period of time, there shouldn’t be a slack in the quality, random quality checks should be a part of the process even with a tried and tested setup.

Bajaj Pulsar RS200 Accident - 5

At both manufacturers and suppliers ends, steps should be taken to ensure that quality doesn’t dilute. Especially with components like wheels, tires and brakes, the failure of any could cause untimely death. A stringent testing procedure at both ends should also ensure that faulty components are nipped in the bud.

Our brief discussion with some industry sources about the issue suggests that the manufacturers and component suppliers do take measures on their part to avoid any such failures. The wheels fitted onto the bikes in question are certified by CIRT (Central Institute of Road Transport) which falls under the aegis of ARAI. These wheels also conform to the stringent JASO (Japanese Automotive Standards Organization) standards. The specifications to which these wheels are built actually allow them to operate flawlessly under much more stressful conditions than what they have to deal with on a regular basis. In some cases, the victims also don’t let the complete truth out, for various reasons.

Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (9)

This brings us to the third important part of the discussion, the user. Sometimes these accidents also happen because of negligence on the part of the riders and drivers of these vehicles. In some rare cases such incidents pertaining to the wheel breakage might have been triggered by a hairline crack inflicted earlier on, while negotiating a pothole at high speeds. To an extent, it’s is also up to the owners to ensure that they replace a wheel which has sustained even the most minute crack or bend with immediate effect. Trying to carry on with a wheel which is not in perfect shape can lead to a fatal accident. No amount of complacency should be exercised in getting a wheel replaced if it isn’t 100 percent fit to roll.

Riders are also requested to refrain hitting potholes or speed breakers at speed, and if it so happens unknowingly, a proper wheel check-up is suggested.

Ride safe!

Images: X-BHP & Team-BHP

Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (9)
Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (8)
Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (7)
Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (6)
Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (5)
Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (4)
Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (3)
Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (2)
Yamaha FZ-16 broken wheel (1)

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  • pavit says:

    I totally agree. The govt is to be blamed for the poor condition of the roads then. Why are the users being blamed. For damages sustained due to poor quality of the road the Govt & the Contractor should be penalized.

  • Bala says:

    Good one, said well motoroids

  • Manokaran says:

    Given the condition of Indian roads, wheels should be built to withstand potholes. Otherwise I might have to replace my wheels every time I go for a ride.