Motorcycle Defects Can Cause Serious Injuries

Jun 15, 2012 View Comments by

If you’re a biker, you understand the detailed work that many motorcycle manufacturers put into their products. Unfortunately, mistakes happen. Occasionally manufacturers produce defective motorcycle parts, or distributors or suppliers may damage them before they make it onto your motorcycle. These faulty motorcycle parts can lead to serious motorcycle accidents.

So far in 2012, there have been nearly 50 motorcycle recalls involving nine different manufacturers. These recalls include motorcycles with failing brake pads, overheating engines, broken wheel rims, and leaking fuel tanks, all of which can increase the risk of a crash and personal injury. Make sure you register your bike and keep your address up to date so you will be notified if your model has a recall. You also can check websites like or for news regarding recalls.

Here are a few examples of recent motorcycle recalls and other defects:

Brake Failure: Some motorcycle recalls have occurred because brake pads have malfunctioned, leading to a sudden loss of braking efficiency and increase in stopping distance.

Engine Failure: In March, a motorcycle manufacturer had to recall many of their police motorcycles used for patrolling because the additional police accessories were causing a main fuse to blow, stalling the engine and increasing the risk of a crash.

Fuel Tank Malfunctions: Another motorcycle manufacturer recalled almost 1,000 of their motorcycles earlier this year because drying raw materials were causing fuel leaks. An ignition source near a fuel leak created a fire risk.

Handlebars: A motorcycle manufacturer had to recall over 1,000 motorcycles last year because improper heat treatment was causing handlebar clamps to crack, allowing the handlebar to move from its set position. This unexpected movement could have caused riders to lose control and crash.

Tires: Defective tires can cause motorcycle accidents that involve tire blowouts, skidding, crossing lanes, hydroplaning, spinning, swerving, and loss of control.

It’s important for motorcycle riders to understand the dangers of defective motorcycle parts—both for legal reasons and their own personal safety. A biker injured in an accident that involves a faulty motorcycle part may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or supplier.

Some motorcycle recalls have even initiated large lawsuits. In 2010, a manufacturer faced a class action lawsuit after reports from consumers claimed that defective piston rings made some motorcycles prone to on-the-road failure during use, putting riders at serious risk for a crash. In 2011, another motorcycle manufacturer also faced a class action lawsuit because some of their motorcycles had defective designs that caused their engines to overheat and cause clothing to catch fire. This defect inflicted burns to riders and their passengers.

Defective motorcycle parts are just one potential cause of a motorcycle accident. Bikers need to ride as safely as possible, but that isn’t always enough to avoid injuries. If a defect causes you to wreck your bike, the manufacturers, suppliers, and/or distributors may be held liable for resulting injuries

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About the author

I have over 45 years of experience helping injury victims. My Pennsylvania-based law firm, Edgar Snyder & Associates, has represented hundreds of bikers and am active in the biker community. The Edgar Snyder & Associates’ Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season.