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News story last night about Honda rear linkage failures

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by [FLUX], Jul 26, 2006.

  1. Did anyone else catch the news story last night about the young guy who was killed in a race when the stock rear shock linkage on his bike (I believe it was a 2002 model CBR600RR) broke? The guy lost control of course, came off, and another motorcycle hit him and killed him.

    Happened about a year ago.

    What was interesting was that the story was about determining the scale of the inquest into the accident. Honda was apparantly gunning that other evidence of linkage failure on the same model of bike be barred from any formal inquest (unsure of the reason why), and that Honda couldn't be to blame because the lad was killed by another motorcycle, and not the linkage breaking.

    After watching the report, I was thinking, "What the f**k"? I know that it's news reporting and it's not always accurate, but surely arguing that the boy was killed by a bike, and not the linkage breaking, is a bit like the manufacturer of window cleaner safety harnesses arguing that when the harness broke and the window cleaner fell to his death, that it was the sudden stop at the end that was to blame and not any fault in the safety harness manufacture.

    I mean, surely one would have to logically think that when a critical component that fails results in loss of control and therefore a chance of death, whether that chance of death be by tree, vehicle, or other, that it was the original point of failure that was to blame, and not the tree/vehicle/other that then caused the resultant death.

    This is one case that I want to hear the outcome of. It surely sounds as though Honda is trying to shirk responsibility for the failure of components critical to the control of the motorcycle, and blame any resultant injury on what you end up hitting, rather than the failure itself.
  2. yeah I saw the story on channel 7 and 9, was that the 954 pictured?
    The news reader mentioned the bike he was racing was a cbr600rr ridden for redwing honda.
    I think the red cbr in shot was there for illustration...
  3. Yeah, I wasn't sure of the actual bike model as I came onto the story part way through and only caught a brief glimpse. May well have been a CBR600RR.

    Have corrected the opening post now.
  4. good point- It'll be interesting to see what the coroner says about the scope of the investigation, the report says there were at least 2 other bikes which had similar linkage failures.

    Wouldn't be surprised if it's settled out of court and we never find out.

    just found a link to the story-

  5. The story related to 2001, so it will be an older model CBR600, maybe an F4 or F3.

    I can sort of see why Honda would state their case, but surely if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear?
  6. You've ridden a CBR600 around PI cejay. In your opinion, can you accelerate hard enough out of Siberia and through Turn 7, on a CBR600, to be hitting Turn 8 "too fast"?

    Even on the R1 I can't do that. Sure, I hit the corner at high speed (~210kph), but even then it's not like I don't have enough lean angle left to be going perhaps as fast as 240kph if the bike accelerated quickly enough. I often find myself still accelerating gently through Turn 8 purely because there is sufficient lean/traction left to do so.
  7. I can see honda wining this with the argument they have put in the article that there is no evidence the linkage failed before the accident and not in the ensuing cartwheeling of the bike afterwards.

    I am not saying whether it is right or wrong, just that i can invisage this being the outcome.
  8. I think you'll find in their sales contracts, warranties and other paperwork, a phrase something like "warranty void if raced" or " bike not designed for race tracks, use at own risk".
    They are not dumb, and we don't know the history of the bike either. Who knows what sort of accidents it has been in before?
    I'd be more interested to see teh results of a thorough metallurgical examination of the part/s involved.

    Regards, Andrew.
  9. This covers warenty claims, but still doesn't protect them from neglegence. All they have to say is the bike was not designed for racing, but they will be avoiding that because of the sales drop they would encure from it.
  10. I'm not sure if that holds any truth when considering the legal system :?
  11. T8's the Hayshed, right? Geez, without being there and actually seeing the accident it'd be impossible to say what happened. That's the problem in analysing accidents without hard data.

    I'd have thought though, that if linkages were a known problem that something, somewhere would have been written down about them. That said, why are Honda being so evasive? You'd have thought, if you are confident in your product, you could defend it.
  12. good point too.

    would it make a difference because it was a honda backed racing team though? Surely they would have a duty of care which would cover this sort of thing...?
  13. Hasen't there been about 40 billion CBR600's (Both the F and RR Versions) bought and sold in this country?

    I haven't heard of a rash of complaints from other owners of these bikes complaining about poor suspension linkages. Also wouldn't the bumpy Australian roads put greater loads on suspension linkages that a relatively smooth racetrack would?

    Could be an unfourtunate one-off, but a suspension linkage is one part of a motorcycle that I wouldn't want breaking mid turn.
  14. Nup, horrible thought. Especially at a point on the circuit where you might get collected by people doing 200+ speeds. Nowhere for anyone to go in that situation. Which makes me wonder what the guy who hit him must have felt (or be feeling, with the inquest in progress).
  15. I do recall reading somewhere on data analysis of the race bikes that on entry into Turn 8 (Hayshed) that the rear suspension can be loaded up to around 500kgs of pressure because of the way the track undulates there.

    I know on the R1 that it takes a lot of effort to get the bike turned coming out of T7 and into T8, and I had always wondered why until I read up about the loading that occurs on the rear suspension there. It's apparantly meant to be one of the most stressful rear-loading corners on the international circuit.

    I guess what I'm saying is that:

    1) The entry into Turn 8 at PI is about the most stressful on rear shock linkages of most anywhere.
    2) Honda's argument that he entered Turn 8 "too fast" seems unlikely to me. Speak to most any 600cc rider and they'll tell you that the throttle is pinned out of Siberia and into Turn 8 simply because they can't enter Turn 8 "too fast" given the power available.

    It's this rear-loading at T8 that causes a lot of people to come off there, simply because it can be quite difficult to get the bike settled and turned given what the suspension is coping with, and perhaps this is what is meant by "too fast". On the corresponding flip-side, if a rear linkage failure is going to happen anywhere, it'll happen at Turn 8.

    If it were an isolated incident I'd say it was bad luck. Given that two other bike's linkages have failed, it does seem suspect.

    I guess the truth of the matter would somewhat be borne out if Honda have increased the strength of the rear linkage in their 600cc bike post-2001. Not that this holds as evidence in a court, but would give an indication that Honda were aware that it was a sufficient issue that needed engineering correction. No bike manufacturer adds mass/weight to components for no reason.
  16. Is the family suing anyone? Remember, this is an inquest, not a trial.

    And it's not surprising that Honda wants to limit the admission of evidence.
  17. I'd like to see the detail on the two other crashes. These were raised by the lawyers of the guy who died who are hardly impartial. If there was an investigation into the other crashes and they categorically cited rear link failure as the cause then I agree that Honda should allow the evidence as it is relevant.

    However, if it hasn't been proven that the other two crashes were definitely mechanical failure then I agree with Honda that it shouldn't be admissible. It seems unfair to make a case against them on the basis of being "strikingly similar".
  18. This isn't a case against Honda (or anyone).

    It's a coronial inquest, to determine the cause of death. As well as doing that, coroners frequently make recommendations concerning relevant factors. These aren't binding, as far as I know.

    Having said that, it's in Honda's interest to restrict the ambit of the enquiry because it would not welcome a finding that the death occurred because of a failure of the motorcycle's rear suspension. Obviously that would have disastrous PR consequences for the company. It could also open the door to a claim against Honda by any financial dependents of the rider on the basis that his death arose because of Honda's negligence in the design or construction of the component.

    I imagine a good deal will turn on expert technical evidence - particularly if there's doubt as to whether the suspension failed before the accident or because of it.