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The Dangers Off Not Recalling: Manufacturers At Fault

  Posted at 02:44:24 PM
  File under  Opinion Safety
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

Most motorcycle manufacturers at one stage or another have had to recall their motorcycles. It's no news. But the problem really is when there are problems, and the manufacturers don't recall, or at least minimize the issue. The real problem is what their responsibilities are!

Laws differ from country to country, and civil responsibilities by the factory are different depending on the country, or even the state you live in. But one thing should never change, and that is the attitude a motorcycle manufacturer takes with regards to the lives of their customers. They should be above reproach.

Unfortunately this is not always the case, or dare I say, rarely the case. Money comes first. Let's take an example that has recently happened, though you can fill in the blanks yourself, changing manufacturer and even country.

I had bought in 2005 a KTM LC4 640 Enduro from a local dealer. The dealer had run out of stock, so he had bought the bike from another dealer, and then sold it to me. Nothing new here, happens all the time. Apparently the paperwork that it was my dealer who had sold the motorcycle had not been done, or had not been received by KTM France Open link in a new window, or KTM France misplaced it.

In 2003, according to the web sites, KTM had done a recall on their LC4 because of the front wheel spokes being weak, with a possibility of them snapping (a bit of an issue when taking the motorcycle off road).

So far, nothing to be alarmed about. Last year, I sold the KTM to a good friend of mine. Jonas brought the motorcycle, with about 3500 kilometers on it (and off roaded once for 5 minutes), and took it to Paris. Happy as Larry, Jonas is riding around Paris on this nimble motorcycle.

Recently, Jonas is zooming around the Boulevard Peripherique (Paris ring road - probably one of the most dangerous roads in France), riding normally in a lane, when suddenly he heard a "bling-bling" and then felt a wobble at the front wheel. Just when he leaned over to look to see if he had a flat, the wheel gave way, and Jonas hit the pavement. He was very, very lucky that a) he survived the crash, and b) no cars behind him hit him.

Front tire damaged KTM

The bike was damaged (hand protectors, gear level, foot rest), but Jonas had only a few bruises. He brought the bike home and evaluated the damage. From the photo, you can clearly see that 2 spokes had snapped. Jonas checked the internet, and found that there had been a recall for 2003 models, but nothing about the 2005 model, so he called KTM France.

KTM France told him clearly, that there had been a recall, and that the old owner (=me) had received a letter. Since they never had my details, and since they are under no obligation to send a registered letter (ie, with me having to sign that I received it), there is no proof that the letter was actually sent. Then, KTM France admitted that no letter had been sent.

Secondly, according to the KTM website, it is the owner's responsibility to ensure that they know if a motorcycle is being recalled! You need to periodically check the manufacturer's website (link), and in KTM's case the site is protected by your VIN number and an authorization number (delivery certificate) that would have been sent to you (and which wasn't). Without that, or if you're a 2nd owner, there's no way you can even check if there are recalls.

Now think about it
! You, the owner, need to ensure that your motorcycle is not being recalled, not the manufacturer. The fact that they have badly manufactured a motorcycle, and that the fault can be life threatening, does not mean the manufacturer will do all that is possible and find current owners. The fact that they put it on a hidden portion of their website is apparently enough to absolve them from any legal liabilities. You apparently also need to have an internet connection....

Something wrong here
!!! Is it so hard to find your current owners? Will that drain your financial resources so much? Why hide your defects?

So, until laws change, better make sure your bike is under a recall! Don't expect a letter from the manufacturer. It would seem that you are responsible to check for recalls.

In other countries, the government have recall lists. You can go to their sites, and find if your motorcycle has been recalled.

UK: VOSA Open link in a new window
USA: NHTSA/ODI Open link in a new window
Canada: TC Open link in a new window
Australia: Recalls Open link in a new window

Switzerland: Auto-Schweiz Open link in a new window (only for cars, no bikes)

In the mean time, the motorcycle was brought to a local KTM dealer. Under instruction of KTM France, the dealer replaced the spokes that had been snapped, and place brackets for the old ones. They didn't replace the wheel, just the spokes. To me, that does not seem adequate. If the spokes snap off, placing brackets should not hold, specially when going off road. Jonas wrote them a registered letter, reminding them of their legal responsibilities, and now KTM have agreed to replace the entire wheel.

Something wrong with this picture.

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