EFBE Safety Stets

Unser Interviewpartner: Marcus Schröder vom EFBE Prüflabor

EFBE Prüftechnik GmbH is an independent test laboratory for mechanical testing of bicycles and components. ROTWILD bikes are also regularly tested here with regard to safety and quality. In this interview, Marcus Schröder, managing partner of EFBE, explains the background to the testing procedures and their benefits for us mountain bikers.

What are the most common tests that manufacturers order from you?

The largest share is made up of frame tests and in particular our TRI-TEST, which goes beyond the requirements of the ISO 4210 bicycle safety standard commonly used worldwide.

Foto: Mark Keppler / EFBE Prüftechnik GmbH

What exactly is the EFBE TRI-TEST?

The EFBE TRI-TEST is available for all safety-relevant assemblies on bikes and e-bikes and for currently 15 classes of bikes. We distinguish, for example, between city bikes and trekking bikes or also various classes of MTBs - from the XC racing file to the downhiller. Each TRI-TEST consists of three modules: fatigue tests, maximum load tests and overload tests. Fatigue recreates many loads that occur frequently and repeatedly, while maximum loads simulate rarely occurring peak loads at the edge of intended use. Overload testing, on the other hand, is designed to ensure the safety of the particular assembly in the event of an overload - which could be a misuse or even an accident. There is no such thing as an indestructible product, but it makes a big difference to the safety of the rider, for example, whether a frame rear end gives way "softly" in the event of a botched landing on the opposite slope or whether a head tube suddenly snaps off.

How can a laboratory test provide any information at all about loads that occur in practice during cycling?

That is the great challenge - and an essential characteristic of a good test: To obtain, in a short time, an informed prediction of how the product will behave in the customer's hands. To do this, different load cases and a series of fatigue tests and static tests are performed. Good tests are validated against measurement data from the field, but also in comparison with proven as well as known critical products.

Foto: Mark Keppler / EFBE Prüftechnik GmbH

To what extent do you have to adapt your test procedures to new bike models such as e-MTBs?

We are constantly working on improvements and refinements and this especially intensively for E-MTBs. We know that the load for an E-MTB looks different than for conventional bikes and have introduced three classes of E-MTBs for testing: EXC for cross-country, EAM for all-mountain/trail bikes and EGR for downhill and similar gravity e-bikes.

What are the most common weaknesses in a framework review?

This is highly dependent on the type of bike and its area of use, but mountain bikes in particular have typical Achilles heels at the rear end, such as chainstay cracks. Critical are also the main frame at singular peak loads as well as particularly hard landings.

Foto: Mark Keppler / EFBE Prüftechnik GmbH

As a mountain biker, which parts of my bike should I regularly check for damage?

The head tube, top tube and down tube, as well as the welds between them, the area around the bottom bracket and the chain stays are frame parts that are good to check when cleaning. But also handlebars, stems and seatposts should be checked regularly - this applies especially after each fall.

Do manufacturers have to have their wheels tested before they are sold?

Yes and no - e-bikes are a bit more regulated here, but by and large it's the manufacturer's responsibility and discretion to what extent they involve an independent testing lab.

What are the regulations and standards here?

As for almost everything, there are a number of standards. The most important are ISO 4210 for youth bikes, city/trekking bikes, MTB and road bikes. And there is an EN 15194 for EPAC, commonly known as PEDELEC, which is currently being reissued, but will also only recognize one type of e-bike in the future - i.e. makes little difference between a Holland bike with a front motor and an e-enduro.

As a buyer of a bike, can I tell if the bike and its components have been independently tested?

Not always. ROTWILD and most leading manufacturers rely on independent, external tests; other brands do a lot of internal testing. Internal testing carries the risk of a certain "partial blindness," but that's probably still better than brands filing away test reports from their suppliers without complaint or question - which is, however, a dying practice. What's important is that testing is done for the intended use, rather than bluntly checking off a standard pro forma. Unfortunately, this is a difficult topic to market - few customers want to be confronted with the idea of component failure when buying a bike.

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