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Rider sues Rene Herse Cycles over alleged tubeless tire ‘blowoff’

Published April 7, 2022

RALEIGH, N.C. (BRAIN) — A North Carolina cyclist is suing Rene Herse Cycles alleging the company was negligent in selling a tubeless road tire that blew off a hookless rim, causing a crash.

A suit filed by cyclist Anthony Justin Little alleges that in March 2019 he was riding at about 23 mph on asphalt when his 38mm Compass Barlow Pass tubeless clincher suffered a “spontaneous blowoff.” The tire was mounted on a hookless rim. 

Jan Heine, Rene Herse’s owner, told BRAIN that he only just became aware of the lawsuit and he offered no comment. Compass tires were rebranded as Rene Herse in 2019. The company is based in Seattle. 

The suit says the crash caused Little a torn hamstring, bruising, abrasions and permanent scarring, disfigurement and discoloration. It says Little is an experienced cyclist who was “meticulous in ensuring that all components of his bicycle were used in proper manner, within the manufacturer recommended specifications,” including maintaining the recommended tire pressure. It says Little had researched the Compass tire model on the brand’s website and concluded it was an appropriate fit for his rims. He said nothing on the company's website or the tire’s packaging suggested the tire was inappropriate for use with hookless rims. The complaint alleges that the company was aware of other consumer complaints about the tire model blowing off hookless rims.

The suit alleges that after the crash Little sent the tire to Rene Herse for inspection and that the company later told him they had lost the damaged tire despite promises to return it. The suit does not say what rim was used or its dimensions. It also does not say if Little installed the tire himself or if someone else did it. 

Little is asking for actual and punitive damages and legal fees. The suit was initially filed in Pitt County, North Carolina, Superior Court, and has now been removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Raleigh. 

Heine is active in tire and rim standards groups including ASTM. The Rene Herse website now contains a detailed discussion of the use of the brand's tires on hookless rims; in short, the site says hookless rims are OK with its tires as long as the rims meet relevant ERTRO/ISO dimension standards for rim sidewall height and rim seat diameter. It's not clear if that information was on the site prior to Little's crash. 

"If a component doesn’t match the standards, all bets are off. If the deviation is small, it may work, but there’s no guarantee," the site says.

On March 16, 2019, (coincidentally about a week after Little's crash), Enve released a warning about the use of some lightweight Challenge, Specialized and Vittoria tires with Enve's carbon hookless rims. The Enve announcement did not mention Rene Herse or Compass tires. 

Topics associated with this article: Lawsuits/legal

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