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California

Dynacraft Recalls Bicycles

July 11, 2002|MARC BALLON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dynacraft Industries Inc., a bicycle importer that has been the target of several product liability suits and recalls in recent years, is recalling about 4,700 mountain bikes because of defective forks.

The San Rafael, Calif., company, whose low-priced bicycles were sold by mass merchandisers such as Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys R Us Inc., has received six reports of the forks breaking apart, said Kim Dulic, a spokeswoman at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"There were injuries that included abrasions, cuts, bruises and broken teeth," she said.

Dynacraft said on its Web site that it was voluntarily recalling the bikes in conjunction with the federal agency.

The model being recalled, the 24-inch Vertical XL2 mountain bike, No. 8524-21, was sold at Target stores nationwide from August 1999 to March 2000 for about $130.

The commission is warning consumers to stop riding the bicycles immediately and to contact Dynacraft at (800) 288-1560 for information on receiving a free replacement fork. A fork attaches the front wheel to the frame.

The company has recalled about 300,000 bikes in 11 product recalls since 1987. Ten recalls have occurred in the last five years alone. Problems have included wheels and pedals prone to falling off, according to court records.

Bicycles from Dynacraft are blamed for dozens of injuries, including lost limbs, concussions and blood clots in the brain, according to the product safety commission. The company has been named in 11 product liability suits since 1990, records show. The status of the cases could not be immediately determined.

Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Assn. in Costa Mesa, which represents generally more expensive mom-and-pop stores, said low-cost imports often use inferior parts. Given their susceptibility to breaking, he said, cheap bikes are no bargain and possibly are even a health hazard.

"Even if there's not a manufacturing defect, we question whether some of these low-end bikes should be ridden," said Clements, whose group represents specialty retailers.

The typical bike sold at a mom-and-pop goes for about $350, much more than those generally carried by mass merchants, he said.

Indiana attorney John Grimm said he is suing on behalf of a client who lost part of his leg in an accident. Two years ago, Todd Hart, then 9, was riding a Dynacraft bike down a hill when the brakes allegedly failed, Grimm said. Hart crashed and his lower left leg was ripped from his body by a passing cargo van.

Grimm filed a product liability civil suit in March against Dynacraft and Wal-Mart, which assembled the bike.

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