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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Came across this warning at the ITM website:

"WARNING: READ

CAREFULLY READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS SUPPLEMENT REGARDING THE CORRECT ASSEMBLY AND USE OF YOUR ITM "THE STEM"

Your ITM “The Stem” is a hi-tech product and must therefore be assembled and used with the greatest care.
Your ITM “The Stem” must be assembled only by a specialized mechanic using the appropriate torque wrench.
ITM urges you to take your bicycle immediately to your expert mechanic and not to attempt to perform the following operations yourself.
If you are unwilling to comply with our request, following these instructions carefully and remember that you are assembling your ITM “The Stem” entirely at your own risk and peril and that ITM cannot and shall not be held responsible for any damage you may suffer from failure to fully comply with the following instructions.

MOUNTING THE HANDLEBAR BEND ON "THE STEM"

• Your ITM “The Stem” must be mounted no more than 3 to 4 mm (0,12 to 0,16) from the top of the steerer.
• Your ITM “The Stem” has been designed to be fitted onto a fork steerer that is 25,4 mm (1” in) in diameter by means of the reduction bush supplied by ITM. If you do not have an ITM reduction bush ask your mechanic for one immediately or call us on tool-free number 800 320 220 if you are in Italy or send us an e-mail at [email protected] and we will send you one directly from the factory.
•If the diameter of your fork steerer is 28,6 mm (1” 1/8 in), and is in carbon, it must be fitted to an“expander” that will prevent it from being crushed at the entire height of the stem clamp.
Also regularly check the carbon steerer for damage. Consult your mechanic and ask for an “expander” that is suitable for your fork stereer.
• “The Stem” must never be assembled reverse (see Fig. 2).


NOTES FOR YOUR SAFETY

• “The Stem” that you have purchased has been designed and manufactured for use on a road racing bicycle. Any other use is absolutely forbidden.
• Maintaining the efficiency of “The Stem” you have purchased.
Like all other ITM products, “The Stem” you have bought has been manufactured using carefully chosen materials that guarantee perfect quality and reliability. In confirmation of this fact, “The Stem” has passed some of the severest tests in the world, including that required for ISO 10395 and NFR 30-020 approval.
• “The Stem” is a handlebar stem mainly for professional use. Given that ITM considers the complete safety of its customers as fundamental, we advise you to take care that the correct functioning of “The Stem” is not compromised by prolonged use or in conditions of constant, heavy stress. Check the condition and wear and tear of the stem periodically, and do not hesitate to replace it if it has been mounted for a number of years and has been much used.
Before every use, it is advisable to check every component of your bicycle carefully, including “The Stem”. Check in particular that “The Stem” and your ITM handlebar bend do not display any cracks, folds, deformations or changes to the original setting. If they do, do not use your bicycle, but take it to a reliable mechanic for repairs or spare parts, as required.
• If it should be necessary to replace the bolts, only original ITM bolts should be used.
• Check the torque setting of the screws regularly using the appropriate torque wrench; torque to be applied on stem bolts; 6 Newton per meter. If you notice that screws continue to loosen it means that the steerer is suffering from fatigue and is collapsing. If this is the case, do not use your bicycle but take it to your mechanic for a thorough check.
• At the end of each ride, check the stem for damage and then check for any pits or cracks. The area of the rear clamp is the most subject to stress.

http://www.itm.it/sito_uk/main_uk.htm

Now, are all those precautions even POSSIBLE?

On the one hand, they say the product is fantastic: "carefully chosen materials that guarantee perfect quality and reliability," then give lots of warnings that essentially say that if your installation and maintenance are not PERFECT, then the product can fail. HUH?

Isn' this a bit contradictory? "The Stem” is a handlebar stem mainly for professional use. Given that ITM considers the complete safety of its customers as fundamental, we advise you to take care that the correct functioning of “The Stem” is not compromised by prolonged use or in conditions of constant, heavy stress."

I think you'd need a full time inspector using an x-ray device to adequately check for cracks as suggested. Do we want any products that require that level of scrutiny, or is this simply over-reaction to getting sued over failed products?

My view is that if something is that scarey, requiring that level of warnings, then don't even make it. Make something reliable and trustworthy.

Thoughts?
 

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Wow. There's a shopping list of defenses in a product liability case. I don't know the product. Does it differ significantly from other stems?

It seems that either the stem's design is pushing the limits of safe performance, or it's just [email protected] and they expect or fear a higher-than-normal failure rate, or they are just trying a new across-the-board product liability defense scheme. In none of those 3 situations does it bode well for a consumer, though the defense scheme might not work, of course.
 

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My sense is that they are just trying to protect themselves. By writing the instructions as they did, they discourage casual mechanics from working on it or claiming that they didn't realize that this was, indeed, something that required a certain amount of expertise.

ITM is also trying to suggest that any mishap must be the fault of the installer since its design and fabrication is "guaranteed" to be perfect.

That might fly in Italy, but not here, I suspect.

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
light weight magnesium

PdxMark said:
Wow. There's a shopping list of defenses in a product liability case. I don't know the product. Does it differ significantly from other stems?

It seems that either the stem's design is pushing the limits of safe performance, or it's just [email protected] and they expect or fear a higher-than-normal failure rate, or they are just trying a new across-the-board product liability defense scheme. In none of those 3 situations does it bode well for a consumer, though the defense scheme might not work, of course.
The fundamental difference on this stem is that it is magnesium, under 100 grams.

Problem is that product liability law may not recognize all those warnings as defenses. In California, for example, the seller is liable even for "foreseeable misuse."

How do you tell if the warnings are overblown or the product is really not safe, though?
 

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By implying that a casual home mechanic should not install this, are they not then contradicting themselves by implying an end user of the product is qualified to inspect the product at the end of each and every ride?

Just reading that list of warnings and disclaimers I would tend to pass on the item. And if it was something that I mail ordered I'd demand a full refund without any restocking fees or return shipping costs as something that indepth in warnings should be noted prior to purchasing the item.

In other words, in they're that concerned about problems then it possibly isn't a very decent product for the general consumer to use.

That's my opinion on the matter anyway, and worth probably less that what you paid for it. Not meant as an indicator of the true product viability so don't sue me. Usual and irregular disclaimers may or may not apply as the need or situation deem necessary. Torque to 22.739 inch-pounds plus 1/32 of a turn +/- 1/4 degree and add a cup of espresso served warn but not hot so as not to drop, burn, damage any users or facility equipment.
Have a nice day, play again soon.
 

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Well, would a warning like that have had any effect on the guy who you were representing in that handlebar lawsuit? If it keeps people from doing faceplants at high speeds and keeps them from being sued, I think it's fine. I think it's a pretty reasonable warning given the nature of the product, how it's going to be used, and the type of person that would probably buy it. That stuff shouldn't seem that unreasonable for anyone using a high tech lightweigh stem. The only person who can really benefit from something like 'The Stem' is an elete level athelete. I don't know why anyone else bothers with this stupid light stuff. Hopefully that warning will scare away people who don't know how to maintain their own bikes. And honestly, I wouldn't trust the average shop wrench with a part like that. The torque wrench isn't exactly a popular tool at most shops. If you want a stem like that and don't have a pro mechanic, you should be comfortable using a torque wrench and inspecting the stem yourself. I inspect my bars and stems, but also use beefy components with proven track records.
 

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Magnesium stem...

On further reflection this raises an interesting question about the margins for safety, and misuse, that should be built into consumer products.

The engineering of most condumer products, including bike products, allows a certain degree of misuse and abuse by consumers.... the margin of safety. One common notion we hear on this board is that max tire pressures stamped onto tires reflect about 50% of the average blow-out tire pressure.

We are all accostomed to having these margins of safety.

But shouldn't people be aloowed to operate with a narrower margin, if they chose to and have proper notice of it? It seems like that option ought to be available... So maybe this warning reflects a reduced, maybe greatly reduced, margin of safety, which people can chose to accept if they want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
problem

PdxMark said:
Magnesium stem...

On further reflection this raises an interesting question about the margins for safety, and misuse, that should be built into consumer products.

The engineering of most condumer products, including bike products, allows a certain degree of misuse and abuse by consumers.... the margin of safety. One common notion we hear on this board is that max tire pressures stamped onto tires reflect about 50% of the average blow-out tire pressure.

We are all accostomed to having these margins of safety.

But shouldn't people be aloowed to operate with a narrower margin, if they chose to and have proper notice of it? It seems like that option ought to be available... So maybe this warning reflects a reduced, maybe greatly reduced, margin of safety, which people can chose to accept if they want.
The problem I see is that the reduced margin of safety is not quantified, and really not even acknowledged outright. For example, they could say "Our ITM Millenium 145 gram stem has been tested to fail after an average of 200,000 cycles (or x miles or x years), and the THE magnesum stem has been tested to 100,000 cycles (and reduced lifespan). Something like that would be meaningful. Also, It would be more helpful for the company to describe the testing and anecdotal history, for example "x stems have cracked where the front plate mounting interface..." instead of only vague mentions of looking for cracks and shorter lifespans.

It also does not make sense to say it's a professional level product, but then disclaim hard use. Huh? Do pros not ride hard?

What if most all products started coming with similar warnings? Would they either become meaningless, or would people not buy anything with such a warning?

In any event, to me, if a product maker feels it's necessary to include that sort of warning/disclaimer, I'll not buy it. Also, even though I know that warranties are not the same as a promise of performance, I feel much better about a Kestrel carbon bar with a lifetime warranty than an aluminum bar with a 1 year warranty, even if the two are the same weight. That sort of thing.
 

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I have The Stem on my lightweight bike...

...and I'm not too worried. The disclaimers seem pretty normal considering the product.

The Stem is a rediculously light product. It retails for $165! How can anyone with a shard of common sense, not realize that something this light is cutting a LOT of corners, so to speak, to get the weight down. Here's why I'm not too worried about mine: (knock on wood, :)

I weigh only 135 pounds, so I don't put a lot of massive torque forces onto it when I'm riding. I only ride that bike about 700 - 1000 miles per season. I'm an experienced shop mechanic. If I ever crash the bike The Stem will see the waste basked immediatly.
Do I use a torque wrench to tighten it? Yeah, right. However, I do use COMMON sense when tightening the thing...READ: I don't crank the heck out of it to thighten it up.
I also regularly, VERY carefully, check over my whole bike for signs of wear or damage.

Now, with all that being said, if the thing did suddenly fail on me I'd sue ITM in a New York minute. I'm assuming the thing is safe when used with care and common sense. If that was to not prove true I'd go after the manufacturer for marketing an unsafe product. And like other posters (lawyers even) have stated, those disclaimers probably won't offer much cover in Amerian court rooms.

I still think it is a safe product. If it was truly dangerous I think the company would issue a recall. Will I ride mine past 4000 miles? Probably not.

Just my worthless opinions on the matter.
 

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unless it's made from a piece of railroad track it's not idiot proof..

i've read a few posts where people where having trouble with cracks developing from
the handlebar clamp bolts. Of course they wanted it warranteed, and no, they didn't
torque it per the instructions, and yes it was used for mtn. biking and if i remember
correctly, one was a clydesdale rider, so........i think they are jsut trying to convey
the proper treatment for a part that weighs almost half as much as anything similar.

the resolution--this is all from memory--was that the cracks were a result of the bolts
and not from riding, so i would definately follow the assembly instructions EXACTLY.

i'm sure it's a safe product it's just there are soooo many CONSUMERS who aren't..

there. how's that. :)
 

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I can imagine it now:

ITM: Your honor, on all ITM packaging we disclaim all liability for improper use of our products. Plaintiff failed to use a torque wrench and failed to check The Stem for cracks, folds, or deformations. Furthermore, Plaintiff weighs 210 pounds, which is more than the average cyclist and our disclaimer specifically warns purchasers that The Stem is not meant for prolonged use or continued conditions of heavy stress. Clearly, Plaintiff disregarded ITM's disclaimer and ITM should not be liable for Plaintiff's 8 new teeth and newly reconstructed nose.

His Honor: Counsel, could you please describe to me what The Stem is?

ITM: Well, your honor, it is a stem for a bike.

His Honor: And it's called "The Stem?"

ITM: Yes, it connects the handlebars of a bicycle to the fork of that same bicycle. It assists in the steering of the bike.

His Honor: Does your client make a "The Bike" or "The Handlebar." Does ITM make ALL stems for bikes . . . Why is it called The Stem?

ITM: Well, ITM believes its product is cutting edge for racing bike stems. It's made of magnesium and is very light in comparison to other stems. Bike racers like light stems. Calling its product "The Stem" is a way of portraying its superiority among like products.

His Honor: I don't mean to make arguments for the opposing party, but as a matter of curiosity, if your product is so superior, then why do you suppose Plaintiff has alleged that it snapped on his first ride?

ITM: Again, your honor, it's because Plaintiff failed to take the proper precautions in utilzing our product.

His Honor: Meaning?

ITM: Plaintiff failed to use a torque wrench.

His Honor: and that's what caused the failure?

ITM: It could have played a part in it. That's what our experts will testify to.

His Honor: I find the following language somewhat amusing, especially in light of ITM calling its product "The Stem": "we advise you to take care that The Stem is not compromised by prolonged use or in conditions of constant, heavy stress." Now counsel, I've watched snippets of the Tour de France and I've seen Neil . . . . err excuse me . . . Lance Armstrong on those Subaru commercials. Can't I take judicial notice of the fact that bike racers exert constant, heavy stress on their handlebars?

ITM: Possibly, but the fact remains that we forewarned Plaintiff. Plaintiff knew he was heavier than the average cyclist, but Plaintiff decided to use the product. In doing so, he assumed the risk.

His Honor: Are you making Plaintiff's obesity a defense? . . . Again, out of curiosity, where is ITM's so-called disclaimer printed?

ITM: It's on a piece of paper folded up in the box in which the The Stem is packaged. Hold on your honor, I have a box containing The Stem right here. May I approach?

His Honor: (opening the box and removing The Stem and shaking out the paper): Oh this is the disclaimer you're talking about? The one that is folded about 120 times into a compact wafer?

ITM: Umm yes your honor, that's the one.

His Honor: (unfolding the paper): Is it normally in this fine of print? (getting his glasses . . . looking closer). Excuse me counsel, but it is it normally in Japanese?

ITM: Turn it over your honor and its in English.

His Honor: French, German, . . . oh finally, I found it. Here it is in English. Okay, counsel why shouldn't I find your disclaimer unconscionable? . . . .

And so on and so forth . . . .
 

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I bought one of "The Stems" over the internet a while back. When it arrived and I saw how light it was, it scared the crap out of me. I don't know how it could be safe or reliable at that weight. It sits unused and unmounted in my cupboard to this day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
very good!

what headwind said:
I can imagine it now:

ITM: Your honor, on all ITM packaging we disclaim all liability for improper use of our products. Plaintiff failed to use a torque wrench and failed to check The Stem for cracks, folds, or deformations. Furthermore, Plaintiff weighs 210 pounds, which is more than the average cyclist and our disclaimer specifically warns purchasers that The Stem is not meant for prolonged use or continued conditions of heavy stress. Clearly, Plaintiff disregarded ITM's disclaimer and ITM should not be liable for Plaintiff's 8 new teeth and newly reconstructed nose.

His Honor: Counsel, could you please describe to me what The Stem is?

ITM: Well, your honor, it is a stem for a bike.

His Honor: And it's called "The Stem?"

ITM: Yes, it connects the handlebars of a bicycle to the fork of that same bicycle. It assists in the steering of the bike.

His Honor: Does your client make a "The Bike" or "The Handlebar." Does ITM make ALL stems for bikes . . . Why is it called The Stem?

ITM: Well, ITM believes its product is cutting edge for racing bike stems. It's made of magnesium and is very light in comparison to other stems. Bike racers like light stems. Calling its product "The Stem" is a way of portraying its superiority among like products.

His Honor: I don't mean to make arguments for the opposing party, but as a matter of curiosity, if your product is so superior, then why do you suppose Plaintiff has alleged that it snapped on his first ride?

ITM: Again, your honor, it's because Plaintiff failed to take the proper precautions in utilzing our product.

His Honor: Meaning?

ITM: Plaintiff failed to use a torque wrench.

His Honor: and that's what caused the failure?

ITM: It could have played a part in it. That's what our experts will testify to.

His Honor: I find the following language somewhat amusing, especially in light of ITM calling its product "The Stem": "we advise you to take care that The Stem is not compromised by prolonged use or in conditions of constant, heavy stress." Now counsel, I've watched snippets of the Tour de France and I've seen Neil . . . . err excuse me . . . Lance Armstrong on those Subaru commercials. Can't I take judicial notice of the fact that bike racers exert constant, heavy stress on their handlebars?

ITM: Possibly, but the fact remains that we forewarned Plaintiff. Plaintiff knew he was heavier than the average cyclist, but Plaintiff decided to use the product. In doing so, he assumed the risk.

His Honor: Are you making Plaintiff's obesity a defense? . . . Again, out of curiosity, where is ITM's so-called disclaimer printed?

ITM: It's on a piece of paper folded up in the box in which the The Stem is packaged. Hold on your honor, I have a box containing The Stem right here. May I approach?

His Honor: (opening the box and removing The Stem and shaking out the paper): Oh this is the disclaimer you're talking about? The one that is folded about 120 times into a compact wafer?

ITM: Umm yes your honor, that's the one.

His Honor: (unfolding the paper): Is it normally in this fine of print? (getting his glasses . . . looking closer). Excuse me counsel, but it is it normally in Japanese?

ITM: Turn it over your honor and its in English.

His Honor: French, German, . . . oh finally, I found it. Here it is in English. Okay, counsel why shouldn't I find your disclaimer unconscionable? . . . .

And so on and so forth . . . .
I think you nailed it. I would not like to be the ITM lawyer in that situation.
 

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That's the same type of idiot who sues McDonalds for being too fat. Oh gee, I didn't know eating 5 Big Macs every day would cause me to look like a 350lb blimp in 10 years....
 

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and why is it that...

gun companies don't have to warn of every concievable misuse with their products?
are firearms the last bastion of consumer ignorance? we've surely lost precious
ground everytime we buy a ladder!! :)
 

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I don't think that there are any "Pro" teams that would be stupid enough to use a stem like this. A stem like this is made for recreational riders who want the "lightest" and the most expensive equipment. If you notice, this stem isn't even strong enough to flip to a "high rise" position.
ITM knows this. That's why they list all the qualifers with the use of this stem. What other stem must you check before every ride ?
This would make a perfect stem for a "Sunday" bike, for someone who only wants the best and lightest, and can afford the cost.
 

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contract argument?

temper this reply with the knowledge that i'm just a lowly one-L who probably doesn't know exactly what he's saying yet...

if a stem were to fail, it seems to me that one might make a breach of warranty argument based on the UCC and its sections dealing with express & implied warranties. here's what i'd say (and i'm sure i'm missing something)...

1) UCC 2-313: the language about pro racing, etc. creates an express warranty for the product.

2) 2-316: the limitations ITM states in the text fail to limit the express warranty created therein, as it would be unreasonable to construe the limitations in a manner that is inconsistent with the express warranty.

3) 2-314: implied warranty of merchantability - could say the stem is not fit for its intended use

4) 2-316: this implied warranty exists b/c it is not properly disclaimed.

5) 2-715(2)(b): consequential damages available for person injured in breach of warranty

it would take some work to show that the stem breakage constitutes a breach of warranty, express or implied, but if you can get there it seems like you could recover for such a breach.

bottom line, it seems like the ucc offers a codified statement regarding the idea you stated above: that it is wildly inconsistent to make claims about strength, quality, professional usage then turn around and say that the product may fail so easily.

then again, i'm sure i missed something - it seems pretty easy to do when dealing with the ucc - and like i said - they warned us against being sure of ourselves for at least another semester or two!

scott
 

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zero85ZEN said:
I'm an experienced shop mechanic. If I ever crash the bike The Stem will see the waste basked immediatly. Do I use a torque wrench to tighten it? Yeah, right. However, I do use COMMON sense when tightening the thing...READ: I don't crank the heck out of it to thighten it up.
I also regularly, VERY carefully, check over my whole bike for signs of wear or damage.

Now, with all that being said, if the thing did suddenly fail on me I'd sue ITM in a New York minute. I'm assuming the thing is safe when used with care and common sense.
Just curious, but how could you sue them, if you hadn't used a torque wrench and knew for a fact the bolts were tightened to 6 N-m? Those numbers aren't just there. The engineers know what they're doing, and expect anyone buying such a specialized piece of equipment should treat and install it exactly to spec.

If you're "an experienced shop mechanic," then I understand that you've tightened quite a few bolts over the years, and have developed and honed your sense of feel for bolt tightness. But with such an unusual piece, I don't think I'd cut any corners.

I don't have that sense of feel, and my torque wrench is my friend. I feel it's worth the extra few seconds longer over a ratcheting wrench, for my peace of mind.

Just my humble opinion,
Brian
 

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GirchyGirchy said:
Just curious, but how could you sue them, if you hadn't used a torque wrench and knew for a fact the bolts were tightened to 6 N-m? Those numbers aren't just there. The engineers know what they're doing, and expect anyone buying such a specialized piece of equipment should treat and install it exactly to spec.

If you're "an experienced shop mechanic," then I understand that you've tightened quite a few bolts over the years, and have developed and honed your sense of feel for bolt tightness. But with such an unusual piece, I don't think I'd cut any corners.

I don't have that sense of feel, and my torque wrench is my friend. I feel it's worth the extra few seconds longer over a ratcheting wrench, for my peace of mind.

Just my humble opinion,
Brian

The problem with super lightweight, exotic material parts is that it is very easy to over-tighten them and cause damage. I'm a weakling. I could test the torque I create when using a standard allen wrench and prove that I did not overtighten. This being said...the product has to be safe under REASONABLE useage. As a knowledgable mechanic with over 10 years of experiece I would expect that I am capable of not over-tightening a part when I'm aware of the dangers of overtightening. However, whether or not I'd win a lawsuit is not the point of my post...I'm simply saying that common sense needs to be applied to some of these high end parts. I think the extreme disclaimers are there to drive home that point.
 
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