Stiftung Warentest tests children's bikes – and, for the first time ever, woom was tested
Stiftung Warentest has tested children's bikes for the first time in fifteen years. The woom ORIGINAL 4 was also included in the test by the German institute. Unfortunately, we weren't exactly thrilled with the results. Read on to find out why.
We can't be satisfied with the results of our first appearance in a test conducted by Stiftung Warentest and published simultaneously by the German and Austrian auto clubs (ADAC and ÖAMTC). Although we took the top spot in the categories Riding, Suitability for Children, Handling, Brakes and Workmanship/Other Safety Aspects, unfortunately, a crack in the crank at the pedal thread in the component endurance test as well as a substance found in the saddle – which, although not legally regulated, is hazardous – had a negative impact on scoring a good overall score. Stiftung Warentest rated our woom ORIGINAL 4 as "unsatisfactory" in the area of Safety and Durability. Stiftung Warentest felt that this mark of "unsatisfactory" in the continuous load test warranted a poor overall rating. Because the phthalate plasticiser DPHP, which is not subject to legal regulation, was detected in the woom saddle, Stiftung Warentest only rated the woom ORIGINAL 4 as "satisfactory" in the category of harmful substances.
While we are pleased with the successes in the areas where we excelled, we are of course disappointed with the overall score. We have initiated extensive follow-up testing and analysis to get to the bottom of these problems and to better live up to our commitment to build the ideal children's bicycle. Here you can read what we have to say about our findings so far.
1. What was tested by Stiftung Warentest and how did the testing work?
- In the current children's bike test conducted by Stiftung Warentest (06/2022), 20-inch children's bikes from 12 manufacturers were tested, including the woom ORIGINAL 4.
- Stiftung Warentest scrutinised every part and component of the bikes. The tests also addressed safety aspects and conformity with German road traffic regulations (StVZO). The tests were divided into four categories: Riding, Safety and Durability, Handling, and Harmful Substances.
2. Why was the woom ORIGINAL 4 evaluated as "unsatisfactory”?
- In the area of Safety and Durability, Stiftung Warentest rated the woom ORIGINAL 4 as "unsatisfactory" because a crack was found in the crank at the pedal thread in the endurance test. Stiftung Warentest felt that this mark of "unsatisfactory" in the individual category continuous load test warranted a poor overall rating.
- In the "harmful substances" category, woom received only a "satisfactory" mark because the phthalate plasticiser DPHP, which is not regulated by law, was found in the saddle.
- The woom ORIGINAL 4 performed excellently in crucial areas. For instance, woom scored the highest mark of all the bikes tested in Suitability for Children (very good/1.5), Handling (good/ 2.3) and Riding (good/2.0). The brakes also received a top rating.
3. What are the health implications of the chemicals in the saddle identified by Stiftung Warentest?
- The woom saddle meets all legal requirements of the European Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), one of the most stringent regulations on the planet. Stiftung Warentest confirms this in its current test report.
- But, Stiftung Warentest also tests for other substances at its own discretion that are not covered by the current regulations. Among these substances is the phthalate plasticiser Di(2-propylheptyl) phthalate (DPHP), which Stiftung Warentest found in the woom saddle.
- Some experts believe that this substance can be harmful to health if it gets into the digestive system. Specifically, Stiftung Warentest states that in animal testing, DPHP harms the thyroid and pituitary glands. Every potentially harmful effect was derived from findings of experiments on rats and guinea pigs.
- At present, the effects of this substance on the human body have not been determined, which is why the substance is not yet covered by an EU-wide regulation (REACH or SVHC, short for Substance of Very High Concern).
- The extent to which DPHP may be absorbed through the skin has not been subject to medical research. As far as we know, there are no studies on this issue. Be that as it may, wearing clothing prevents this substance being absorbed through the skin. The plasticiser in the saddle is considered harmless according to the current state of knowledge, as long as young cyclists don't make a habit of riding with their bare skin against the saddle. As a manufacturer, we follow the current legislation and latest research to ensure maximum safety for our customers. Our saddle also fulfilled these requirements.
- However, we want to go above and beyond the legal requirements and, wherever possible, sell products that are completely free of potentially harmful substances. That is why we are already engaged in intensive discussions with our manufacturer aimed at removing this plasticiser from our saddle in the future. With new saddle suppliers, this issue will be addressed up front
4. What about the endurance test of the crank?
- To determine the durability of individual components, one of the things Stiftung Warentest did was to conduct a continuous load test on the cranks of the test bikes. In this test, our crank did not perform as well as we would have liked. There was premature cracking of the crank at the pedal thread. This led Stiftung Warentest to rate the product as "unsatisfactory" in the Durability category and consequently to give the bike a poor overall rating.
- Important: The durability test is intended to indicate a limitation of the service life, but it does not call into question the safety of our woom ORIGINAL 4.
- Furthermore, the laboratory results contradict our own experience and that of our customers. The results also came as a surprise to us because the tests we conducted or commissioned at accredited institutes in Germany prior to the product launch had been successful.
5. Should parents now be worried?
- No. There is no need for parents to worry. The woom ORIGINAL 4 is safe.
- Although the hairline crack in the pedal thread on the crank apparently occurred in the laboratory of the Stiftung Warentest, that has little to say about real-world performance. Until now, the cranks mentioned above have never shown cause for concern.
- We do everything in our power to make our products as safe as possible. woom bikes are premium products optimised for maximum riding fun and excellent handling. No woom product goes to market without being subjected to rigorous testing by external laboratories. The cranks are properly tested by accredited testing institutes.
- Our team of experts is always on hand to answer any questions you may have about our products. You can also get in touch with our partners and retailers if you need assistance maintaining your woom bike.
6. How could this test result have occurred?
- That is a very good question. Our assumption is that a different setup was used in the tests we commissioned for the cranks prior to product launch.
- Various testing institutes – and we are talking about prestigious German testing institutes that are accredited and certified – perform tests of the same name, but unfortunately the conditions under which they are carried out are not uniform.
- This creates a situation in which the same product can pass a test at one test institute but fail the same test at another.
- Test institutes and companies in the bicycle industry have been engaged in discussions for some time about how test standards can be made more precise and uniform.
7. How great is the risk of a pedal suddenly coming loose due to a hairline crack in the thread?
- Even if such a crack were to appear in the pedal thread after many years of use, it does not mean that the pedal would suddenly fall off. If a hairline crack were to occur, it could cause the pedal to loosen in the thread, begin to wobble, and then wobble more and more until riding becomes unpleasant. At that point, at the latest, the defect would be apparent.
- Of course, any mechanical device – and a woom bike is no exception – has a maximum service life after which signs of wear and tear may appear.
- Just like any bike, woom bikes need regular maintenance – brakes need to be checked, bolts need to be tightened, tyres need to be pumped up, and ideally every bike, especially one bought used, should be serviced once a year.
8. Does woom plan to take any action in light of the testing carried out by Stiftung Warentest? If so, what exactly?
- We take any indication of quality defects seriously. Stiftung Warentest informed us of the test results a few weeks ago, and since then, we have initiated extensive follow-up testing to understand the test results. There is no indication, however, that the safety of our bicycles is in any way compromised.
- woom is fundamentally very accommodating. But, these test results do not necessitate the replacement of any components because the product is considered safe according to the German Product Safety Act (ProdSG). If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our woom team of experts.
9. What is the quality assurance process like at woom?
- Product safety is our top priority. That begins as early as the design process for woom products, which is aligned with international industry standards.
- Before we release our products, we make sure they undergo rigorous testing by external laboratories to ensure that your child is always safe while riding and enjoys the maximum fun factor on their bike. Between the production and dispatch phases, our bikes are put through three stages of quality assurance: the approval test on components performed by accredited independent laboratories, during assembly through inspection by a quality manager at the factory, and final checks when the fully assembled bikes arrive at our warehouse. The purpose of this quality control process is early detection of any defects to ensure that only bikes in perfect working order leave our warehouse.
- For woom bikes that are sold in shops, woom retailers always perform thorough quality checks before selling them and check that the bikes have been assembled properly.