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Luca Shaw Diagnosed with 'Pretty Small' Spinal Fracture Following Windrock Crash

Mar 30, 2021 at 8:00
by James Smurthwaite  

Luca Shaw has posted on Instagram that he has picked up a fracture in his lower spine that will keep him off the bike for two weeks.

The Syndicate have so far had some rough luck this offseason with Greg Minnaar announcing he had suffered from a bout of COVID and now Luca Shaw announcing this spinal injury. Luca picked up the injury while racing at Windrock in the Tennessee National round earlier this month. A mechanical issue locked up his bike and ejected him out of the front door after he qualified first and was fastest at the first split. Thankfully, this doesn't seem to be a very serious injury and doctors have told Luca that the fracture on his facet joint should heal in a couple of weeks.

Luca's World Cup season now won't start until May in Fort William, which should give him plenty of time to recover, but it might have been touch and go if Maribor hadn't been postponed from late April until September. Luca is apparently back on the road bike already and is hoping the injury will heal itself without surgery.

bigquotesLittle injury update... last week I went to get some x rays since I was still feeling some pain in my lower back. Turns out I have a fracture on the facet joint on my lower spine (I’d never heard of it either) I’m super lucky that it’s not worse, it’s pretty small so it should heal relatively fast and I’m hoping to be back on the bike in a couple weeks.Luca Shaw

We're sending healing vibes out to Luca and hope to see him back on the bike soon.

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Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

  • 58 4
 Its kind of crazy when you think about how these riders just carry on with a race on a compromised bike. With the speeds these guys are going and the margins for error already so small, to keep going with a chain dangling, or a wheel wobbling or busted, etc like we see so often is kind of nuts.
  • 13 14
 sino- Its all about acceptable risk and riding on with a broken chain carries a very small added risk... I've never seen something like this happen before, so insane. Its good to hear that's all he walked away with given how friggen brutal that wreck was.
  • 11 0
 Too bad it didn’t just fall off entirely. Could’ve been another Aaron Gwin Leogang run
  • 4 3
 @scott-townes: the biggest problem with a dangling chain getting caught is your body has no clue its coming so body will have no time to prepare for the crash. I would assume Luca will be scared to ride with a dangling chain now but I could be wrong
  • 2 1
 @scott-townes: My comment was really more just a comment on how skilled these guys are to be able to continue a race run of that level with essentially a broken bike. When I ride DH if anything little thing feels off on my bike my comfort level will drop significantly.
  • 10 16
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 30, 2021 at 10:39) (Below Threshold)
 @Canadmos: Chains would be much less likely to break and cause these accidents on gearbox bikes, another good reason for bike manufacturers to adopt them. Broken rear derailleurs can also cause crashes in a similar way:


Shimano di2 derailleurs actually have a protection mode to try to prevent crashes if they break:


Heal up get back to speed Luca!
  • 8 0
 @dinsum: We need the "tempered chain". One where, when it fails, it fails so catastrophically it turns to dust thus negating the safety risk.
  • 2 0
 Sino, I'm pretty sure the chain broke right before the whoops section. If it broke right there then there is almost no time to think about stopping of what you might do (it's an incredibly committed section to ride with the tripple tripple these riders were doing).

I know you're talking about when riders carry on for entire runs with mechanical issues but I'm pretty sure this was an instance where the mechanical happened just before the crash.
  • 2 0
 @Trilliamiano: Thats possible, I just assumed based on when he said his chain was broken and dragging the ground that he was aware that he was riding with a broken chain. But my comment was more general one. We see guy in WC's riding with half the course with the chain dangling, rims broken, tires exploded coming off the rim and wrapping around the hub, etc. We've seen all kinds of crazy shit over the years,
  • 1 1
 @sino428: He doesn't specify that he knew it was broken during the race.
  • 3 0
 @dingus: Honestly its irrelevant to my comment which was a general one about how we see riders carry on race runs with damaged bikes all the time. Based on what we normally see from these top riders I would just assume that even if he did know he would just continue riding anyway. Not saying he would have been wrong to do so, just saying its crazy how much confidence riders at that level have, to basically just shrug off a mechanical failure and continue on down such gnarly tracks.
  • 1 0
 @dinsum: I would have broken chain PTSD after that also, haha.
  • 4 36
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 30, 2021 at 20:39) (Below Threshold)
 @Lanebobane: We need some type of change. What if he had actually been critically injured and had his career ended, or worse yet been put in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, or even died as a result of this mechanical failure and the ensuing awful crash?? I could see Shimano being held liable in a court and responsible for all damages of somebody was seriously injured because of this.

If Santa Cruz really cared about their athletes they would black out the Shimano logos on their jerseys for the rest of the season to protest Shimano's completely failed technology. The guy broke his back because of a shitty fricken outdated derailleur system, for Christ sake. He did nothing wrong as a rider, and now he's in the hospital, his season is probably somewhat compromised, it could be one of those injuries that bothers him for the rest of his career... all because of a shitty Shimano derailleur.

Just one again highlights how badly the bicycle industry overall utterly sucks for sticking with the outdated derailleur system instead of progressing to something else. The weight savings isn't worth it. Derailleurs flat out suck total ass and there is no excuse for this to be happening in the year 2021. Big F.U. to both @Shimano & @SRAM, and the bicycle industry in general. Derailleur bikes suck, any debate on this issue is now over.
  • 3 28
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 30, 2021 at 23:29) (Below Threshold)
 What a bunch of complete and utter pinkbike cowards that downvote me but are too afraid to debate me or even discuss the issue. Keep your tails between you coward asses, but don't even open your mouth because you know you will lose, derailleur sucking losers.

The mountain bike industry is weight-weenie controlled just like the road bike industry. "Oh, derailleurs aren't that bad, and I don't want to add a few more ounces to my bike, so let's stick with this outdated, ineffective, dangerous, unreliable, junk-shit-technology forever."

Meanwhile, America's fastest downhill racer sits injured in a hospital and you just look the other way like nothing happened, nobody is at fault, and it's not really the industries fault, cause we gotta have slightly lighter bikes, y'know.

Stay stfu, lame ass derailleur loving weight weenies. The bike industry absolutely sucks, because most of the people who work in it are sheeple who follow instead of lead with integrity.
  • 2 18
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 30, 2021 at 23:35) (Below Threshold)
 @sino428: You should have wrote "compromised technology", not just compromised bike. But I agree that it's nuts to be still riding with these stupid, technologically inept, outdated derailleurs.
  • 2 19
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 4:15) (Below Threshold)
 I've dropped a legit blog on this subject which will hopefully appear on the front page soon:


Please share on Facebook, and feel free to comment to start the discussion.
  • 10 1
 @DoubleCrownAddict: I'm sorry but what you're saying here is nonsense. Firstly in this instance you have no idea how the chain broke or why it caused the wheel to lock like that. FYI the derailleur was still attached following this, could have been an error by the mechanic with a chain link, guide, cassette etc.

Mechanical failures are always prevalent. In bikes alone I've up close seen various crashes caused by snapped bolts, bars, forks, exploded tyres, failed brakes, the list is endless. On that basis are you saying everything is dangerous. Maybe bikes in general should be banned. Also a gearbox wouldn't fix anything, gearboxes also break and jam!
  • 1 14
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 8:55) (Below Threshold)
 @Freakyjon: The kickback of the suspension grabs the stuck chain and freeze the rear wheel that's obviously what happened. It was stuck in the chain/derailleur interface somehow, that's the only place it can get stuck. A single speed chain isn't going to break like that, and even if it does the freewheel won't cause the wheel to freeze up like happened here. Bmx racers break chains, but you never see the rear wheel freeze up and cause a crash like it can in a derailleur chain. That's what proves you are 100% wrong in trying to defend Shimano and their failed derailleur chain design, which is essentially defective engineering.

Shimano's failed derailleur chain was clearly the fault of Luca's injury, no denying that. I hope he sues them later on in life of he has long term issues with his back. But there is likely a statute of limitations so he needs to start the legal process before that runs out. It would be great to see Shimano or Sram be put out of business over this, and have all their ignorant engineers be put out of work and be blacklisted from the bike industry over this failure.
  • 7 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: So exactly like I said, you have zero idea what happened. Just speculation. I've had numerous chain break over the years riding and racing DH, as have friends, and never seen an issue like Luca did. If the chain does get stuck the freehub still works, therefore it could have been something like a freehub issue initially causing the chain to break, then maybe could have seized. It's nothing to do with Shimano and their so-called failed derailleur design that's used by literally millions of bikes around the world and has been for many many years.
Also I'm not defending anyone, just questioning what part of your brain is coming up with this rubbish. Your last paragraph is hilarious!
What caused this is a mechanical failure, end of story. It happens and will continue to happen with various different mechanical items and applications. Like I said before, going by your theory everything mechanical is dangerous and should be banned. Good luck with that!
  • 1 11
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 9:32) (Below Threshold)
 ⚠️Update:⚠️ I am organizing a class-action legal lawsuit against Shimano over this obvious safety issue that Shimano is already aware of but has ignored in designing their mountain bike components. Anybody who has evidence of themselves or friends/ family being injured from this type of accident using Shimano components should DM me. I'm going to be in contact with a lawyer who specializes in bicycle manufacturer liability issues.

I am not seeking to gain any financial gain for myself by being being involved in this, only trying to help the riders injured from Shimano's clear negligence.
  • 4 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Maybe you should at this...


Seems more likely this caused the crash, not your beloved 'failed derailleur design'.

And good luck with the lawsuit, let us all know how quickly that fails.
  • 1 7
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 9:55) (Below Threshold)
 @Freakyjon: No, the video clearly shows that chainguide damage happens after the bike bottoms out, which happens AFTER the Shimano derailleur chain failure. The Shimano derailleur chain failure is what's causes the bike to bottom out on the landing.

⚠️Update:⚠️ I am organizing a class-action legal lawsuit against Shimano over this obvious safety issue that Shimano is already aware of but has ignored in designing their mountain bike components. Anybody who has evidence of themselves or friends/ family being injured from this type of accident using Shimano components should DM me. I'm going to be in contact with a lawyer who specializes in bicycle manufacturer liability issues.
  • 4 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: I think you need to lay off the Pinkbike a bit there bud.
  • 4 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: The videos don't 'clearly' show anything. I would love to know what derailleurs have done to you in a previous life to warrant this nonsense.
  • 1 10
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 11:43) (Below Threshold)
 @shagolagal: What are you talking about, I'm making progress on several fronts⁉️

☑ I've already recieved a dm from a girl who says she was injured on a new bike with Shimano components that bucked her sideways when the chain broke and the derailleur seized up. She wants to be part of the class action lawsuit against Shimano. She sprained her elbow badly, had to seek medical attention, and also has a permanent scar on her arm. She deserves compensation from Shimano and I bet a jury will agree once they see all the evidence.

☑ This is also progress for the bike industry as a whole, if we can make bikes safer and more reliable more people are going to enjoy the sport.
  • 4 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: "☑ I've already recieved a dm from a girl who says she was injured on a new bike with Shimano components that bucked her sideways when the chain broke and the derailleur seized up." LMAOOOOOOOOOOOO

I'd like to join the lawsuit. I lubed my chain with the best possible lube (locktite) and it still didn't work! It froze up and I scratched up my knee!
  • 19 2
 Heal up! Don’t know if “pretty small” should be used in conjunction with any spinal Injury, but glad it’s not worse.
  • 1 1
 Sounds like Medium. Compare: slight concussion
  • 2 0
 In the medical real world, it’s very possible to have a minor vertebral fracture that doesn’t require any additional treatment. Lots of people will never know that they’ve fracture a vertebra until they do imaging years later
  • 2 0
Yep. I once thought I pulled a muscle in my back and turned out I had a minor compression fracture. Didn’t even know till I got scanned for a different injury down the road.
  • 1 0
 Most US Downhiller’s I know don’t have insurance or the money to get checked out!
  • 11 1
 "It's just a flesh wound"


Seriously though, spinal injuries are scary stuff. Heal up quickly Luca
  • 11 0
 I broke my back.... SPINAL
  • 7 0
  • 4 0
 Damn...was at the bottom/finish when that happened and we could barely see that section thru the trees. Whole place let out a collective: "Whooooooaaaa" when it happend. Heal up soon Luca.
  • 2 2
 Was it similar to the time I went OTB at about 40MPH in North Carolina? I had a CT scan in '15 and they asked me when I broke my C-4. uuuuuuh....? Good thing my parents showed up and I didn't get to duck-tape my hand to the bar and race!
  • 1 0
 @kungfupanda: Similar, but I reckon Luca was going a tad faster. Haha
  • 7 0
 Syndicate Riders: a 'bout' of covid and a small broken back.
  • 7 0
 Peaty might consider a few races due to his case of the 'years' not effecting him nearly as much as he thought.
  • 6 0
 If I had an off like that I'd be in a full body cast!
  • 1 0
 Bummer. That "little fracture at a facet joint" might not mean anything for major structural stability or neurologic issues, but it's not going to help the early spinal arthritis. Ah, hell, these guys aren't worried about arthritis...
  • 1 0
 What is with DH’ers breaking chains all the time? This just should not be happening as often as it does given that chain yield strength is about 4 times what a human can produce.

I suspect it’s actually caused by putting new chains on before race runs. There are over 200 pin-plate interfaces that could have a defective press fit in a chain. And all 200 get tested for the first time by an elite athlete thrashing them in one of the most critical moments of their year? Seems like that might be a bad idea.
  • 2 0
 Luca really can't catch a break. How many times has he qualified fastest at a race WC or otherwise only to crash out. He's got the speed but no luck it seems.
  • 3 0
 Did he race wearing back armor? You can't tell with the jersey what armor he is wearing.
  • 5 0
 yeah he was wearing the new TLD chest protector, but the roost version only (not impact rated), not the D30 version (impact rated). Would have been waaaay worse without it.
  • 2 0
 @CSdirt: oh good. Glad he was wearing something. Guess that goes to show we all need more armor that is comfortable enough that we're willing to wear it rather than leaving it at home.
  • 4 0
 With the mike Tyson clip. Just doesn’t get any better.
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 If you listen closely you can hear the camera person shart themself after the initial gasp of what he had just witnessed.
  • 3 0
 Pinkbike commenters can argue about anything.
  • 1 5
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 9:38) (Below Threshold)
 There is no argument about whether the Shimano derailleur/chain system is the fault. They know it's a potential safety issue and have done nothing to address it in their mountain bike components.

  • 1 0
 Ooh vertebrae injuries are no joke. My buddy broke 2 in his neck last week. Heal up fast Luca!
  • 1 1
 Hey luka just go to the witches and tell them to kill 10 black chickens ,smoke some cigars ,make some praying to the dead’s ,and maybe you will get away this year:-)))))
  • 2 0
 man, windrock is a cruel mistress.
  • 1 6
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 9:36) (Below Threshold)
 The Shimano derailleur/chain system is the fault of this accident not the race course. Shimano needs to be held accountable, this type of crash is unacceptable.

  • 1 1
 @DoubleCrownAddict: what I mean is that windrock is one of those courses that has no room for error (of course many around the world are the same...) but there are some gnarly places where you want NOT to crash on Windrock because you won't walk away from it.
  • 1 0
 Facet is easier to say than zygapophyseal! Hope you get some proper PT so that it doesn’t become fixated.
  • 1 0
 His tuck and roll game are on point. Heal up!
  • 1 0
 Oooofff, that was a rough one. Glad it shouldn't be a problem!
  • 1 0
 Heel well luca stay safe mate
  • 1 0
 Can confirm, have almost been killed by a V10 as well.
  • 1 5
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 9:39) (Below Threshold)
 The suspension kickback contributed to it, but the real cause is the defective design of the derailleur chain system.

  • 2 3
 Looks like there are more and more serious injuries , maybe it is time to think about going back to more technical DH tracks with less speed ?
  • 1 0
 You might be right, but, this was a mechanical failure, I believe his chain broke, locked wheel and pitched him over bars and onto his back.
  • 1 0
 @yakimonti: time to just make DH a chainless event. Keep the flow!
  • 2 0
 @jpnbrider Windrock is one of, if not the most technical DH tracks in the U.S. That is why people fly from all over the world to ride and race there.
  • 1 0
 @dualsuspensiondave: it’s technical sections are for the most part pretty quick and there are quite a lot of high speed sections. There are trails at wind rock that are much harder to ride at those type of speeds. Personally I love slower trails that are harder to ride but they make admittedly far worse race courses. Honestly wind rocks race course is great and I wouldn’t want something slower to try to go my fastest on.
  • 1 0
 @dualsuspensiondave: I am not complaining of this particular track, just noticing that there are more and more bad injuries , not too difficult that this is related to the insane speed they carry on 29ers on fast tracks
  • 1 7
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 31, 2021 at 9:42) (Below Threshold)
 The solution for this type of crash is safer bike technology, not safer racetracks. Shimano needs to be held to account and I'm helping to organize a class action lawsuit to accomplish that. Get involved if you or anybody you know has been injured from Shimano components like this. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

  • 1 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: I bet you're a hoot at parties...
  • 1 0
(Insert Mike Tyson voice)
  • 1 0
 Good and qucik healing! Looking forward to seeing you go fast this year!!
  • 1 0
 Hope you get better!
  • 6 8
 Heal up Luca, glad you were wearing rockfight! Will Fort William still go off in May?
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