A TEENAGE cyclist who was killed in a road accident had taken his bicycle to a repair shop hours before he died because he was worried about the brakes, an inquest heard today.
Kadian Harding, 14, suffered fatal injuries when he was in collision with a Mercedes Van on July 25 last year on the A4 at Clatford, near Marlborough, Wiltshire.
The schoolboy was on a bike ride with his family when tragedy struck, the inquest in Salisbury was told.
Kadian was riding down a steep path with five other people, including his father, aunt, cousin and friends, when he was unable to stop as he approached the A4.
His father, Thomas, a writer, told the hearing how his son had bought the bicycle to assemble himself.
"We were always clear with him that the bike would have to be checked by a professional bike mechanic before it was deemed road worthy," he said.
"It was always his intention to get it checked."
Mr Harding said Kadian had taken the bicycle to one bike shop near his home in Hampshire on at least two occasions and again to a different shop on the day he died.
He told the inquest that two days before his son died he had rode the bike for the first time.
"It was clear to me that the brakes were functioning and not optimal," he said.
"I did consider it safe enough to cycle because the brakes were working but not working well enough."
Mr Harding said that Kadian was having to apply a lot of pressure to the brake handles to slow the bike down and said the brake pads were 5mm away from the front and rear wheels.
On the morning of the day Kadian died, Mr Harding told the hearing how he told his son to get the bicycle checked by a professional.
"I specifically said: 'We are really concerned about the brakes. You must get the front and back brakes looked at.'"
Mr Harding said Kadian took the bike to a shop.
"He said they looked over all the brakes and replaced a cable," he said.
"I didn't have a go (on the bike) but I did try both front and back brakes.
"I noticed they were much firmer now.
"I noticed the pads were now about 1mm apart."
Mr Harding, an experienced cyclist, said that the day before Kadian died, in his opinion, there was "no danger of a catastrophic failure".
"From my narrative he would not have had the problems he had on the Wednesday if he had not gone to the bike shop," he said.
Describing the moments before the fatal crash, Mr Harding said: "I was right behind Kadian. We were talking and he was laughing and making jokes.
"We weren't going that fast. We were cycling in tandem and then he was suddenly ahead of me.
"This was surprising because he is not the kind of kid who likes to go fast.
"We were competitive but we had never raced to the bottom of a hill.
"It made no sense that Kadian wouldn't stop because you could see the road and there was plenty of time to stop."
Mr Harding said he saw the collision and went to his son's side.
"It was 100% clear to me that he was immediately dead."
He estimated that Kadian's speed was between 25mph and 30mph as he travelled down the slope.
"He always wanted to go on long distance bike rides. He loved cycling," he said.
"He was very concerned about safety.
"There were 12 or 13 bikes in the house - there was no reason to use this bike.
"He was the kind of person that was extremely careful, cautious and methodical.
"He was the most charming, enthusiastic, funny, generous and kind boy you could ever meet."
The inquest was told that Kadian, a nephew of James Harding, a former editor of The Times, had saved up to buy the long haul trucker touring bike, which was exhibited in the court room, and had taken delivery of it just weeks before he died.
"He was excited about having a good bike," Mr Harding said.
"He would be very sad to see the bike there now."
That summer Mr Harding and Kadian planned on cycling around the Pyrenees mountains, he added.