SRAM president Stan Day apologises for disc brake recall

Video apology and explanation from SRAM president Stan Day following the recent hydraulic disc brake recall

by David Arthur   December 19, 2013  

stan day video

Following the recent announcement of a total recall of 19,000 Red 22 and S700 hydraulic brakes last week, SRAM this week launched a new website that lets customers register their bikes online to keep them updated on the recall process.

Yesterday evening SRAM uploaded a video to the website, with company president Stan Day apologising for the recall. He also explains the reason for the recall, which he says was caused by "seal materials in the brake lever losing its performance characteristic in extreme cold."

What happened? The first recall in October was caused by a bad part generated by an unapproved process change from one of their parts suppliers, affecting 4,000 systems, says SRAM. The second and total recall, issued when alarms were raised at a US cyclo-cross race in sub zero temperatures, was apparently caused by seal materials in the brake  lever causing a dramatic loss of performance. It's something they say they were able to replicate in testing.

Recalls are something no company wants to go through, but SRAM must be credited with taking swift action and offering some transparency as to the cause of the recall. “This is a particularly tough recall because many consumers bought these bikes with the hydraulic as a primary feature and unlike say a wheel recall, they just can’t pop the quick release, stick another set of wheels on the bike and get back at it,” says SRAM president Stan Day.

He adds: “The replacement plan may first be a mechanical disc followed by improved hydraulics. This scenario is extremely disruptive to cyclists, dealers and bike brands, and of course the new installs will have their own compatibility frustrations and potential for mistakes.”

It's not clear what the timeline will be for replacement brakes, or when they might have a new production run of hydraulic disc brakes. It sounds like they're still carrying out testing into the failure, and with the required testing, which is something they're not likely to rush in a bid to avoid a repeat incident, it could be a good few months before we start to see replacement hydraulic disc brakes systems emerging. 

 

There is also talk of “compensation throughout the channel for the disruption” added Stan Day in a statement on the website, though how this will work we don’t know at this stage.

SRAM advise anyone with RED 22 and S-700 Hydraulic Brake Systems to stop riding bikes immediately. This affects 38,000 systems, with two systems per bike that’s 19,000 bikes, of which SRAM estimates there are about 5,000 bikes with customers.

If you’ve recently bought a bike with SRAM’s new hydraulic disc brakes, the best thing is to take it back to the dealer or shop you bought it from. SRAM is also encouraging you to register on the website so they can keep you fully informed.

Here's the website to visit http://sramroadhydraulicbrakerecall.com/

SRAM’s president Stan Day has issued a statement on the recall, here it is in full:

Dear SRAM community,

At SRAM, we believe in the power of bicycles. Our mission is to create components and experiences that inspire consumers and expand the potential of cycling. We know that you too share this passion, and that cycling for you is more that just a hobby – but a lifestyle.

In October 2013 at an OEM ride camp in Germany we discovered a quality issue with our new Road Hydraulic brakes. We analyzed the root cause and determined that we had a bad part that was generated from an unapproved process change by one of our part suppliers. This affected about 4,000 systems of the 38,000 systems that we had manufactured to that point. We were able to track the date range of the process change and put a fence around most of the product before it got to consumers.

Last weekend a bigger alarm went off. There were a number of reports of brake failures at cyclocross races in sub freezing conditions. We investigated these failures and determined that the seal material we were using for the brake lever lost its performance characteristics in the extreme cold. We were able to duplicate the failure mode through testing.

On Friday, December 13, 2013 we decided to quickly get notice out to the Cyclocross community and beyond to stop using the product and to issue a full recall. Safety was our primary concern. We are working alongside the US CPSC and other global product safety organization to register this as an official recall, and to abide by local laws and regulations.

The recall now totals all 38,000 systems (the total production run) and at 2 systems per bike potentially affects 19,000 bikes less those systems not yet assembled. Of these 19,000 bikes our estimate is that there are 5,000 bikes in the hands of consumers. Hopefully this number comes down with more diligence. The balance of the bikes or systems are in warehouses or at retailers yet to be sold.

While the numbers are limited in the grand scheme, these are high profile bikes at high profile Dealers. This is a particularly tough recall because many consumers bought these bikes with the Hydraulic as a primary feature and unlike say a wheel recall, they just can’t pop the quick release, stick another set of wheels on the bike and get back at it. Their investment in their new bike and their sport is essentially out of commission until we get them a replacement. The replacement plan may first be a mechanical disc followed by improved hydraulics. This scenario is extremely disruptive to cyclists, dealers and bike brands, and of course the new installs will have their own compatibility frustrations and potential for mistakes.

The disruption will be hardest felt at a personal level by those cyclists and Dealers who purchased our components because of our Technology and our Brand Promise. They counted on us, and we have just disappointed them, shaken their confidence, and disrupted their cycling life or business. We have chosen to be a high performance product development company. This choice carries risk, and we have just found a very painful edge.
Bike Brands, OEM Factories, Dealers and Consumers are going to be angry and dismayed at SRAM.
We are going to continue to analyze failure modes and we will develop a redesign. At this point, we don’t know when this will be complete.

I am leading a senior team meeting daily to complete a recovery and replacement plan for the channel and consumers. Because we don’t have immediate replacement product or know when we might be back in production with Hydro, this will especially disruptive.

The cost will be high. There will also need to be compensation throughout the channel for the disruption. We don’t yet know how this will play out. We need to go over the top here in order to preserve our Brand and our Relationships.

We are going to stay focused on improving our Quality and as part of our Strategy we will make operational decisions prioritizing Product Quality and Launch Quality. We have come a long way during the last several years and we have further to travel.

For the next few weeks on Tuesday mornings Chicago time, we will post a technical and customer update about the recall on our website. I would encourage everyone to review this report so that we can all stay current and on the same page. There may be more frequent updates if helpful or needed.

On behalf of the 2700+ employee’s at SRAM, I am truly sorry for this situation and we will do everything we can to regain your trust, business, and respect.

Stan Day
President

23 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I love a good corporate apology jampacked with buzzwords.
This is the best line IMHO - in fact I'm going to try and drop it into a meeting next time something goes wrong :

"We have chosen to be a high performance product development company. This choice carries risk, and we have just found a very painful edge."

If you can't be bothered to read the full statement:

One of the bits goes wrong in the cold.
We're going to give one our suppliers a right bollocking.
Please don't leave us, we still love you.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [692 posts]
17th December 2013 - 10:37

like this
Like (59)

you do have to give them extra points for taking responsibility, not like some other companies...such as hold the phone at a 45 deg angle in your left hand.

Personally I like SRAM and this wont put me off them, especially as they will probably get a more experienced R&D director after this Smile

posted by jason.timothy.jones [251 posts]
17th December 2013 - 10:46

like this
Like (55)

yes, fair play to them, its a pretty comprehensive grovel. I think you can infer from it that they have invested heavily in this and are not about to let it slip back further.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [692 posts]
17th December 2013 - 10:57

like this
Like (54)

I think you have to give them a lot of kudos for acknowledging that they are stopping their customers riding and from the word go saying they are going to do something to get people riding again in the interim while they work out a fix, rather than leaving people wondering.

tom_w's picture

posted by tom_w [46 posts]
17th December 2013 - 12:57

like this
Like (62)

Quote:
The recall was prompted after reported incidents of brake failures in sub-freezing conditions at a US cyclo-cross recently. There were reports of brakes failing in such cold conditions, the seals failing and braking performance subsequently lost.

Seem to recall someone else, not bike related, having problems with seals in sub-zero temperatures but they tried to hide it.

Kudos to SRAM for getting positive on this and outlining a plan for recovery. It will do a lot to mend their reputation if it works properly.

Unfortunately, as with all corporate communications, you can 'Bull-shit Bingo' with the buzzwords and get a line, 4 corners and full house.

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [525 posts]
17th December 2013 - 13:52

like this
Like (54)

jova54 wrote:

Kudos to SRAM for getting positive on this and outlining a plan for recovery. It will do a lot to mend their reputation if it works properly.
.

Be nice if SRAM could actually address their QA issues, get a good set of Avids and your fine, but there are a huge proportion that aren't good, to their credit SRAM will get it sorted, but I would rather they didn't have to get it sorted in the first place.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [855 posts]
17th December 2013 - 14:39

like this
Like (34)

At least I hadn't fitted my brakes to the bike yet! I was getting them painted as well! Glad that didn't happen!!!

Registered for updates but not good to be told in the meantime "stop riding your bike immediately" with no idea on timescale. Glad I have a 'few' others!

posted by Pantster [3 posts]
17th December 2013 - 15:03

like this
Like (46)

Im sitting here looking at my Cannondale SuperX disc, and wondering what I'm going to do, as I'm riding the nationals in mid January. I really hope to get some kind of replacement in December.

posted by Thue [3 posts]
17th December 2013 - 19:13

like this
Like (49)

You could still use them although there may be some interesting questions asked if you injured yourself or others in competition.

posted by allez neg [397 posts]
17th December 2013 - 19:33

like this
Like (43)

Will the cost of this recall be added to future Sram products?

posted by DeanF316 [76 posts]
17th December 2013 - 21:23

like this
Like (27)

Seems to me this comes as a result of a company cutting corners in their research and testing in the pell mel rush to bring a product to market first. Yet again showing that cutting this type of corner leads to long term losses. As I think someone else alluded to above; wasn't it a similar failure that led to the Apollo 12(?) disaster? Which also occured from not listening to the scientists and engineers cautions? For the same reason of rushing to be first?
These brakes are not even rocket science and although it is a new application for them, similar systems have been in use on other vehicles under, I would have thought, far more demanding conditions of temperature change of both extremes with the temperature changing far more rapidly.
I really do hope that they turn out to have the financial resources and integrity to make sure that all their customers are properly looked after. - We shall see.

posted by Giles Pargiter [36 posts]
18th December 2013 - 0:30

like this
Like (30)

Quote:

As I think someone else alluded to above; wasn't it a similar failure that led to the Apollo 12(?) disaster?

Apollo 13 had the fault that led to "Houston, we have a problem" but it was actually the Space Shuttle Challenger that exploded during its launch when frozen o-rings let fuel escape and ignite.

It's been interesting to compare and contrast SRAM and Specialized's crisis communications over the last few days...

posted by ade [72 posts]
18th December 2013 - 7:48

like this
Like (21)

DeanF316 wrote:
Will the cost of this recall be added to future Sram products?

possibly but not in a way that you'd be able to detect any more than any company factors in its operating costs to pricing.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [692 posts]
18th December 2013 - 10:29

like this
Like (27)

Giles Pargiter wrote:
Seems to me this comes as a result of a company cutting corners in their research and testing in the pell mel rush to bring a product to market first.

Do you know that for sure? CEN testing is pretty thorough and has to be passed before products can go on sale. A rumour I've heard is that it's a supply chain issue, not a fault with the actual design of the brakes. Hopefully SRAM will shed more light on the issue

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1224 posts]
18th December 2013 - 12:16

like this
Like (29)

jova54 wrote:
Quote:
The recall was prompted after reported incidents of brake failures in sub-freezing conditions at a US cyclo-cross recently. There were reports of brakes failing in such cold conditions, the seals failing and braking performance subsequently lost.

Seem to recall someone else, not bike related, having problems with seals in sub-zero temperatures but they tried to hide it.

.

Was it the Canadians? Sad

posted by allez neg [397 posts]
18th December 2013 - 17:28

like this
Like (24)

David Arthur wrote:
Giles Pargiter wrote:
Seems to me this comes as a result of a company cutting corners in their research and testing in the pell mel rush to bring a product to market first.

Do you know that for sure? CEN testing is pretty thorough and has to be passed before products can go on sale. A rumour I've heard is that it's a supply chain issue, not a fault with the actual design of the brakes. Hopefully SRAM will shed more light on the issue

No of course I can't know that for sure, which is why I said it "seems".

This might be a new application but it is hardly new technology. I noticed it might be a supply chain issue. So in that case quality control probably.

As you say as a matter of interest it would be good to have more light shed on the matter.

posted by Giles Pargiter [36 posts]
18th December 2013 - 21:25

like this
Like (21)

They could always offer to replace the group with Shimano Ultegra. Rolling On The Floor (You would need the frame to be able to take an electronic group however.)

posted by gmrza [13 posts]
19th December 2013 - 3:55

like this
Like (17)

An apology wouldn't make me feel any better if I was affected by this recall. Major flaw from a company competing with the big boys, and failing in a massive way.

I am gratefully not an owner of anything Sram, particularly their mickey mouse groupsets.

posted by Karbon Kev [651 posts]
19th December 2013 - 11:10

like this
Like (17)

ade wrote:
It's been interesting to compare and contrast SRAM and Specialized's crisis communications over the last few days...

Agreed

Asolare

posted by Goldfever4 [163 posts]
19th December 2013 - 11:17

like this
Like (15)

You have to keep in mind that 'the cutting edge' is often referred to as 'the bleeding edge.' Pleased they have finally admitted to their brake issues.

posted by batch2103 [3 posts]
19th December 2013 - 11:31

like this
Like (17)

Wearing an IQ reducer to apologise tells me all I need to know. You wouldn't get the head of Campag wearing a baseball cap on camera. or off camera probably. This guy looks like he would mislay his tractor in a carpark.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [929 posts]
20th December 2013 - 23:55

like this
Like (13)

How does this compare with Specialized treating the bike shop in Canada? Let's not knock the guy; at least he's fronted early.

Gerard the Kiwi

GerardR's picture

posted by GerardR [81 posts]
22nd December 2013 - 10:09

like this
Like (7)

SRAM has just released details of its replacement plan http://road.cc/content/news/103990-sram-outlines-hydro-disc-recall-repla...

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1224 posts]
22nd December 2013 - 17:11

like this
Like (9)