US component maker SRAM has this evening dramatically upgraded its limited product recall on SRAM Red 22 and S700 hydraulic brakes to a warning to ALL those with the brakes on their bikes to stop using them immediately. This new and much more serious product recall on the brakes is not for the same fault identified in a limited batch of brakes that were subject to last month's product recall.
In that original recall SRAM said the problem identified related to a specific batch of brakes and was a quality and performance issue with no reported failures. This seems to have changed dramatically now with a number of failures reported to the company during cyclocross races in the US last weekend.
SRAM say that to their knowledge there have been no injuries as a result of the failures which occurred during cyclocross races held in sub-zero temperatures when, according to SRAM, the master cyclinder seals (the master cyclinder is located in the brake lever) failed to hold pressure resulting in "abrupt loss of brake power, and an inability to stop the bike."
According to the SRAM statement, reproduced in full below, the advice to stop use immediately applies to 19,000 brakes - the majority will be on bikes that are either en-route to bike shops or are further back in the supply chain. SRAM is recalling all the brakes of those particular models they have shipped so far.
While the recall and its timing in the run up to Christmas will prove to be a major headache for those manufacturers, distributors and bike shops holding large numbers of bikes specified with those brakes, those who have bought bikes with SRAM Red 22 or S700 hydraulic braking systems face being unable to ride their new machines for the immediate future. SRAM has committed itself to replacing all the brakes but at this early stage has not yet come up with a timetable for doing so. There must be some question as to whether a redesign and a change of manufacturing process will be required to solve the problem.
SRAM will now have to answer questions about its pre-launch testing procedures and its manufacturing testing procedures and quality control. The brakes failed at operating temperatures which must surely have been contemplated as being within the range of normal use. If that wasn't the case, SRAM will have to explain why not. Either way, something would appear to have been missed either during in the field testing or quality control.
In one sense at least the company has been lucky. The failures occured in the relatively controlled environment of a cyclocross race and not on an alpine descent where wind chill temperatures can also easily dip below zero. Given the potentially catastrophic consequences of such a scenario, it is little wonder SRAM has moved so fast to warn people to stop using Red 22 and S700 brakes.
UPDATE: SRAM Road Hydraulic Brake Recall – STOP USE IMMEDIATELY
On November 4th SRAM identified and announced a technical issue with respect to a narrow production range of its RED 22 and S-700 Hydraulic Road Brakes. At that time, it was described as a performance and safety concern with no reported failures in the field.
It has recently come to our attention that during last weekend’s Cyclocross racing in the US, in sub freezing temperatures, several failures were reported. In these conditions the master cylinder seals failed to hold pressure resulting in abrupt loss of brake power, and an inability to stop the bike. These failures are related to product that is outside the originally stated date code range and unrelated to the original failure mode. No injuries have been reported to date.
As a result of this new finding, SRAM requests that anyone who has a bike equipped with SRAM Hydraulic Disc or Hydraulic Rim Brakes stop using the bike immediately. All products shipped to date, and currently in the market or in inventory will be recalled.
Further, we are asking our Bike Brand customers, OE factories, Distributors and Dealers to cease all sales and shipments of SRAM RED 22 and S-700 Hydraulic Road Brakes. A total of approximately 19,000 brake systems have been shipped to date into the global market.
Quarantine efforts currently underway with Factories, Bike Brands, and Distributors will be broadened to include all Dealers with inventory on bikes, or as Aftermarket product. Additional information related to timing and replacement of product will be forthcoming.
As originally announced we have reported this issue to the US CPSC and will be cooperating with the agency to announce a Safety Recall. We will also be contacting and working closely with appropriate like agencies in Europe and globally.
SRAM engineering and manufacturing is committed to the highest Quality standards. On behalf of all employees at SRAM we apologize for the business disruption to our customers business and to the individuals who have placed their trust in our products.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.