US brand Specialized has announced a stop-ride notice and a voluntary recall of its top-level Tarmac SL7 road bike because of an issue with the fork steerer. After rumours began surfacing and Specialized released a statement to road.cc and a number of other publications yesterday, the safety notice has now been published on the Specialized website.
The SL7 was announced in July 2020, Specialized saying its new model was almost as aerodynamically efficient as its Venge aero road bike while being at the UCI's minimum weight limit for racing.
Yesterday Specialized said: “We will be announcing a voluntary recall of Tarmac SL7 bicycles because harsh impacts may put extraordinary stress on headset components and may initiate a crack in the fork’s steerer tube.
“We will improve the overall system with the addition of a new extended expander plug and an upgrade of the compression ring for riders that do not have one already.
“We will be asking riders to stop riding their Tarmac SL7 and head to their local retailer and have these new parts installed. Retailers worldwide have the parts in stock and installation will be a simple process.
“As with any severe impact or accident, riders should always have their bike inspected at their local retailer, but they can also rest assured that the Tarmac SL7 meets or exceeds all industry safety standards.
“Only Tarmac SL7 models already on the road will need this improvement. Tarmac SL6 and previous models do not require any action, and all Tarmac SL7 currently in-store and in the future will have these new components.”
The safety notice published today from Specialized' founder and chairman MIke Sinyard states: "We are issuing a voluntary recall to replace expander plugs and upgrade compression rings on Tarmac SL7 bikes and framesets. We have not received any injury reports. Specialized and retailers will contact riders that are affected by this recall via email.
"Please read the instructions below to determine if your bike is affected. If so, reach out to your Authorized Specialized Retailer who will replace the current expander plug [Fig. 1A] with a new extended expander plug [Fig. 1B] and upgrade the compression ring [Fig. 2A] to the newer-style two-piece compression ring [Fig. 2B] if your bike is not already equipped with one.
"It is a privilege to share our passion for bikes with you and we are committed to getting you back on the road as quickly as possible. Reach out to your retailer or contact Specialized Rider Care if you have any questions."
The Tarmac SL7 frameset is available in two different flavours: the S-Works models use Specialized’s FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) 12r carbon fibre while the Pro and Expert models (see below) are made from FACT 10r and are a little heavier. Specialized says that the aero performance, stiffness, and ride quality are the same. Both 12r and 10r versions of the Tarmac SL7 are affected by this voluntary recall.
We were highly impressed by the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 when we reviewed it and we certainly had no issues with the fork steerer, although it’s unlikely that a problem of this kind would come to light in the relatively short time that we have a bike. Each reviewer rides a bike for up to four weeks.
Read our review of the Specialized Tarmac SL7
The Tarmac SL7 has been raced extensively by Deceuninck–Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe since its launch, raced by the likes of Mark Cavendish and Julian Alaphilippe.
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