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TECH NEWS

SRAM to recall aftermarket 12-speed shift-brake levers that could 'move on the handlebar' due to excess threadlock

US component brand is set to announce a safety recall on 12-speed eTap AXS Red, Force, Rival, and Apex shift-brake levers produced before July

SRAM will announce a safety recall of aftermarket eTap AXS Red, Force, Rival, and Apex shift-brake levers produced before July this year, because of excess threadlock on the clamp bolt having the potential to mean the clamp isn’t tightened sufficiently despite reaching the recommended torque. The potential issue is that the shift-brake lever could move on the handlebar while riding, leading to a crash.

2023 Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8 - SRAM Red eTap AXS - drop bar and lever.jpg

This recall is the second from a major groupset manufacturer in recent weeks, Shimano having announced a voluntary inspection and replacement recall notice for 760,000 Dura-Ace and Ultegra bonded 11-speed road cranksets in North America, and a ‘safety inspection’ in Europe.

> Investigating Shimano's snapping cranksets 

One big difference here, though, is that the SRAM recall applies only to aftermarket products. In other words, shift-brake levers specced as original equipment on complete bikes are unaffected. The recall also covers only the USA and Canada – for the time being, at least.

Oh, and one more big difference: this isn’t an issue that has been well-documented by consumers over several years.

A SRAM Service Information Bulletin sent to retailers says, “All aftermarket 12-speed SRAM eTap AXS RED, Force, Rival, and Apex shift-brake levers produced prior to July 1, 2023 are involved [a list of involved part numbers is below]… Shift levers on bicycles either assembled/checked prior to delivery or installed by the retailer are not involved in this action.”

2023 SRAM recall - 1

You can find the production date on the package barcode label. Products with a date of “WK 26 2023” or earlier are the ones that are affected.

“Excess threadlock on the shift-brake lever clamp bolt may result in the clamp not being tightened despite reaching recommended bolt torque,” says SRAM. “This may result in a shifter-brake lever which moves on the handlebar. If it moves during riding, it can cause a crash due to loss of control.”

SRAM advises that retailers should “conduct a stock sweep and quarantine all involved products for rework prior to sale”.

A shifter clamp bolt kit is available free of charge “to rework any involved in-stock products”. A single kit covers two levers.

Essentially, the existing shift-brake lever clamp bolt needs to be replaced with a bolt from the kit.

2021 SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset - shifter inside.jpg

What’s the deal for consumers (as opposed to SRAM retailers) who have already bought relevant shift-brake levers? Although the Service Information Bulletin has been widely shared online, SRAM has yet to make an official public announcement.

“Further information regarding aftermarket products already sold will come prior to the recall announcement,” SRAM says to retailers.

As mentioned, the recall covers only the USA and Canada. We contacted SRAM’s European operation and were told that this remains the case. We have no information on whether products in Europe and the rest of the world will eventually be affected by a similar recall but that's certainly not the situation at the moment.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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12 comments

Avatar
BonerFide | 8 months ago
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I believe this will also spread to Europe/RotW.  Bought a full retail Rival AXS gruppo in the last couple of weeks and found it really tough to get the levers clamped solidly, took them off twice thinking I'd done something wrong.  Eventually managed to get just enough torque on them to clamp them on properly, but it was way beyond the 7Nm recommended.  Pretty sure I'm OK now, the multiple installs probably took some ThreadLok off, but it also confirms I wasn't going mad, SRAM need to look at this beyond the continental US.

Avatar
mark1a | 8 months ago
3 likes

If one was a conspiracy theorist, one could imagine a situation in the office at SRAM HQ, where people were observing cyclists and the industry in general dragging their much bigger competitor's name & reputation through the mud over a very badly handled response to a problem that has been known about for over 5 years.

Thoughts then turn to what SRAM could do to drive home the point that it was badly handled, and wait until just after the inspection process had started and that is... devise/invent their own recall which, when thinking about it, affects relatively few bikes (the vast majority of 12 speed AXS stuff will be OEM rather than aftermarket and this still doesn''t affect levers installed by retailers), and the fix comprises of a couple of bolts with slightly less threadlock on.

So for the the cost of a few cents per unit, SRAM can be all over the cycling press appearing to be safety-first and proactive, unlike the big bad other lot who buried their heads in the sand until US regulators sat up and took notice.

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matthewn5 replied to mark1a | 8 months ago
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Oh Mark, you're so cynical

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imajez replied to mark1a | 6 months ago
0 likes

Except there seems to be an issue with various SRAM  brakes sticking  that has been going on for years. SRAM had supposedly had sorted when I heard about it in November, but my new bike has now got sticky brake problems. A mate just swappped SRAM out for Shimano on his newly built bike too - which how I discovered the issue from the bike mechanic who had to sort it out.
 

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 8 months ago
1 like

Almost sounds trivial.   Certainly much much better behaviour from SRAM and being pro-active than the wiggling and denial we got from Shimano over the Cranks.

I'm begining to go right off shimano.   They have been top dog too long and gotten contemptuous of their customers.

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wtjs replied to Secret_squirrel | 8 months ago
0 likes

I'm beginning to go right off Shimano

Whereas I remain a great fan, after over 50 years of reliable service. Of course, I  wouldn't touch HP's pasta cranks, but even that prejudice is years out of date. I stopped at 9-speed when it came out as Ultegra, and my recent 4 years experience is Sora which has been excellent. When I climbed out of Settle on the Pennine Bridleway, pushing the trailer over fields of glutinous mud I had to manually remove handfuls from the mech and chainstays, and it resumed shifting normally. It was fine up to Kirkby Stephen and home. It has never been power washed -only manual cleaning. New chain yesterday morning before setting off up here to the Lakes, perfect shifting at rear. I was suspicious that 9-speed would be abandoned, but that seems improbable and there's always Microshift!

 

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imajez replied to Secret_squirrel | 6 months ago
0 likes

Except there seems to be an issue with various SRAM  brakes sticking  that has been going on for years. SRAM had supposedly had sorted when I heard about it in November, but my new bike has now got sticky brake problems. A mate just swappped SRAM out for Shimano on his newly built bike too - which how I discovered the issue from the bike mechanic who had to sort it out.

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andyk | 8 months ago
0 likes

Hi Mat, So, to be clear, do the pre-assembled/OE levers use a different clamp bolt than the aftermarket ones? Thanks, Andy

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Glov Zaroff replied to andyk | 8 months ago
2 likes

andyk wrote:

Hi Mat, So, to be clear, do the pre-assembled/OE levers use a different clamp bolt than the aftermarket ones? Thanks, Andy

The replacements bolts have less threadlock on them, that's all. No redesign. No free replacement shifters for current owners. No real chance of impending death. It's just SRAM covering their backsides. If you're worried about the latter, just tighten the clamp a bit more. It really is as simple as that. 

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andyk replied to Glov Zaroff | 8 months ago
0 likes

Oh OK, my mistake. I read it as extra thread on the bolt, not threadlocker, cheers

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andyk replied to Glov Zaroff | 8 months ago
0 likes

Oh OK, my mistake. I read it as extra thread on the bolt, not threadlocker, cheers

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Spammercial | 8 months ago
0 likes

What's going on??? So, shame-ano was not correct in waiting years and hundreds of failures before the recall????  1

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