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Trek issues safety recall notice covering bikes and handlebars

US company tells users of 2022 Trek Speed Concept SLR, 2021-2022 Emonda SLR, and Bontrager Aeolus RSL VR-C handlebar/stem to stop riding because of the risk of carbon cracking

Trek has issued a safety recall notice that covers the model year 2021-2022 Emonda SLR bikes, 2022 Speed Concept SLR triathlon bikes, and the Bontrager Aeolus RSL VR-C handlebar/stem. The US brand says that it is “recalling these products because the carbon base bar and handlebar/stem can crack if overloaded” which could cause a serious accident.

“Do not ride a bicycle equipped with the affected base bar or handlebar/stem until it has been brought to a Trek retailer for replacement,” says Trek.

bontrager aeolus rsl road bar stem

These are the models covered by the safety recall notice:

  • All model year 2022 Speed Concept SLR bicycles, including Project One and stock bicycles in any colourway
  • All model year 2021 and 2022 Emonda SLR bicycles, including Project One and stock bicycles in any colourway
  • All aftermarket Bontrager Aeolus RSL VR-C handlebars/stems

If you’re unsure whether your bicycle or handlebar/stem is affected by this recall, Trek advises that you take it to your local Trek retailer for a free inspection.

> All-new Émonda gets aero to become "Trek’s fastest climbing bike ever" – and it's disc brake-only

If you do own a recalled Speed Concept SLR, Trek will install a replacement base bar and new bar tape.

If you have a recalled Emonda SLR or an aftermarket Bontrager Aeolus RSL VC-R handlebar/stem, Trek will provide you with a handlebar and stem – plus bar tape – that you can use temporarily (and are yours to keep). Then your retailer will let you know when an updated handlebar/stem combo is available for installation.

On top of that, Trek will give you a £100 in-store credit that can be used towards any Trek or Bontrager product, to be used by the end of the year.

When Trek launched the latest Emonda SLR in 2020, the Aeolus RSL VR-C handlebar/stem was a key part of the claim that this was its fastest climbing bike ever.

Trek said that the design was nearly 10% faster than its predecessor (okay, a handlebar can't exactly be 'faster', but the idea is that improved aero efficiency will allow you to ride at a higher speed for a given power output), saving a 65kg rider the equivalent of seven watts (based on wind tunnel testing calculations, averaging 28mph with a 7mph wind speed on a flat road). That's a significant proportion of the Emonda SLR's claimed aero benefit.

The Aeolus RSL VR-C bar/stem features an integrated cable management system. The cables/hoses don't run internally but are positioned in a groove underneath the handlebar section while a carbon clamp sits underneath the stem.

This isn't the first high-profile handlebar/stem recall we've seen recently, Canyon having said that bikes fitted with its CP0018 and CP0015 bars should not be ridden last year due to the risk of failure.

Specialized announced a stop-ride notice and a voluntary recall of its top-level Tarmac SL7 road bike last year because of an issue with the fork steerer. 

Both of these issues have since been resolved.

You can read Trek's safety recall notice here. 

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 technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. 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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steaders1 | 1 year ago

You pay a fortune, wait forever for delivery and now you can't ride your pride and joy, well done Trek

TheBillder replied to steaders1 | 1 year ago

Having found the problem, the response looks decent to me - they're replacing the part and giving a voucher, which should be a lot more use than some as Bontrager components and accessories are pretty decent.

I had a car recall for an airbag replacement. 2 hours at the dealership, no compensation and an entirely erroneous suggestion that the car needed several hundred pounds worth (at their spectacular rates) of work. I'd far rather get the Trek treatment.

majikstone replied to TheBillder | 1 year ago

Honestly, in such a scenario I'd much rather they paid me the money to replace the handlebars myself with whatever else than to have to wait for weeks (check out their Facebook page for comments from owners who were concerned by this recall) to get my bike back. Or that they simply ship me the replacement parts.

IanMSpencer replied to majikstone | 1 year ago

Having seen amateur attempts at component replacement, and this bike is in the range of all the gear and no idea customers (it would be interesting to see how many purchasers were using the bike in some form of competition which is the only scenario where marginal gains of the form these handlebars give make sense - my guess is less than 5%) I'm not sure that your average owner could be trusted.

Also, my Spidey senses tell me that replacing integrated handlebar with internally routed cables may not be a breeze for your typical home mechanic.

So on a safety recall, I don't think Trek have any choice but to require professional fitting. That's before we get onto bright sparks who decide that they've got a free handlebar and sell the replacement - or the original, depending on how keen they are on their own Darwin entry.

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