The bike industry is abuzz with news of a global recall of 19,000 sets of high-end SRAM hydraulic road brakes; and it turns out a cyclocross race in Bend, Oregon on December 7th had a lot to do with it.
SRAM made the voluntary recall announcement on December 13th, citing, “last weekend’s Cyclocross racing in the US, in sub freezing temperatures,” as the main culprit. That event was a two race weekend that started with the UCI-sanctioned Deschutes Brewery Cup, which was followed the final stop in the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association’s Cross Crusade series.
Two days after SRAM’s official announcement, we noticed this post on race director Brad Ross’s Facebook page:
I’ve promoted many races in my career. But this is the first one that resulted in a major product recall. Bucket list, check.
Curious, we contacted Ross to find out more.
Ross said he first realized something was wrong when a friend of his, Giant Bicycles sales rep Paul LaCava, rolled up to him after his race. “He came up to me and showed me his brakes and they were completely gone,” Ross said, “They weren’t just fading, you could press the levers all the way to the handlebars.”
Ross added that he and his crew designed a “treacherous course” that was very technically demanding, so brakes were getting a good workout. But it turns out that it wasn’t the course or the riders that caused the handful of brake failures. It was the cold.
Here’s more from Ross:
“I went and talked to some of the guys in the pro tents and said, ‘Hey guys, these brakes are failing’ and they said, ‘That’s OK, we’ve got multiple bikes’ [pro and elite riders switch bikes during races to always have a clean rig]. Well, it turned out by the end of the race all the brakes had failed, even the pit bikes — before the rider would even get to the pit.”
Ross said temps were hovering between zero and five degrees throughout the weekend. “It was pushing it for racing a bicycle. We were talking about pulling the plug on the event.”
The event went ahead and has become an instant classic for those who were there. Ross said there were a few trips to the hospital for frostbite, but other than that the main casualty of the tough conditions appears to have been SRAM’s new brakes.
— SRAM has set up a website to answer questions and deal with the recall.