30 September 2015

The CPSC Is Recalling 1.5 Million Bicycles Because....

All right.  I'm going to begin today's post with another "Which is worse?" question.  The difference is, this "Which is worse" question will have three choices.

Here goes...

Which is worse: 
  • a technical "innovation" that's superfluous,
  • someone who doesn't know to use it safely, or 
  • some government bureaucrat who doesn't know the difference?

That question entered my mind when I learned of a recall involving bicycles from thirteen different manufacturers.  

The 1.5 million bikes in question have front disc brakes.   As "The Retrogrouch" and others have said, very few cyclists actually benefit from, let alone need,  disc brakes.  

To be fair, I will point out that, although the recall was announced as one involving "bicycles with front disc brakes", the brakes themselves were not the problem.

So why the recall?, you ask. 

According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, which ordered the recall, when the bicycle is ridden with the quick-release lever in the fully-open position, the lever is only 6mm (or, as the CPSC notes, the width of a number 2 pencil) between the lever and the brake rotor.   

I'll run that by you again:  If you ride one of those bikes with the front wheel's quick-release lever fully opened, the lever is too close to the brake rotor.

Now, if you're going to ride a bike with quick release levers, you should know how to open and close them, and you should know enough not to ride with them open.  Forget about whether you have disc brakes: If your quick release is open, your wheel can slide or fall out from under you when you turn or hit a bump.  Or the lever can get snagged in your spokes--or, if you have a disc brake, on the rotor.

That last scenario is what prompted the recall.  Three incidents of it were reported to the CPSC.  When the lever came into contact with the rotor, the wheel came to a sudden stop or fell out of the bicycle.  One of those incidents resulted in injury.

So, because someone who doesn't know how to use a quick release got hurt, 1.5 million bicycles are being recalled.   That's good, sound judgment from the CPSC, isn't it?

Here's how you can tell if your bike is part of the recall:



  1. Justine, I simply can not believe this! I am not even able to chuckle at your post today, because I am shocked and embarrassed at the sheer stupidity of this recall. What a waste of resources.

  2. Chris--When I learned of the recall, I had the same reaction as you did. It is, as you say, "sheer stupidity" and "a waste of resources".

  3. This recall (dumb as it is) is arguably less idiotic than some CPSC bicycle regulations. Don't get me started...

  4. Steve--I don't disagree. And, because you're an engineer, I am sure you can understand, better than I can, just how stupid some of those regulations are!

  5. There is dumb and there is extremely dumb, this is in an even dumber category all by itself!

  6. Coline--I guess the movie "Dumb and Dumber" underestimated the stupidity of people.