28 September 2017

Watch For Recalls!

To my knowledge, I have ridden with three bicycle-related products that were recalled by their manufacturers.

The first was the fork on my Cannondale racing bike, one of the company's early models.  In those days, Cannondale made their aluminum frames but supplied them with steel forks made by Tange and other manufacturers.  When I bought the bike, a couple of my cycling buddies warned me that the aluminum frame would fall apart, even though they didn't actually know of any instances of it happening.  So they were as surprised as I was when the fork and not the frame was recalled, especially because many of us had ridden with Tange forks--or even frames made out of Tange tubing, not to mention the firm's headsets--without any problems.

To Cannondale's credit,they made that process of exchanging my fork about as easy as it could have been.  That would have been reason enough for me to continue buying their bikes, if only I liked the way they rode.  I know that some of you love the ride of your Cannondales, and I won't try to convince you that you should ride anything else.  Those bikes just aren't for me.

Anyway, my second recall resulted in my third:  When Control Tech said there was a problem with one of their stems, which I happened to have on one of my bikes, the shop from which I bought it offered me a lighter and more expensive Syncros stem as a replacement.  Not long after, that stem was recalled!

In each of those cases, I was fortunate enough to get news of the recall in a timely way.  In those pre-Internet days, it meant that I was in regular contact with the shop from which I bought the stems and was working for the shop in which I bought the Cannondale.  I wonder whether I would have learned about the recalls so quickly--or at all--had I been like most customers who return to the shop infrequently, or not at all, after buying their bikes.

But even in this day of smart phones and such, consumers sometimes don't hear about bicycle-related recalls.  One reason, I think, is that they are not announced in the media the way recalls of cars or household appliances are.  And, even if the recall of, say, a faulty seat post were mentioned in the evening news program, most people who aren't dedicated cyclists probably wouldn't think it has the same potential for harm as, say, a faulty water pump bearing in a pickup truck's engine. 

So it is especially important to be alert and diligent.  It's also a good idea to stay in touch with the dealer or company from whom you bought your bike.  That said, bike shops are staffed by human beings, who occasionally forget, or neglect, to tell some thing or another to their customers.

2008 Felt S32

According to Mark Ashby, that is what happened to him.  He bought his 2008 Felt S32 racing bike from the Bikes Unlimited of Williamsburg, Virginia in 2011.  Over the next two years, he brought the bike in for regular maintenance.  In fact, according a lawsuit he's filed against the shop, the Felt and ADK Technologies of China (which manufactured the bike for Felt), a check-over and other maintenance items were performed as late as 13 April 2013.

Later that month, Ashby crashed on Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg.  This caused him to "suffer severe personal injuries adversely affecting his health and well-being," according to documents filed in the court.  The cause of the crash, Ashby says, was the fork's steerer tube, which broke and caused him to lose control of the bike.

The Colonial Parkway, where Mark Ashby crashed.

The suit alleges that Bikes Unlimited knew about the recall but failed to notify Ashby. They did indeed know about the recall--of 2009 model B12, B16 and S32 bikes, which was initiated the following year.  The recall was expanded to 2008 S32 bikes--the model Ashby rode--but not until 2014, the year after he crashed.

I am not a lawyer, but I don't think I have to be one to see that Bikes Unlimited was not at fault.  Still, I think this story shows the importance of being alert (Check the Consumer Products Safety Commission website!) and maintaining a good relationship with those who sell you, and maintain, your equipment.


  1. i remember seeing more than one of the early Cannondales with a snapped-off derailleur hanger, but don't remember the fork recall. i have Tange's forks in a couple of bikes with never a problem. i remember a friend of mine who had a Viscount with the infamous aluminum "death forks" that we watched bend outward further and further over the course of a ride. He did make it home and immediately replaced it with a Tange unit.
    The now-defunct (last post in 2011) Busted Carbon site had a rogues gallery of various failed carbon frames and components.

  2. That picture of the Parkway brings back a lot of good memories. In the 80's I lived in nearby Grafton VA. The Parkway was the site of many epic Cat 6 battles.

  3. I remember that Cannondale fork recall. I had just bought a C'dale at that same time (I was in my "weight weenie" phase), but mine had a different fork that was not subject to the recall. I had the "cheaper" C'dale which had the same frame as the higher-level models, but the fork was Tange Mangalloy - not the Tange Chrome-moly. It was a funny thing - the Chrome-moly was more expensive, but it was the one that was recalled. I guess they must have just gotten a bad batch of them. Maybe over-heated or something? Like you, I remember people saying things about the C'dale - like it was going to crack or something - but I had never actually heard of one breaking. If anything, they were over-built.

    1. Brooks--It's definitely ironic that it was the cromoly fork that was subject to the recall. I remember hearing somewhere that they were indeed overheated, and only a single batch was affected.

  4. Phillip--You were fortunate indeed!

    Mike--I was also surprised when my fork was recalled, as I'd had nothing but good experience, as a rider and mechanic, with Tange stuff. And every Tange product I've used since worked well and was of high quality.

    I remember those Viscount "death forks" well. I'm glad your friend survived his!