Just minutes ago, SRAM released some initial details on their replacement program and logistics for their recalled Hydro R levers and hydraulic RED 22 and S-700 rim and disc brake calipers.
With just over three weeks to go before Cyclocross Nationals start in Boulder, CO, many owners of SRAM’s RED 22 and S-700 brakes are left wondering what options they have. SRAM emphasizes that safety is their first priority, while getting riders back out on mechanical brakes as fast as possible comes second. The plan includes an eventual next generation hydraulic system for impacted consumers.
With many racers who are attending the National Championships in a few weeks anxious to know whether the’ll have brakes for the event, the news couldn’t come soon enough (although the timing may be disappointing for that group).
SRAM aims to replace all brakes and levers with the mechanical RED and Force equivalents, and is offering European and Asian consumers an option to receive monetary compensation (150 euros, or $200 in Asia) or the new hydraulic brakes when they are ready. In North America, the compensation details are yet to be determined, based on further conversations with the CPSC.
Replacements will be handled by dealers, and should be in place by January 15th, the week after the 2014 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships.
Even if SRAM’s developers work around the clock to pinpoint all of the current problems and design a new system to alleviate those flaws, they won’t rush manufacturing and product testing in order to have a hydraulic replacement ready for mid-January. According to their report, SRAM is anticipating releasing their next technical updates for the next generation system around that time frame, and they are aiming to distribute mechanical replacements within a matter of weeks.
Impatient, recall-impacted National Championship and late-season racers could always try to contact their shop to see if they have relevant replacement products in stock to do an immediate replacement, even while replacement details are not finalized, or possibly work a deal with a Colorado shop and do the swaps at Nationals.
SRAM aims to will replace product with equivalent level, and equivalent number of gears, mechanical product based on this matrix:
RED 22 users get the BB7 Road SL caliper with titanium hardware and lighter rotors, while the S-700 owners will receive BB7 Road S brakes, with stainless steel hardware.
Highlights from SRAM’s replacement process are below:
The logistics of execution are being hammered out but are not complete. Our first priority is safety our second priority is to get you back out riding just as fast as we can with mechanical brakes, and then with the new generation of hydraulic as soon as it is ready.
SRAM is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to finalize a comprehensive and approved solution. Here is what we can commit for customers as we work through this process:
Through the customer’s chosen Dealer, SRAM will provide a mechanical rim or disc brake system to replace a customer’s hydraulic rim or disc brake system.
SRAM will provide a fair labor cost cash reimbursement to the dealer for all installs.
SRAM will provide a voucher for product or cash reimbursement in an amount to be determined between SRAM and the CPSC.
We are working hard to get replacement mechanical braking systems widely available in Europe, the US and Asia by January 15.
We continue to make progress on the hydraulic redesign. Our teams are working through the holidays on resolution. We anticipate a technical and production update on January 15.
Full details available on SRAM’s brake recall website here: http://sramroadhydraulicbrakerecall.com/sram-road-hydraulic-brake-recall-replacement-plan/
What’s Next for Cyclocrossers with Races to Come?
Some of the big names going into Nationals, like Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson, had made the switch to SRAM’s hydraulic RED 22 brakes for this season, and will likely be looking to move back to mechanical disc brakes for Boulder.
Moving back to mechanical disc brakes might not be what some racers want to hear. Some have already adapted the power and light touch of hydraulic brakes, plus there’s the possibility of faster pad wear.
Those of us who followed Nationals last year in Wisconsin will remember riders wearing down the brake pads of mechanical set-ups after a single lap. Because such systems actuate from one side (with the exception of the recalled TRP Spyre), mud and dirt have a tendency to wreak havoc on pad materials. Last January, the take-away was not so much that riders should go back to cantilevers, but that self-adjusting hydraulic brake pads would promise to partially alleviate the haste of pad wear. (Our experience has been that dual piston brakes help extend pad life a bit, but pad material makes a much bigger difference.)
Racers looking to keep the braking power and modulation of hydraulic brakes still have a few options in the form of TRP’s Hy-RD cable-pull hydraulic calipers, as well as converter options like the powerful Formula R1-based 324 Labs system, the TRP Parabox, and the Hope V-Twin system.
Even if the weather conditions are mild for the remainder of the season and Nationals, riders would be reckless to continue using recalled technology. The cold weather of the December 7-8 weekend only drew SRAM’s attention to the problem. Two weekends prior, one of Cyclocross Magazine’s cowbell members from Michigan noticed his lack of braking power after taking his bike out of the back of his pickup truck. While a cold ride down the highway is certainly going to accelerate the problem of the hydraulic seals, Stan Day reiterated that the sealing could “fail in normal temperatures.”
With Shimano’s R785 hydraulic/Di2 system still not fully available, we can bet that Shimano is spending some time in the freezer also testing their units to make sure they are reliable under such conditions.
Stay tuned to Cyclocross Magazine for further developments and the latest cyclocross product news.