Last Friday, SRAM announced that it was recalling all its hydraulic road and cyclocross brakes, in disc and rim brake variations, due to an issue with the master cylinder on the Hydro R lever, raising havoc among the early adopters, shops and manufacturers and leaving many cyclocrossers with a lot of questions, especially with series, state and national titles on the line in the next few weeks.
What’s next? Where do I send them? When will we get replacements? Can I keep riding the SRAM hydraulic brakes if I ride in a warm climate?
On Monday night, SRAM announced a website (http://sramroadhydraulicbrakerecall.com) and Google Form dedicated to answering some of these questions and keeping consumers up-to-date on the hydraulic brake recall, complete with a letter from the SRAM President Stan Day offering an apology and the following statements:
[Cyclists and dealers have] counted on us, and we have just disappointed them, shaken their confidence, and disrupted their cycling life or business…
Bike Brands, OEM Factories, Dealers and Consumers are going to be angry and dismayed at SRAM.
We are going to continue to analyze failure modes and we will develop a redesign. At this point, we don’t know when this will be complete.
The cost will be high. There will also need to be compensation throughout the channel for the disruption. We don’t yet know how this will play out.
While Day describes the problem due to seals on the master cylinder not performing “in the extreme cold,” it’s important to note that SRAM pleads that everyone, in any climate, stop using the brakes immediately. “Our analysis shows the cold temperature accelerates the failure of the seal, but that also the sealing could fail in normal temperatures,” the company clarifies.
In their FAQs, they emphasize this further, saying, “We believe there is a possibility that the sealing issue overtime can also manifest itself in normal temperatures.”
Day reports that failures during the weekend of SSCXWC (in Philly) and the Deschutes Brewery Cup (in Bend) “a bigger alarm went off” as riders on both coasts suffered from brake failures in the cold wave that hit most of the country. “We were able to duplicate the failure mode through testing,” says Day.
Yet in Cyclocross Magazine’s own Cowbell Forums, as early as November 25, before the widespread problems of the December 7 weekend, some were reporting SRAM hydraulic braking problems in the cold, and were encouraged by SRAM to try bleeding the brakes.
At the Norcal.cx series finale in San Jose on Saturday, dozens of racers were still seen racing their S-700 or RED 22 hydraulic disc brakes, including on Boo Bicycles demo bikes, perhaps thinking the relatively mild conditions meant the brakes were safe. SRAM’s new website makes it clear that such a cavalier attitude is strongly discouraged.
To stay up-to-date on this recall, fill out SRAM’s Google Form here, and visit their recall website at sramroadhydraulicbrakerecall.com, and stay tuned to Cyclocross Magazine for all the details on this development.
Please note: With the rash of recent product recalls, especially disc brakes, we now have a new recall section on our website under cyclocross tech, for the easiest way to stay safe and find out what has been recalled.