Trek issues massive recall of quick releases for disc brake bikes; what it means to you (non-Trek bikes suspect as well)

recalled_bikesA few days ago Trek issued perhaps the largest bicycle recall in history, affecting nearly 1 million bikes with disc brakes. I’m going to attempt to summarize the issue here.
But first, here’s a link to a video showing an OK quick release,
another that shows the recalled quick release… and why it’s dangerous.
And finally, Trek’s official release on the recall.

This affects only bikes with disc brakes. Period. Despite the photos shown in the news, displaying rows of bikes without disc brakes, you do not have an issue if your bike does not have disc brakes.

The recall is for Trek bikes right now, but it’s expected to become an industry-wide issue. The quick release style being recalled has been in wide use across nearly all major bike companies. Trek recognized and is dealing with this first, as they became aware of a very serious injury for which research pointed to the quick release design as the cause.

The problem is caused by the quick release rotating backward into the front wheel’s disc, where it can lock in place, causing the front wheel to suddenly stop rotating. This can cause a crash without warning, possibly launching the rider into harm’s way. It’s a serious problem.

The buzz in some of the industry is that this is a user-error situation, where someone has not properly installed the front wheel. In many cases, this is true. If someone does not properly install the front wheel, perhaps by screwing the quick release on instead of flipping the lever, or they simply don’t have enough pressure holding it in place, it will easily fail. But in 2003 it was shown that front quick releases on disc brake bikes can loosen on their own.  The industry fixed a potentially-serious wheel-ejection issue by making it much more difficult for the wheel to leave the fork, even if the quick release loosened. What was not addressed was the issue of the quick release itself. Many still scoff at the notion that a quick release, properly used, could loosen over time, but the article referenced above shows otherwise.

It would appear that simply moving the quick release lever from the disc-side of the wheel to the other side would eliminate the “lock & launch” problem, but this is not a reliable solution because the mechanism is not keyed and can easily be installed either way. But if you have a non-Trek bicycle and the quick release can rotate backward enough to go into the rotor, having the lever side of the quick release opposite the disc is better than nothing. The problem is that anyone, at anytime, could reinstall it differently.

You should also pay attention to the adjustment of your quick release much more often, since the evidence is clear that they can loosen over time. Yours might not, but it can. Next time you’re in a shop, have them show you what proper tension on the lever is.

Replacing the quick release is super-easy. A couple of minutes and you’re done. Replacing broken bikes and healing from accidents is not so easy. Please take this recall seriously.

Thanks, Mike Jacoubowsky, Partner, Chain Reaction Bicycles

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37 degrees, damp, no wonder I can’t breathe

Eric cresting West Old LaHonda among the tall trees & fog
Eric cresting West Old LaHonda among the tall trees & fog

Good group this morning; both Kevins, Eric, Karl, Karen & Todd. Rode through the Park (it’s Thursday, that’s what we do on Thursdays, climbing Kings via Greer and Huddart instead of the “easy” way up Kings). For some reason Eric was setting a pretty fast pace on Greer, which translated to a pretty fast pace through the park, which translated to me off the back more-quickly than usual. I thought I could hang on longer but it’s just not warm enough right now. In the end it was just under 30 minutes up Kings, making me the weakest link. The two Kevins made it to the top first, long before me. Todd? Not sure; can’t believe he wasn’t first at the top, but younger Kevin didn’t mention him. He split from the group and headed back down the hill shortly after.

Skyline was… wet & cold. Surprisingly cold. I really didn’t expect to see 37 degrees in the latter part of April! This wasn’t as much of an issue for me as it was for younger Kevin, who really doesn’t enjoy wet roads these days, and was annoyed he was on his Madone and not his wet-weather Boone ‘cross bike. More likely he’d rather still be in Disneyland, tough act to follow, that.

I finally started to feel better on West Old LaHonda, managing to stay on Karen’s wheel through the forest at the top. Karl had escaped much earlier and it seemed like we were making up some ground, but not enough to catch him. Kevin, Kevin & Eric cruised in at a more-reasonable pace.

Definitely looking forward to warmer, drier days!

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