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Disc Brakes on Road Bikes

Disc Brakes on Road Bikes

Our firm is investigating claims against the makers of disc or hydraulic bicycle braking systems or bicycles constructed with these systems, as well as general front brake and fork problems. People may have suffered serious injuries when using bicycles with these types of braking systems that may have failed or lost power, or defective front brakes and faulty forks.

Disc Brakes May Cause Dangers to Road Bike Riders

Although road bikes may soon be touting the use of disc brakes, many enthusiasts are concerned that the technology used with these brakes appears to work well on mountain bikes, but does not appear to translate well on road bikes.

Disc brakes, which have been used on mountain bikes for some time, have now become popular on road bikes, presenting difficulties as manufacturers attempt to design a brake that can withstand higher speeds and greater temperature variations. Many bicycle enthusiasts believe disc brakes will not hold up to road bike speeds, as the rotor surface area is unable to handle the increased temperatures generated by a road bike’s increased speeds. As competition increases, many producers are attempting to be the first to market with potentially untested technology. In fact, these types of innovations, such as bicycle disc brakes, tend to be consumer tested on the roads and are not factory tested with the manufacturer.

General Front Brake Problems Have Lead to Numerous Recalls

Front brake issues have also presented dangers to riders. For example, bicycle maker, Trek issued a recall of 6,800 units in some 2013 model Madones that were sold in the United States between July 2012 and December 2013 over brake issues. The potential for front brake failure leading to a crash was cited as a reason. The recalled models were built with a defective attachment on the front brake quick release, which may cause the bolt to loosen, enabling the cable clamp to detach. The recall involves model numbers 5.2, 5.9, 6.2, 6.5, 7.7, or 7.9, and serial numbers that begin with “WTU” and end with either a “G” or “H.” Some custom-ordered Project One Madones were included, as well.

As of when the recall was issued, Trek received five reports of loose front brake bolts. Consumers were advised to immediately stop using the recalled bicycles and take them to a Trek dealer for a free replacement of the front brake system.

Trek also received 28 reports of broken forks on specific bicycle models and Trek and Scott issued a recall of thousands of its bicycles, described as mid-priced, that were sold between 2010-2013. The implicated forks are SR Suntour suspension forks. The CPSC indicated that Scott recalled 5,200 bikes and Trek recalled 120,000 bikes. One report of a broken SR Suntour fork was received by Scott, while Trek received reports of five injuries that included bruises, a separated shoulder, and broken bones. Consumers were advised to immediately cease using the recalled bikes and bring them to a Trek or Scott dealer for repair at no cost.

A safety notice issued by Trek indicates that the issue involves the fork dropouts breaking. In some cases, the breakage danger may be corrected with a special front quick release with extra washers that are positioned between the quick release and the dropouts; however, in other models, the correction may only be rectified by replacement of the fork's lower legs or the entire fork. The CPSC indicated that Scott bikes with NEX model forks and Trek bikes with NEX, XCM, or XCT model forks may be repaired with the special quick release; Scott bikes with NCX model forks require replacement of the lower legs and Trek is replacing the impacted NRX model forks with RST Vita forks. Model years from 2011 to 2013 are involved and sold for $470-$1,370. The forks were manufactured in Taiwan and China.

Scott also recalled some of its electric bicycles with the involved forks that appear to have been sold outside of the United States and include the E-Sportster, Venture, E-Venture, and Atacama models with disc brakes.

In 2012, Trek, Giant, and GT recalled approximately 17,000 bicycles over issues with the SR Suntour forks and reported failures of the forks’ inner tubes:

Fork Model NCX, Model Year 2011

  • Sportster 10 Men: black/white/gold
  • Sportster 10 Solution: black/white/gold
  • Sportser 25 Men: white/brown/black
  • Sportster 25 Solution: white/red/orange

Fork Model NEX

  • Sportster 30 Men: 2011, grey/white; 2012, white/black/grey/gold
  • Sportster 30 Solution: 2011, black/white/grey
  • Sportster 55 Lady: 2011, black/white/gold; 2012, white/purple
  • Sportster 55 Men: 2011, black/white/orange
  • Sportster X30 Men: 2013, black/white/grey/red
  • Sportster X30 Solution: 2013, black/blue/grey
  • Sportster X40 Men: 2013, black/white/blue
  • Sportster X50 Men: 2013, grey/white/black
  • Sportster X50 Lady: 2013, white/grey

An array of Trek models were recalled with serial numbers ending in an “F,” “G,”, of “H,” which is found on the frame, under the bottom bracket:

  • Trek Model 8.3 DS, 2012-2013, Fork Model NEX
  • Trek Models 8.4 DS and 8.5 DS, 2012-2013, Fork Model NRX
  • Trek Model 8.6 DS, 2013, Fork Model NRX
  • Trek Model Cali, 2013, Fork Model XCM
  • Trek Model Marlin and Marlin SS, 2011, Fork Model XCT
  • Trek Model Marlin, 2013-2013, Fork Model XCM
  • Trek Model Marlin SS, 2012, Fork Model XCM
  • Trek Model Montare, 2011, Fork Model NRX
  • Trek Model Neko SL, 2012-2013, Fork Model NRX
  • Trek Model Utopia, 2011, Fork Model NRX
  • Trek Model Wahoo, 2011, Fork Model XCM
  • Trek Model Wahoo, 2012-2013, Fork Model XCT

Specialized Source Eleven and Source Expert Disc Bicycles recalled its 2012 Source Eleven and Source Expert Disc bicycles with Supernova Switchable Dynamo Front Hubs because the screws in the front of these bikes may loosen, stopping the front wheel from turning and creating a serious fall hazard.

Recalls Issued Following Nearly 100 U.S. Brake Failures

SRAM, which produces hydraulic brakes, recalled 3,500 units over issues involving freezing temperatures that may lead to a loss of breaking power.

SRAM Hydraulic Bicycle Brakes also recalled its Hydraulic Road Rim Brakes and Hydraulic Road Disc Brakes due to failure, which posed serious accident and injury risks. More than 25,000 brakes were recalled following reports of 95 brake failures in the United States. The recall was announced in late 2013 and was then expanded to include all of the firm’s hydraulic brake systems for road bikes. Both the manufacturer and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommended that consumers immediately cease riding bikes with those brake systems and get in touch with a local SRAM dealer. SRAM indicated that it would install a replacement brake system at no charge and would also include a $200 product voucher or cash to each customer. Most of the failed brakes occurred during cyclocross races in below freezing temperatures. Two injuries were reported and SRAM continues to develop hydraulic brake systems for road bikes, speeding up its design and engineering program for a new brake systems.

The recalled brake models are used as either front or rear brakes and the defective brakes were manufactured in Taiwan:

  • SB Red Hydraulic Road Disc
  • SB Red Hydraulic Road Rim
  • SB 700 Hydraulic Road Disc
  • SB 700 Hydraulic Road Rim

The serial numbers for the recalled brakes bear the digit “3” in the fourth digit position of the serial number, which may be found on the bottom of the caliper body. The CPSC reports that the brakes were separately sold and sold as original equipment on the following bicycles:

  • ASI: Fuji Altamira CX 1.1
  • Cannondale: Super X Hi-Mod Black Inc.
  • Diamondback: St Steilacoom RCX Carbon Pro Disc
  • Felt Bicycles: F2xZ2 RedZ3 Red
  • Jamis: Supernova Team
  • Kona: Super Jake
  • Norco: Threshold C1Threshold SL
  • Orbea: Avan M-LTD
  • Volagi: Liscio 2
  • Specialized Bicycles:
    • Crux Elite Carbon Disc
    • RivalCrux Elite Evo Carbon Disc
    • Crux Expert Carbon Disc
    • RedCrux Pro Race Carbon Disc
    • RedCrux Sport E5 Disc
    • ApexRoubaix SL4 Elite Rival HRR C2Roubaix SL4 Sport Disc
    • SRAM C2Ruby Elite Rival HRR
    • S-works Crux Carbon Disc Red
    • S-works Roubaix SL4 Disc Red
    • S-works Tarmac SL4 Red HRR X2
    • S-works Venge Red HRR X2
    • Tarmac SL4 Elite Rival HRR M2
    • Venge Elite Rival HRR M2

According to the CPSC and the American Society for Testing and Materials, mechanical disc brakes, hydraulic disc brakes, and hydraulic caliper brakes—all fairly new elements in road biking technology—have been recalled over the potential to lose braking power and ability. Two of the largest bicycle makers issued recalls, including Shimano, which produces one of the disc brakes involved, recalling 6,660 units that were sold on factory bicycles and after-market parts. The recall was implemented over the potential for complete loss of braking ability.

Brake Failure May Lead to Significant Injuries

In one case, after a road riding experiment with disc brakes on a three-hour drive on a gravel road, the rider continued to accelerate even though the brakes were engaged and, within one second realized that he had no brakes, that continual descent would worsen the situation, and that his only option was to crash to cut the damage. He headed into the side of a mountain to avoid crashing off the side and attempted to push the bike under his body to avoid becoming tangled. Open road driving allows for less emergency braking options and worse obstacles; therefore, brake fade or failure may lead to more significant injury or death.

High-powered road bikes may reach speeds of over 45 miles per hour, which means that the defective brakes may lead to significant threats for riders who have lost their ability to brake or whose bicycles suffer from compromised braking power.

Despite Prior Recalls and Accidents, Some Bike Makers Creating New Brake Systems

SRAM announced new hydraulic disc brakes are in the works, Hayes has come out with its own product, rumors are that Magura and TRP are also working on similar components, and many believe Shimano is also probably working on a system. Experts point out that these products would not be manufactured if key bike frame makers were not prepared to spec the product; however, significant issues are involved if the product is the result of a need for improved performance, if the product is being driven by consumer demand, or if true performance will be the outcome.

No systems or specs are official at this point and some are saying that performance is just not up to par and that disc brakes on the road may be dangerous. Dangers are specifically seen in the ultra-light, super-sleek versions due to compromises in strength and performance.

Help for Victims of Defective Bike Brakes

If you believe you or a loved one has been injured by defective bicycle brakes or forks, you may be entitled to compensation under various product liability laws. To find out more about your legal rights, complete our online form for a free evaluation of your case. You may also call our office at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) to speak with one of our product liability and consumer fraud lawyers today.


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