An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Trek recall -- really? I mean, REALLY?

I'm having a really difficult time putting my feelings into words regarding the Trek quick-release recall that was announced on Monday. At least words that won't offend some people. So I guess I'll just say "whatever" and go with it.

I think the part that chaps my hind-quarters the most is that this is being called a "defect", when the reality is that the ONLY danger is when the quick-release is used improperly -- as in not tightened. At all.

I got my first road bike when I was in 8th grade. The dark ages, really, something like 1978. It was a garage-sale special (but turned out to be a pretty decent bike for the time), and the only thing wrong with it was a broken front-derailleur cable. This bike had quick-release levers on the wheels. I thought that was all kinds of cool.

I didn't have ANYONE instructing me on how ANYTHING on that bike worked. And I think it took me all of five seconds to figure out how those quick-release levers worked. Sure, I checked the Barnett's manual from the local library (I was very blessed that the library in that back-water hovel even HAD a Barnett's manual), read it cover-to-cover, and learned all I could about how to fix that bike, but I had those levers figured out long before I got to that point.

A cam lever is about the most simple of mechanical devices on the planet. Really, people, they're not that difficult.

Somewhere along the lines, lawyers got to sniffing the blood in the water when people were not getting these cam levers tight on the front wheel, and it was causing crashes. The birth of "lawyer tabs", "lawyer lips", or wheel retention tabs on the fork tips. How to make a quick release a non-quick device. Now the cam lever becomes something that has to be adjusted each time a wheel is installed or removed. Because the thickness added by those tabs is more than what the throw of the lever can clear.

Those tabs were the first thing to go on EVERY fork or bike I bought for myself (with the exception of bikes with front disc brakes -- that's a subject for another discussion). Hateful things, they were.

But with having to now turn the nut (and in fact most times it's turning the lever end like a wing nut) to get the quick-release lever to where it'll tighten properly, it's not a stretch to see that it'd just get turned until the whole thing was tight -- without flipping the cam lever to the "closed" position. I've seen it a few times. I've stopped a couple people on the local rail-trail and instructed them on how to use the lever properly. 

Either that, or the wheel is just dropped into the fork, the lever is flipped, and it's nowhere near tight. Or even touching the clamping surfaces.

But anyway, the whole thing about the recall is that when the lever is in the "open" position (and usually is imprinted with the word "OPEN" right there on the lever), it can lodge in the disc rotor.

Trek started the recall, but the particular quick-release lever is RIFE in the $600-1000 bike range, regardless of manufacturer. There will be more recalls, to be sure.

Recalls because there are people out there that can't figure out the most basic mechanical device ever conceived, and feel that it's some one else's responsibility to compensate them for the trouble.

As was stated in a forum thread this week, this whole thing just proves that the most dangerous part of the bike is the nut attached to the handlebars.

The race to Idiocracy is a tough competition.

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