SRAM Creates Site For Consumers to Stay Up To Date with Road Hydraulic Recall

In an effort to keep consumers as informed as possible during their full recall of road hydraulic brake systems, SRAM has launched a new website that will allow those affected by the recall to keep abreast of any updates. In addition to the website being updated with information as it is available, it also allows consumers to register for email updates regarding the specific brake system they own. Earlier in the week, all SRAM Road hydraulic rim and disc brake systems were recalled due to the possibility of the master cylinder seal failing in cold weather that would result in loss of braking power. Customers are to stop riding the brakes immediately.

SRAM’s President Stan Day wrote a letter to address the situation which you can read in full after the break.

Dear SRAM community,

At SRAM, we believe in the power of bicycles. Our mission is to create components and experiences that inspire consumers and expand the potential of cycling. We know that you too share this passion, and that cycling for you is more that just a hobby – but a lifestyle.

In October 2013 at an OEM ride camp in Germany we discovered a quality issue with our new Road Hydraulic brakes. We analyzed the root cause and determined that we had a bad part that was generated from an unapproved process change by one of our part suppliers. This affected about 4,000 systems of the 38,000 systems that we had manufactured to that point. We were able to track the date range of the process change and put a fence around most of the product before it got to consumers.

Last weekend a bigger alarm went off. There were a number of reports of brake failures at cyclocross races in sub freezing conditions. We investigated these failures and determined that the seal material we were using for the brake lever lost its performance characteristics in the extreme cold. We were able to duplicate the failure mode through testing.

On Friday, December 13, 2013 we decided to quickly get notice out to the Cyclocross community and beyond to stop using the product and to issue a full recall. Safety was our primary concern. We are working alongside the US CPSC and other global product safety organization to register this as an official recall, and to abide by local laws and regulations.

The recall now totals all 38,000 systems (the total production run) and at 2 systems per bike potentially affects 19,000 bikes less those systems not yet assembled. Of these 19,000 bikes our estimate is that there are 5,000 bikes in the hands of consumers. Hopefully this number comes down with more diligence. The balance of the bikes or systems are in warehouses or at retailers yet to be sold.

While the numbers are limited in the grand scheme, these are high profile bikes at high profile Dealers. This is a particularly tough recall because many consumers bought these bikes with the Hydraulic as a primary feature and unlike say a wheel recall, they just can’t pop the quick release, stick another set of wheels on the bike and get back at it. Their investment in their new bike and their sport is essentially out of commission until we get them a replacement. The replacement plan may first be a mechanical disc followed by improved hydraulics. This scenario is extremely disruptive to cyclists, dealers and bike brands, and of course the new installs will have their own compatibility frustrations and potential for mistakes.

The disruption will be hardest felt at a personal level by those cyclists and Dealers who purchased our components because of our Technology and our Brand Promise. They counted on us, and we have just disappointed them, shaken their confidence, and disrupted their cycling life or business. We have chosen to be a high performance product development company. This choice carries risk, and we have just found a very painful edge.

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.

I am leading a senior team meeting daily to complete a recovery and replacement plan for the channel and consumers. Because we don’t have immediate replacement product or know when we might be back in production with Hydro, this will especially disruptive.

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. We need to go over the top here in order to preserve our Brand and our Relationships.

We are going to stay focused on improving our Quality and as part of our Strategy we will make operational decisions prioritizing Product Quality and Launch Quality. We have come a long way during the last several years and we have further to travel.

For the next few weeks on Tuesday mornings Chicago time, we will post a technical and customer update about the recall on our website. I would encourage everyone to review this report so that we can all stay current and on the same page. There may be more frequent updates if helpful or needed.

On behalf of the 2700+ employee’s at SRAM, I am truly sorry for this situation and we will do everything we can to regain your trust, business, and respect.


Stan Day




  1. Good for Sram. They seem to recognize the situation and sound as if they are going to be putting a top notch effort. I knew our somewhat colder weather than usual for December was going to be of some use. Product testing.

  2. How does this possibly slip past anyone at SRAM who claims to be a design or test engineer?! It is very clear that SRAM employs product designers and not engineers. Stuff looks pretty but functions like crap with constant quality issues especially with their brakes.

  3. I think the one thing that a lot of people are losing the sight over is the fact that SRAM is assuming complete blame over the failure of the piston seals at temperatures below freezing 0C/32F. There is no denying that the product hit the market before it was tested to 100% reliability in every single condition, but SRAM is doing the “right” thing and issuing a blanket recall and stop sale/usage condition.

    This truly sucks for everyone involved that owns these brakes. Don’t forget that Trek Bikes just issued a recall/stop sale on non-hydraulic, dual pivot road caliper brakes this week as well. No one is beyond a design fault, even across a large road bike line up with mechanical brakes.

  4. It mostly sucks for the LBS who will have the job to wrench the bikes, remove the sram hydro and propose a temporary solution for their customers.

    SRAM is losing credibility year after year. Many bike shops and bike brands will stop carrying SRAM products after this one. Return rates are already way higher than shimano and campagnolo according to many of them.

  5. This will be expensive. At minimum 5000 bikes, maybe the cost of the parts to SRAM is $250 per bike (guessing), that’s 1.25 million bucks. Then the replacement costs in mechanical brakes at full comp, at a commensurate level. Guess the SRAM booth at Interbike will be a little smaller next year.

    They are taking full accountability and as a good modern company should do, are being transparent about their steps and slip ups. But its a little shocking that their standard test ranges didn’t account for ‘normal riding conditions’ including the lower extremes. Makes me wonder what their high temp range is…or what else wasn’t tested to low temps.

    The seal material for the Challenger lost its material properties too.

  6. SRAM, as of this morning, is sending out mechanical levers and brakes to each customer to use in the meantime, and they will be compensating dealers – I was told “not just a couple of chains.”

    On the phone with them this morning and throughout this, I’ve been impressed. They realize what a big deal this is, and they’re doing right by me. Bravo, SRAM.

  7. It’s a pretty weak apology, as far as I’m concerned. SRAM should have owned up to the fact that they released a product without properly testing it, in order to be first to market. And frankly, decisions like this usually come from on high, and rarely if ever from the designers. Someone, probably Stan Day, likely forced the product designers to push this thing out before testing was finished, and look at what happened.

    SRAM’s going to be mailing out a lot of their garbage chains.

  8. Well, early adopters are naive people. It’s not like the race to launch faulty stuff wasn’t common in all sort of industries these days.

  9. Good letter of apology IMO – clarified the problem and put their hands up. Extra point for no deflection of blame to counterfeit goods. I think there’s probably been PR lessons learnt already following last weeks’ Roubaix-gate.

  10. I am one of the 5,000 estimated users of this stuff and am more assured today of Sram’s commitment having seen Stan’s letter.

    I love ‘new’ technology and come from the school of thought that if you don’t back new ideas then stuff just doesn’t happen. That said, in this case it isn’t really ‘new’ technology, it is a reconfiguration of existing technology. It appears as though the product specification of a low value part has let them down – not great PR, but you would hope not a difficult fix.

    In terms of cost, I am sure that their product liability insurer will be the one taking most of the financial bad news. Stan’s bigger worry is going to be to pacify the big brands, like Specialized, would take massive volumes of this stuff and are absolutely key to getting new products to market.

  11. Chinese Counterfeit Specialized Roubaix frame, with SRAM hydraulic groupo and Cafe Roubaix wheels…

    Velonews’ “BIKE OF THE YEAR”??

  12. I have ridden my Specialized Crux EVO with S Series Hydro brakes since September. Since October, and especially within the past few weeks, I have ridden in freezing and sub freezing (as low as 7f) conditions everyday as I commute 20-30 miles. No issues so far! Of course I will have them looked at, but my brakes are solid.

  13. Some people just can’t be happy. As other people have said it before, if sram did nothing, you’d b*tch. If they claim full responsibility and work to resolve the situation, you’d b*0ch.

    Great work SRAM. As a test engineer myself, things can happen. Situations that are harder to replicate or you wouldn’t think would cause much issue in the lab turns out to be much bigger deals in the real world. When these issues do arise, you can take the hard way or the easy way out. The first way would be to wait for complaints, and those who call in, get the issue resolved hush hush, or take the right way. Recall ALL the brake sets regardless of whether they’re in Michigan (were 2 weeks ago, 2 of my buddies had their brakes failed) or in Florida where the weather might drop down to 40 on a cold night.

  14. I worked for a parts manufacturer making hubs. The supplier switched the axle material from 7075 to 6061 alloy. We didn’t know till we started getting bent axles back and we sent them off for testing. It happens all the time. And usually the Asian factories do it and don’t say anything till you call them on it. When they do say something, it’s usually something like, we know better. Or it’s the same.

    It never is, but it’s difficult to control sometimes what other suppliers do.

    Good letter tho.

  15. I raced most of the CX season on SRAM Red Hydraulics. I was in the Boulder Reservoir race 2 weeks ago with a temperature of 2 degrees F at the start of our race The brakes worked fine. I love the things!

    Bravo to SRAM to owning the problem. I’m looking forward to the solution and resuming riding on the Hydros.

  16. Ouch. At least this will be a learning experience (albeit an expensive one) for SRAM. There will surely be additional potential causes of failure added to their DFMEA’s going forward. But as someone posted above, no one is immune from occasionally making mistakes.

    And the letter from Stan Day seemed very apologetic, honest, and forth-coming to me. I think they are handling the situation in the best possible manner.

  17. I say bravo SRAM. The problem has to deal with the manufacturing company making a part swap. The engineers more than likely tested the brakes with the part that they originally spec’d. And then tested 1/1000 brakes in production. The other brakes were probably tested in a controlled environment. We are talking about 5000/38000 brakes. Look at the issues with I-phones. The difference is, that we can’t download a update for our phone. The other thing is you roadies and cyclocross racers (I probably put more miles and race more CX races than most of you here) should of asked a mountain biker how hydraulics work in the cold first….

  18. Stop rushing product to market. Adopt a Shimano group like cycle of release. Everyone gets it wrong now and again but the SRAM disc brake lines (hydro) have been poor for years. For every skill mech. who can tame them and doesn’t mind a monthly bleed their are ten more customers who live with sub par braking. They got me twice, once with juicy seven’s and once with xx brake systems. Never again.

  19. Great to see such an appology like this from SRAM’s President. Sounds like they more than “get” the severity of the issue. Hopefully this will inspire them to put even more emphasis on engineering and QA. There XX1 drivetrain has been a huge success in these areas. Hopefully whoever was in charge of that program can influence the hydro brake department in the future. Was about to get a Crux with Red hydros. Not sure if I will go ahead with that one now…

  20. What a breath of fresh air! What a contrast between this letter of apology and the arrogant, excuse laden, lawyer-style-CYA letter of “apology” produced by Mike Synard. We all make mistakes; but the way SRAM owned up to theirs makes me want to forgive them and give them another chance. Specialized, in contrast, has lost me as a customer forever.

  21. @wheelz i have a crux with red hydros and it’s great (and i havent had any issue with it) – but given the recall i’d just wait a little. either price might fall or you’ll get fixed red hydros.
    the mechanical avids aren’t nearly as good as far as power and modulation goes. most importantly, the mechanicals need constant care as the wire stretches quickly

  22. That is how you face a situation like that. Kudos for Stan day for telling the truth from day one and not waiting until everything explodes on the Internet like the Cafe Roubaix situation. SRAM is a genuine american company that is bringing this industry to the next level. It really irritates me when certain riders criticize the company not even knowing what these guys do for cycling. Thank you Stan and thanks SRAM for giving us amazing and fun product.

  23. @Collin: that’s right, people will b*tch regardless of the situation now. But think about this: what if SRAM had done it right in the first place and didn’t have to do the recall? DING! No b*tching. Yes, everyone piles on because of another lackluster SRAM/Avid brake product, but if they had just done it right the first time (asking for a lot, I know), no one would be complaining about a recall because it wouldn’t have happened.

    Time will tell if Shimano gets it right with their R785, but I’m feeling supremely confident in them having ridden Shimano hydro brakes for the last few years. Hopefully they don’t burn me…

  24. I would be nice if SRAM would reimburse ALL the bike shops for ALL the free labor they’ll be doing. Shops do the replacements for free! Sram has great customer service no doubt but Sram creates too many headaches for bike shops.

    And……. if you bought them online… your computer can help you fix it not your LBS.
    (my .02)

  25. my husband and I both have Crux Pros with Hydro-R discs and we have been racing and training non stop through single digit and below freezing temps the past 2 weeks at Boulder Rez, RLW and CO State CX. I see J-Pow is still riding his, too. Not to say that nothing can ever happen, but this is by far the best bike setup I’ve ever ridden. I see on this morning’s release that they can fail regardless of temp however the BB7s I have on my SS cross bike absolutely suck in comparison. We are both registered for Natz and in the absence of better info not sure what to do. I’m going to probably just put my SS in the pit and wait it out.

  26. this is a very quick reaction, and a very eloquent response. good on you SRAM for owning up and putting it all out there. People who want to “Boycott SRAM” do it, they dont want your support any way, you are a fair-weather friend. i have watched SRAM grow and gain recognition and respect from all cycling communities over the last few years, and i understand yes this is annoying and inconvenient for those of you with the brakes and the issue, at least SRAM has confronted the issue, giving you truth, not making any promises they cannot keep. ill continue to ride SRAM exclusively on all of my bikes because as they stated, they are a “high performance product development company” and if we want to see a company continue to push the envelope in terms of form, function, and weight, people should not be so quick to write them off.

  27. Sram sucks. Can’t believe the stuff they let slip. Remember that Red Ti front derailleur? They need to spend more time in R & D and less time rushing this junk to market. I can’t wait for the recalls associated with their electronic shifters to begin. Yeesh.

  28. SRAM should recall all their brakes ever made. They just absolutely suck – as in, don’t work. After three pairs of XX brakes I finally just paid for XTRs and have had zero problems ever since.

  29. All I have to say is I’ve seen plenty of failures in multiple brands in very cold weather (including Shimano) and SRAM is the only company to recall their product. A lot of companies will just warranty each product as they fail even though it’s a large percentage of affected product ( remember 105 5600 series front double shifters?) in stead of deal with at large recall. Go SRAM for doing right by your customers, but still try to suck less when it comes to Hydro disc brakes in general.

  30. SRAM has a LOT more product problems than just their cx/road brakes. This is just a very visible problem right now due to being cyclocross season, so they’re forced to speak up. Their mtb brakes are constantly having problems and most shops have all but sworn them off… their new red rear derailleurs are trashing wheels… their XX1 rear derailleurs are having clunking problems… and they haven’t recalled any of them. SRAM is doing the best they can to CYA, but it seems they really need to focus more attention on durability/longevity testing. Honestly I like the fact that they innovate, but I can’t afford to use their product when I’m paying travel fees, race fees, etc. The last thing I need when racing is a mechanical problem due to someone not thoroughly testing their product. Of course all manufacturers can have problems, however it seems SRAM has far too many problems to justify. The good news is their not top end groups seem to be fairly well tested since they’re generally released a year or so after the top end offerings. Aside from their brakes, all force through apex and X0 through X7 components seem to be very solid. Unfortunately the people that pay the most to get SRAM’s top of the line stuff generally pay the price by being beta testers of sorts.

  31. Seems that most people here don’t understand that SRAM had to do it this way. This is a safety issue and therefore SRAM must act as quickly as possible to deal with the problem to limit damages that may be claimed against them if there are any injuries. This part of it is technically voluntary but had to happen as soon as they knew about the issue.

    The official recall will follow.

  32. Just received a 2014 Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 with Red HRR brakes.

    I live in Northern California, where freezing is 50ºF.

    To ride or not to ride?

  33. @elan – Choosing not to buy SRAM products because they are cheaply made, perform poorly, and suffer from frequent recalls is not exactly a boycott. Why bother with their garbage? Is it to save 100g over a competing, less-expensive, better-performing Shimano product? Other companies make high performance components and aren’t constantly suffering the same troubles.

  34. The comments split up into two groups: 1) They should not have released the product without proper testing, and SRAM does this sort of thing often 2) They are doing the right thing by recalling the product.
    Put those two together, and you get the right viewpoint: they should test, and they are doing right by their customers to recall it.
    The idea that SRAM is doing something noble and good and respectable by recalling a faulty product is overblown, though- it is something they really must do in order to avoid liability. Any company who stakes anything on their reputation in a country where there is rule of law would do the same. I don’t respect SRAM terribly much for initiating a recall- it is just what they have to do in order to not lose even more money from getting sued.

  35. Stan,

    Best recall ever! We mean that in the nicest way. Things happen and some react well, some poorly. Your letter, openness and obvious desire to do right by the customer is top notch! Would not be surprised at all if some business college somewhere some day will likely use it as an example of how best to do a recall some day. Super.

    While many customers have been inconvenienced the more astute ones will appreciate the care and dedication. There will of course be some who will whine and complain bitterly but in general terms these are people who do so on a daily basis about most everything anyway.


    The Goats

  36. That is one thoroughly censored out comments section. Half the comments about actual people experience with SRAM brakes are gone.

    • @Mindless,
      That is not true. I’ve been moderating the comments. The only ones that were deleted said things like “I hate SRAM” or “SRAM sucks” – no others. Those were deleted because they offer nothing to back them up.

  37. I have a facebook friend who had 2 pairs of BB7s and 2 pairs of red 22 shifters shipped for FREE, just to get him by while he waits for his warranted brakes to return.

    Srams customer service kicks ass. I wrench, and they always are overly accommodating to us in the shop when we have problems. Its amazing.

    However, with all of that said, you have to be dumb or seriously out of touch to buy a brand new, first generation sram brake.

    I got to ride the Shimano Reps DI2/ hydro disc cross bike. It changed my life. Full braking with ONE finger with hands on the hood. Just as solid as their XT/XTR MTN brakes.
    Hell, I never even liked DI2 untill I rode that bike.

    ***rant over***

  38. Well, I raced this past weekend in 8 degree weather and my Red Discs held up just fine. Maybe because I’ve bled them thoroughly a few times since I got the bike back in August? I know the failures are real, one of my friends at the race had his new brakes give out in the practice lap. But mine have worked so well, and continue to work so well (and so much better than the mechanical options) that I refuse to relinquish them until the hydro replacement is ready.

  39. @JayBay – agreed, ours have worked flawlessly since August.

    As a side note, I’ve had Shimano XT hydraulics (the much-vaunted “gold standard”) fail repeatedly at low temps, as have other people I’ve ridden with. I think because they’re not widely used in high profile national caliber winter events, this has likely never become an issue and is viewed more as a passing anomaly. A couple of friends have replaced their XT brakes on their fatbikes with various other Dot fluid systems, owing to low temp failures (mineral oil simply does not work well at very low temperatures, end of story).

  40. Dropped the bike off to the shop yesterday now the waiting game… Anyone got any updates of what sram is going to send to replace ?

  41. Red 22 & bb7 TI as stated 2 posts up from yours.

    Also tons of XT brakes were leaking at the caliper/mc/hoses this past season. Didn’t really see many issues with 2013-4 elixirs.

What do you think?