Fond memories of Fondos, and enough daylight to make green things from the clear blue sky. Today its 21 degrees, which means something like -5 c, and it's getting more abstract to recall the days when cold was how you felt at times, or something you caught, rather than a constant, like gravity, and pollution. Today I received a recall notice from my local shop for one of my bikes, where apparently the manufacturer made a part that can fail, and separate steering in the head tube from the fork and wheel, which as I consider this discord, am inclined to think is rather dangerous. The thing with voluntary recalls, is that every manufacturer may have some, and those that are around long enough to have several are likely the responsible ones who actually take care of their constituents, to fix them. One of my rides has the venerable Future Shock, which, being a bit more than a gimmick, I happen to like, but for a few reasons I will explain later. The Future Shock has a top collar which holds the actual steerer to the top of the Cartridge, or as was explained to me by my shop tech, "The photo on the recall poster makes plain the manner in which the collar cinches the steerer around the Future Shock cartridge (removed in the photo). The two small allen bolts on either side function to preload the headset bearings after the cartridge is cinched into place. If this collar were to crack through, it would lose cinching tension between the steerer and the cartridge to which the stem is clamped, resulting in the handlebars being able to turn independently of the fork." The Cartridge, which allows the rider to sustain a bit less of the bumpy stuff, may make loose, and one would lose steering.
Let's think about that. In a car, if your power steering goes out, or the car kills so that the power steering fails, whilst making a maneuver, it's damn tough to make a counter maneuver, or finish parking. But if you are sailing through a switchback and the same happens, then you will actually careen off the cliff, and hopefully land in a lovely lemon grove (safely). If you are in a car and the steering wheel falls off in your hand, and you are left with no steering, one could only hope it would occur whilst parked in the driveway.
My bike is rather important to me, and it's key that the things we hold to be self evident, like the handlebar remaining attached to the wheel via the fork steerer are knowable quantities. Much like the weather in winter, wherein we expect shit and mostly get shit,... So when anything less than shit happens, we are delighted. Ipso facto, when we expect verdant pastures, and we are caught in a hail storm, or twister, we are ill-prepared. Fortunately, we have forecasting. We can predict the shit-days, and stay inside, and plan for the rest. We cannot plan for catastrophe in general. In Chicago in the winter, when it's 42 degrees in January, we relish in it. This is because come February, 42 will seem like a day in June, and we may go without a jacket, or wear shorts. If One lives in Minneapolis, then the effect is more noticeable. In December if it is 32 degrees whatsoever, then you may see kids playing outside in t-shirts, and if it's sunny, perhaps in shorts.
Predictably so, the weather, like catastrophe will surprise us now and again.
I have more than one bike, and as I'm fond of reciting, "If you are lucky enough to have a bicycle, then you are lucky enough". Because I have more than a few bikes, I consider myself very fortunate, and so asked the local dealer (who is awesome by the way), for some more insight on the recall, to lend perspective. We can assume that the part that holds these two systems together, is rather important by the aforementioned scenarios. We can predict that this little part will be swapped out in the near term, and that everything will be back in order. In the winter, with more than one bicycle to ride, this is really not a bother as much as it is an opportunity for dealers to reacquaint themselves with their clientele, and perhaps get an accessory sale or two. I personally enjoy the dialog, and kicking some new tires. But... If this were my car, rather than my bike and they told me that I should not drive it for fear of careening off a cliff into a canyon to my death, but, that they don't have the parts to fix it yet... I may be angry. Actually, I'd definitely grow angry. I'd be inconvenienced true -- but I'd also be late for work more often, (if i drove to work), or I'd simply not be able to get there, and I'd perhaps miss many other opportunities, such as to pick up children from school, get the groceries, and cetera. So The notice came across my desk today, and I checked on the status. "We should expect a fix in a few weeks", so I hope you hadn't planned to be someplace warm riding that (your only) bike. I hope you don't have a vacation planned or a bike-packing adventure, and so if you do, then please cancel that and or borrow something, or buy a new one, which does not have a Specialized Future Shock.
Don't let a small part ruin your winter picnic. If you have a local dealer, then take your ride to them, and they will help get this squared away. It's easy to complain, just as it may be simple to cut a corner; But it's not so easy to reach back out to your fans, and own up to a having let them down, so let this count for something. That "S" is going to take care of it.
As with unpredictable weather events, May we all hope that they are pleasant freezing days in the midst of an otherwise unbearable midwest winter. Let's also hope that when your bike breaks to no fault of your own that you have an awesome spare to ride, or that it's too snowy to ride and you'll just have to ski. But for those other people who have committed a chunk of money for a great ride, let's hope that when it breaks to no fault of your own, that it's fixed quickly and for free. For Specialized, this recall is not their first, and they will sustain it, but on a tech piece of kit that split the industry, like a President did a country; This bike divided the purist like friction shifting to index, Tubulars to Clinchers, Tubes or Tubeless, Electric shifting vs Mech.
We were already divided, and those who swore that, "that shit will fail" -- Well it may have, but it's in the works... as it were. My SWorks Diverge, is a rather niche bike, with a rather Niche following, and it rides well, and weather has not taken any toll on it like nay-sayers have deprecated. I think that we come back to an "O-ring" moment. the time when someone finds out that a bad bolt or cable, or even a bad Flux Capacitor, can mean the difference between a beautiful mission, and a calamity. So, it merits some discussion about the Part in question, and where it comes from. This Part "May be susceptible to stress corrosion cracking which may result in a sudden loss of steering control. Remedy: Stop using the affected bicycles immediately". I should also mention that this quote is not taken out of context. The part is a simple enough one to fix, and one that can simply be replaced. Provenance of the part is without question, the main Question. China is vast, and we all know that the first prototype is alway perfect, but the production run, is where the corners are cut. When we Spec someone in elsewhere to make something for us, whether it be a PB&J, or a Jet engine, we have a decent amount of faith that they will do it right. That they will do us right, and make the part properly, and even come back to us and say, "Um, hey... Um we should also consider heat treating this, or maybe switch to the Cold forge guy for this one, or Maybe use the the other bid, because it's important, this part".
So we get the sandwich, and it's not as we may have made it ourself. I spread each slice of bread to the very beeding edge of the crusts, and cover in a thick enough layer to saturate, but not so thick that any one element steals from another. I give a shit about my sandwiches, So when someone hands us a shoddily crafted PB&J, and we like them, we'll accept it. We may in fact eat it with relish and not complain, because after all, they made it for you. You didn't lift a finger, so enjoy it. Shit Sandwich.
However when, it is inedible, what do you do? Tell them? Complain that the bread is dry, moldy, or the Jam is rank? Nah!
I have served as an expert witness in more than a few Bicycle Litigations and the blame never seems to matter when someone has an axe to grind. Exhibit A: Someone gets stoned, and goes for a ride outside of their comfort zone, and pulls only their front brake, because they have a Boloney sandwich in their right hand, and the brakes, being properly adjusted Mid 90's V-Brakes get the best of them. They fly over the handlebar. Well, sigh! the manufacturer is not necessarily to blame. I wish my bike had a lower standover, and that the drop and top tube were a bit shorter, but I am not going to litigate, because I have nothing better to do, and my life is hollow.
I hope that Specialized realizes that if they did cut a corner on a part, or if their sub-supplier did; That they should hope that nobody finds that out. Because we here in the US are a litigious bunch, and people are always blaming others for shit that goes wrong in their own lives.
I hope that the new part comes in soon, and that this fixes the CPSC acknowledged issue, and that the bike remains enjoyable. I also hope that as we increasingly rely upon others for parts, (and for sandwiches) -- that they do the right thing and build them well.
I hope that those who have to make a choice about their next ride based upon the following statement, "Stop using the affected bicycles immediately", That their faith in off-shore QC doesn't drive them to ONLY buy Swiss, and Homegrown stuff. But if, you find at times that you are losing your faith in larger brands because they sometimes cut corners, and you need that bike right now, and not in a few weeks when the part comes into stock -- Then you should know that if you have to cut corners hopefully you will be cutting the crusts off, or some mold before you serve your next shit sandwich. Please try to remember the maxim, "if you are lucky enough to have a bicycle, then you are lucky enough". And... If you are lucky enough to have more than one, and your $9K. S-Works doesn't work this week, or next -- then, well yes, you are a dick to complain whatsoever.
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.