Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Quickly" Getting Out in Front of This

By now you have heard that TREK is recalling nearly ONE MILLION front, quick release skewers that were being used on their disc brake equipped bicycles from 1999 until present day. 

This is MUCH different than the USA Today article that claims "FED's recall nearly One Million Bikes after rider left paralyzed" Not only is the title of this article intended to scare the shit out of you because of how it is worded... it so happens that it is completely FALSE. TREK is not recalling a single bicycle, rather the skewer that holds on the front wheel on bikes equipped with disc brakes ONLY.

Now, it is true that three people have been injured and at least one is now paralyzed and that totally sucks. TREK is getting out in front of this thing to keep people safe no matter the issue BUT, this is not a TREK issue. It is an issue with a part that nearly every manufacturer uses between certain price points. More importantly, it is an issue with being too stupid to operate a device as it was intended. Be it the customer, the "assembler" or the last bicycle repair man to touch it, it had better be done right. Or this type of crap can happen.

To be fair, it is not yet known whether or not the cause was user error or simply a case of being uninformed, but if you know bikes, then you know that this story reeks of horse shit.

In the literature that accompanies the official recall, a diagram can be found which spells out the nature of the issue. 

This is a fact. It cannot be disputed because it can (and did) happen. However, a few items should be addressed here before the world launches in to a panic and blames TREK for this (yeah, that's right... I am defending them this time).

First, this skewer is not made by or exclusive to the TREK brand. In fact, the majority of the bikes from the lower end of the price spectrum feature this skewer and SOME even say SHIMANO on them. So before they are called a Witch and burned at the steak, it should be pointed out that the CPSC should certainly be asking other brands to address the same issue. Meaning,it is not likely that this will be the last time you will hear about QR (quick release) skewers being recalled. 

At the heart of it though is how they are used. If you do not use them as intended, it will likely end badly for you at some point. Now, I am not saying that the people who were injured were at fault, but let's just say what we are all thinking here... 

If this happened, you are doing it wrong. Period. 

I blame this on a few factors which include failing to educate the customer. When I posed this point on the BRAIN article, it was met with some responses that required follow up and rather than repeating them verbatim, you can read them for yourself... verbatim;

This is the God's Honest Truth here. many of the customers we deal with daily are Rubes and if you didn't show them how to properly utilize a safety component on their bicycle, then you are a dick, and they will likely make this mistake at some point. Seriously, you have all seen the customer who brings in a bike and says 

 "hey man, the brakes don't work!"

The scope of you job includes making sure that the customer has all the info the need to make informed decisions and to use their bicycles safely. If this guy doesn't know that his brake is "open" then how the shit do you expect him to know about his skewer?!

Then you have this guy;

There are a number of things wrong with this assessment: 

This is only a "big issue" because people make it one. Sure, people's safety is at steak here so it is a big deal, but I have already talked with several "seasoned mountain biker(s)..." I have also consulted myself... and we arrived at this conclusion: Your skewer, positioned properly, cannot simply be "knocked loose." 

And honestly dude, I am glad none of your skewers open beyond 180 degrees. It doesn't need a fail safe, because used properly IT IS SAFE. 


And this is not a "both wheels" thing, NO. This applies to the front only. Considering that is the only wheel the average Don Knotts is going to remove and re install in his bike you start to see a theme. At some point you have got to point a finger and assign blame especially when  costly lawsuits may result.
If you take upon yourself the responsibility of owning and maintaining a bicycle then you had better damn well know how to keep the wheel on. 
Change the skewer to a higher quality one if you are really worried about it.
For the record, I have always argued that the QR lever should be placed on the [EDITED] drive side of the fork. Turns out there are some that would argue that this is incorrect. I argue that I like the skin on my knuckles just fine and would rather not have to put my hand anywhere near that brake rotor when operating a quick release lever. 

Either way. No one panic. It will be okay. If you have a bad skewer and you need to, you can go see a TREK dealer near you to get a new one. Ask the sales dude how to operate it if you are not sure.

Or go buy one on line. I hear that is all the rage these days.