Stress-corrosion cracking associated with the Future Shock system puts riders at risk, says the bike maker, which issued a full recall of certain models last week
Specialized Bicycles announced a recall on January 9 that affects a wide range of some of its most popular road and multi-surface bikes due to a problem with the headset assembly that could cause a loss of steering control. Specialized recommends any owner of an affected bike stop riding it immediately and take it to a Specialized dealer for repairs.
The recall affects essentially any model from 2017 to present that is equipped with Specialized’s Future Shock front road suspension feature. That system debuted on the 2017 model year Roubaix and Ruby (the women’s version) and was expanded in following years to the Sirrus fitness line and the gravel Diverge line. The affected models and model years are:
Note: X denotes recalled models. Gray boxes mark particular models not made that year. However, prior-year model bikes may have been unsold inventory and still available in later years. As a model-year note, Specialized did not make a new Roubaix Pro for 2019 even though one is listed on its site; that model is a 2018 carryover. Any Future Shock-equipped Roubaix Pro is subject to the recall. A white space denotes a bike model that is not subject to the recall.
The problem is not in the Future Shock mechanism itself. The at-risk part is the steerer tube collar, part of the headset assembly that pre-loads the headset bearings. Specialized said in its recall announcement that the steerer tube collar on the bikes can succumb to stress corrosion cracking and fail, resulting in an inability to steer the bike.
Stress corrosion cracking is a combination of mechanical and chemical failure. It occurs when a susceptible material is under tensile stress, (which has several possible causes and can be an after-effect of the manufacturing process), and in the presence of a corrosive chemical element. The result is a rapid spread of cracks and then, possibly, failure. Stress corrosion cracking can develop quickly and is not always apparent on inspection. Even if your bike's system appears to be fine, stop riding it and take it to any Specialized dealer.
Specialized is replacing all the steerer tube collars on affected models with an updated design, at no cost to the owners, through its dealer network. Specialized said that it is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission on a press release announcing the recall. But since the CPSC is part of the current partial government shutdown, it is not currently processing new recall announcements and has not updated its web site since December 20.