Wednesday, July 28, 2010

19 SRAM Force Brake Housing Failure

I had written a post a month back reviewing the story of a SRAM brake lever housing failure, belonging to an individual who maintained that when his mechanic called SRAM to find out what the issue was, the reply came back from the SRAM employee something to the like of  "oh yeah, we knew about that, you know...we injected some extra air in the part during molding...." SRAM didn't inform consumers that this incident had happened in the manufacturing phase and let the product sell. The brakes cost almost 200 dollars in retail value.

The comments in that post were also interesting. You should really read them. One individual who is an ex-Ciamillo employee wrote to me that something very similar in substandard manufacturing practices was happening with the highly expensive Zero Gravity Gravitas brakes. He was frustrated with the owner, who felt to him like all he wanted to do was produce more brakes without a care in the world for people's safety. He left the company shortly. Now those brakes sell for a staggering 875 dollars a pair!

Anyway, the story about the SRAM brakes is not a mere anecdote as now more pictures are coming in. So I thought I'd follow up on that last post.

Now the same housing failure happened to two other people. The power of my blog lies in being able to connect people's experiences across the world. One individual saw the post here in the U.S and wrote to me recently :

"The SAME thing happened to me! The plastic cover just shattered, a piece of it shot across the room. It was so odd. 20+ years of working on bikes and I’ve never seen anything like that."

Here's an image he sent me :

Another individual in Ireland could also relate to the incident. He had a similar nightmare with his SRAM gruppo, documented here. The characteristic housing failure did not escape him either.

"Brake cable goes inside the clamp, I adjust the brakes to where I want them. Put my torque wrench up and start twisting when pong!, something goes flying. Immediately I start scanning my torque wrench thing, crap I’ve broken my torque wrench. But no, the brake quick release housing has decided to give up. Firstly, the manual says tighten to 6-8nm. My torque wrench was set to 5nm. Yes I know it was light but I’d rather be safe on the initial setup of things, so I usually do a lower torque first then go back. Well in this case it didn’t matter."


Here's the image he referred me to.

The attitude the company has to such incidences is also interesting to learn. According to a blogger who raised this issue on their website, a SRAM public relations rep tracked the post down and allegedly barked at them via email, "Why are you talking such nonsense about plastic QR's breaking? The brakes still work. Please take the post back, people understand this is not a problem." 

I see. Without letting people know about the problem, obviously their understanding will be that its not a problem!

Please be aware of this issue and contact SRAM with your concerns. If they do not redress your problem, just shoot me an email and I'll try to help.


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  1. Just noticed that the SRAM Red brakeset uses an alloy piece instead of the plastic bit that is coming apart.
    Both Rival and Apex have a fully formed plastic QR which isn't going to be affected by the same issue.

  2. Just rode the Tdf route for the 13th time ! My Shimano front brake cable jumped out of it's housing and i pulled over immediately and reset it ! Continued after satisfying myself that everything was working correctly !

    Point i am making is that my life is on the line each time i use the brakes and do not wish to use or recommend "CRAP" that some "Disinterested busybody from SRAM feels is below his dignity to discuss or rectify" !

    Your timely warning may save lives but will "SRAM" own up to the errors of their product and recall or reimburse those affected

  3. Parabuddy : I think they should reimburse people. But like you said, if something like this happens when you're going down a descent at 60kph, you may lose your brake fuctionality. There's no reimbursement for an injury.

  4. Ron, is this problem specific to 2010 model year brakes only?

  5. I believe so. So far, only 2010 Force models.

  6. Hi Ron,

    Thanks for taking the time and following up on this. You now show what the heck is going on, with more valuable information included.

    The one thing I would like to point out is the inclusion of Ciamillo brakes, and various rumors of composite issues only distracts the reader from the issue you are trying to present.

    I would like to point out again - A simple internet search will clearly show that Composite Lay-up is vastly different then Plastic Injection.

    It might be best in the future to separate the 'apples from the oranges' in order to better show things.

  7. I spoke to the UK SRAM guys yesterday who confirmed the brake problem. It affects about 1000 sets world wide or so they said.
    Since this is popping up now and I bought mine in December 2009, I think their numbers are a little off. However they did confirm that it would be a straight warranty replacement.

  8. Thanks for the report Stephen. 1000 is a lot of units.

  9. Come on people, for the last time this isn't a "life threatening" issue, it's a failure in the toggle lever not in the torqued cable plates or the release cam.

    It is a PITA and SRAM is handling the issue poorly but lets get some serious perspective on the severity of the issue.

    The histrionics is a bit tacky to say the least.

    I know many people who had problems with the plastic adjuster knobs for pre-load on Rox Shoxs forks. Mine was RMAed and they (Rox Shox/SRAM) even upgraded the fork with the U-turn for free.

    I was annoyed at first, but I never went around ranting that the knob failure was going to kill me because it wasn't.

  10. Siocan5:55 PM

    It just came to my mind that Löwik Gerben had a crash in the Tour de Suisse because the brake didn't work.

    Does the Omega Pharma Lotto Team rides SRAM?

  11. @Jason, the quick release section holds the piece of metal into the brake callipers. It is that piece of metal that the cable clamps on to.

    On mine, you can see the thing flexing when pulling the brakes. Should the cracked section actually come apart, then there is nothing hold the mount to the brake callipers. With nothing holding the mount the cable isn't doing anything and you have brakes that don't work.

    Maybe you don't ride fast, or on roads with cars, but if the brake was to fail at the wrong moment...

  12. Anonymous6:44 PM

    @ Jason - Please research the severity of the issue yourself before you downgrade the severity. Do you work for SRAM?

  13. Bob Anderson9:31 PM

    Don't ever buy SRAM...The teflon prince, Lance Armstrong, is a part-owner...'nuff said.

  14. Aaron Cooper9:32 PM

    Shame. I love my rival. Sram can fail as a company VERY quickly if they get a reputation for shoddy quality. They've come so far -- I would hate to see them fail.

  15. Brian Trafford9:33 PM

    ‎2 words! sram sucks! its cheaper an lighter because they use lower quality materials and less of them!

  16. @Stephen

    I stand corrected. You are right. The alloy top cap (on Red) and plastic top cap on Force are what retains the alloy cap-screw clamp to the arm via a fairly beefy extension on the clamp that goes through the arm. But that plastic part is indeed the only thing preventing the assembly from pulling through the hole in the arm. On rival and I think old force it's a single piece plastic toggle and cap but with the same principle.

    I was under the impression that there was an additional alloy piece.

    So yeah, that failure is actually quite serious...

  17. Exact same thing happened to me (with the lever snapping off) with a set of Rival calipers. I didn't even know it happened. Just noticed it when trying to change a flat one day. I would like to keep using the brakes because they otherwise work, but will SRAM replace the tab?

  18. Just found this, too late I'm afraid. I just bought a complete Force groupset, brakes and all. Here's hoping...

  19. its a problem with 1000 pieces, whoever said that is a lot, i'm not so sure that it is, how many sets of brakes do they produce in a year. Sometimes things break, sometimes errors are made. If it's a straight warranty replacement and they fixed the problem, yeah it's an inconvenience but what more are they supposed to do?


Thank you. I read every single comment.