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Update: Specialized has now released official information in relation to the Tarmac SL recall.
Specialized looks set to issue a safety recall and stop-ride notice on all of its Tarmac SL7 bikes amidst concerns of a potential steerer tube failure.
A leaked safety recall notice from Specialized suggests “harsh frontal impacts, e.g., impacting a deep pothole with significant force, may put extraordinary stress on headset components and may initiate a crack in the fork’s steerer tube.” The new Tarmac design’s integrated cable routing features a round steerer tube, but an unconventional headset compression ring that may be acting as a stress concentrator in some situations.
In the leaked recall notice, Specialized asks riders to “stop riding your Tarmac SL7 and bring it to your nearest authorised Specialized retailer.” The recall notice also lays out a remedy for affected customers: “Your retailer will replace the current expander plug with a new extended plug and upgrade the compression ring to the newer-style, two-piece compression ring if your bike is not already equipped with one.” More specifically, that new compression plug will be far longer and support more of the steerer tube than the original one, and there will now also be a stainless steel sleeve in between the outer surface of the steerer tube and the slotted compression ring to keep any sharp edges from digging into the carbon.
Presumably, retailers will also replace any damaged forks, although it’s unclear exactly how dealers are to evaluate them given that damage to carbon fibre structures isn’t always visible on the surface.
The leaked notice explicitly lists the new Tarmac SL7 and bikes sold between July 2020 and September 2021 as the only models affected. The previous-generation Tarmac SL6 (which used external routing and a conventional headset up front) and the now-discontinued Venge aren’t included in the recall, although it’s unclear at this point why the Venge isn’t affected since it uses the same routing configuration at the Tarmac SL7.
Specialized says affected riders will receive more information on October 12, and the official recall notice will be distributed publicly the day afterward. In the meantime, Specialized had this to say:
“At Specialized, the rider is the boss, and that means ensuring the bikes and equipment we make will provide years of safe and confidence inspiring performance. We will be announcing a voluntary recall of Tarmac SL7 bicycles because harsh impacts may put extraordinary stress on headset components and may initiate a crack in the fork’s steerer tube. We will improve the overall system with the addition of a new extended expander plug and an upgrade of the compression ring for riders that do not have one already. We will be asking riders to stop riding their Tarmac SL7 and head to their local retailer and have these new parts installed. Retailers worldwide have the parts in stock and installation will be a simple process.
“As with any severe impact or accident, riders should always have their bike inspected at their local retailer, but they can also rest assured that the Tarmac SL7 meets or exceeds all industry safety standards. Only Tarmac SL7 models already on the road will need this improvement. Tarmac SL6 and previous models do not require any action, and all Tarmac SL7 currently in store and in the future will have these new components.“
More to follow.