Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information from Specialized.
Information was leaked on October 11 about a new Specialized recall: The company is recalling all Tarmac SL7 road bikes over concerns of possible steerer tube failure.
Bicycling confirmed the news with a Specialized representative on October 11. Specialized released its official statement on October 12.
According to the recall notice, “harsh impacts” may cause the current headset components to damage the fork’s steerer tube, which allows you to steer your bike effectively. The notice also lays out the fix as well as the issue for affected customers.
The original expander plug in the SL7 steerer tube, used to preload the headset bearings, was very short (and thus lightweight). The new plug is much longer, to better support the steerer tube. Specialized has also redesigned the compression ring from a single piece to a two-piece design that adds a stainless steel sleeve in between the carbon steerer tube and slotted compression ring. Combined, the two changes will better support the steerer tube and keep any sharp edges from digging into the carbon.
Specialized first released the Tarmac SL7 in July of 2020. Specialized has not yet confirmed the number of Tarmac SL7 bikes it has sold globally since then. But the Tarmac has always been one of the most popular performance road bikes (and for good reason, considering how fast and light it is) on the market, so this recall may affect a large number of riders.
“As a global company, we don’t have any specific numbers we can quote, but we’re hoping all riders currently on a Tarmac SL7 will take advantage of this,” a Specialized representative told Bicycling.
Specialized is requesting that all Tarmac SL7 owners stop riding it immediately and bring the bike to their local retailer to receive updated headset components. Despite the recall, Specialized says that it “has no injury reports from riders” to date.
Neither the Tarmac SL6 nor the Venge models are affected by the recall. It’s unclear at this time if dealers will also be checking for existing steerer tube damage and if damaged forks will be replaced.
Specialized says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission will release its own statement on the recall on October 13.
The full media statement from Specialized can be read below:
“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.”
How can I tell if my Tarmac SL7 is recalled?
“Riders can verify their bike has been updated if the expander plug is anodized red. If it is black, it needs to be updated and the rider should contact their local retailer. This can be checked by simply removing the headset top cap,” the Specialized representative said. “If there is any doubt, riders should go to their retailer and have the bike inspected.”
The recall does not affect Tarmac SL7 bikes currently for sale at retailers.
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