This past winter Mavic issued a voluntary recall for the front wheels in all sets of their R-Sys carbon-spoked wheelsets. As I packed my wheel up I opined to the local bike shop guys that it seemed odd that Mavic was only recalling the front wheels when the rear wheels utilized the same prone-to-fail spokes as the front.
Mavic had indicated that the composition of the spokes made them prone to failing if struck laterally by an object such as road debris. The rear spokes, they said, would be supported by the additional aluminum spokes on the drive side. Well sure, but they’re still prone to failure, right?
I accidentally proved my point yesterday when something struck my rear wheel, instantly dissolving the spokes with a slight popping noise. In a fraction of a second I went from complete wheelset to strands of carbon. My wheel, now vastly out of true, began to strike the brakes and wobbled as if the tire had fallen off the bead. Had I been going at speed, I’d have been on the pavement in an instant.
To their credit, the aluminum driveside spokes held up enough that I was able to ride home very slowly for the remaining few miles, but this catastrophic level of failure shouldn’t happen. The company knew the spokes are prone to this sort of collapse, and issued a recall for the front wheels based on that information. But recalling the front wheels alone doesn’t do anything for the still-vulnerable rear spokes, as shown by this collapse.
Perhaps people will speak up and require that all of their spokes be replaced, or do we need to wait for the CPSC to issue a recall after someone is seriously injured?