Cannondale has issued a voluntary recall for its CAADX cyclocross bikes over an issue with fork fractures. The recall, which affects model years 2013 through 2016, comes after 11 reported incidents of the front fork breaking. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, seven of those incidents involved serious physical harm, including concussions and spinal injury. One resulted in the death of the rider.
Cannondale says that testing, both in-house and by independent facilities, did not show a defect in the forks. “However, given the circumstances,” the brand said in a statement on its website, “We decided the best course of action was to inform riders of these incidents and make a free upgraded replacement fork available through the U.S. CPSC’s voluntary recall process.” CAADX owners should look for the following details to determine whether their bike is affected by the recall: a CAADX marking, disc brakes, an ULTRAX marking on the inside of the fork leg, and external black plastic brake cabling running along the front fork blade. Bikes that have all of those attributes warrant inspection.
These kinds of carbon-fiber bike failures are not all that uncommon, thanks largely to manufacturing inconsistencies and a lack of education surrounding the material’s weaknesses. (Even a minor bump can cause a fissure in thin layers of carbon-fiber, which can widen over time until the material finally breaks, seemingly out of nowhere.)
In its online statement, Cannondale encouraged users to read their owners manuals, “Including but not limited to the BPSA industry standard warning that ‘A crash or other impact can put extraordinary stress on bicycle components, causing them to fatigue prematurely. Components suffering from stress fatigue can fail suddenly and catastrophically, causing loss of control, serious injury, or death.’”
Since Cannondale has not identified a clear defect causing these eleven incidences of frames breaking, there’s no clear-cut assurance for how the fork replacement will resolve the issue for all other CAADX users. However, a brand representative explained to Outside that the replacement forks (an updated component that’s lighter weight and supposedly higher performing than the original) have undergone extensive testing internally by “a leading third-party bicycle testing laboratory,” and have CPSC approval.