Uh oh – Safety recall for Trek 8.4 DS 2013 – Suntour NRX fork – My lucky day

I thought I was finished with bike defects when Trek swapped out my 2012 frame for a 2013 frame to finally fix the extremely noisy back brake. Since then I have really been enjoying my rides, and the geometry of this bike has been a good fit for me.

But, my “happily ever after” story took a different turn at the end of June when I got a recall notice from Trek. It said there was a possibility the fork could break while riding, so it had been recalled. The notice said to stop riding the bike immediately and to go through my local bike dealer for replacement of the defective fork.

I called the shop to schedule an appointment. The guy there said he needed to physically see the bike, and photograph it, before we could start the process. I would also need to leave the bike at the shop until the parts came and the repair could be made. Suddenly I wasn’t as interested in getting this done. He wasn’t very clear on how long it would take, which meant it would probably be like the time I had the issues with brakes—lots of waiting and no riding.

It’s not like I get out and ride every day, or even every week. My work schedule has been brutal for the past several months, and I don’t get out nearly as much as I want to. But, when I find an opportunity to ride, I want my bike to be there waiting. Having my bike tied up for weeks at the shop was not exciting. A couple of other things also kept me from rushing to get in line for the free repair.

What is the RST VITA?

I found that the replacement fork is an RST VITA but I didn’t find much information about it, such as how it compares to what is currently on the bike. Do I gain features? Lose features? In this age of information sharing, it’s amazing how little can be found about certain products.

How will it affect the ride?

When I replaced my 2012 frame with a 2013 frame, I expected the geometry to be the same. It wasn’t. Even though I like the 2013 frame, the 2012 frame was more to my liking, and fit me perfectly. I have forgotten how the old frame felt, but I remember being disappointed after the switch. I also liked the paint of the 2012 better. Concerns of how the RST VITA fork will change the feel of the bike have contributed to my procrastination.

What others have said

I found this thread about the recall, and how people are reacting to it. This is what I have distilled from my reading:

  1. The paint on the VITA fork comes in gloss black or gloss white. My forks are matte white. This is one of the biggest complaints: that the paint doesn’t match. It seems like Trek wouldn’t have nearly as many unhappy people if they could address this issue. When you spend a lot of money for a bike, you want it to look nice.
  2. There may be a matte paint option available sometime in October. I’m not sure how to confirm this
  3. The process can take 48 hours, or it can take 6 weeks, depending the responsiveness of Trek and the LBS (local bike shop). Some people have said it’s difficult to know who is causing the delay, as both Trek and the LBS may point fingers at each other.
  4. The new fork has a stiffer ride than the original. This may be an advantage to me, as I can easily bottom-out the current fork if I get any air—something I avoid. I’m heavier than a lot of riders.
  5. The new fork is supposed to have a more durable lockout knob. The weak knob on the original is a known flaw.
  6. The new fork has less travel than the original. I don’t know how this will affect me.
  7. The new fork has less travel in lockout than the original. Some people like this.
  8. Some people hate the new fork, and wish they hadn’t taken their bikes in.
  9. Some people seem to be pleased with it.
  10. Nobody is raving about it
  11. The LBS gets about $20 to do the repair, so there isn’t a lot of incentive for them.

So, what now?

I still haven’t decided what to do. I will probably end up doing the recall swap, but I still have reservations. The odds of failure are very low, so I’m not that worried about riding the bike while I wait to decide. Most of my riding is on paved trails. Other than my weight, my bike isn’t seeing a lot of stress on my rides. If I’m reading this recall information correctly, I may be able to send the information in myself, and take my bike in when the part arrives.