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Warning for Cervelo owners with Wolf CL fork - Steering tube snapped in traffic!!!

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Warning for Cervelo owners with Wolf CL fork - Steering tube snapped in traffic!!!

Old 02-21-21, 10:49 AM
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Road commuter
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Warning for Cervelo owners with Wolf CL fork - Steering tube snapped in traffic!!!

I am the original owner of a 2008 Cervelo Soloist Team bicycle. I used it for a commute of 52 kilometers round trip for several years. It was my summer bike and saw rain just once. It was never crashed prior to the incident described below.

The fork on this bike is the Wolf CL.

While accelerating in traffic the handlebars of my bike snapped off without warning. (The fork steering tube broke). I hit the pavement so hard my helmet cracked. I broke my right collar bone. A tourniquet was required on the street to stop the flow of blood from the puncture wound on my right leg.

Prior to my buying the bike, Cervelo had recalled the Wolf SL fork that was used on Cervelo bikes.

The Wolf SL fork recall was due to cracking steering tubes. (The Wolf SL is all carbon – while the Wolf CL has a metal steering tube)

Recalls | Cervélo Cycles

After the incident I went onto Cervelo’s forum, (can’t seem to log onto it now). It appears I am not the first person to have a Wolf CL fork snap just below the stem.

I took a picture of the other person’s incident off the Cervelo forum, (attached). This other incident occurred several years ago. The poster said Cervelo replaced his bike.

My bike has a lifetime warranty. When I asked Cervelo for a warranty fix they declined. They said they require the original receipt, (though the original owner of the bike store confirms I bought this bike from them). They also said the metal steering tube had corrosion on it, and I should have had it inspected.

I definitely regret not asking any of my bike mechanics to take my fork out for inspection during routine maintenance.

Ironically, here is a VeloNews article featuring Cervelo co-founder Phil White. In it, Mr. White talks about the danger of failing forks / steering tubes. He even says, "...nobody ever takes their fork out of their bike to inspect the steerer."

Cervelo founder calls for industry-wide fork steerer test – VeloNews.com

I am posting this to warn any owners of bikes with the Wolf CL fork. Though my injuries will probably affect me forever, I consider myself lucky. I could easily have been thrown into moving traffic.

If you have a bike with this fork – PLEASE have it inspected.

Thanks, David

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Old 02-21-21, 11:07 AM
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That warning probably applies to any fork with a steel steerer tube...It's not unique to Cervelo.

I'm glad it wasn't worse, and hope you heal fast.
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Old 02-21-21, 11:18 AM
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Glad you survived and hope you heal super quick. Good luck to ya,
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Old 02-21-21, 01:28 PM
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Why all the discussion about the Cervelo fork recall if your fork was not the one that was recalled? Seems irrelevant...
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Old 02-21-21, 02:21 PM
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Bummer. I wonder if that tall stack of spacers contributed.
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Old 02-21-21, 02:24 PM
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Another reason I love quill stems. You can break the steerer at the bottom of the stem but assuming it is inserted past the threads, you have to work at it and torque that bolt down hard. Good thing is there is absolutely no reason to. An ordinary small Allen key tightened by hand by an ordinary person is plenty tight enough. Accidents like you (the OP) saw were rare before threadless.

I've had a similar failure (fork, not steerer) and paid the consequences to a higher degree. I don't take this stuff lightly. But needing to pull out and inspect your steerer on a regular basis? Huh? If it's thin enough to not accommodate a little corrosion it should be treated with linseed oil or equivalent before leaving the factory. They know that. The buyer doesn't (unless it is pointed out).

One of my mantras - everything forward of the top and down tubes (including headtube lugs and welds) is to be considered "sacred", ie the line between the pavement and my handlebars is life and death critical. Like airplane wings. They don't get inspected before every ride/flight but they have to up to the job.
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Old 02-21-21, 02:43 PM
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Wasn't the fork in that thing on a recall? I guess you said it is. I guess you said it was replaced. So I ought to read more before I reply.....


Interesting how it broke cleanly. I'd be miffed about them saying it should have been inspected. They want us to regularly pull our stem and remove the star nut?

Was the star nut in the area of the break or was it further down?

Last edited by Iride01; 02-21-21 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 02-21-21, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Wasn't the fork in that thing on a recall? I guess you said it is. So I ought to read more before I reply.....
No, it wasn't. Hence my post #4.
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Old 02-21-21, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
No, it wasn't. Hence my post #4.
Yes I deserve the flak. I made the classic mistake of having the fork recall in the back of my mind and replying to the title of the thread without reading the OP or any replies below it.

I'm ashamed!
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Old 02-21-21, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Yes I deserve the flak. I made the classic mistake of having the fork recall in the back of my mind and replying to the title of the thread without reading the OP or any replies below it.

I'm ashamed!
No flak.

I think the fork recall was mentioned to give the impression that Cervelo was the bad guy in this situation.
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Old 02-21-21, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Interesting how it broke cleanly. I'd be miffed about them saying it should have been inspected. They want us to regularly pull our stem and remove the star nut?

Was the star nut in the area of the break or was it further down?
This is more muddying of the waters by the OP. It's a photo of someone else's fork, copied from another forum.
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Old 02-21-21, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
This is more muddying of the waters by the OP. It's a photo of someone else's fork, copied from another forum.
Yeah, I did at least read well enough by that time to realize that. However it was stated their break was similar.

Still interested in my question about the star nut was because I might can see an over tightened star nut as being a participant in the weakening and fracture of the steerer tube. To me it seems it would be better to have the star nut below the upper headset bearings if there is a potential of it scoring the inside of the tube and stress of pulling and pushing on the bars takes over to make a crack.
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Old 02-21-21, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Another reason I love quill stems...
Oh boy.
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Old 02-21-21, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Another reason I love quill stems.
steerer tubes snapped back in the golden age of cycling.
And stems snapped too.
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Old 02-22-21, 02:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Yeah, I did at least read well enough by that time to realize that. However it was stated their break was similar.

Still interested in my question about the star nut was because I might can see an over tightened star nut as being a participant in the weakening and fracture of the steerer tube. To me it seems it would be better to have the star nut below the upper headset bearings if there is a potential of it scoring the inside of the tube and stress of pulling and pushing on the bars takes over to make a crack.
Thanks all for the comments.

I included the reference to the Wolf SL failure out of design interest, and because anytime I say my Wolf fork cracked on my Cervelo they think it was the recalled one. Mine was not recalled. Also, the second pic of the other rider's failed CL steering tube is just to show it started happening several years ago, with similar looking corrosion.

As for the star nut, good question, I will investigate on my end to see if a mechanic can advise.

Thanks again for the comments.
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Old 02-22-21, 07:45 AM
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To me, that does not look corroded at all. Light surface rust and some gunk, If I had inspected that I would not thought anything of it.
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Old 02-22-21, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by 55murray View Post
To me, that does not look corroded at all. Light surface rust and some gunk, If I had inspected that I would not thought anything of it.
Except, of course, the picture is not of the fork which Cervelo said had corrosion.
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Old 02-22-21, 09:51 AM
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So, as another Cervelo owner, I'm interested in what you've learned (thanks for posting). I see that the warranty, since 2004, has been for "frame only" ... was that discussed in your conversations with the company? Also, was your original purchase registered with them?
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Old 02-22-21, 03:55 PM
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Eh, what? You have to inspect your fork once in a blue moon. Quill or not. I have a friend who broke the fork at the crown on his old Peter Johnson, but fortunately it happened right as he braked to a stop. Right as he came to a stop the front rather undramatically just folded up. Totally uneventful, but it could have been really bad and IMO he was lucky AF. He was also the first to admit he hadn't even checked it in maybe ten years and it was entirely his own fault. This is one of the few potential bike problems that is absolutely terrifying.

Doesn't the dealer have the original paperwork from the sale on file somewhere? They should be able to produce proof of purchase.
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Old 02-26-21, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by sfrider View Post
Eh, what? You have to inspect your fork once in a blue moon. Quill or not. I have a friend who broke the fork at the crown on his old Peter Johnson, but fortunately it happened right as he braked to a stop. Right as he came to a stop the front rather undramatically just folded up. Totally uneventful, but it could have been really bad and IMO he was lucky AF. He was also the first to admit he hadn't even checked it in maybe ten years and it was entirely his own fault. This is one of the few potential bike problems that is absolutely terrifying.

Doesn't the dealer have the original paperwork from the sale on file somewhere? They should be able to produce proof of purchase.
Unfortunately the bike store changed Point of Sale systems twice since I bought the bike. They can see parts I purchased for servicing, but not the actual sale of the bike. I know the original owner would have done something, super great guy, but all the new owners would do is sell me a new fork. I totally agree with your friend regarding taking the fork out for inspection. I should have. Never occurred to me for any of my bikes. Thanks
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Old 02-26-21, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Except, of course, the picture is not of the fork which Cervelo said had corrosion.
To be clear, the first picture is my bike.

The second picture is a screen shot of the Cervelo Forum, where another Cervelo owner had his Wolf CL steering tube break under the stem on his bike.

Hence the original warning in my post - if it happened before it will happen to someone else, and they might not be so lucky.

Thanks for responding.
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Old 02-26-21, 01:42 AM
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Yikes. Sorry to hear about your injury but glad it wasn't worse.

That sort of thing was among my worries with my first all-carbon fiber bike (my first, a 1993 Trek 5900, has a steel steerer tube), a 2014 or so Diamondback Podium with carbon fiber steerer. I wouldn't ride it until I disassembled everything to inspect it as carefully as I could. A friend who has access to ultrasound for inspecting aircraft offered to help, but I didn't see anything that indicated previous damage or excessive wear so I didn't take him up on that offer. And because the Diamondback's fork is so easy to drop to inspect, I'll do it once a year.

I've done that only once with the 1993 Trek, and only because corrosion finally killed the headset so I had to clean and scrape the steel steerer before reassembly. Looks like the previous owner used it for time trials or triathlons and sweated or drooled electrolyte juice down into the headset, causing a build up of crusty lime scale looking stuff. No problems with the steerer or fork, though.
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Old 03-02-21, 04:56 AM
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Nasty business. What strikes me though, is that it's a metal steerer (is it steel, or aluminium?) - so, there shouldn't be anything particular about it. It's not like they got the layup wrong or something.

Star nut causing a stress riser for fatigue to get its teeth into looks like a good theory. Never liked those, seems like a pretty good reason to use expander plugs on everything.
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Old 03-02-21, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
steerer tubes snapped back in the golden age of cycling.
True. It was common for French bikes to have a wooden dowel inserted in the steer tube at the factory to mitigate this.

And stems snapped too.
That, too. Been there, done that.
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Old 03-11-21, 09:54 AM
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heal up!
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