Rattle in SRAM S Series hydraulic brake lever

DanRichman Posts: 2
edited October 2013 in Road general
I'm posting to call attention to an issue I haven't seen addressed anywhere else: excessive lateral play in the SRAM S Series hydraulic brake lever, resulting in chattering, rattling, or buzzing when riding on anything but a perfectly smooth road.

With the federal government shutting down and gas being used against Syrian citizens, this can hardly rank as a major issue. But to those paying big money for this gear and expecting precision and elegance, it matters.

I bought a Specialized Roubaix SL4 Elite Rival HRR from a major Seattle bike shop last month (September 2013). I was so distracted for 10 days by its sheer goodness that I did not notice the buzzing coming from the brake levers. Then I did. Then I couldn't stop noticing it. It's damn annoying.

The buzzing results from the lever moving back and forth within a gap of roughly 0.5 - 1.5 mm between the brake lever and its housing. The lever can easily be moved laterally back and forth by hand. To me, the gap is evidence of either sub-optimal design or poor manufacturing -- I suspect the former. Most other brake levers I've used or tested are rock-solid.

With conventional brakes, the cable exerts tension backwards (i.e., away from the lever), holding the lever outward. Perhaps the absence of that tension -- these are hydraulic brakes, after all -- contributes to the problem. In any case, I don't want to live with it.

So I went back to the bike shop today (Oct. 1, 2013) and had a sales manager there contact SRAM. Tech support there told the manager that SRAM is working on a fix -- something about spring-loading a part to hold the lever in place and prevent the rattling. SRAM said riders affected by the problem are urged to contact their bike shops and get on a list SRAM is compiling. The bike stores will send the stores "version 2.0" of the levers as soon as they are ready. SRAM will reimburse the stores the cost of the time needed to install the new levers.

There is no time frame whatsoever from SRAM on the availability of version 2.0. Could be days or weeks, but probably months, according to my LBS. So we just have to live with the noise until then.

To its credit, SRAM did offer to send brand-new mechanical brake levers and calipers and pay for the store's time to install them, all to eliminate the noise until the new hydraulic levers arrive. That's pretty impressive. I'm not going to do it, but I appreciated the offer.

I will update this thread as I learn more.