This week, SF-based ride hailing company Lyft announced that it was yanking its electric bikes from cities all over the country because of a problem with the brakes that sometimes led to rider injury, as bikes would stop too hard and even flip over.
Now the Verge reports that archrival Uber also purveyed bikes with the same braking problem and later recalled them, but did so without making a public announcement.
Both Uber’s Jump bikes and Lyft’s Ford GoBikes suffered similar problems with front wheels seizing up after normal pressure was applied to the brakes.
An Uber spokesperson told the Washington Post that the company fixed the Jump bikes’ faulty brakes in 2018, but did not specify why the problem was never previously addressed to consumers.
The company says that it switched over to new bikes with different brakes.
“Our older bikes [still] have Shimano brakes but with a hardware modification to improve braking,” Uber’s Nick Smith tells Curbed SF.
Shimano, based in Osaka, Japan, and operating its American branch out of New York City, produces the BR-C6000-F front brakes previously used in both Lyft and Uber bikes.
Via email to Curbed SF, Shimano spokesperson Eric Doyne insists that Shimano components are not to blame for the accidents and pointed the finger at manufacturers:
Shimano provides specification requirements for bicycle manufacturers to refer to when designing bicycles. When designed and assembled to these specifications the brakes perform to global standards.
With regards to this specific case, [...] the specification requires the use of a power modulator for this brake. It appears this specification was not followed by manufacturers of some of the bicycles in question.
A power modulator is “a device that makes it easier to control braking by increasing the cable stroke at the brake lever within a certain constant range of braking force,” according to Shimano’s product catalogue.
However, the product description also adds that “power modulator is not equipped with a function to prevent the wheel from locking up.”
Uber spokesperson Smith tells Curbed SF that older Jump bikes with Shimano brakes now come equipped with the power modulator, although no bikes with Shimano brakes are currently on SF streets.