When I was younger, I owned a motorcycle. I loved it. The freedom of the road and the wind blowing past you. Leaning the bike through a curve and the thrill of an open, back country road were the pay backs for getting rained on.
Back then, I had more experience working with Big Corporations and less experience watching in astonishment as Big Corporations place profits over people and over safety. Sure, I had heard about the whole Pinto thing and fires that “may have” killed people, but, back then, I accepted the Big Corporation explanation that it was just “something that was happening” and it was not their fault.
What I would never have imagined now or then was that the front wheel of my motorcycle would break off. And if there was even the slightest risk that the front steering column needed bracing to avoid the front of the bike shearing off, I would expect the manufacturer to take out a full page advertisement to alert me about that.
Alas, though, I have spent many years now watching Big Corporations. “Its not our fault” is apparently the cardinal mantra in all Big Corporations’ training manuals for their CEO’s. Its “happenstance”, “its an isolated incident”, and my favorite, “it’s the consumer’s fault”.
Suzuki recently “recalled” its GSX R-1000 motorcycle because they have “received reports of cracking or breakage of the frame behind and below the steering neck…” In plain language—the front wheel can break off and you can lose control of the motorcycle, possibly resulting in the rider tumbling down the highway at high speeds. Now, in fairness, Suzuki says that “ordinary operation” does not create a risk of the cracking or breaking of the steering mechanism.
I suppose that we need to examine “ordinary operation”. I honestly do not know what that means. I mean, if you go over speed bumps too fast or hard, is that enough to weaken the GSX R-1000 steering neck? If you hit a pot hole really hard, is that enough to cause the front wheel to break off once the bike is exposed to 70 mile per hour forces? If I am playing around in my drive way and I pull a few wheelies, is that enough to create a crack that may very well fracture at high speeds.
The bottom line really is: do you issue a “milk toast” recall of a machine designed to move down the highway at high speeds where the front wheel may fall off? Once again, doesn’t this beg for a full page ad—a “four alarm fire” warning?