2015's hottest disc-equipped road bikes
Disc brake road bike revolution rolls on with Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale, Scott, Genesis, Saracen, Felt and many more brands
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the past year or two, you’ll know there’s a bit of a trend for disc-equipped road bikes going on at the moment. Well, it's more than a trend really, this is a new direction for the manufacturers and most of them have been quick to release a disc-equipped road bike.
Until now most of the disc brake development has been on endurance and sportive bikes like the Specialized Roubaix because they’re not generally used for racing - with the exception of the Spring Classics - and the common consensus is that these sorts of bikes, and the types of riding they’re used for, are well suited to the benefits of disc brakes. The longer wheelbases and chainstays also remove the chainline issues that can occur on race bikes.
Why disc brakes at all? The promised benefits are great modulation and more power, no fade in the wet, rims that don’t wear out, less maintenance and longer lasting brake pads. On the other hand, disc brakes are currently heavier than rim brakes and there are some concerns about their impact on the aerodynamics, though these are likely technological challenges that will be overcome with more development. We polled some industry insiders and they offer some interesting thoughts on whether disc brakes are a good thing for road bikes.
Here's a roundup of some of the newest road bikes with disc brakes currently available.
Specialized Tarmac Disc £4,500 - £8,000
The Tarmac Disc is one of the few race-ready bikes designed with disc brakes. It has the same short chainstays as the regular Tarmac and uses a specially designed hub that places the freehub further inboard to resolve the chainline issues that can occur with a wider axle and short chainstays - which is why most disc road bikes feature longer chainstays. It’s a novel solution and one that could be adopted by other manufacturers when they start getting to grips with putting disc brakes on race bikes. Have a read of our review here.
De Rosa Idol Disc £2,999 - £3,699
Italian company De Rosa have updated their Idol and will now offer a disc brake version for those that want it. The full carbon frame and fork has fully internal cable and hose routing to keep the lines clean, and sticks with conventional axles at both ends.
Focus Cayo Disc from £1,999
Germany company Focus unveiled the new Cayo Disc a little while ago. The Cayo sits under the Izalco MAX in their range, and has been updated with discs for 2015. With a claimed 880g frame weight, Focus reckon it’s the lightest disc-ready carbon frame currently available.
Now, there’s a bit of debate about what axles these new disc road bikes should be using. Many are sticking with conventional quick release axles, but some are borrowing the thru-axle technology from mountain bikes, lifting the same standards from the knobbly tyre world.
Focus, however, have developed what they reckon is a more suitable thru-axle standard for road bikes. They call it Rapid Axle Technology (RAT) and it involves a T-Pin that turns 90 degrees and engages with a stopper, and the lever closes. It’s pretty simple to operate.
Why have a thru axle, or thru-bolt axle, in the first place? Well, it increases stiffness and security which, given the forces acting on one side of the frame from the disc brakes, seems like a sensible solution. They've long been a feature on mountain bikes and our guess is we are going to see plenty more of them on disc-equipped bikes of all sorts.
There is no sign of an Evo Disc yet, but Cannondale have released the CAAD 10 Disc. The CAAD 10 is one special bike: a lightweight aluminium frame with a great balance of stiffness and weight that makes it a credible rival to any carbon frame. Cannondale have made a few changes to fit disc brakes, new internal cable and hose routing, a new rear triangle and same existing main tubes, and a new carbon fork.
Cielo Road Racer Disc £2,399.99 (frameset)
US company Cielo, from the same people who make Chris King headsets and hubs, have launched two new Road Racer frames, and one of them is built around disc brakes. They’ve used a custom-drawn steel frame with a 44mm head tube and PressFit 30 bottom bracket and Di2 compatibility.
Colnago V1-r Disc £TBC
The Colnago V1-r Disc isn't quite available yet, being launched late last year. It's based on the regular V1-r that we reviewed with the same aero shaped tube profiles. Colnago have developed a new fork with a thru-axle that is in the final stages of development, and uses a 15mm diamater hollow axle. It uses a regular quick release rear axle. You can read the review of the regular V1-r which this bike is based on here.
The majority of disc-equipped road bikes being produced at the moment are sportive/endurance bikes. Why? These aren't bikes being bought to be raced, so they can be free of the restraints of the UCI's rulebook, nd because the bikes have longer wheelbases (and chainstays), there are no chainline issues with the wider rear axles that disc-equipped road bikes have to accomodate the disc rotor.
Giant Defy Disc £1,199 - £7,999
This is one of the most recent disc road bike launches, and given the sheer size of the company, one of the most significant. Giant haven’t just dipped their toe here, they’ve fully committed to disc brakes, overhauling the entire carbon Defy range with disc brakes a central design feature. The only non-disc offerings will be the aluminium models. Read the review of the Defy Advanced SL 0 here.
Trek Domane Disc £1,600 - £6,000
Trek have shown their disc brake cards by releasing the Domane Disc a few months ago. The Domane, if you need reminding, is their go-to endurance and sportive model, and raced successfully by the likes of Fabian Cancellara in the early season Classics. Trek have adopted thru-axle technology on the Domane Disc, yet the axles can be converted back to regular quick releases if you want.
Trek will offer two models - a £1,600 Domane 4.0 and top-level £6,000 Domane 6.9. We’d expect them to expand the range next year. Visually the frame is the same as the regular Domane, but they’ve developed a new fork and modified the carbon layup in the rear triangle and, of course, added post mounts for the disc brakes.
Cannondale Synapse Disc £849 - £6,499
Cannondale dabbled with disc brakes on their new Synapse last year with a couple of models, but for 2015 they’re positively jumping in with both feet with a full range of carbon Synapse disc-equipped bikes. In fact, it’s a case of spot the caliper bike in the range; there really aren’t that many. We've reviewed the £2,699 Synapse Ultegra Disc here.
Saracen Avro £1,799
Unashamedly a mountain bike company, Saracen do produce some smart city and road bikes, and the new Avro is a really interesting package. It’s a full carbon-fibre frame and fork and uses thru-axles at both ends, as you would expect of a brand with roots in the off-road market.
Scott Solace Disc £2,599
Scott have unveiled their intentions to offer a disc version of the Solace endurance road bike they first launched this time last year. The disc model uses the same basic carbon-fibre frame with a tall head tube and short top tube, and uses thru-axles.
Felt Z4 Disc £2,099
Coming very soon from Felt is a Z4 Disc, which the company sneakily unleashed via Instagram last week. We’ll have to wait until Eurobike before we get to see the new bike in the flesh. They have used the regular sportive/endurance Z4 as the basis and added disc brakes. It does appear they’ve stuck with conventional axles and not gone for thru-axles.
Colnago CX Zero £3,495
Another company using their designated endurance/sportive bike as a platform for a disc-equipped road bike is Colnago, alhough they first offered disc brakes on the race-ready C59 two years ago. The C59 is set to be replaced by the new C60 Disc very soon. For now their main disc offering is the CX Zero. Read our review.
Rose Xeon CDX from £1,876.88
For 2015 Rose have updated their road disc lineup with the Xeon Disc. They’ve used the Xeon Team endurance frame, released last year, as the platform for the new disc bike so you get the same geometry with a focus on long distance comfort. That means a taller head tube, longer wheelbase and shorter top tube.
Rose do a tidy line of mountain bikes and they’ve looked to them for the thru-axles on the new Xeon CDX - 15mm at the front and 10mm rear, with 135mm rear wheel spacing. Frame weight is a claimed 1,080g. All gear cables and hydraulic hoses for the disc brakes are routed internally, including through the fork, which makes it a very clean looking bike.
Kona Esatto £1,199 - £1,599
Kona’s Esatto has been revamped and it now boasts disc brakes, while retaining the same endurance geometry of the previous model, a one-off titanium frame launched last year. The disc frame is manufactured from Scandium 69 and will be offered at two prices, £1,199 and £1,599.
Orbea Avant from £1,099
The Avant, launched at Eurobike last year, was one of the most interesting new bikes because it offered the sort of versatility uncommon on carbon road bikes. It can take disc or regular caliper rim brakes, mechanical or electronic groupsets, and it has space for big tyres and even mudguard mounts.
Raleigh Revenio Disc £1,150
British company Raleigh are steadily building a good reputation for well designed road bikes and they’re now turning their attention to road bikes with disc brakes. One highlight is the Revenio Disc using an aluminium frame, a more relaxed geometry than their race bikes, and space for 25mm tyres.
Lapierre Sensium 500 Disc £2,999
The new Sensium 500 Disc is based on Lapierre's regular Sensium, a bike for endurance and sportive cycling, but adds disc brakes - the first such offering from the French company.
Lapierre say they have modified the carbon fibre layup on the disc Sensium with an alteration to the resin (the glue that bonds the carbon fibres together) by using using one with a higher heat resistance, supposedly to cope with the high heat levels a disc brake has the potential to produce. We’ve not heard of any other company doing this.
Audax/versatile do-everything bikes
Sabbath September Disc £2,799
Blending a titanium Audax frame with all the mudguard and rack mounts you would ever want, this is a properly versatile bike ready for just about any sort of riding, with the beefy cabron fork providing plenty of front-end stiffness. Disc brakes on this sort of versatile do-everything bike make a lot of sense - the lack of maintenance and long brake pad life go well with the sort of distance riding these touring bikes are made for.
GT Grade £650 - £2,500
The Grade is one of the new breed of bike that blurs the traditional lines between a road bike, cyclo-cross bike and touring bike, and takes elements of each. The Grade is billed as a bike that can be used for any of those disciplines, or all three at the same time. With big tyre clearance, relaxed geometry and rack and mudguard mounts, this is a bike that can do just about everything. If you have space for just one bike, and want one without limitations, this could be the choice for you.
Genesis Equilibrium Disc £1,099 - £2,899
Genesis Bikes are going all in with disc brakes, producing an entire range of Equilibrium Disc bikes for 2015, up from one model last year. They’re using steel for most of the models and at the top there is a titanium model. Genesis have had to develop their own carbon fibre fork, with clearance for 28mm tyres, to suit the requirements of the Equilibrium.