Although there are ever more disc brake-equipped race bikes out there in the shops, most disc brake road bikes produced at the moment are endurance/sportive bikes or all-rounders that are bought by people who simply want the reassurance of all-weather stopping power. The bikes below are a mixture of styles, frame materials and prices so check through and find out what takes your interest.
The lines between bike categories have never been more blurred, but we've tried to keep this selection to bikes that are intended entirely or primarily for use on Tarmac. Of course where you ride has as much to do with rider skill as with how fat a tyre your frame will take, but these are bikes for long days in the lanes in sportives, Audaxes, and big rides with friends rather than for exploring dirt roads and trails.
If you want something more versatile, take a look at our
guide to the best 2018 gravel & adventure bikes, which covers
this super-versatile and still-developing category.
Canyon's wildly popular Endurace bikes went fully disc-equipped a couple of years ago, and are all the better for it. The models span one the biggest price ranges here, from a very modest £799 for the Shimano Tiagra-equipped Endurace 6.0 AL up to the £6,249 Endurace CF SLX 9.0 Ltd with SRAM eTap wireless shifting and DT Swiss carbon fibre wheels.
BMC’s Roadmachines are disc-braked fast endurance machines with room for at least 28mm tyres. The range includes aluminium and carbon fibre frames, with a range of equipment from Shimano Tiagra to SRAM Red eTap.
The seven-bike Paralane range starts with the £1,399 aluminium-framed Paralane Al Tiagra and goes right up to the £6,499 carbon-framed Paralane eTap. Long-ride features include comfort-enhancing tube profiles and carbon layup, a skinny seatpost and 28mm tyres, that together provide a smooth ride that is up there with the best in this category. It isolates you from the worst road buzz but without completely detaching you from the road entirely. It's a really good balance for those who want some feedback from the surface without being shaken to pieces.
Fast and sporty, with all the practicality and dependability of hydraulic disc brakes, wide tyres and space for full-length mudguards, the Whyte Wessex is a bike that is up to the task of taking on the roughest roads and toughest weather.
If you put racing to one side, it's all the bike you really need for year-round riding in the UK, fast enough for sportives and pacy training runs, comfortable and reliable for grinding out winter miles, and at home on longer commutes. Only a British company could design a bike that is absolutely, perfectly, 100 per cent suited to the demands of year-round UK road cycling.
The Dolomite Ltd is built around a 6061 aluminium frame with a full-carbon fork, and it comes with Shimano's super-popular 105 groupset. Mindful of UK conditions, Pinnacle has fitted full mudguards and added an internally-wired front and rear dynamo lighting system to the Ltd model.
The Giant Contend SL Disc bikes feature an Aluxx SL frameset, D-Fuse seatpost that’s designed to add comfort and Giant Conduct hydraulic disc brakes. You get mechanical shifters with a cable to hydraulic converter at the front of the stem. It's a nifty solution to avoiding the (more expensive) Shimano ST-RS505 shifters but the jury's out on the aesthetics of the converter.
Vitus’s four Zenium bikes are all disc-equipped and you get to choose between frames made from 6061 and 7046 aluminium alloy.
The £1,299.99 Zenium SL VR Disc comes with a Shimano 105 groupset, Shimano RS-505 hydraulic disc brakes and DT Swiss E1800 Spline 23 wheels, while the Tiagra-equipped base model, imaginatively called the Zenium Disc Tiagra has just been reduced to £700, which makes it a bit of a bargain.
Wilier’s new Cento10NDR endurance road bike is designed to take either rim brakes or disc brakes – you get mount points for both. It also features what’s called an ‘Actiflex’ system on the rear triangle with stays that flex, a pivot at the top of the seatstays and an elastomer shock damper, the idea being to provide a few millimetres of rear wheel travel in order to isolate the rider from the ground and add comfort.
The chainstays are bonded to the bottom bracket shell in the usual way, the Actiflex system relying, as the name suggests, on flex in the stays in order to work.
The dropouts of both the frame and fork are replaceable so you can run the bike with standard quick release skewers or 142 x 12mm thru axles.
Trek’s Domane range includes different framesets in aluminium and carbon fibre, and all of the disc-equipped models feature an IsoSpeed decoupler that allows the seat tube to move relative to the top tube and seatstays, so the saddle can move downwards (and a little backwards), providing more give and adding comfort to the ride.
More expensive models get a front IsoSpeed system designed to increase comfort and control, along with adjustment to the rear IsoSpeed decoupler. A lot of technology goes into keeping you comfortable!
Specialized’s carbon-fibre Roubaix bikes feature a suspension damper housed in the top of the head tube that aims to isolate the handlebar from bumps and cobbles. It's called Future Shock, provides up to 20mm of suspension travel and can be adjusted to suit different rider weights.
The Roubaix is a disc-only bike these days, uses thru-axles front and rear, and has space for 32mm tyres.
Cannondale offers both aluminium and carbon-fibre versions of its Synapse endurance bike. The cheapest of the aluminium models is just £849.99, built up with Shimano’s dependable Sora groupset and Promax mechanical disc brakes.
At the other end of the range, the Synapse Hi-Mod Disc with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 components is priced at £7,799.99.
Scott’s carbon fibre Addict Disc bikes are built to an endurance geometry and they’re said to be both lighter and stiffer than the Solace models that they replace. They come with 32mm wide tyres for plenty of comfort. All three models use Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.
The Team GF 4 Disc takes over from the Xeon CDX in Rose’s lineup and is designed for long distances rides like sportives. The carbon frame comes with a claimed weight of just 990g, which is very light for a bike of this kind. You get to choose from four different Shimano and SRAM builds.
The Sensium, available in both disc and rim brake models, comes with a carbon-fibre frame that’s built to an endurance geometry designed to be comfortable throughout long days in the saddle.
The more affordable of the two disc models, the Senium 500 Disc, features a Shimano 105 groupset while the Sensium 600 Disc makes the step up to Ultegra.
Yeah, you could have carbon, but in some people's eyes, it will never look as good as titanium.
There is also something fantastic about having a bike built just for you, your riding style and what you intend to use the bike for. With custom head badge options, eyelets and shot blasted graphics on top of that, the J.ACK becomes part bike, part work of art.
J.Laverack also works with the likes of Hope, Hunt and Brooks to make the bike brilliantly British.
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As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.