20 of the hottest disc road bikes

Disc brakes are coming and here are 20 disc-equipped bikes that are heading your way from Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale, Scott, Genesis, Saracen and more

by David Arthur   August 20, 2014  

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.

We’re off to Eurobike, the world’s biggest cycling trade show, in Germany next week and there are sure to be loads of new disc road bikes being launched there. But before that, here is a little look at some of the most recently launched disc road bikes to give an overview of the sort of choice currently available. This isn't by any means an exhaustive list, just a round up of some of the most interesting

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.

Race bikes

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.

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 £TBA

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.

CAAD 10 SRAM Rival Disc £1,799

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.

Ceilo Road Racer Disc £2,399.99 (frameset)

US company Ceilo, 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.

Endurance/sportive bikes

Giant Defy £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.

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 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.

Trek have adopted thru-axle technology on the Domane Disc, yet the axles can be converted back to regular quick releases if you want.

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.

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 £TBA

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 £TBA

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.

Rose Xeon CDX £TBA

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 £4,449

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 £TBA

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 range £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.

36 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Joelsim wrote:
Are you mad? That's probably the best looking set of bikes I've seen for a long while. All a bit subtle. Nice.

Yup, a welcome antidote to the proliferation of grossly oversized and unnecessary decals and wibbly-wobbly bits that make it look as though you left your carbon fibre toy in a microwave.

Generally nice, straight lines with subtle colours.

posted by nuclear coffee [163 posts]
20th August 2014 - 21:09


crazy-legs wrote:
Cycle Show at the NEC in September should be interesting, bound to be loads of disc road bikes on display.

Tarmac, Lapierre and Saracen for me. Smile

I'm off to the show with the Mrs and looking to purchase before the rainy weather sets in. Looking forward to be able to go down hill and actually stop in the wet. (I know my 100kgs doesn't help!)

The Saracen looks good but not keen on the Tekro Lyra mechanical disks. Would prefer TRP HY/RD instead. The Trek Domane 4.3 Disc with full Shimano 105 is my favourite but interested to see them all in the flesh.

posted by stuwhitman [2 posts]
20th August 2014 - 21:23


a) I would like the Cielo please
b) please adjust the colour balance on the photos of the felt z4 and the scott, they are offensive to mine eyes.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [815 posts]
20th August 2014 - 21:24


The Saracen looks good but not keen on the Tekro Lyra mechanical disks. Would prefer TRP HY/RD instead.

I think the Saracen is actually one of the best thought out bikes there. Developed specifically around the discs. Thru-axles. Crucially, it's been built to a price point so it's a reasonable price but still decent and well worth upgrading.

It looks smart, nicely understated - a really well thought out all-rounder. Agree about the discs, I'd prefer full hydros but for that price...

Maybe for 2016 they'll do a range - guessing this is probably just an early release option to get their name in the disc-road bike market.

posted by crazy-legs [518 posts]
20th August 2014 - 21:31


The Synapse is almost enough to make me wish I'd held off...

posted by truffy [311 posts]
20th August 2014 - 21:43


The SRAM hydraulic levers still look wrong to me.

I'll be wanting through axles on my inevitable disc equipped bike and I am interested to see what Campagnolo can come up with.

posted by wrevilo [47 posts]
20th August 2014 - 22:03


Agreed the De Rosa is imo the best looking. But the Rose will properly offer the best value for money. For me it's properly be the GT Grade or something like that, would love 32 mm tires.

posted by Jakal79 [55 posts]
20th August 2014 - 22:08


Thanks, but no thanks, I'll stick with rim brakes, mechanical shifters et al. Disc brakes are just the next big thing to increase sales, before that it was electronic shifting, both weigh more than the existing technology and are unnecessary. Don't need discs when the bike and me weigh less than 70kg combined. Rolling On The Floor

posted by edd23 [36 posts]
20th August 2014 - 23:03


Womens road bikes with disk brakes?

posted by Binky [106 posts]
20th August 2014 - 23:04


Binky wrote:
Womens road bikes with disk brakes?

They're still trying to source pink disk brakes in a smaller size.

(As in "Shrink it and pink it" ... the golden rule when marketing to women in all sports)

posted by Joeinpoole [260 posts]
21st August 2014 - 0:13


edd23 wrote:
Thanks, but no thanks, I'll stick with rim brakes, mechanical shifters et al.

Each to their own - funny article to be reading if you feel that way mind....

edd23 wrote:
Don't need discs when the bike and me weigh less than 70kg combined. Rolling On The Floor

What's that got to do with the main benefits of discs, especially hydraulics ?

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [415 posts]
21st August 2014 - 0:36


I am really surprised not to see some of the first disc brake adaptors on this list. Namely, Culprit Croz Blade and BMC GF01 Disc.

Culprit Bicycles

posted by jmcolp [7 posts]
21st August 2014 - 2:29


Binky wrote:
Womens road bikes with disk brakes?

They do exist, example.

posted by truffy [311 posts]
21st August 2014 - 7:19


I agree with the comment about the Saracen. That may explain why Genesis's new carbon range isn't disc equipped.

posted by bendertherobot [284 posts]
21st August 2014 - 8:02


ditto re: the volagi, it should be on this list IMHO.
I'll be interested to see if the cadd10 disc comes as a frameset and if so, how much it would be. I have pretty much a full build kit for a road bike (rim brakes / wheels) waiting for a frame but after riding my kinesis cx pro6 (discs) for a few months am wondering if I really want another rim braked bike after all.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [815 posts]
21st August 2014 - 8:48


Yeah, hopefully more of these bikes will come as framesets reasonably soon.

The Domane appeals to me — would fit me well, thru-axle etc — but £6k for the hydro compatible version? Oft!

Having already invested in Di2 etc, I'd like to be able to put together my own bike

posted by Cyclosis [36 posts]
21st August 2014 - 8:57

1 Like

Seems as though another case of the emperors new clothing to me

posted by Scoob_84 [201 posts]
21st August 2014 - 9:46


I emailed Epic Cycles about the CAAD 10 disc. It ticks all the boxes.

They said that it was produced in very limited quantities and is already sold out in the UK. So unless Cannondale bring some more in, that's it, gone.

posted by bendertherobot [284 posts]
21st August 2014 - 9:58


Why reinvent the javelin, the discus, or the racing bike? These are not racers, they are a new type of bike, the MTDB mamil technological dreambike, no doubt soon with ABS and traction control.

posted by DrSport [9 posts]
21st August 2014 - 10:18


Nice to see so many other models offering discs. The braking performance is superior in the dry and awesome in the wet. You don't need to worry if your brakes might work when you apply them. Hopefully manufacturers will allow clearance for larger tyres than 25mm.

posted by CXR94Di2 [138 posts]
21st August 2014 - 10:28


Cor, it's amazing how many people read AND comment on an article about a technology they aren't interested in...

I'm also sticking with rim brakes for the time being, but only because I have a number of bikes with nice wheels all set up for rim brakes. I'd like the functionality of discs on my winter bike, and I can well see me adding discs to my winter road bike in future - the increased performance in the wet and lack of rim wear are real attractions. Not sure I'd put them on a summer road bike at the moment (I have no problems with braking power or and get very little rim wear on dry rides) but if I end up with some nice wheelsets then maybe the new steel frame will be going back to the builder in a few years for some extra braze ons!

posted by step-hent [683 posts]
21st August 2014 - 12:09


bendertherobot wrote:
I emailed Epic Cycles about the CAAD 10 disc. It ticks all the boxes.

They said that it was produced in very limited quantities and is already sold out in the UK. So unless Cannondale bring some more in, that's it, gone.

Cannondale UK, however, say that this is not true.

posted by bendertherobot [284 posts]
21st August 2014 - 18:20

1 Like

Equilibrium disc Ltd or Sabbath for me. Not forgetting the Tripster ATR!

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [391 posts]
22nd August 2014 - 18:02


Well it'd be the Cannondale, purely based on price - the rest just aren't anywhere near affordable. Guess I'll either wait another year or two for prices to drop or look for a second-hand sportive....

posted by RuthF28 [92 posts]
22nd August 2014 - 18:30

1 Like

Went to Trek world at Silverstone specifically to look at the Domane Disc. The 4.3 Ultegra @ around £2.5k looked great, apart from the cabling, it was awful, and bad enough to put me off getting one.

2014-07-19 10.48.03.jpg 2014-07-19 11.27.55.jpg
oo03sjw's picture

posted by oo03sjw [10 posts]
22nd August 2014 - 19:33


Boardman cxr range is worth considering. Large tyre sizes, various equipment levels and eyes for mudguards. Usually reasonable stock levels around the country. I saved over 10% on a top of the range with extra kit added.

posted by CXR94Di2 [138 posts]
22nd August 2014 - 19:35


Discs aren't just for the rain. If you do any sort of descending, you'll be amazed at the control and confidence that discs give you, wet or dry. I've got a fully-loaded Salsa Vaya with discs, and I can go deeper and faster into corners than my buds on their Madones and BMCs.

posted by Brianr56 [7 posts]
22nd August 2014 - 21:05


Pity to miss the Whyte RD7 bikes out. My Suffolk is great.

posted by Dave42W [32 posts]
22nd August 2014 - 22:44


oo03sjw wrote:
The 4.3 Ultegra @ around £2.5k looked great, apart from the cabling, it was awful, and bad enough to put me off getting one.

Care to expand on that or have any more photos? Seems a shame they create a decent bike then cockup on the detail. Will have a look when I go to the NEC in September anyway. Have to say the Saracen does look interesting..

posted by stuwhitman [2 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 16:04


DrSport wrote:
Why reinvent the javelin, the discus, or the racing bike? These are not racers, they are a new type of bike, the MTDB mamil technological dreambike, no doubt soon with ABS and traction control.

Hey if Google can have driverless cars.... Rolling On The Floor


The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [434 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 16:52

1 Like