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The bike industry's major players say that discs on road bikes is the future

In our 2013 cycling trends and predictions article, one of the recurring predictions is the one about disc brakes on road bikes. It's a controversial subject; since the UCI gave the go ahead for disc brakes on cyclocross bikes, many have been asking when discs are coming to road bikes. And the answer is very soon.

Disc brakes represent the biggest development in road bike technology since the advent of the indexed derailleur. No other development is such a radical overhaul of the status quo as disc brakes. And none seems to be unsettling people as much as disc brakes. We asked a handful of industry bigwigs for their views, you can skip straight to their response here. But first, here's why we think disc brakes on road bikes are the future.

It’s important to separate the emotional response from the pragmatic. The debate has to be whether disc brakes are a good thing for road bikes. There have been many technological developments in road cycling over the year. Some have stuck, others have slipped into the history books. One thing every development shares is initial scepticism, before gradual acceptance. Electronic groupsets offer a good example. They were hated by many when first launched, but they've gradually become a standard, and even the most bitter sceptic will today recognise their value.

Salsa introduced the Colossal, a new disc-equipped road bike in Ti and steel, last year

So, will it be the same for disc-equipped road bikes? Yes, it is going to happen. What is interesting is that I don’t think this a top down development, like many that are first tested in the pro ranks and filtered down to us. I think this will be a bottom-up development. There’s a groundswell of support for their development from real people who aren’t paid to ride bikes. It’s here that they’ll win fans. But I do think, once all the initial obstacles have been overcome, that we’ll see a professional team on disc-equipped bikes in the next five to 10 years.

You only need to look at cyclocross for an example. Discs have been allowed at the highest level for a couple of years now, but the top cyclocross racers just aren’t adopting them. That’s not at all surprising really, in the rarefied air occupied by the top ‘cross racers they’ll stick with tried and tested until there’s a significant performance increase to be gained by any change. There’s a lot of money at stake, and they’re not going to risk it all. There's also not been a serious hydraulic disc offering yet. Yes there's mechanical, but they offer little extra power over calipers and are heavy. They're on their way though. SRAM have developed a hydraulic disc brake and have been testing it with some top US cyclocross racers. All it takes is one win at the highest level, and the tide will turn.

It’s when you step away from the professional scene that you realise where the interest in disc brakes really is. There’s now a huge choice of disc-equipped cyclocross bikes at affordable price points and we’re seeing them sold in decent numbers. It only takes a tyre change to transform a cyclocross bike into a road bike. Everyday cyclists are cottoning on to the benefits and the interest and demand is just growing. It seems only natural that once such riders have experienced the benefits that they'll want discs on their road race bikes too.

BMC's recently introduced GranFondo updated to take disc brakes, spotted at Eurobike late last year

The discs in cyclocross conversation is rather distracting from the really interesting debate though: that of discs on road bikes. Sure, the tough conditions of cyclocross are a good testing ground for the technology, but the same technology has been well proven in mountain biking for the past decade. The mountain bike industry has long since honed disc brakes to perfection, and in the 10 years since we first saw fat tyred bikes sporting disc brakes they’ve been widely adopted. In fact, it’s hard to buy a mountain bike without disc brakes these days.

They make a lot of sense off-road. But on the road? On the road there’s a lot of argument both in their favour and against them. Often people come out with the comment, “You don’t need that much power,” but that’s not the key point about disc brakes. As is the case with cars, motorcycles and mountain bikes, the power can be easily modulated at the lever. It’s about extra control. Better to have a surplus of power you can easily control, than not enough in the first place.

“But road calipers are more than powerful enough,” I hear you crying out at the back. Plenty of the time, yes they are. Ever ridden in the pouring rain and struggled to slow down on a steep descent approaching a junction? Hurtled down an Alpine descent at 100kph and longed for better brakes as you desperately scrub off speed for a tight switchback? Tried to slow down on wheels with a carbon fibre braking surface? I have, and I can tell you, I longed for disc brakes in each situation.

Which leaves us playing a waiting game. There’s clearly a huge interest in the industry, based on the number of disc-equipped road bikes we’ve been seeing this last year, and from cyclists who are ready to adopt this new technology. When SRAM and Shimano release their disc brakes - which, from the rumours we've heard, could be as soon as spring this year - will send the cycling world into a frenzy of excitement.

Colnago wowed the cycling world with the C59 Disc, the first serious offering from one of the Big Brands

The technology already exists, it just needs SRAM and Shimano to adapt it for road bikes. Smaller rotors, lighter calipers, reservoirs integrated into shifter hoods. Frames and forks will need new routing or internal hose guides, and disc mounts will need to be designed into forks and rear triangles. And wheels will need to be redesigned too. But these are small hurdles. As we saw at Eurobike last year, there’s clear indication that many bike brands are already redesigning existing bikes to accept disc brakes. Colnago, Parlee, Time, Specialized, Canyon, BMC and Culprit are just a handful of brands that now offer road bikes compatible with disc brakes.

It’s just a matter of time, but disc brakes are coming to road bikes. It’s going to be an interesting few years and, I like to think, exciting time as we see which way the industry and market shifts.

The industry speaks...

We asked a handful of industry insiders if they think disc brakes are the future, here are their responses:

Keith Bontrager

“Given the inherent braking limitations with light carbon rims, discs are necessary, certainly for pros. If you were to study the thermodynamics in detail you'd come to that conclusion very quickly.

“The obstacles are simple, but not trivial. Structural issues are understood and at least partially sorted with cyclocross bike development.

“I'm guessing, but I think Shimano and SRAM will decide when to implement the changes on the road. It'd be the wild, wild west technically otherwise. Electronic shifting frees up lots of space in the brake levers, so it should be simpler now.”

Paul Lew, Director of Technology and Innovation Reynolds Cycling

Disc brakes hold promise for both cyclists and manufacturers for many reasons.  As a designer and manufacturer of carbon fiber wheels, disc brakes create new opportunities for performance improvement and safety.  The expectations for disc brakes however can be excessively exuberant.   I am not a fan of the idea that disc brakes will solve all of the problems; they may bring problems of their own.  As an example, the aerodynamic penalty associated with a disc brake system may not be favored by triathletes, but road cyclists may find that a disc brake system is an ideal solution.  The additional mass and form factor of a traditional disc brake system may look appropriate for a cross or mountain bike, but is the look appropriate for a road bike?  I am a fan of disc brakes because they represent advancement, a reason to try something a different way.  The execution and the integration will play a large part in determining the long-term success.

As far as regulations governing competition permitting disc brake systems, namely UCI regulations:  I am one of a handful of industry representative who regularly interface with UCI in a formal setting.  I have been told directly that the acceptance of disc brake systems in UCI competition is a minimum of three years away.  There are a number of concerns from the perspective of safety and fairness.  For example, can cyclists who compete with rim brakes safely compete in a peloton with cyclists using disc brakes?  Is there a danger that a bicycle outfitted with disc brakes can stop in a different way than a bicycle outfitted with rim brakes creating a higher-than-normal risk for a crash in close riding conditions?  How does this scenario change with weather conditions?  These types of questions are at the forefront of concern for the rule-makers.  Both cyclists and industry will be required to weigh-in on all benefits and risks before UCI will make any decision regarding disc brakes in competition. How will UCI regulations steer the marketplace?

I don’t think disc brakes are THE solution to specific shortcomings.  For example, there is so much discussion about the risks of heat build-up on carbon fiber rims as a result of friction from rim brakes.  Disc brakes are the solution, right?  Disc brakes are A solution, but not THE solution.  We can build carbon structures that can withstand heat from re-entry into the atmosphere.  It’s not really a problem building a higher temperature carbon rim structure; the problem is building a higher temperature carbon rim structure for an affordable price.  Is this additional price increase to build a higher temperature rim solution more than the additional cost of a disc brake system?  These types of questions are now being considered.

In the final analysis, I don’t think disc brakes are necessary, but for the sake of continuing to look for better ways, and for the sake of advancing technology they have a place on the road. The details of where will play out in the coming years.

Dom Mason, Kinesis Bikes designer

“Yes. I think that we will look back with disbelief at the days when we used to squash rubber against alloy/carbon in an attempt to scrub off speed...sometimes our rims even had grit and grime smeared over them to add into the retardation mix!

“Discs make total sense for road bikes and as soon as they get light enough and all the mechanisms are housed in the hoods, then I'm sure we will see them being accepted. Rims can lose some weight because they won't need to be squeezed and have material built in for wear, so the overall weight of the system can be reduced.

“Braking in the wet with carbon rims is a little hit and miss, disc brakes solve this and of course there are the issues of rim wear, melting sidewalls, and brake rub with untrue wheels that discs negate. Disc brakes for 'winter' bikes also make huge sense.

“I realise there are issues surrounding heat build up in small/lightweight rotors and that the force induced on a small diameter road disc with a high friction coefficient riding surface is huge, but these problems will be dealt with and then, we will see disc brakes in the Pro-Tour.”

Ash Clark, Charge Bikes

“There is a genuine argument for having disc brakes on road bikes, they are more powerful than road caliper brakes and they work in all weathers, however, they are not without their cons. They are currently heavier and less aerodynamic than current road brakes and performance orientated frames are going to take a backward step in order to allow discs.

“Ultimately, disc brakes are and aren't the future. The better all round performance of disc brakes will be of genuine value to a certain sector of the road bike market... namely sportive and cyclocross / commuter bikes.

“I don't think we are going to see disc brakes in the peloton for a good few years, if at all.”

Dan Jones, Colnago UK distributor

“Yes, disc brakes offer a proven advantage in every other application they are used in, it was only a matter of time before they found their way on a road bike. “

Ben Coates, Trek Product Manager

“Whether or not disc brakes are the future of road bikes is going to be up to the riders. Obviously, riders don’t ‘need’ disc brakes. We’ve done without them so far. I think we need to consider what a braking system does for a rider in order to understand if it’s something riders will demand.

“Let’s consider the needs of a performance road rider.  I believe a brake has three jobs, first and foremost is to be safe and usable in all conditions.  Second is to allow the rider to manage their speed.  Third is to help the rider go as fast as possible. 

“Today, the disc brake options for road do not do any of these things as well as they need to in order to make them viable for this segment.  There are a ton of things that need to be considered and addressed before disc brakes can be suitable for performance road use. Weight, aerodynamics, heat dissipation, modulation, and traction on the road are a few that come to mind.  If you look at another industry for guidance in disc brake use you can quickly see what challenges might lie ahead. 

“Motorcycles have a similar differences in speed, weight, and aerodynamics between road and dirt use.  In road motorcycles, you see multiple discs, huge rotors and large calipers to deal with the increased speed, compared what you see on dirt bikes.  For bicycles, the expectation of making a compact package with super small rotors using available technology today, isn't likely and definitely isn't ready or an advantage at this point.

“Today, if you want disc brakes on a road bike you are either using mechanical disc brakes with a reduction in performance (in most circumstances but not all) and an increase in weight.  If you want hydraulic disc brakes, you are looking at a converter box or some barely existing prototype and taking a big risk that the system you use can dissipate enough heat to be safe.

“In general, I think there needs to be enough demand from riders to warrant the investment into product development. I don’t think we’re there yet. “

Mark Reilly, Enigma Bikes

“I think disc brakes for road are inevitable at some point in the future. As soon as Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo start making road disc brakes that’s when we’ll see things change.”

So...

The opinions of just this small selection of industry insiders offers an interesting glimpse into the minds of those in charge of designing, speccing and marketing road bikes. While most are in universal agreement with my prediction that disc brakes are coming to road bikes, Trek's Ben Coates signals a more cautionary approach, telling us: "There are a ton of things that need to be considered and addressed before disc brakes can be suitable for performance road use."

Meanwhile, Keith Bontrager answers such caution by saying: "The obstacles are simple, but not trivial. Structural issues are understood and at least partially sorted with cyclocross bike development." Dom Mason supports this, saying: "Discs make total sense for road bikes and as soon as they get light enough and all the mechanisms are housed in the hoods, then I'm sure we will see them being accepted."

All things considered, I feel Ben hits the nail on the end with his final comment: "I think there needs to be enough demand from riders to warrant the investment into product development." So, do you want disc brakes on road bikes?

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

68 comments

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CraigS [129 posts] 3 years ago
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My reservations are the same as with electronic shifting - that self maintenance becomes much harder. I'd ride a single speed if I could get it up the hills!

30 years ago most people could tinker about with their own cars. If something goes wrong now with a car it needs a specialist to plug a laptop into it. Personally, I'd rather bikes didn't go that way - part of their appeal for me is their simplicity.

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andyp [1438 posts] 3 years ago
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'So, do you want disc brakes on road bikes?'

No. HTH.

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step-hent [718 posts] 3 years ago
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The comparison with road vs dirt motorbikes is interesting. Heat build up on the very small surface of a rotor is going to be an interesting issue - having a tiny rotor doesn't seem to help, but a bigger rotor causes more issues with aerodynamics and weight.

Personally, I'm interested in the development - not so much for the braking itself as the ability to make lighter, more aero rims with no rim wear. No more wearing out the rims on a high end wheelset? Yes please!

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Mpittick [14 posts] 3 years ago
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How can people say discs wont work for road bikes, nonsense. I've been riding mounting bikes with discs for over ten yrs. not once had over heating, or modulation problems, or any maintenance issues at all, despite riding in tough muddy, wet conditions in uk. I have also used discs for 3 hrs descents in rocky mountains and no issues either, so cant say descents not long enough to challenge mtb discs. Shimano solved all these issues yrs ago and I still ride same rims as they don't wear out (most spokes, hub and bearings changes over yrs of course). Only issue is integrating into shifters all other issues raised nonsense.

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David Portland [83 posts] 3 years ago
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Heat dissipation is a real issue. Road bikes typically go a lot faster than MTBs, kinetic energy goes up as the square of velocity, road discs are typically smaller than MTB ones -- you've got a lot more energy to get rid of and fewer places for it to go.

I'm sure they'll sort it out, though  1

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Bagpuss [99 posts] 3 years ago
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Maintaining hydraulic disks really is very straightforward, my MTBs have Shimano SLX brakes and other than a periodic clean and pad swap they are fit and forget. No cables to fiddle with, no need to adjust them as the pads wear and faultless stoping. Every time. Even when completely caked in mud on what passes for a trail in this weather.

Even shortening hoses on a new build is pretty straightforward if you follow the instructions.

And if someone would like to send me that Parlee in XL for testing that would be great.

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sidesaddle [77 posts] 3 years ago
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I worry about the twist torque on weight-pared fork legs. Not a problem with a twin-disc setup though.  4

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velophilia [39 posts] 3 years ago
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A few years ago I got back into road after years of Mtbing and using a disk brake Mtb for the commute. I decided to use my new road bike to commute and got caught in a heavy downpour. I remember scaring myself witless when there was no response from the rimbrakes for about 25m. Disc brakes are surely better. I'm sure they will overcome many of the heat issues. Also, if a wheel goes out of true; no real problem with a disc brake.

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Mike_Hall [16 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't see a significant risk that frame manufacturers couldn't already be putting some mounts into new frame design and tooling.

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Chris S [44 posts] 3 years ago
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I have a hybrid with discs and a road bike with rim brakes. Lent the road bike to my son for 6 months and it came back with gouged rims because he failed to change the brake blocks when they wore out. The discs on the hybrid are more reliable, less prone to wear (although the pads are less visible so in fact more likely to cause disc damage if they do wear out), and a better engineering solution overall, IMHO.

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Saint Mark [37 posts] 3 years ago
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"... in the rarefied air occupied by the top ‘cross racers they’ll stick with tried and tested"

I would have thought the reason that top racers aren't using discs is because they don't buy their own kit, they have to use what the sponsor provides.

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juan [10 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

Heat dissipation is a real issue. Road bikes typically go a lot faster than MTBs, kinetic energy goes up as the square of velocity, road discs are typically smaller than MTB ones -- you've got a lot more energy to get rid of and fewer places for it to go.

Well, first, you don't need to brake as much on a road bike as you do on a MTB.
Typicaly if you take a descent from a col, you'll actually need very little braking. Go fast, brake hard before switchback and let go. Repeat until the end. Between switchback, you'll build speed and therefore will cool your brakes.
MTBing needs a lot more of speed control and brake dragging. Again on an Alpine descent you remove brake pressure a lot less than what you'll do during the same descent on a road bike. Plus as general rule for the same set up, the weight (ableit less important than speed) MTB + gear is about 10-12 kg more important on MTB (got figure that a typcal road bike is not 8 kg, typical mtb 14kg and you carry a big pack with 3L of water, pads, gear and mutlitool and spares).
Brakes in MTB as said several time are now very very mature. Basically I will buy a kona rove frame this spring and put a horn bar with some very very old hope XC4 brakes (close system so no problem in putting them sideways or upside down) and I am confident that I will have no problem whatsoever (and we're talking 10 years old brakes)so the issue of 'maintenance' is just not valid.

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kingotheshire [4 posts] 3 years ago
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I do love this disk brake debate, and good to see it will be a bottom up revolution!
have been running them on my cross bike since 2006, they are practically manitnance free! Recently got some tub rims built on hope hubs, no worries about melting the glue on those bad boys!
Avid carbons on my Mtb are even better, same age only as much as a pad change. Oh and didn't a certain mr jebb just win the toughest cross race in the uk on them;)

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andyspaceman [241 posts] 3 years ago
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I can't wait personally. I don't think smaller disks are appropriate, but everything else has already been solved/proved in MTB and cyclocross. I also reckon that Parlee is the best disk-equipped road bike we've seen yet.

I tinker with the disks on my MTB less than the calipers on my road bike, and even on the very rare occasions I have to bleed the hydraulic fluid it's relatively easily done.

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Batty [1 post] 3 years ago
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I put disc brakes on the road in 2007 - The Factor 001.

I undertook extensive tesing with input and technical support from AP Racing and can happily report that, yes they do work.

And as I predicted in initial technical meetings in 2004, disc braked road bikes are indeed the way forward.

Neil Batt

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Nzlucas [122 posts] 3 years ago
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Genesis croix de fer has been my weapon of choice for the last year for commuting and some light touring.

Discs are the way forward it's just a matter of time....

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robdaykin (not verified) [367 posts] 3 years ago
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caliper brake rub, 10 seconds, fixed by me, tool free. Worst case, new cables, 10 minutes and done, no special tools, just an allen key and a cable cutter.
disk brake rub, who knows. My pistons will suddenly decide not to retract, and then I have constant brake rub till I get a big screwdriver and an old pair of pads out. Even then there is no guarantee how long that fix will work for. It sometimes doesn't work first time anyway. They will often squeal incessantly for no apparent reason, then equally mystically stop just as I'm preparing to ditch the bike in the hedge and walk home.

For me maintenance and reliability are big issues. I spend longer trying to maintain the mountain bike brakes than I spend maintaining the whole road bike, despite using the MTB for less than 10% of the mileage of my road bike. I dread ever having to bleed them or replace the fluid. Pads do not last well, and any accidental contamination cannot simply be cleaned off, it's a new pair of pads or your disk brakes provide precisely no stopping power.

To put it bluntly I find them hateful things and they are never going near my road bike until:

  • brake rub doesn't occur, or it's a 10 second tool free fix
  • pads last and don't need to be replaced in the event of accidental contamination
  • hydraulic fluid is non toxic, easily disposed off and bleeding is fool proof or the brake systems never need bleeding or fluid replacing.
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TheHatter [770 posts] 3 years ago
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Interesting how maintenance isn't mentioned by any of the experts in the article yet it seems to be the number one concern in the comments (and mine too).

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ribena [174 posts] 3 years ago
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I've been running them for 2 years on a Kinesis Tripster.

I went to the Alps in September and the discs were fine. The longest descent was around 6000ft with speeds up to 45mph and I had no fade or heat problems whatsoever.

This was with 160mm rotors and BB-7's (normal pads).

Theres a lot more air flow, and none of the constant brake-dragging (for up to 30 minutes) that tends to happen on MTB's.

Found maintenance quite easy.

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Simon E [2546 posts] 3 years ago
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Re. top level cyclocross - although the Belgians don't use them more disc-equipped bikes are surfacing at UK national and regional races and the riders really rate them. MTBers have been running discs for years but you don't hear the owners yearning to go back to cantis or V-brakes.

Adoption on road bikes is likely to be a ground-up move because the benefits for commuters and amateur racers who buy their own race wheels are much more obvious than for sponsored / supported riders as things are, though Shimano & SRAM will went to sell shedloads once they are ready. Trek's man looks at it purely from one angle (and the "less aero" argument is weak) but a large proportion of the cycle market is not driven solely by the fashions of pro racing.

The people who most dislike the idea are either hung up on some aesthetic norm or worry about the complexity while ignoring the complexities they have already accepted. Discs seem an obvious move and commenters above have shown that maintenance is not the hurdle one might imagine.

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peasantpigfarmer [46 posts] 3 years ago
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Disc's are on the way!! maintainence issues are no more than calipers. cars and motorcycles have been using them reliably for many years...how many times have your car brakes required anything other than a rare pad change...exactly,probably once every 4-5years. the same will apply to hydraulic cycle brakes.
Mtb discs and pads do require regular cleaning purely because they are clogged with mud,but if you do motocross,rallying etc,it's pretty standard practice from a safety point. I can't wait for the fully developed future calipers and discs on road bikes,long term it will be a good investment,expensive rims dont last more than a few years with caliper brakes! As the dragons say...I'm in!!!

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hockinsk [6 posts] 3 years ago
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Once road disc brakes are made to look less clunky, more aerodynamic, lighter & have better modulation than at present, then we might begin to see a bottom-up movement towards them in amateur road racing perhaps, but there's some major technical challenges still to match traditional calipers imo. Also, in a nervous peloton, brakes that don't stop you too quickly or lock your wheels up too easily in a panic moment when someone has crashed a few wheels ahead of you in the bunch is actually a good thing in terms of being able to control a road bike on wet greasy tarmac! Not having everyone locking wheels and trying to steer too, keeps more people upright!

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Bez [587 posts] 3 years ago
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I've used a fair number of road and MTB brakes in the last 20-odd years of riding and Avid BB7s are the lowest-maintenance brake I've ever used, by a considerable margin. Personally I don't find hydraulics easy to fettle to the same degree that I can in a couple of minutes with a BB7.

I'm at the point now where I'm never buying a new bike with rim brakes again.

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Paull [1 post] 3 years ago
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Disc brakes hold promise for both cyclists and manufacturers for many reasons. As a designer and manufacturer of carbon fiber wheels, disc brakes create new opportunities for performance improvement and safety. The expectations for disc brakes however can be excessively exuberant. I am not a fan of the idea that disc brakes will solve all of the problems; they may bring problems of their own. As an example, the aerodynamic penalty associated with a disc brake system may not be favored by triathletes, but road cyclists may find that a disc brake system is an ideal solution. The additional mass and form factor of a traditional disc brake system may look appropriate for a cross or mountain bike, but is the look appropriate for a road bike? I am a fan of disc brakes because they represent advancement, a reason to try something a different way. The execution and the integration will play a large part in determining the long-term success.

As far as regulations governing competition permitting disc brake systems, namely UCI regulations: I am one of a handful of industry representative who regularly interface with UCI in a formal setting. I have been told directly that the acceptance of disc brake systems in UCI competition is a minimum of three years away. There are a number of concerns from the perspective of safety and fairness. For example, can cyclists who compete with rim brakes safely compete in a peloton with cyclists using disc brakes? Is there a danger that a bicycle outfitted with disc brakes can stop in a different way than a bicycle outfitted with rim brakes creating a higher-than-normal risk for a crash in close riding conditions? How does this scenario change with weather conditions? These types of questions are at the forefront of concern for the rule-makers. Both cyclists and industry will be required to weigh-in on all benefits and risks before UCI will make any decision regarding disc brakes in competition. How will UCI regulations steer the marketplace?

I don’t think disc brakes are THE solution to specific shortcomings. For example, there is so much discussion about the risks of heat build-up on carbon fiber rims as a result of friction from rim brakes. Disc brakes are the solution, right? Disc brakes are A solution, but not THE solution. We can build carbon structures that can withstand heat from re-entry into the atmosphere. It’s not really a problem building a higher temperature carbon rim structure; the problem is building a higher temperature carbon rim structure for an affordable price. Is this additional price increase to build a higher temperature rim solution more than the additional cost of a disc brake system? These types of questions are now being considered.

In the final analysis, I don’t think disc brakes are necessary, but for the sake of continuing to look for better ways, and for the sake of advancing technology they have a place on the road. The details of where will play out in the coming years.

Paul Lew, Director of Technology and Innovation
Reynolds Cycling, LLC

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Bez [587 posts] 3 years ago
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Disc brakes are, however, the only solution to having manky grey brake residue sprayed all over your wheels and frame and fork and transmission and brakes on 90% of your rides. That's one of the biggest wins for discs in my book: they're pretty much zero-muck.

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 3 years ago
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We've added Paul Lew's comments to the main article - to save wear and tear on your scroll bar and because they are so interesting and well informed that it seems crazy to leave them out.

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austen [30 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh please, yes, can we have hydraulic disk brakes now please.

As someone who rides and commutes on some very muddy country lanes, which eats brake blocks and rims in record time, I'm desperate for the change. I was an early adopter on the MTB as the consistent performance, low maintenance and lack of rim wear made it a no-brainer. I'm in the same position on the road.

I've a CAAD10 that I love and have kept an eye on what Cannondale have been doing with the CX lineup, with their heritage I'm sure they'll have a frame sooner rather than later - I'll put my order in now!

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AlexArchitect [1 post] 3 years ago
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I think it's going to happen sooner rather than later at the top end of the market. The only thing stopping disc brakes being introduced is weight and cost. But the top end bikes are coming down to 5Kg now and up to £11K. So the extra weight and cost of disc brakes on a top end bike is not an issue

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David Portland [83 posts] 3 years ago
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juan wrote:

Well, first, you don't need to brake as much on a road bike as you do on a MTB.
Typicaly if you take a descent from a col, you'll actually need very little braking. Go fast, brake hard before switchback and let go. Repeat until the end. Between switchback, you'll build speed and therefore will cool your brakes.

This is true, although a less confident rider might brake less hard for longer. When I say "it's an issue" I mean exactly that -- an issue, not a deal breaker  3 Like I say, I'm sure it'll come. I'm in the "bottom up" camp, for what it's worth -- I think the advantages (at the current state of play) are more compelling for utility/leisure bikes than race bikes (even ignoring issues like UCI regs and the implications for neutral tech support and fast wheel changes).

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crazy-legs [704 posts] 3 years ago
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What a lot of people don't see is the extra benefit if integration. That's the Next Big Thing in road biking as aerodynamics becomes the driving force (rather than weight reduction as previously).

Electronic shifting and full hydraulic braking allows everything to be routed internally. Hoses and wires can do 180 degree bends without any problems (unlike cables which need straight line routing. You're looking at a cable-free bike. Internal hydraulic hoses which pop out at the bottom of the fork leg and the back of the frame. No clunky brake calipers on the frame/forks, nice clean lines, everything tucked away. It would even be possible to make a nice little removable carbon shroud to cover the disc calipers if you want cleaner aesthetics.

Maintenance simply isn't the issue - the technology has been tried and tested in the far harsher conditions of MTB and CX for the last 10 years.

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