UCI on road disc brakes: "this technical innovation was not yet submitted to us."

British Cycling asked the UCI the score on road disc brakes; what they got was a shrug

by nick_rearden   December 20, 2011  


With it pretty much an open secret that major component manufacturers including Shimano and SRAM are not far from releasing disc brakes systems suitable for use with the kind of combined gear and brake levers used on modern dropped-handlebar racers, the sport's worldwide governing body for racing, the Union Cyclisme Internationale (UCI), has this week told British Cycling (BC), our own rule maker but which follows the lead of the UCI, that no manufacturers have yet applied for approval for "this technical innovation".

According to British Cycling enough members have enquired about the status of the rule on road disc brakes for racing that an approach was made to the UCI's Julien Carron, their 'Coordinateur Technologique' for a clarification on disc brake usage, although the formal rule for UCI and therefore BC-sanctioned road racing is still that only rim and calliper-brake combinations are deemed legal.

In 2010, the UCI changed the regulations controlling disc brakes on cyclo-cross bikes with the last two years spent scrambling behind the scenes to prepare frames, forks and brake systems for production. Initially forks like 3T's Luteus carbon model have started to ship but the final link in the chain will be the major manufacturers launching dropped-bar-style shift levers configured to work with the discs and callipers already de rigueur in the mountain bike market, the lightest of which are already as light as top-end road calliper combos.

As a stop-gap, specialist makers like TRP, Hope and USE have shown handlebar or stem-mounted converters to change the cable pull of current levers to the hydraulic power and modulation that 'cross riders prefer although there's no guarantee that the first 'road' discs from Shimano or SRAM will be, or indeed need to be, hydraulically actuated.

The full response of Julien Carron to British Cycling was as follows:

"I am the technological coordinator in charge of everything related to the equipment and I can confirm that disc brakes are not allowed in road races for 2012. This is a technical innovation that has to be presented to the UCI and evaluated by the Equipment Commission before potentially being approved in competition. For the moment, this technical innovation was not yet submitted to us."

It appears that with purely road-orientated disc brakes not far away if not imminent - let's predict Autumn 2012 launches for the 2013 model year - there is every likelihood that top-end sportive riders will be riding the new brakes on the road before the professionals in the UCI WorldTour peloton and that would be an interesting reversal of the usual state of play. It certainly seems as if the brake manufacturers are happy for customers to drive the demand on this issue.

8 user comments

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bring them on...lets try them out in the real world and see if they work as well on the road as they do for mtb's and the cyclocross guys, i think they will. time will tell! Thinking

keith roberts's picture

posted by keith roberts [204 posts]
20th December 2011 - 23:28


I have been using BB7s for about 6 years and I'm really looking forward to someone saving a big lump of weight - 9/10 for performance, 6/10 for weight - I still use cantis on my CX race rig because they are powerful enough.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [408 posts]
21st December 2011 - 0:06


The UCI need to get their heads back out into sunlight. Their glacial pace of technology review/adoption/acceptance does nothing but hinder athletes and slow down an industry that's galloping ahead of them. With Specialized for example now providing two versions of the Shiv frame in order to satisfy UCI requirements costs are almost certainly trickling down to the consumer. Why aren't they proactively seeking out new equipment to evaluate rather than dragging their heels waiting for it to come to them? Goodwill toward them might well be a lot stronger for it.

davecochrane's picture

posted by davecochrane [109 posts]
21st December 2011 - 0:29



posted by yenrod [104 posts]
21st December 2011 - 10:03


Its easy to bash the UCI but its a difficult line they walk. There was an article in a mag a couple of years back where they asked a designer (maybe Mike Burrows but can't recall) to design a bike if there were no UCI restrictions.

What he came up with was essentially a very low faired recumbant which he pointed out was so aero that there would be no advantage to drafting. This would therefore entirely change the shape of racing with no pelotons, no attacks, no sprint finshes etc. Rather each race would be essentially a mass start TT.

Not only that but the 'bike' would be entirely impractical on anything but a closed road so not something the humble punter would be able to use.

Therefore I sometimes side with the UCI on a lot of the technology they ban and I actually wish they'd go further and ban Di2 and any other motorised mechs.

Having said all that I see nothing wrong with disc brakes and from a safety point of view I think they should be allowed.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
21st December 2011 - 10:52


The main advantage is that you will be able to plummet down an Alp without cooking your rims at the hairpins.

posted by wild man [290 posts]
21st December 2011 - 11:54

1 Like

Will be good to see them come through and start to appear, but I don't think the road teams will adopt until there are disk specific rims out there. For use on tarmac there are obvious benefits in terms of reliable performance in the wet, but the real gamechanger will be when we start to see rims with serious weight reductions because there is no need for a strong/durable braking surface.

andyspaceman's picture

posted by andyspaceman [241 posts]
21st December 2011 - 18:24

1 Like

i put it down to current big upgrade is electronic shifting - currently no real enthusiasm from majority of club riders for disks so why not save the convincing you need it until majority have switched to electronic shifting and get another wave of spending

antigee's picture

posted by antigee [208 posts]
21st December 2011 - 19:37