Shimano close to launching hydraulic road disc brakes

Could Shimano be bringing forward their release of a hydraulic road disc system?

by David Arthur   November 20, 2012  

Shimano CX75 mechanical disc brake

The buzz surrounding disc-equipped road bikes is getting louder and it seems that there’s sufficient interest to reportedly push Shimano into bringing forward their launch date for a full hydraulic disc brake system to next year.

It was initially rumoured that Shimano would release something in their 2015 product range, but it seems that the 2014 range might see the addition of hydraulic disc brakes which, with the tremendously long lead times by the componentry giant, could mean we’ll be shown something next April.

Everyone is waiting for Shimano’s announcement. SRAM have already confirmed that they're working on hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes and from the photos we’ve seen, are getting close to a launch and. It appears they’re now in the final testing phase of development. The spy photos that are circulating on the internet show levers that are conceivably polished enough to be considered close to the finished article. 

Italian brake company Formula beat both SRAM and Shimano to be the first to bring a fully developed and integrated hydraulic disc system to market, showing it at Eurobike a few months ago. They’ve signed an exclusivity deal with Colnago, who helped with the development, for a year, preventing other companies using the system until the time is up. These have been developed with Campagnolo’s EPS (above) and Shimano Di2 groupsets.

Shimano have already developed a rival to Avid’s popular BB7 with their CX75 mechanical disc brake, pictured at the top of the story. While designed for cyclocross, there’s no reason why it can’t be used on road bikes. And if Shimano wanted to, they could have made that happen by now, but they haven't.

No, all eyes are on Shimano and SRAM's announcement of fully hydraulic road disc systems. And it seems it could be a lot sooner than we might have previously expected.

[source: www.bicycleretailer.com ]

28 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Whilst fully hydraulic is clearly the way to go,I wonder how it would be possible to run crosstop style secondary brake levers in a fully hydraulic system. They may be old school, but are useful for 3 peaks style cyclocross and (although I don't ride any) touring. Do any engineer types see a solution?

Turnernoir

posted by Turnernoir [10 posts]
20th November 2012 - 12:22

4 Likes

No reason that you cannot have two slave cylinders in a hydraulic system as far as I am aware. Just pick a suitable set of MTB levers and a T-piece and you'll have full power braking from both positions.

posted by Mr Will [88 posts]
20th November 2012 - 13:02

7 Likes

Turnernoir - Why is fully hydraulic clearly the way to go? What are the advantages over a cable pull disc brake? Wouldn't roadside repairs of a hydraulic system be rather hard?

posted by Grumpy Bob [14 posts]
20th November 2012 - 13:37

6 Likes

Grumpy Bob wrote:
Turnernoir - Why is fully hydraulic clearly the way to go? What are the advantages over a cable pull disc brake? Wouldn't roadside repairs of a hydraulic system be rather hard?

How many times have you had to do trailside repairs of a fully hydraulic MTB brake? The only time I've ever seen that required was in a massive crash which ripped the hose out of the caliper...but that didn't matter cos the rider needed a helicopter anyway! Hydraulic brakes are proven technology on MTBs and getting there on CX bikes. If they work in those conditions, they'll work on road bikes.

Advantages:
fully sealed, no cable stretch, hoses can be run fully internally, there's no issues with hose routing (it can do full 180 degree turns if need be which cables can't), it's lighter (hose+fluid weighs much less than cable), less maintenance, fits in perfectly with electronic gears.

posted by crazy-legs [519 posts]
20th November 2012 - 13:44

6 Likes

Grumpy Bob - Roadside repairs of hydraulics would be rather hard, but also very very unlikely to be needed. Modulation and power will also be vastly improved. Grit, mud and water will not steadily work their way in and reduce performance of a hydraulic system either as they do with cables.
I also think Tunernoir was saying fully hydraulic is the way to go as opposed to combination cable/hydraulic adapters such as Hope's V twin.

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [46 posts]
20th November 2012 - 13:53

4 Likes

crazy-legs - well, I've never had a hydraulic brake system on a bike, so the answer to your question is never! But I've never suffered much from cable-stretch, and I'm thinking not just of road bikes, but touring tandems.

Are these brake systems that much lighter, when the weight of the disc and caliper are included?

Maybe I'm a luddite, but I also don't think I'll be switching to electronic gear any time soon!

posted by Grumpy Bob [14 posts]
20th November 2012 - 13:56

7 Likes

@grumpy bob- i think 'but i also dont think i'll be switching to electronic gears anytime soon' says everything really.

i appreciate your stance.

must admit im not going to leap into either technologies at the moment as my summer bike is only just a year old. but next new bike cycle i would definately go electric and if the discs are any better(not sure if they will be to good if you get what i mean) then i will go with.

just out of interest have you test ridden a di2 bike? its horribly brilliant. my favourite thing is the front ring shift. i run campag and shimano on my bikes and the only gripe i have is the amount of movement the left hand shifter needs on both systems. the electric is a soft button touch. also auto trim is priceless. there is always a gear combo that will touch lightly on mechanical whereas electric is totally silent.

test ride a di2 bike and see what i mean. i do think disc will take lots of evoloutions to get the power vs feel right though.

but im not judging until i try it

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
20th November 2012 - 14:05

4 Likes

I'm sure they work well but......
more £ to purchase, more £ to maintain, more £ to replace when you fall off and trash your brake lever, more £ on specialist tools, more £ on taxis when you get a mechanical
and can't fix by the roadside.

Same goes for electronic shifting.....all that extra cash for what.....not having to tighten your cable once a year......and it looks ugly.

Aint progress great

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [312 posts]
20th November 2012 - 14:14

5 Likes

you are more likely to have a mechanical problem with a cable system over hydraulic or elec shifting, fixing them wouldnt be cheaper though. Hydraulic brakes need next to no maintennance and if they do its a simple job. the cost you will save on cables would pay for a bleed kit no problem and that will last a lifetime. In the unlikely scenario of BOTH hydralic brakes failing you are stuffed, but with one failing the remaining brake will be 10x the power of both cable brakes you currently have.

also, im guessing you have never owned an elec shifting system then? there is a lot more to them that just not having to adjust cables once a year..eg: perfect shifting every time, no more chatter, less wear on the chainset..its a fit and forget system.

Yes, they are more expensive...but so are Ferrari's, that doesnt make them pointless or rubbish Smile seems like only the people who cant or wont pay for elec shifting have bad things to say about them..i've owned most groups out there..and Di2 wins hands down for me.

posted by quango2008 [36 posts]
20th November 2012 - 14:30

7 Likes

another thing you can have on a hydraulic system is quick disconnects at junctions a bit like you can get with Formula brakes. they let little/no air in and are a simple push/pull affair. this way you could change out damaged parts easily after a bad crash.

I dont think they would be needed though in a race situ...if the crash is bad enough to damage a disk brake, you aint riding!

posted by quango2008 [36 posts]
20th November 2012 - 14:35

6 Likes

I have Hope Tech X2 on my mountain bike and Avid BB7 on the road bike and the Hope brakes are much better. There's probably not much in it WRT stopping power (the Hopes are better) but the modulation on the Hopes is fantastic - I can hold them on the edge of locking even on variable surfaces whereas the Avids feel like they're deliberately hiding information about the amount of grip that's available.

I intend to replace the BB7s when a proper solution is available (Hope road levers) but they're fine for now.

Regarding maintenance, there is none for the Hopes - the pads self centre and wear is taken up automatically. The BB7s are a bit of a fiddle to get just right but it's not really a problem. Someone mentioned sticking pistons causing rubbing and I've had that (and worse) with Shimano calipers and friends with Avid brakes complain about rubbing so it's not just comparing cable to hydraulic - you have to take into account which cable or hydraulic systems.

posted by FatFreddie [14 posts]
20th November 2012 - 14:56

5 Likes

It's going to be interesting when the Shimano sponsored teams have to ride on disc brakes on the GT's, the SRAM teams stuck with mechanical shifting and the Campy riders are on rim brakes. We'll be able to see if all these advancements are folly, and who's going to have to rush their own tech to market or let it die away.

posted by Nick T [814 posts]
20th November 2012 - 16:03

4 Likes

I started with mountain biking a few years ago and got used to hydraulic brakes, then I got into road biking, oh my god, road brakes are rubbish and we travel at far higher speed than a mountain bike.

I can't wait for hydraulic brakes to come out at a price point I can afford, no brake rub, no loss of performance when its wet or dirty, fantastic usable stopping power, I guess they might be slightly heavier would be the only trade-off, its an excuse to lose and extra pound or two, oh and to buy a new bike LOL

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
20th November 2012 - 18:12

6 Likes

my next bike will probably have disc brakes because that is what marketing has decided will be available.

Do disc brakes offer any benefits on the road? a few, are they a major advance, no. Would i rush out and buy a new bike just so i can have discs. no.

I speak as someone who uses discs on the mtb, and for all there benefits they are a pain rubbing, changing wheels. squealing, slightess whiff of cleaning materials and the brakes disappear etc.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1116 posts]
20th November 2012 - 20:14

5 Likes

quango2008 wrote:
In the unlikely scenario of BOTH hydralic brakes failing you are stuffed, but with one failing the remaining brake will be 10x the power of both cable brakes you currently have.

Really?? So a rear only hydraulic brake has 10x the power of front and rear cable brakes. I don't think you have tried stopping with a rear brake only.

posted by alun [44 posts]
20th November 2012 - 20:54

6 Likes

Thank you Mrwill, I hadn't considered the T piece type connection. To continue being awkward I really would like hydraulic brakes (simply because 10+ yrs of use tell me they work)and cable gears (cheaper and work just fine thank you). This combination has been fantastic on mtb for so long. I do know that this is unlikely to be available, perhaps the Hope V Twin is the way to go......

Turnernoir

posted by Turnernoir [10 posts]
20th November 2012 - 22:15

5 Likes

I'm a big fan on BB7s. They stop with one finger and I find the modulation with Avid SL7 to be better than any hydraulic brakes I've used before but I guess it's very subjective. Quite a bit depends on the levers and the cables used.

I don't understand people who mention cable stretch with mechanical brakes. With compression-less casing there is NO cable stretch. After initial adjustment wires don't "stretch" any more either. Could you enlighten me? Is this the real issue or you're just quoting someone else on forums or in a bike mag?

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
20th November 2012 - 22:39

3 Likes

I'm really curious how this will pan out, and how manufacturers will position disk brake bikes. If you look back on the introduction of MTB disks, it was a long protracted gestation, with cross country pros initially reluctant to weigh down their bikes with early heavy disk units. For a long time top end bikes came with v-brakes.
A similar reaction from the pro road race ranks would , I think, push disks to the fringe. Road racers and road race wannabes tend, I think, to be much more tech fashion conscious than MTBrs.
If pros use it, it's cool (think di2) if they don't it's uncool and likely to end up as a tech dead end (think road tubeless).
So it's a given that in order to succeed, you have to have pro teams using the tech. If this isn't unanimous in a fairly short time, then you risk creating market uncertainty and killing sales, as buyers delay purchases as they try to figure whether to go with disks or not. It’s a pretty big jump to make, because it means racers with a set of expensive carbon wheels won't have the option of getting a new bike/keeping expensive carbon race wheels or vice/versa.
edit: I tend to keep my racing bike quite a long time (8-10 years) and I'm 4-5 years away from a new bike, I wonder how those in the market feel about this potential change?

posted by imaca [46 posts]
21st November 2012 - 0:31

5 Likes

Whilst I am a massive fan of technology, I have still not got my head around the benefits of disc brakes on road bikes. I get it for MTBs, but I'm not so convinced for a road bike.
Potential benefits I can see:
1) Disc further away from road spray on a wet day
2) [Possibly] better modulation than a regular cable-pull caliper
3) If wheel slightly warped, brakes do not become a PITA
4) It's cool new technology

Disadvantages:
1) Additional weight (or higher cost to get same weight)
2) [Likely] higher cost in most instances
3) [Question:] worse aerodynamics?

Other than possibly 3) I don't believe the benefits are significant enough for me to want to take any active action to move to disc brakes. I do all my riding on the road, and have used a wide variety of cable braking systems over the years on both metal and carbon rims.

I am not braking hard every few seconds (even when sprint commuting through central London) and I don't find that I ever need more stopping power than I can get from dual-pivot cable pull calipers. They generally seem to be powerful enough to either skid the wheels or get rear wheel lift even when I'm hanging off the back.

And I have never yet had to replace a wheel as a result of rim wear in ~33 years of cycling.

But it looks like the industry is going that way, so what am I missing?

[Note: before the electronic shifting debate comes into this, I totally get the many benefits of electronic shifting (at least for my riding), and had I unlimited funds, I would upgrade to Di2 today!]

posted by Tjuice [110 posts]
21st November 2012 - 11:12

6 Likes

Tjuice wrote:
Potential benefits I can see:
1) Disc further away from road spray on a wet day
2) [Possibly] better modulation than a regular cable-pull caliper
3) If wheel slightly warped, brakes do not become a PITA
4) It's cool new technology

Having a wheel (one of the major structural components of the bike) as a wear-away braking surface is insane. It's one of the major limiting factors in wheel development at the moment. Making carbon rims that are structurally sound and aerodynamic, while also working as a braking surface is a major engineering challenge. The bonding resins have to hold together at very high temperatures. It's not a problem on F1 cars where the carbon brake disc is acting solely as a braking surface and doesn't have to support anything but on a bike it's amazingly difficult.

Having disc brakes will result in far stronger, stiffer, lighter and more aero wheels than anything out there at the moment.

posted by crazy-legs [519 posts]
21st November 2012 - 19:53

4 Likes

Heat dispersal has got to be of concern, if it's possible to heat a rim up enough with friction to pop a tyre on a long descent, it's surely possible to heat a much smaller rotor up enough to stop them working properly - especially when as muh material has been removed as possible to reduce weight. Ceramic rotors aren't the answer as these only function properly when up to temperature, not well suited to your average bike ride.

posted by Nick T [814 posts]
21st November 2012 - 20:18

5 Likes

Quote:
Having disc brakes will result in far stronger, stiffer, lighter and more aero wheels than anything out there at the moment.

How? a bit maybe certainly not far more. as for aero, you gain a bit of mess around the hub which i strongly suspect will be less aero than the best current offerings. You could go more aero for the rim but then you have a wheelset that suffers more from cross winds.

Rim strength, it still has to hold the tyre on, and with upto 150psi there are limits, you can loose some sidewall height which will save a little weight, you can't loose many spokes and retain stiffness.

I just don't buy there being many advantages.

as for the heat, seen a couple of cases of ice-tech rotors melting from heat build up. It may be a real issue if users aren't careful about what they spec.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1116 posts]
21st November 2012 - 20:58

8 Likes

I have been planning a replacement for my touring tandem frame, and considering disc brakes for that (as a consequence of blowing a tyre off the front rim descending from Ben Lawers to Loch Tay). Hence my query about hydraulic vs cable systems.

How do disc brakes affect wheel changes? Probably that's more of an issue for racing bikes.

posted by Grumpy Bob [14 posts]
22nd November 2012 - 6:21

5 Likes

Nick T wrote:
It's going to be interesting when the Shimano sponsored teams have to ride on disc brakes on the GT's, the SRAM teams stuck with mechanical shifting and the Campy riders are on rim brakes. We'll be able to see if all these advancements are folly, and who's going to have to rush their own tech to market or let it die away.

Has the UCI approved disc brakes for road racing? Don't forget their rather luddite tendencies...

posted by Grumpy Bob [14 posts]
22nd November 2012 - 6:57

5 Likes

@BBB: I have a bike with BB7's and the Versa drop bar levers (with an Alfine hub) and there definitely was cable stretch despite having good compressionless housings so that if I braked hard, the levers would hit the bars (the Versa levers have a rather large changer tab that got in the way so to brake fully I had to push it out of the way as I braked). I have now replaced them with Hope V-twins (which run a very short cable to a master cylinder at the headset - so to answer the first post, could be used with crosstop brake levers) and now the levers go part way and then just stop. Braking harder requires more pressure on the lever but the lever doesn't move any closer to the bars as it did with cable brakes. Brake performance is so much better too - firmer, more confident and with much better modulation.

posted by Tony [67 posts]
22nd November 2012 - 8:07

5 Likes

double post...

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 2:49

6 Likes

Strange. Maybe Versa is different. I've never had a problem with Cane Creek and 105 levers (Jagwire Ripcord casing with alloy ferrules).

With Cane Creek pad contact at 1/2 and optimal braking power at 3/5 of lever travel. Shimano levers were a bit softer but still perfectly controllable.

The issue may not be the cables but too high mechanical advantage (with no adjustment) of some levers.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [181 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 2:51

7 Likes

I don't care as long as I can afford to maintain it and it works. Frankly I'm happy with my cable pulled rim brakes, but then I probably don't ride as much as other people, so I'm spending a lot less time on bicycle maintenance, and spending a lot less money than more prolific riders might do.

The only thing I'm worried about is any potential for disc brakes to prevent me from enjoying cycling should I ever buy into this technology any time soon.

the_mikey's picture

posted by the_mikey [146 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 16:46

5 Likes