There’s a growing number of disc-equipped road bikes starting to hit the roads as interest from manufacturers and cyclists increases. Utility and commuting bikes have been switched on to the advantages of disc brakes for a while now, and cyclocross is starting to cotton on too. But what of road bikes with disc brakes?
While we’re waiting for Shimano and SRAM to release details of their hydraulic disc brakes, mechanical disc brakes are the popular choice for early adopters. A few have used converters like the TRP Parabox which allows cable brake levers to work with hydraulic disc callipers.
Colnago were quick out of the blocks with their C59 Disc. Using Italian company Formula’s first ever full hydraulic disc system and integrated into a Campagnolo EPS groupset, it signals Colnago’s belief that disc brakes are part of the future. You can read our exclusive first ride on the C59 Disc here.
French brand Time have shown their interest too. The Fluidity S they showed at Eurobike takes their top-end carbon-fibre road bike and adds Shimano prototype mechanical disc brakes (which look like they’re based on the CX75 cyclocross stoppers).
On the other side of the pond there is interest from US firms like Parlee, who launched their new top-end Z-Zero this year with a disc brake option. Tom Rodi, Parlee’s marketing manager, recently told us there is an appetite for discs on road bikes over in the States and that they’ve received a full book of orders for the new Z-Zero disc. Currently it’s running with Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes but he told us they’re prepared for a hydraulic system, and that it wouldn’t be much work to make the necessary changes and add hose guides.
While the bikes above use either a full integrated hydraulic or mechanical solution, there are bridging options which allow you to combine both. The Culprit Croz Blade is a the first aero road bike with disc brakes (that we’ve seen) and it uses the TRP Parabox. It takes the cables from the SRAM or Shimano brake levers and uses them to actuate a master cylinder mounted below the stem. It’s currently the only way of taking existing brake levers and operating hydraulic disc callipers. It works, but it’s nothing other than an interim solution and will be superseded when full hydro disc systems hit the market.
BMC revealed the GF02 Disc at Eurobike. It uses the Gran Fondo frame, designed for fast and comfortable riding compared to the race-ready Race Machine. The aluminium frame has been redesigned to take disc brakes, with the rear calliper neatly sitting within the rear stays.
We’re straying away from the idea of high performance road bikes with discs a little, but crossing more into cyclocross/commuter territory we have the Kona Rove. It’s using Hayes V-Series CX-5 mechanical disc brakes with 140mm rotors. It’s a bike designed to “go on a month long tour one day, ride to school the next, then race cross on the weekend.”
It suggests there’s already an appetite for disc brakes on these sort of do-everything bikes, and is an easier sell than discs on carbon road bikes... for now anyway.
Salsa’s Colossal is their newest road bike and is an expression of the natural evolution of road bikes, according to Salsa’s Tim Krueger and Sean Mailen. Offered in steel or titanium, it has been designed to be comfortable on long rides yet sprightly enough for crit races. It’s designed around Avid BB7 brakes and uses Enve’s disc-specific carbon fork and HED rims with no brake track.
Eastway Bikes is a brand new British brand that will be launching a range of road, commute and cross bikes early next year. When we got a first look at the range the RD 1.0d took us by surprise because it’s a full carbon race bike with disc brakes. Eastway have developed their own carbon fibre frame and fork from the ground up to work with disc brakes, albeit mechanical Avid BB7s.
German company Rose showed the Xeon Disc a short while ago and, as with most bikes here, it uses mechanical disc brakes. It was shown with the same Shimano mechanical prototype brakes as the Time, information of which is pretty limited at the moment (photo courtesy Bikerumour.com).
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect to see the choice increase as we head into 2013, and when SRAM and Shimano release their new disc brake systems most major bike companies will get on board.
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.