Disc-braked road bike round-up starring: Colnago, Parlee, Eastway & more

There are ever more disc-equipped road bikes out. Here's our roundup of what you can get...

by David Arthur   November 23, 2012  

Colnago C59 Disc - tricolore paint job

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 It works, but it’s nothing other than an interim solution and will be superseded when full hydro disc systems hit the market.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.

21 user comments

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I'll have the Parlee and the Kona, please.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [336 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 10:58

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I'm with Bez. That Parlee looks lovely and the Kona looks sensible.

The Colnago and everything else don't look quite right to my eyes.

posted by Velo_Alex [62 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 11:12

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So Ugly.Bikes should look nice.

Martin Balk

posted by Mart0023 [14 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 11:51

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The Time looks ridiculous, mind you most Times look ridiculous without the disc imo. Colnago and Parlee for me.

posted by Karbon Kev [652 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 13:09

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All it needs now is for the UCI to get sensible about it and discs will be used throughout the pro ranks before long. Makes a lot of sense (particularly for racing in poor conditions - e.g. spring classics, wet mountain days), but it will be interesting to see what the eventual standard becomes for rotor sizes, and what the manufacturers do with rims when they don't need a braking surface any longer...

posted by step-hent [638 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 13:19

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Quote:
and what the manufacturers do with rims when they don't need a braking surface any longer...

not a great deal, look at a DT 4.2 disc rim, you loose some sidewall and that is about it. If you look at deep rims, basically you end up with a rim that looks identical, just lacking the brake track, the rim has a job todo. hold a tyre on, you can't loose much weight if the rim is to have the strength to do that, the aerodynamics are the same. etc.

As for the other comments, i suspect discs will be bigger than some think, if icetech rotors can melt on tandems and mtbs it suggests rotors on road bikes will need a decent surface area. higher speeds more speed to loose etc.

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posted by mrmo [861 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 13:49

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I've been on a less hardcore Kona Dew Drop with BB& discs for a couple of years now as my commuter- if it needed replaced (which it in no-way does, it does its job brilliantly) that Rove would rather tempt me.

posted by Al__S [419 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 13:59

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I went to the Alps on a road bike with discs in the summer. 160mm was fine even down fast 6-7,000ft descents. Heat wasn't a problem at all, in contrast to the MTB where i've experienced fade even on 200mm discs due to dragging them down very steep slow tight technical trails.

That was on normal rotors too. Ice-tech won't fit BB-7's without cutting the tabs of the brake pads.

posted by ribena [118 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 14:04

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What's with the BMC's chainset? Are my eyes deceiving me, or is that a CX ratio on there?

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posted by andyspaceman [207 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 14:04

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andyspaceman wrote:
What's with the BMC's chainset? Are my eyes deceiving me, or is that a CX ratio on there?

yup. it has cx tyres on too. more at http://road.cc/content/news/64517-eurobike-2012-first-look-faves%E2%80%A...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 14:18

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Ah, OK, that kind-of makes sense then. Smile

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posted by andyspaceman [207 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 17:04

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I don't think we will see widespread adoption until 1. hydraulic levers are released by SRAM and Shimano and 2. until every cyclocross rider is using hydraulic discs proving to road riders that they are more than good enough for pavement

new-to-cycling's picture

posted by new-to-cycling [47 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 17:34

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I can see the appeal / understand the benefits but as I have said before, they ruin the classic road bike look imho.

So ugly. They all look like cross bikes now! Not that cross bikes are ugly but they don't road bikes either!

posted by Super Domestique [1506 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 19:35

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Or are these the future?
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kettlecycles/siccc-bicycle-brake-rot...

That Kona frame is proper ugly btw Sick

posted by Jon [35 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 20:25

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If hydraulics can be made to use less watts, it won't matter how ugly they are - we'll all be using 'em

posted by carl j [23 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 22:33

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I'm surprised Volagi bikes was not shown. Unlike some of these, they are available now, although, alas, no distributor in the UK.

posted by Shred [11 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 23:09

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They were supposed to be Shred… they must have slipped of David's list, we've even got a pic too. I'm surprised they haven't got a UK distributor (in fact I'm gonna checked that they haven't picked one up in the last weeks). Most of those bikes on the list are available now though or pretty much imminently.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4111 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 23:29

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I think the biggest headache is going to be for those of us on neutral service. At the moment we carry three rear wheels, Shimano 10, Campag 10 and Campag 11. In some races / sportifs we can rub along slamming a Campag 10 into a Shimano 10 and vice-versa, but it's not ideal. In 2013, we'll need to add Shimano 11 to that & it remains to be seen whether we can bodge Campag 11s into Shimano 11 bikes - it should be possible because Shimano discussed 11 speed cassette widths with Campag when they were designing the new Dura Ace 11 freehub body.

The headache comes if we have to start carrying that lot with discs on as well, plus disc or conventional fronts - maybe at a push with fronts we can do dual wheels, so a rim brake on a disc hub (so long as the forks will permit the rotor - some won't, for sure) ... but the disc rears that we have seen so far are all 135mm hubs and road bikes at present are all 130s, so we will have no choice other than to carry both.

I spy with my little eye, absolute chaos for a couple of seasons ...

If anything slows down adoption in the pro peloton (apart from UCI intransigence) it'll be that.

I don't think that there is any debate about whether discs will work, whether they will give less hand effort for the same braking so greater control on long descents, etc - that is all patently "not a problem" ... though it's painful enough watching 3rd & 4th cat races now with riders hitting the brakes all over the show ... God knows what it will be like when the brakes are even more efficient ... I think the problems are likely to be much more mundane and practical.

Of course, it'll all be great news if you are a frame manufacturer or a hub / brake manufacturer ... gotta keep those boys in China churning out the tat, eh, boys? There are only so many pointless basic variations of headset (27 basic specs at last count, believe it or not)and BB system (6 and counting) that can be foisted on an uncritical market! This must be the next "Next Big Thing" ...

Sorry to sound cynical ...

This week I have mostly been riding a Mondiale in Deda V107 with Campagnolo Super Record 11 ...

posted by velotech_cycling [72 posts]
24th November 2012 - 0:40

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Meanwhile, on Specialized's Canadian site: http://www.specialized.com/ca/en/bikes/road/roubaix/roubaix-sl4-expert-c...

Yes, it's a 2013 Roubaix. Carbon, internally routed shift & brake cables, Ultegra w/ a carbon FSA crankset, a slightly heavy but durable DT Swiss wheelset, and oh yeah, Shimano CX 75 cable discs. You guys miss this one as well?

All joking aside, it's exactly the road bike a lot of us in BC have been waiting for. And I do mean waiting for. I don't ride bikes that don't have disc brakes because I value my life. It rains a ton here, our roads aren't the greatest, and our back yard consists mostly of massive mountains. Our mountain bikes all have discs, there's no reason our road bikes shouldn't as well.

Neutral support, wheel change difficulties, blah blah blah. You won't see discs on many high end, competition-oriented road frames for a while still because that's not where the demand is. Discs will come on bikes like the Roubaix that people use to train, commute, ride around for fun, and maybe a grand fondo or two. Pros will figure it out sooner or later, but discs are likely to trickle up, not down.

posted by LPS [4 posts]
24th November 2012 - 11:49

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looks good that specialized. one to add to the list...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
24th November 2012 - 14:17

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Until the maintenance-free, self-centering hydraulic brakes (that most/all MTBs use) come out there's no way I'd get one of these. They all look like interim solutions to me.

posted by mogrim [37 posts]
25th November 2012 - 20:04

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