The major talking point at Eurobike has been the subject of disc brakes on road bikes. But strangely enough, even though we've seen a handful of brand new disc-equipped road bikes here, there clearly isn't the widespread adoption expected in some quarters. There are a number of reasons for that: lack of supply of hydraulic disc brakes from the big suppliers; not much choice of wheels, hubs and forks; and smaller manufacturers clearly sitting on the fence.
It took a while for disc brakes to really take root in cyclo-cross, until the UCI opened the floodgates by changing the technical rules. Discs first became widespread on the more versatile strain of crossers, bikes intended as tow-path cruisers, pothole-bashers and conquerers of the urban jungle as much as for entry-level cross racing.
A similar thing is happening with disc-braked road bikes. Very few manufacturers are showing long-top-tube, short-head-tube road racing bikes with discs (Colnago’s C59 is one rare exception). Instead we’re seeing disc adoption on bikes intended for less hectic sportive riding, long-distance cruising and fast commuting, which is making the line between versatile crosser and disc-braked roadie a bit blurred.
That’s good, because freed of the constraints of going forward quickly at all costs, manufacturers are able to experiment with previously heretical notions like fatter tyres, mudguard clearances and even rack mounts on carbon bikes. Whatever next? Dogs and cats living together?
We suspect that supply constraints are also holding some manufacturers back. We’d expected to see a lot more hydraulic discs here, but they’re relatively rare, which we put down to lack of supply right now. That will change, as will the relative shortages of forks and wheels suitable for disc road bikes. It’s not that they don’t exist, it’s that right now product managers dont have many options and when tweaking the spec of a bike to hit a particular price point, they like to be able to fine-tune parts like wheels to within a few dollars.
It's also apparent that larger companies are leading the way. In carbon bikes especially that's not surprising. The investment in tooling for a smaller player to dabble in discs is pretty scary, and you're going to left looking pretty silly if it all turns out to be a fad.
So where’s it all going? We think bikes like the Storck's Aernario, with its through-axle fork and inboard brake mount out back are leading the trends right now. Orbea’s Avant demonstrates just how versatile you can make a disc-braked road bike while keeping it essentially a roadie not a crosser. Blend the two, and throw in some of the frame-flex comfort tweaks of Giant’s TCX Advanced cross bike and you might just be looking at the road bike of the future.
Storck's Aernario Disc is their aero road frame adapted to take disc brakes, and it's one of the few bikes here road or cyclocross to sport bolt-thru axles front and rear. Bolt-thru axles are commonplace on mountain bikes, but it's not something we've seen much at all on road bikes. There's some expectation that bolt-thru axles are a necessity with disc brakes, so it's revealing that Storck have gone down this route with their first disc-equipped road bike. It also looks stunning and weighs just 6.3kg. Thought disc-equipped road bikes were heavy? Not in the slightest.
Orbea's Avant, which we've covered in more detail on our first look (+ video) in this article. To recap, it's a carbon frame built with a taller head tube and shorter top tube than their Orca race bike, and is designed to be truly versatile. It takes disc brakes, with internal hose routing, and mechanical or electronic groupsets, again with internal routing. There's room for 28mm tyres, a growing trend on endurance bikes built for comfort over all-out speed. Plus there are mounts for mudguards and racks. I'm struggling to think of any other carbon road bike that's as well equipped.
The Stevens Ventoux Disc, based on the regular Ventoux but with a new fork and rear end to take disc brakes. They showed two models, one with Shimano's new R785 hydraulic disc brakes and this SRAM Red 22 bike.
The hydraulic hose is routed through the fork and pops out just above the post mount. They're using regular quick release axles front and rear, and Fulcrum's new disc-ready wheels were spotted on these bikes, the first time we've seen them.
Merida are a huge company, one of the biggest in fact, so no surprise they had a disc-equipped road bike. However, they're still at prototype stage, and it looks as though they've used the Ride model, an endurance bike, as the basis for this disc version.
Like many other manufacturers, they had opted to show a bike with the TRP Hy/Rd brake, a fully enclosed hydraulic system that is compatible with a regular cable brake lever. The Hy/Rd is a really interesting brake, in that you can hook it up to any regular cable brake lever, and for that reason it's been a popular sight on at the show. You can have a read of our review of the brake system here.
This is the new Pinarello DogmaK Hydro Disc. On looks alone the bike seems almost identical to the regular Dogma, but the new Onda HD fork is noticeably straighter. Underneath the paint we would expect there to be a revised carbon layup, and the rear disc hose for the Shimano R785 hose is routed internally. Final build options haven't been confirmed, but it looks like they'll be offering this Shimano build with Vision Metron wheels and a SRAM RED 22 option.
Specialized introduced a disc-equipped Roubaix last year, and for 2014 they’ve expanded the choice out to three bikes, but only two will be coming to the UK as Specialized has taken the decision to not give us the SRAM Red 22 Hydro Disc model. Instead there are two models, the Expert with an Ultegra Di2 build, complete with Shimano’s new hydraulic disc brakes, and a Sora build with mechanical discs. We think not bringing this model to the UK is a real shame, so here's a photo of it.
There are a handful of smaller builders working with disc brakes, such as Punch, a German brand focused solely on titanium, who had this beauty on their stand. I'm not a fan of the logo personally, but the frame is finely finished. It was one of the many bikes to be using TRP's Hy/Rd hydraulic caliper, which can be used with any mechanical cable brake lever.
Marin's smart looking Lombard, a commuter/cyclocross hybrid fitted with disc brakes and chunky tyres.
New from Colnago is the CX Zero, a new carbon frame aimed at the growing 'endurance' segment, and it's available with or without disc brakes. It uses their Classic geometry which aims to minimise the saddle to bar drop with a higher front end, promoting a comfortable position.
Last year Colnago shocked everyone with the C59 Disc. And here it is again. However, they're still offering it with the same Formula disc brakes, with no sign of a Shimano/SRAM/TRP hydro option. There are two new colour options though, both on-trend fluoro accents.
A Koga fat tyred road bike with discs and a single ring drivetrain and smooth carbon fork.
Centurion isn't a recognisable name at home, but they have a huge presence at Eurobike, and this Gigadrive 5200 road bike with hydraulic disc brakes was grabbing some attention.
It's a carbon frame and fork with Shimano's R785 hydraulic disc brake and, interestingly, XTR mountain bike rotors and quick release levers.
Cannondale's Synapse, their endurance/comfort bike (as ridden by Peter Sagan to success in the Classics) is now available with disc brakes. We saw the two aluminium versions of this bike at the UK show a couple of weeks ago, this is the first time we've seen the carbon version. Whether or not it comes to the UK remains to be seen. It's seen here with Shimano's new hydraulic disc brakes and Enve wheels.
Cannondale of course aren't new to disc brakes, they've been offering discs on their SuperX carbon fibre cyclocross bike for two years. They time they spent developing a new fork for that 'cross bike has clearly influenced the design of the new Synapse Disc fork. The rear brake caliper is following the common trend for a position inside the rear stays.
We've had a good look at the Bianchi Oltre XR2 previously, at the company's worldwide launch back in June, where we were allowed to touch, but not ride. It's made from UMS40 and CN60 ultra high modulus carbon fibres and the weight is a claimed 895g (that's for the 55cm version), and the frame is designed with aerodynamics in mind.
It's offered here with SRAM Red Hydro disc brakes and it's running on Zipp carbon wheels.
Here's Trigon's TR325 UL Disc bike, which features a carbon fork with a disc mount but also space for a mini V-brake. The space the v-brake would occupy were it fitted is filled with a blank here.
This is the first time I've seen such a fork, and is certainly appealing for anyone wanting to future-proof their bike with a fork that is compatible with either. Fitted are TRP's mechanical disc brakes.
And finally... The Ceepo Viper is a strange beast. A fork that can be fitted with either a mini V-brake or, as here, a TRP Hy/Rd disc brake, while out back there's a V-brake hidden under the chainstays. It's a bike designed for triathlon with specific geometry, that means it won't be UCI legal. The disc brake rules it out of UCI competition anyway.
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.