You might think that the artisan framebuilders who create bespoke bicycling works of art wouldn't be all that keen on new fangled disc brakes - you'd be wrong. There were loads of disc brake-equipped bikes on display at this year’s Bespoked handmade cycle show. Disc brakes are emerging in ever higher numbers in the road cycling industry, and you could argue that the smaller framebuilders have been ahead of the curve compared to the bigger manufacturers, many of whom are now rapidly launching disc-equipped bikes.
Here is a roundup of some of the disc-equipped road and cyclocross bikes that grabbed our attention at the show.
Cielo have launched two new Road Racer frames, and one of them is built around disc brakes. We're seeing quite a few brands take this approach, releasing a new model designed from the outset with the choice of disc or caliper brakes, a bit like Colnago's CX-Zero, to pluck just example. It keeps everyone happy.
The frame is made from a custom-drawn steel tubeset and features, like a handful of racier steel frames (such as the Genesis Volare 953), a fat 44mm head tube and Press Fit 30 bottom bracket, which both mean larger diameter front and rear triangle tubes can be used, helping to boost stiffness. This model was fitted with Shimano's latest hydraulic disc brake and an Ultegra Di2 groupset.
The rear brake hose is routed along the underside of the down tube, over the top of the bottom bracket shell and along the chainstays where the caliper is mounted. Paragon disc dropouts are used.
Not a new bike, the Evoke was first unveiled at last year's Bespoked, but it's now in full production. Enigma were showing two builds at the show, both in lovely paint schemes. Enigma now have their own paintshop so they do all the frame spraying inhouse. The red and black model was one of the highlights of the show.
An Evoke frame costs £2,199 with the complete bike shown here costing £6,025. The frame, made from 3AL/2.5V titanium, features a 44mm CNC machined head tube, 31.6mm seat post, skinny seatstays and a claimed frame weight of 1,350g.
Each Evoke is handbuilt in Sussex and a custom option is available.
If Isla Bikes offered a cyclo-cross, it would probably look very much like this one, built for the company's Tim Goodall. It's a shame they have no plans to bring it into production though. It's a Reynolds 853 frameset and has been designed and built with a SRAM Force CX1 groupset, which pairs a single ring chainset with an 11-speed cassette. Brakes are Avid's BB7 S_Road.
Here's that new SRAM Force CX1 groupset, a cyclo-cross version of the US company's mountain bike 1x11 groupset. It carries many of the same features over into the 'cross world, including the clutch-style rear mech and fat-thin chainring, two features that combine almost to eliminate dropped chains, without the need for a chainguide.
Disc brakes aren’t just well suited to road and cyclocross bikes, they’re ideal for urban and city bikes, like this beautiful Swallow, for example. A belt-drive gearbox transmission offers simplicity of function and low maintenance, and the mechanical disc brakes offer the same durability with long pad life and consistent performance in any weather.
Framebuilders get some interesting commissions which is why there was such a diverse collection of bikes at Bespoked; it’s their customers that are largely dictating the direction of their design and framebuilding. Donhou has been getting a large number of requests for disc brake bikes, especially since the Rapha Continental bike he produced a couple of years ago.
Donhou was asked to build a bike by a chap called Ollie who wanted something for adventure and primarily for one particular adventure: circumnavigating Vancouver Island by road and gravel.
As you know, the gravel racing scene is strong over on the other side of the Atlantic. In a way these gravel bikes look much like a road bike merged with a cyclocross bike, with clearance for larger tyres, disc brakes and modified geometry to make battering across gravel roads a little less sketchy.
A rare feature on this bike are the bolt through axles. They offer extra security and stiffness but it's not a trend that is gaining much traction yet. Maybe it'll gain momentum in the future.
The bike here is fitted with a SRAM Force groupset with BB7 mechanical disc brakes with Continental Cyclo XKing 'cross tyres to tackle any terrain.
We’ve featured the Pretorius Outeniqua on road.cc before, but at Bespoked we had our first look at the disc version of the bike.
The frame features 3Al-2.5V titanium double-butted tubing with an on-trend 44mm head tube (which allows you to run any fork, regular or tapered) and beefs up the frontend stiffness by allowing you to oversize the top tube and down tube. For the same reason there is a PressFit30 bottom bracket. The frame also features 3D printed cable stops, which are removeable. It’s compatible with mechanical and electronic groupsets.
Importantly, the frame has clearance for up to 28mm tyres. It’s also mudguard-ready which could make it an ideal year-round bike; just whip them off when the sun is shining and the roads are dry. It’ll take 25mm tyres with 'guards fitted. The frameset costs from £2,299 and a full custom frame from £2,900.
One of the attractions of getting a bespoke frame made is that you can easily get a bike to fit you if you don’t fit a stock size. Wittson is a titanium specialist and they had this huge 60cm custom cyclocross bike on the front of their stand.
It has an integrated seat mast and uses the Hope V-Twin hydraulic converter with a set of Hope disc brakes fitted to the frame and a neat titanium steerer tube clamp for the small converter box that sits under the stem.
Wittson has an interesting history. It has been founded by Vidmantas “Vitas” Zukauskas, and his son, the former used to be a framebuilder for Colnago back in the day, and recently they got together to start their own company.
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. 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, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.