Disc brakes will be introduced in professional road racing in 2017, according to a source involved in discussions between the UCI, cycle sport’s world governing body, and the bike industry regarding race equipment. The UCI has also opened discussions with the bike industry concerning the possibility of amending the 6.8kg minimum bike weight rule and the ‘3:1’ rule that applies to the frame, fork, handlebar, stem and seatpost.
The UCI is currently reviewing many of the rules regarding race equipment in consultation with committees from the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), a body that includes many of the biggest players in the bike industry.
The WFSGI’s Bicycle Committee is essentially the voice of the bike industry as far as the UCI and International Olympic Committee (IOC) are concerned. The Bicycle Committee comprises three sub-committees: the Wheel Committee, the Saddle Committee, and the Technical Committee that includes a Disc Brake Working Group.
Our source told us unequivocally that after consultations with the WFSGI’s Technical Committee, the UCI will allow the use of disc brakes in the pro peloton the season after next. An official announcement will be made very soon, certainly within the next month.
We reported last year that Jeroen Snijders Blok of the WFSGI had said that he expected disc brakes to appear in the pro peloton in 2016, but it now looks like it’ll be the following year.
At a WFSGI public meeting at Taipei Cycle last week, Snijders Blok refused to give any indication of the timescale for the introduction of disc brakes but he did confirm that an announcement was imminent, the timing of that announcement to be agreed with the UCI.
Snijders Blok also indicated that the introduction would be wholesale rather than staggered with some disc brakes permitted in some road races but not in others.
“There will be a fixed date, said Snijders Blok. “As of this date disc brakes will be allowed in road racing. Period.
“With the UCI, we are aiming for a level playing field for all manufacturers so they have as much time as possible for the introduction of disc brakes.”
Yves Mori, the WFSGI’s Communication and Bicycle Manager, said, “We have had a lot of meetings with the UCI over the past year and many conference calls within the industry, and we have provided the technical requirements documentation to the UCI addressing all technical issues. They brought forward requests regarding the heat of a road disc brake, for example, which may be an issue. We have answered all of these questions from the UCI.
“Then they asked for an overview of the status of the Pro Tour teams, where they all stand and whether tests have already been done or not.
“We collected a lot of information and shared this with the UCI, and we also made a proposal on the introduction procedure. I think we can say that we are very close to an agreement on the introduction timing and the introduction mode and that will be communicated together with the UCI very soon.”
“The UCI have said that they will start the process of approving frames that use disc brakes as soon as it is announced. They have said that they have no fears that this will be an issue for the introduction into pro racing.
“Companies need some time to adjust their products for a rule change and this is always taken into consideration in discussions between the WFSGI and the UCI.”
That’s a further indication that 2016 is too soon for the introduction.
Yves Mori also announced that the UCI has indicated that other key equipment regulations are now up for discussion, including the best known: the 6.8kg minimum bike weight for UCI-approved races.
Referring to a recent meeting between the WFSGI and the UCI, Mori said, “The UCI threw into the room the topics of the possible removal of the 3:1 regulation [where the length of the cross section of frame tubes and various other bike elements must not exceed three times the width - Ed] plus the removal of the 6.8kg weight limit. They asked for the opinions of the industry.
“We promised to collect information from all of our members and to give a statement at a later stage. Just that you know topics that UCI are thinking about but the work has not been started yet.”
Snijders Blok added, “What we see here with the soon announcement of disc brakes, the 3:1 regulation, the 6.8kg weight limitation, with changes on saddles [the UCI has asked for a report from the WFSGI concerning the current saddle regulations - Ed], the UCI has became a completely different organisation when it comes to innovation and when it comes to co-operation with the bicycle industry.”
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.