Specialized founder and CEO Mike Sinyard has said that in the future, all road bikes will have disc brakes - and predicts their universal use in the professional peloton within two years.
The California-based company was accused earlier this year by Lotto-Belisol rider Adam Hansen of trying to force the controversial technology on the peloton before safety concerns had been fully addressed.
That followed an incident at the Tour of Qatar in which Team Sky’s Owain Doull claimed his shoe had been sliced in a crash by a disc brake rotor on the Specialized bike of Quick Step Floors sprinter Marcel Kittel, although video footage suggested there had been no contact.
The UCI resumed its trial of disc brakes from the start of this year after suspending it following a crash at last year’s Paris-Roubaix where Movistar’s Fran Ventoso blamed a disc brake rotor for causing a deep cut to his leg.
But Sinyard, speaking to Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport at Milan’s Vigorelli velodrome, defended their use – and said that the day will come when all road bikes have disc brakes.
He said: “There’s a lot of questions about the disc brake” in road cycling.
“If you think about the disc brake in everything, whether it’s the car, or the motorcycle, and also the mountain bike, it’s so logical, because with the disc brake you can have more precise control.
“I believe it’s adding to safety, not danger, and if anything, the chainring on the front is a bit more dangerous.
“But the disc brake, it’s the future. In the future, we won’t look at road bikes that don’t have disc brakes, they all will.
“So my personal feeling is the disc brake is bringing the safety because there’s more control, if you can go down the mountain, put the brake when you need it instead of dragging the brake all the way down to make the speed lower.”
Asked whether protective covers should be used on disc brakes, he replied: “We always need to look at things for safety. We’ve taken the disc brake and put the edge very smooth on there, that makes a big difference. If you cover it, it’s going to make it hotter.”
When it was put to Sinyard that some riders describe them as being ‘like knives’ he replied: “People talk about the safety of that. Actually, we have no evidence of that yet, and I think the safety of the brake outweighs any other issue.
“As I say, on the crankset, it’s probably the most critical part that can cut into the rider.
“I think now you see a lot of pro riders using them [disc brakes] more and more for sure, and I believe fully that in two years from now, everyone will be riding with disc brakes.”
Sinyard had headed to Milan after watching the peloton’s leading advocate of disc brakes, Tom Boonen, take part in his final race at Paris-Roubaix.
He was asked why another star of the peloton who rides Specialized – world champion Peter Sagan – did not appear to favour disc brakes in competition.
“He has used them in races,” Sinyard said, “and he will use them more in races, so I think you will see that, he will use it.
“Of course, he’s a fantastic mountain biker and mountain bikes only have disc brakes. It’s just a matter of time.”
As for the future of bicycles generally, he said: “I think the bike, just like in the past, will continue to evolve and evolve and be more comfortable, more safe, much faster, enjoyable, and be essentially in the future more of a smart bike.”
Asked what he meant by the term “smart bike,” Sinyard explained: “In the sense of having the best design, like we say ‘rider first engineering’ we’re engineering the bike for each size, each rider, which makes a big difference, and also more electronics in the bike.
“One of the things we’re very excited about is that with the fitting of the bike, we can really make it your bike, your machine, fitting your body.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.