Home
Tour de France winner raises safety concerns about disc brakes in the pro peloton

Chris Froome has waded into the disc brake debate, saying in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport that he thinks “having different braking systems in the peloton would be more dangerous.”

The double Tour de France winner also reveals he hasn’t actually tried disc brakes on a road bike yet.

“I’ve tried them on a mountain bike, but not on a road bike,” he says.

That he hasn’t tried disc brakes on a road bike is slightly puzzling because he could, if he wanted, try disc brakes on a road bike. Team Sky sponsors Pinarello and Shimano both provide the equipment, and last year we even see Bernhard Eisel testing the Pinarello Dogma F8 Disc with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes in some races.

- Team Sky races with disc brakes for the first time

Bernie Eisel disc brake 1

Anyone who has ridden disc brakes on a mountain and road bike will know that hydraulic disc brakes on a mountain bike are very different in terms of performance to a road bike setup. The systems might be essentially the same, but the power and braking modulation at the lever is very different.

The UCI has extended a short trial it ran last year, when it allowed teams to use disc-equipped road bikes in select races, for the entire 2016 season. That means any pro can ride disc brakes in any race they like. But it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing Chris Froome rock up to the start of the Tour de France on a disc road bike.

Undoubtedly Chris Froome has bigger concerns on his mind about a sport that is facing one of the biggest technological changes in recent years. You know, getting into peak physical condition to win the Tour de France for a third time.

It’s clear safety is the biggest issue concerning the professionals that have been allowed to publicly express an opinion.

“But it’s a safety issue, I’d say either everyone uses them, or no-one does,” says Froome.

That’s a line we’ve heard before. Either the entire peloton switches wholesale over to disc brakes, or the difference in braking power from those not on disc brakes could lead to more crashes. We’re skeptical that would ever be the case, based on personal riding experience with disc brakes. And there’s already a difference in braking power depending on the carbon rim and brake block combination.

Bernie Eisel disc brake 2

- Everything you need to know about disc brakes

It’s clear that the pros are going to need some persuasion to adopt disc brakes, but if they’re not willing to make the switch, it’s difficult to see how disc brakes will become universally supported. Pros are concerned with going faster, not stopping more quickly.

Other more recent technological developments like carbon fibre frames and aerodynamic products have always offered the pro racer more performance, but disc brakes, which are currently heavier and raise safety concerns amongst the pro ranks, could face a bigger hurdle to gaining widespread adoption in the peloton.

- Are disc brakes necessary on professional race bikes? The road.cc readership has its say

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.