How long does it take to change a wheel with a disc brake in a professional road race? About 19 seconds, judging by this video uploaded to Youtube from the Tour of Qatar.
The 2016 season has started with most of the pro teams choosing not to switch to disc brakes, despite the UCI extending its trial first run last year, with the exception of the small Dutch Pro Continental Roompot-Oranje Peloton team. It has made the wholesale change from rim brakes to disc brakes this season.
The team is riding the new Isaac Element Disc bike, and the bikes are equipped with SRAM Red hydraulic disc groupsets and FFWD carbon fibre wheels. The frame (as far as we can tell) has thru-axles front and rear, but the bike company hasn’t yet released any details of the bike other than this leaked photo that we reported on recently.
One of the arguments we keep hearing against disc brakes is that disc brakes will slow wheel changes. This video, the first time we’ve witnessed a wheel change on a race bike with disc brakes, debunks that argument. It doesn’t look any slower to our eyes than a regular wheel change.
Do team mechanics practise wheel changes? Formula One teams run regular drills to ensure wheel changes can be done as quickly as possible, and it’s certainly something we reckon the Roompot-Oranje Peloton team has conducted.
The other point worth mentioning, though the terrain isn’t the most challenging in the Tour of Qatar, is that there have so far not been any recorded incidents of the Roompot-Oranje Peloton team colliding with the rest of the peloton on regular rim brakes. The real test will surely be a mountainous race or one of the Spring Classics.
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.