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Campagnolo reveals new disc brakes

Italian brand reveals three work-in-progress designs to be used by professional teams in the Classics

Campagnolo has revealed several prototype disc brake designs that will be trialled by professional riders over coming weeks and months, although no timescale has been decided for when any of them will be available to buy.

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We know that all of the designs are hydraulic but Campag has been unwilling to disclose many more details.

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The prototype brakes will be used by Campagnolo-sponsored teams Astana, Lotto Soudal and Movistar in this year’s Classics. Teams already have the disc brakes for training.

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“We have several solutions that we are evaluating at this moment, that have been tested heavily in the lab and on the road,” said Joshua Riddle, Campagnolo’s Press Manager.

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“When these solutions are deemed safe we give them to pro riders within the pro peloton and evaluate which one is going to give the performance advantage that we need to win races.”

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Campagnolo showed us the new disc brakes when they flew us out to a launch of several new products, including the Potenza groupset, in Gran Canaria a couple of weeks ago. We saw three bikes set up with different systems: a Lotto Soudal Ridley, a Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc, and one of Campagnolo’s own bikes. 

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We didn’t get to try out the disc brakes for ourselves. Campagnolo didn’t want us to use unfinished products.

Campag is at pains to point out that it’s not going to rush any product to market – as if that’s not obvious! Both Shimano and SRAM have had road disc brakes on the market for some time now, although SRAM’s earliest versions were subject to a costly and embarrassing recall.

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“UCI rules state that 2016 is the official test year for disc brakes,” said Lorenzo Taxis, Campagnolo’s marketing and communication director. 

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“We are not at all in a hurry. This is our approach, as it was for the electronic drivetrain. We accepted that we would not be the first to launch. 

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“It’s the same concept for disc brakes. By definition, a brake is a safety product. It’s not a matter for us to rush to be the first, it’s a matter of performance and reliability over time.

“Whenever we are not the first to launch a product, we take the opportunity to check what our competitors are doing and we try to launch something better.”

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“Mr Campagnolo himself has a mandatory statement: I don’t want to launch any product before it has been tested for months in real races by our professional racers.”

Campag says that it was developing the brakes prior to the UCI’s announcement that they’d become race legal for a trial period at the end of the 2015 race season and throughout 2016, but that it has devoted more resources to the project since that announcement was made.

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The brand doesn’t appear to be under any pressure from its pro teams to come up with a finished design any time soon.

“Professional teams are not pushing for disc brakes, so let’s see what happens in the race season,” said Lorenzo Taxis. 

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Maybe that’ll change if a rider gets a big win while using disc brakes, maybe not.

Campagnolo intends to evaluate its various disc brake prototypes over the race season. It has both flat mount and post mount versions out there, although flat mount has to be the favourite for making it to production. That’s certainly the way that the market is going. 

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It has models that work with mechanical shifting and with EPS (electronic) shifting.

The longstanding rumour that Campagnolo has been developing its brakes with fellow Italian brand Formula is false, it’s an in-house project.

Campag is keeping shtum on the brake fluid used, and it’s also coy about the rotors it's using, which makes us wonder if there's something new here. All we can tell you is that the bikes we saw were equipped with 160mm rotors at the front and 140mm rotors at the rear, all of them six bolt. There’s no guarantee that the rotors on the bikes we were shown are Campag’s own.

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Campag doesn’t yet know, or isn’t saying, whether the disc brakes will belong to particular groupsets or whether they’ll be non-series.

Campag is also developing wheels that are capable of working with disc brakes, of course. The teams will be provided with both carbon and aluminium wheels. Again, Campag is giving no more details at this stage.

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All of the prototype brakes and wheels are currently marked ‘Campy Tech Lab’. This is the name that Campagnolo gives to the division within its R&D department comprising 50 people who are developing products in association with sponsored athletes and teams.

Campagnolo EPS electronic shifting components, for example, were branded Campy Tech Lab when Movistar riders used them in the year prior to launch.

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All Campy Tech Lab products are given to the teams on a loan basis and are returned at the end of the test period for evaluation.

As well as being used by professionals in both training and racing, the disc brakes have to undergo lab testing, amateur rider testing, performance, safety and durability testing before being released. That’s a long process and any one of those stages could hold up development. 

“Hopefully it will be ready this year, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Lorenzo Taxis. 

Watch this space for more developments over the course of the race season.

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 technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. 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.

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oxym0r0n | 8 years ago

There looks to be more than a few parts borrowed from Magura here - I'm guessing some joint development? The disc and also the pad is borrowed from the MT series, if I'm not mistaken?

No spring that I can see either, so maybe magnetic pistons?

userfriendly | 8 years ago

They seem to be using the same lever body for mechanical and electronic. Is it too much to hope for that this is due to the prototype status and that the final electronic version will come without that hideous SRAM-esque bulge? 

bikeandy61 | 8 years ago

And don't those rotors look a bit like something from TRP or Formula. Look familiar.

bikeandy61 | 8 years ago

As stated these are prototype lab versions. Availability of pads = zero, shape = who cares & there's no guarantee that consumer versions will be the same when released. I'd have thought it not a bad idea to get Campy disk wheels out quickly. I've seen bespoke bikes with Campy groups & other brand cable disks. And I'm sure there might well be customers on SRAM/Shimano groups who would go for Campy wheels.

the infamous grouse | 8 years ago

half crossed, half radial spoking!? it's almost as if someone has realised that both sides of the hub are attached to each other, and cannot rotate independently!

surly_by_name | 8 years ago

All the Campag fanboys will presumably now conclude that disc brakes are, in fact, a good idea after all.

While I appreciate that disc brake technology generally - including its application to bicycles - is not new, it's new to Campagnolo. Shimano have been making disc brakes for mountain bikes for more than a decade and SRAM (via Avid) for a similar period. You can criticise SRAM for getting it wrong with their first attempt at road hydros (although the only failure appears to have been at temperatures at which all but a very few of us woudl be inside on a turbo trainer) but they have evidently learnt from that mistake. (They made a bigger mistake with the Elixir, which basically led to the death of the Avid brand, but that's another story.) Campag on the other hand .... still plenty of learning to be done perhaps.

fukawitribe replied to surly_by_name | 8 years ago

surly_by_name wrote:

All the Campag fanboys will presumably now conclude that disc brakes are, in fact, a good idea after all.


Disc brakes in silver perhaps..

Vili Er replied to surly_by_name | 8 years ago

surly_by_name wrote:

While I appreciate that disc brake technology generally - including its application to bicycles - is not new, it's new to Campagnolo.

They were designing and manufacturing disc brakes for Lambretta from the early 60's. So yeah. no experience at all.


[Edit] In fact the Campagnolo front disc brake used on the early 60's Lambretta was, as far as I'm aware, the first use of said method and design on any two wheeled vehicle - so I think SRAM and Shimano owe yet another point to the consistant design pioneers.


Jay88 | 8 years ago
1 like

The marketing people at Campag is so full of it.  The company probably simply mimic the shimano and SRAM components and designed something similar. There is nothing special or secretive about the technology. Just hydraulic fluid stored inside the reservoir in the brifter to actuate the calipers.  C'mon now. 

il sole | 8 years ago

those hoods are ugly, as are ALL disc / hydraulic versions of Sram and shimano. Shame campag couldn't have made them more elegant...

TypeVertigo | 8 years ago

Good on Campagnolo to offer both flat-mount and post-mount versions of their disc brake calipers. If the 2016 North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show was any indication, post-mount still has quite a following with boutique bike builders.

These brakes, coupled with the new Potenza 11-32T groupset, make it look like Campagnolo is finally getting on with the times.

The next things to look into for a future writeup, I think, would be brake pad shape and availability. I'm curious to see where they take this.

Accessibility f... | 8 years ago

Dear Campag, please make them in polished aluminium and not boring black.

therevokid | 8 years ago

not elegant but certainly not as fugly as the SRAM ones  3

STATO replied to therevokid | 8 years ago
1 like

therevokid wrote:

not elegant but certainly not as fugly as the SRAM ones  3


Its wierd isnt it, as big and blocky as SRAM but somehow they make them look alright. I think its the bend in the lever, or just general hate of SRAM asthetics

Mungecrundle | 8 years ago

It's Bob Dylan and the electric guitar for a new generation!

fukawitribe | 8 years ago

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."

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