Shimano produced this amazing advert (fairly) recently:
We think it hits the nail on the head.
Generally, new technology appears first in the pro peloton, and then trickles down to the dedicated domestic racers and those with a heavy wallet, before becoming common place. Disc braked road bikes are a rare exception to the rule.
Disc brakes are desirable because:
- They have superior stopping power, regardless of weather and road conditions
- The braking surface is taken away from the rim, eliminating rim wear
- Taking the brake away from the rim allows for a stronger, lighter wheel rim
The benefits are clear, and our range of disc brake equipped road bikes has grown substantially year on year.
However, the UCI does not currently allow disc brakes road bikes for racing.
The justifications are:
- The peloton need to have the same, or at least similar, stopping power. One rider having substantially quicker braking could cause a pile up
- Riders are travelling at a quicker speed than those riding MTB or CX, where disc brakes are common. Braking times are longer and there is a higher temperature accumulation – these elements need careful consideration
- It is feared that the disc brake could be dangerous in a multiple rider crash, because it is sharp
The UCI Technical Regulations which do not allow disc braked road bikes will probably be revised at some point in the future, but at present, no one will be racing a disc brakes road bike at any UCI-sanctioned event or any sanctioned event adhering to UCI regulations.
Who is riding disc brake equipped road bikes?
The general cycling public, for once, has one over on the pros! Current disc brake equipped road bikes are being created predominately for the sportive market, those after a winter friendly road bike, and commuters.
Flat bar commuter road bikes have had commonly come equipped with disc brakes for some time, so adding them to drop bar road bikes seems a logical progression. Disc braked road bikes are fantastic for those who are after a winter bike that will perform in the rain, and for people who want speedy stopping in traffic.
Cable vs Hydraulic
If you’re considering disc brakes you can either opt for cable brakes, or hydraulic. Cable brakes are effective, and though the cables may need tightening and replacing from time to time, maintenance is not complicated.
Hydraulic brakes are the more expensive option. They use a sealed system, which doesn’t allow any water or girt in, meaning that they are even more effective in the wet and more consistent. Braking also requires much less pressure placed on the lever, making it quicker and more appropriate for technical maneuvers.
Hydraulic discs are unlikely to need frequent servicing, but brake fluid does occasionally need topping up and this does require a few more tools. They come spec-ed on bikes with a higher groupset all round, so the price will be pushed up by the brakes, and other components.
For the Specialist
The Specialized Roubaix is an example of a bike that has been created with disc brakes, with the endurance rider in mind. On the top end model, the Specialized Roubaix Sl4 Comp Disc features hydraulic brakes ensure that grit and dirt won’t get into the cable housing, a primarily Ultegra groupset and tough Specialized Turbo tyres. The 2015 model is £2,500, but for £1,200 you can still pick up the 2014 Specialize Roubaix SL4 Disc with cable brakes and Shimano Sora.
For Mixed Terrain
The Evans Cycles in-house brand, Pinnacle, has ranged the Arkose with disc brakes for years. Designed for mixed terrain, these bikes need fast stopping brakes, and moving the braking surface from the rim allows for the unavoidable mud build up of off-road riding.
For the Sportiver
The Fuji Sportif is a traditional road bike with disc brakes. It’s designed with the new rider in mind – someone looking forward to miles of country lanes, but might see racing in their future.
The bikes start at £750, though the 1.5 model is currently reduced to £635 if you’re looking for a technically innovative bike at a bargain price.
We’ve created a video to discuss some of the benefits and models available – here it is:
Would you consider a disc brake equipped road bike, or are you sticking with traditional rim brakes?