Disk brakes for road race bikes. yes/no/why?

Disk brakes for road bikes

  • no

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Mar 19, 2009
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I've spent the most of my professional career in the cycling industry and believe we're in the last years of rim brakes for high end road bikes. Signs are all there, the changes coming and I fully embrace them, especially when it comes to carbon wheels where rim brakes are absolutely their achilles' heel when it comes to braking performance.

What do you think?
 
May 20, 2010
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They're coming for sure, and it will be interesting to watch their development. What has changed over the last 15years of mtb disc brakes is astounding. I expect the road brakes to follow the path of F1, and embrace the new technology, especially now that I live somewhere that it rains for 8 months out of the year.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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TexPat said:
They're coming for sure, and it will be interesting to watch their development. What has changed over the last 15years of mtb disc brakes is astounding. I expect the road brakes to follow the path of F1, and embrace the new technology, especially now that I live somewhere that it rains for 8 months out of the year.
OMG, could you imagine carbon rotors?!?!? The mfg's are going to make a ton, A TON of money if that happens. They'll be wearing out faster than the pads! :eek:
 
May 20, 2010
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RDV4ROUBAIX said:
OMG, could you imagine carbon rotors?!?!? The mfg's are going to make a ton, A TON of money if that happens. They'll be wearing out faster than the pads! :eek:
...which is good for those of us in the bike industry.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Ha! yeah, we'll see. In due time my friend, in due time. Right now we've got to work out that pesky little problem of a standard rotor size for road and retooling all those frame molds to accept d brakes, rim mfg's need to make more disk specific rims that are lighter, and get the majority of hub mfg's to start producing 130mm rears that are disk compatible. Wish the international standard was centerlock instead of 6 bolt to be quite honest.
 
Oct 8, 2010
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TexPat said:
They're coming for sure, and it will be interesting to watch their development. What has changed over the last 15years of mtb disc brakes is astounding. I expect the road brakes to follow the path of F1, and embrace the new technology, especially now that I live somewhere that it rains for 8 months out of the year.
You people crack me up. There will never be disc brakes on the road. Here's why (pay attention):

1.) Frame manufacturers will have to add lugs, braze-ons, and all sorts of other junk to the fork.

2.) Forks would have to be substantially reinforced to absorb the extra load, causing their weight to increase, since all the braking energy would be transmitted through it. Currently that braking energy is transmitted into the fork crown, which is far more robust. Weight is key in road racing.

3.) Disc brake components will add weight to the rig in addition to the increased fork weight. That's going in the opposite direction of the high-end bike industry weight trends, which is to reduce weight. The high end is what sells the low and medium end. No pros will use this stuff. Therefore, you'll never see it on retail road bikes.

4.) Braking doesn't win road events. In fact, using your brakes less does. Why make a radical change in something that isn't broke and that doesn't help win races?

You need to stop hanging around those MTB and downhill riff-raff. They will poison your mind with all sorts of zany ideas that come to them when they're high on pot.

The next time you see them, tell them their sport is in the toilet and nobody knows who John Tomac is. And stop smokin' that dope.
 
May 20, 2010
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TERMINATOR said:
You people crack me up. There will never be disc brakes on the road. Here's why (pay attention):

1.) Frame manufacturers will have to add lugs, braze-ons, and all sorts of other junk to the fork.
When was the last time you saw a braze on frame fitting on a Pro Tour bike?
2.) Forks would have to be substantially reinforced to absorb the extra load, causing their weight to increase, since all the braking energy would be transmitted through it. Currently that braking energy is transmitted into the fork crown, which is far more robust. Weight is key in road racing.
Braking energy is already absorbed by the fork. What's the difference?
3.) Disc brake components will add weight to the rig in addition to the increased fork weight. That's going in the opposite direction of the high-end bike industry weight trends, which is to reduce weight. The high end is what sells the low and medium end. No pros will use this stuff. Therefore, you'll never see it on retail road bikes.
Added weight is not mandatory. Time will tell. What road bikes require v. mtbs is vastly different. The amount of material required to make an adequate brake would be less on a road bike. Right now, disc brakes on a cx rig adds 500g with available calipers (poorly engineered and heavy). With wheel weights coming down and attention given to caliper materials, I believe the weights will be brought down so that the overall weight of the bike will meet UCI rules for a road bike
4.) Braking doesn't win road events. In fact, using your brakes less does. Why make a radical change in something that isn't broke and that doesn't help win races?

No brakes wins races? Do you remember how sidepull Weinmann brakes worked? We have seen lots of improvement in brakes in the last 20 yrs. Should we stop now?

You need to stop hanging around those MTB and downhill riff-raff. They will poison your mind with all sorts of zany ideas that come to them when they're high on pot.
Agreed. They bore me.

The next time you see them, tell them their sport is in the toilet and nobody knows who John Tomac is. And stop smokin' that dope.
Also agree, but those guys are generally rough, dumb and fat, and therefore harder to reason with.
 
Feb 16, 2011
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It'd sorta be a shame to see the industry cross over the discs. Road bike calipers are so elegant.

The first parts of bike equipment that truly captured my imagination were Suntour Superbe Pro calipers, circa 1988.
 
May 20, 2010
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Stingray34 said:
It'd sorta be a shame to see the industry cross over the discs. Road bike calipers are so elegant.

The first parts of bike equipment that truly captured my imagination were Suntour Superbe Pro calipers, circa 1988.
The Superbe Pros and the Deltas were works of art. Don't think for a second that an elegant disc caliper can't be made, though. Leave it to the Italians--they'll make it pretty and elegant. Just compare a Formula Oro caliper to a Hayes.
 
Oct 31, 2010
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I'm with a No, purely for two reasons only, asthetics and weight.
I'm a true believer in elegance and discs look, to me, too agricultural... and weights a big issue and I think it'll be quite some while before the weight is any near that of even the most basic branded calipers.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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Can see some uses as carbon gets lighter and heat on clincher rims but all technology seems to be in making expencive super kool break pads.
That will confuse the UCI for sure
 
Jan 18, 2011
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Ain't gonna happen on "real" racing bikes......No need.

You'll see them more and more on "pretend" racing bikes.....
 
Mar 19, 2009
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For all of you that are hung up on the weight issue; have you checked out how much an SRM or Power Tap weights compared to their non-power-metering cousins? About the difference between a rim brake set up compared to a disk brake set up, MTN disk by the way. I don't see any pros complaining about the extra weight of those components. By the time disk appears on all road bikes, which it will, the systems will be much lighter anyway.

You can kinda tell who doesn't want 1988 to go away just by the comments here. :p
 
Oct 29, 2009
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I'm not stuck on the issue of weight. I've seen 9kg or less mountain bikes with discs, so I'm sure they could keep road bikes around 15-16 pounds and include discs. The issue I see is aerodynamics. Trends in cycling point toward making bikes more aero: Look at Cervelo, Felt, Specialized, etc, all trying to make bikes more aero. I just don't think increased stopping power is a concern...yet.

Eventually, I think it's something we could possibly see in cyclo-cross, not the norm, but an option for especially nasty courses. Perhaps then they will find their way into road racing for certain races like a rainy day at strade bianche or Roubaix. After all we've seen CX tech at Roubaix already.
 
Oct 29, 2010
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RDV4ROUBAIX said:
carbon wheels where rim brakes are absolutely their achilles' heel when it comes to braking performance.
RDV4ROUBAIX said:
OMG, could you imagine carbon rotors?!?!?
Wouldn't carbon rotors be subject to the same problem as carbon rims in the wet?

But I agree with Terminator's points. I'd also add that in the wet (where one supposes disc brakes' stopping power would be needed), there's not a lot of traction to be had with 23mm road tires. Putting a lot more braking force into the dime-sized contact patch is likely to end in tears.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Gaear Grimsrud said:
Wouldn't carbon rotors be subject to the same problem as carbon rims in the wet?

But I agree with Terminator's points. I'd also add that in the wet (where one supposes disc brakes' stopping power would be needed), there's not a lot of traction to be had with 23mm road tires. Putting a lot more braking force into the dime-sized contact patch is likely to end in tears.
Yeah, I don't see carbon rotors happening for a while. The contact patch of the tire in relation to the stopping power of d-brakes isn't a problem. It's mostly the custom builders right now that are doing disk road bikes, no problems with the brakes overpowering or having any ill effects on traction.

It's really a blast from the past this apprehension of d-brakes. The nay sayers in the mtb crowd were arguing the same exact points back in the 90's, "too heavy", "too much power". Look where we're at now.
 
Oct 29, 2010
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RDV4ROUBAIX said:
It's really a blast from the past this apprehension of d-brakes.
My only apprehension is that they're a relatively expensive, heavy solution to a non-problem (wet braking with alloy rims).

Granted, poor wet braking is an issue with carbon rims, but as has been pointed out, pros will not tolerate the d-brake hit in weight and drag, and recreational riders wouldn't be on carbon rims anyway. As for the dentists on Colnagos and carbon rims -- they'll do whatever the pros do.

I wouldn't say it'll never happen -- http://www.volagi.com/bikes -- but it's the sort of thing that will be a very small, conversation-starter-at-the-coffee-shop type of product. Guys with bamboo bikes with disc brakes get all the chicks.
 
Mar 4, 2009
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Stop fixating on power

Hi all,

All the naysayers are totally missing the point here. Aside from the heat thing, the advantage of disc brakes on road bikes is NOT more stopping power. As already mentioned, ultimate braking traction will still be defined by the relatively small contact patch on the ground.

BUT, peak braking power comes at the point just before lockup. The key advantage of a disc brake system would be greatly improved control and modulation. Basically, riders would be able to more finely dial in exactly how much braking power they want and the best bike handlers would be able to extract the most benefit by coming into corners faster than their rivals, more carefully and precisely scrubbing off speed *later* in a corner, and thus exiting that corner with more speed.

One only has to look at motorsports. Granted, the scale of power and speed is much greater but it's still the same overall concept. Power is fairly even across the board and so is equipment in general for the most part but events typically are won and lost by how well someone's brakes are used.
 
Oct 29, 2010
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James Huang said:
All the naysayers are totally missing the point here.
Spending more money on worthless upgrades, like ceramic bearings?

Basically, riders would be able to more finely dial in exactly how much braking power they want and the best bike handlers would be able to extract the most benefit by coming into corners faster than their rivals, more carefully and precisely scrubbing off speed *later* in a corner, and thus exiting that corner with more speed.
Being an aficionado of motorcycle racing, I appreciate the idea of trail braking. I myself trail brake on descents, but it's very sparing because unlike on a motorcycle you cannot accelerate out of a corner while leaned over -- you'd hit the crank on the ground. Whether you're braking earlier or later, your exit speed will be the same, so the idea that you are "exiting that corner with more speed" is baffling.

I have more than enough braking power and modulation available with machined sidewalls and a dual-pivot front brake.
 
Jul 17, 2009
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I think in time. Rotors are quite heavy. As you know ti rotors dont stick well.

It will require a big commitment and the transition will be long getting hub and group and frame MFG's on the same page. Price and compatibility issues will be an issue at first.

One of the major Groupo companies would have to commit and coordinate with one or 2 frame builders.

Do you think hydrolic is in the Cross and Road future?
 
Oct 29, 2010
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James Huang said:
All the naysayers are totally missing the point here.
Spending more money on worthless upgrades, like ceramic bearings?

Basically, riders would be able to more finely dial in exactly how much braking power they want and the best bike handlers would be able to extract the most benefit by coming into corners faster than their rivals, more carefully and precisely scrubbing off speed *later* in a corner, and thus exiting that corner with more speed.
Being an aficionado of motorcycle racing, I appreciate the idea of trail braking. I myself trail brake on descents, but it's very sparing because unlike on a motorcycle you cannot accelerate out of a corner while leaned over -- you'd hit the crank on the ground. Whether you're braking earlier or later, your exit speed will be the same, so the idea that you are "exiting that corner with more speed" is baffling.

I have more than enough braking power and modulation available with machined sidewalls and a dual-pivot front brake.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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ditto above may be a higher entry speed, but not exit. The lateral limit is the trye, after all. The main issue with braking on a lean is you are more likely to understeer, not that great a feeling on a bike


I don't believe discs are UCI legal in road races, so there is a hurdle, could easy be wrong though

If a manufacture gets behind it, it will most likely happen, but then again we had suspension forks on road bikes in the early 90's...
 
Sep 30, 2009
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Having a motorcycle (little piddly rz350) I can certainly appreciate the pros of a disc brake. The only con I can see is not being able to fix a dragging pad on the fly like you can with a caliper. Just reach down and move it over. Not happening on a disc brake equipped bike, so I can't see it catching on for racing anytime soon for that reason.
 
Jul 27, 2009
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Aero drag

I'd go for a good disk system in a heartbeat.

Rim brakes are fine in the dry. But in the wet, with carbon wheels, they are very hard to modulate.

Secondly, the failure mode for overheating disks is a lot more benign than the failure mode for overheating rim brakes. You overheat a disc, you lose braking effectiveness. You overheat a rim, you can pop a tyre.

Weight is a nonissue IMO; maybe 150 grams difference? If Shimano and Campy can't squeeze 150 grams out of the rest of their groupset by the next generation, I'd be surprised.

The only unresolved question I have about disks is the potential for extra aerodynamic drag. Yes, it'll be small, but, hell, the difference in outright performance between an 80s road bike and a brand-new one is pretty damn small.
 

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