Riders at the Tour of Qatar have their say on some teams using disc brakes in the pro peloton this season

Despite the UCI legalising disc brakes in road races, Team Roompot Oranje Peloton are the only professional team committed to using them on all their race bikes this season.

There were trials in races last year, but so far none of the top teams have used them in action. However, the Dutch team debuted their bikes this week at the Tour of Qatar and will be using the technology on all their bikes all season.

Once the decision was made, the team received considerable assistance for SRAM whose hydraulic system they are using.

Though they have been using them for some months in training, this week they gave the riders their first opportunity to try them out in anger, and the riders like what they see.

Team Roompot are the only squad committed to using disc brakes on their bikes this season

Team Roompot are the only squad committed to using disc brakes on their bikes this season

“You can brake really fast, especially in the rain,” Ivar Slik told Cycling Weekly.

“In the race you can out-brake other riders. Yesterday (Monday) there was a lot of wind so it was very nervous and there were a lot crashes. We had a real advantage, two times I avoided a crash because of the brakes.”

Team mechanic Jean-Pierre van Dongen told us he has had no problems either setting them up or with wheel changes during a race. Riders know not to squeeze the brake lever during a wheel change and none has got it wrong yet. Even if they did, to get the bike back on the road Van Dongen reckons he can just force the callipers apart again.

While Roompot’s riders may have no problems, others racing in Qatar have expressed their own concerns.

“In the dry it’s fine,” Manuel Quniziato (BMC) told us. “When it starts raining guys on normal brakes are going to need more space to brake, that is fine because we are used to it, but guys with disc brakes can brake a bit faster.

“For me it has to be all or nothing, Everyone uses them or no one. I don’t think it’s safe to have people with different braking technology in the same bunch.”


Watch: 2016 disc brake bike of the year


Tyler Farrar of Dimension Data is more open, but his concerns remain.

“I think we have to be open to new technologies,” he told us. “There’s a giant safety issue that we’re adding spinning knife to our bikes. You see these mass pile ups that we have sometimes? I don’t think we need spinning knives on our legs.

“I don’t think it’s impossible to protect it, but none of the bikes tested have that shroud on it. Also, stronger braking doesn’t improve the our tyres’ gripping ability. Most crashes you’ve already locked up and it’s your tyre that lost traction, not that you couldn’t slow down with your brakes.”

Briton Mark McNally, riding for Wanty-Groupe Gobert is more circumspect.

“I don’t whether they’re necessary,” he explained. “I’ve never had a problem braking, but I think we’re all quite adaptive to change.

“Occasionally you see the odd disc which can be a bit menacing, riding along and there’s a blade whizzing round, but it’s more of a fact that it’s new and everyone’s not used to them yet.”

The only problem Team Roompot have had was less to do with brakes and more to do with concentration.

“One time there was a problem,” Slik told us, “but that was a teammate; he rode into my back wheel and he crashed. You have to be very attentive.”

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Agreed that the chainring can do damage but you are adding two more points front and rear .

  • harry

    My opinion is based on experience, Good Lord, read the article!!!!

  • harry

    What brakes does your modern car have?

  • Andrew Bairsto

    My first car had cable brakes and my second had rod brakes 1947 Austin 16.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    In your opinion not mine.

  • harry

    Stick to rod brakes, cables can snap.

  • harry

    Like for Like, the pro peleton will have the best available, the best discs will be better than the best calipers, 105 discs will be better than 105 calipers…probably better than D.Ace calipers. Read the article:
    “In the race you can out-brake other riders. Yesterday (Monday) there was a lot of wind so it was very nervous and there were a lot crashes. We had a real advantage, two times I avoided a crash because of the brakes.”

  • TrevorHoldsworth


    “There’s a giant safety issue that we’re adding spinning knife to our bikes.”
    By the same argument, a 53-tooth chainring can be seen as the equivalent of a chainsaw – and bikes have always had those.

  • ummm…

    Not sure about that analysis. Let’s see how it plays out.

  • Ciaran Carroll

    It was cycling evolving, obviously the shoes aren’t like modern ones but we had to start somewhere

  • Mark Webster

    “They work better” entirely depends upon what is fitted. Compared to stock Tektro calipers the stock avid discs fitted to my 2013 road bike were great, but compared to 105 callipers i’d trust the 105s more. Better discs are out there, just like better drive trains, frames wheels etc. Disc performance is based on cost like anything else.

  • Mike Prytherch

    I would agree there are more pile-ups, but these are always on flat bits of road where the brakes are hardly used, so the discs will not be hot, on descents where the discs get hot the riders are in line and thus no mass pile ups

  • harry

    I’m yelling at the guys who race rather than the average cyclist, but in 5yrs I imagine it’ll be the norm on roadies as it is on mtbs. You are under no obligation to have them, I’m just saying they work better, that’s all.

  • Stevo

    Which was a wise decision, given what the shoes were like at the time.

  • lee

    I prefer calipers used them for quite a while. Used cantilevers on my MTB too. I’ve never had the pleasure of discs tho I know they’re good on that instance.

    I’d prefer not to have to bleed the god dam things, cut fingers on the discs, have the calipers collapse if you accidentally pull the brake lever, risk injury to yourself or others, have the extra weight, put up with the un-aerodynamic profile of them, the bulky look of them, the ‘overkill’ nature of them: yep Harry, I’ll keep my sunnies on

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Shall we send you the bill ?

  • ummm…

    how could you not like GCN? Unheard of

  • ummm…

    ouch

  • Ciaran Carroll

    Another example is Seán Kelly refusing to use clipless pedals in the late 80s after Hinault, Lemond and the others had moved on from pedal cages.

  • harry

    No, but bikes do get flung about.

  • harry

    GCN is full of sausage-polishers.

  • ummm…

    sure sure of course MTB is more prone to accidents in most cases, however you dont have pileups in MTB do you?

  • harry

    On an MTB you’re as likely to get mangled in your own bike as much as another rider, probably come a cropper many more times off roading, discs have never been an issue.

  • ummm…

    yes, all the controls were in place. off camera they stuck a sausage between to break calipers and it just got polished.

  • ummm…

    interesting points. is there a difference as far as a MB pileup and a roadie pileup? i feel like MB’s dont ride in pelotons of the same volume and density.

  • harry

    Lol, yep, the scientific studies on GCN are unquestionable!

  • harry

    Maybe you do 8k pa, but you’ve no experience of discs.

  • Mike Prytherch

    I’ve been mountain biking for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anybody damaged by a disc, I’ve see handlebars and brake levers embedded in stomach’s and legs, I’ve seen chainrings making horrible mess of people’s legs, but never a disc burn or cut, maybe the thousands of rides I’ve done everybody was just lucky, but one thing I do know, they saved a lot of people from serious injury, and that’s the point, even if some people do get hurt by them, they will save far more than they hurt (just like airbags in cars), this this argument just doesn’t stack up

  • Mike Prytherch

    After all the debate that disc’s are no better than rim and here we have the pro’s stating actual racing incidents of how they are better, and that they are worried about different performance, and yet people still harp on about the fact there is no difference and it’s all marketing.

  • lee

    What ja mean show your working out ? I ride 8k a yr. I put every degree of energy into motion.. and that means ‘ya hardly brake in my eyes mate.

    It’s a joke of a marketing ploy to sell MORE bikes which the MTB industry has become!!!

  • blemcooper

    I’ve never used disc brakes nor carbon rims so I don’t know, but is the difference between Al and C rim braking in the wet much less than the difference between C rim braking vs disc braking in the wet?

    And how about throwing tire tread compounds into the mix, e.g. Al rims with the best wet traction tires and rim brake pads vs disc braking with the worst wet traction tires?

  • ummm…

    different stopping abilities is dangerous. so are spinning discs. did you see the highly scientific study that GCN did with a disc brake and a sausage. I was going to become a professional cyclists until I saw that video. now at the age of 32 ive decided to stick to what I’ve got going.

  • harry

    Later braking in the latter is a speed advantage, I ride MTB and road, 20x different you say? Show your working out.

  • harry

    The purpose of the tech is improved braking, tech that’s proven to work in every form of sport on wheels….
    Some in the article who actually use discs are saying they are amazing…..I’m not telling you what to do to your bike, I’m just saying discs on road bikes are in their infancy and they’re here to stay.
    Those in the peleton who have doubts should try them, they’ll need to change at some point to keep up.

  • lee

    MTB’ing is 20x different to road cycling.

    LESS braking in the latter….

  • ummm…

    yeah but what is the purpose of the tech? just marketing or actual real world benefits that outweigh the negatives. some in the peloton believe that they may be adding needless danger to an already dangerous sport.

  • harry

    …so embrace modern tech and get the whole field on discs, stop delaying the inevitable.