Professional riders and team representatives give their view on the use of disc brakes in top-level road races
Disc brakes will replace traditional calipers in cycling’s professional peloton, according to insiders. After a two month test this summer in select races, they say it is “only a matter of time” until the right system is developed and the governing body allows their use.
This August and September, the UCI allowed professional teams to test disc brakes in two races of their choice. Several riders did so in the Eneco Tour, including Sky’s Bernhard Eisel. Sky’s Ben Swift also rode them in the Tour du Poitou Charentes. Team Roompot and Trek Factory Racing riders tested them as well.
The UCI has yet to specify a window for their use and testing in 2016. It should because the feeling is that cycling is rapidly moving towards discs.
What the riders and teams think
Bernhard Eisel (Sky)
“It will take some development. The quick release is not an option, it takes too long, and the riders are concerned about big crashes with the possibility of cuts or burns. I didn’t have problems with heat, I felt the 120 or 140mm disc was big enough, but we need to test them on the big descents in Pyrenees when it’s 40°C out.
“The braking is definitely better in the rain, but everybody has to use them. You can’t have the bunch with disc brakes and the other half with normal ones, that would cause carnage because the braking points are different.
“There will be a lot of work to do in the next one or two years. I’m guessing everyone will be on them by 2018, earliest 2017.”
Berden De Vries (Roompot)
“I used them in the Eneco Tour: on cobbles, on climbs, flats, in the rain. We tested all the conditions.
“The only problem is the sound. When you brake, it’s not good. I hope in the next years that can be improved. There’s a lot of sound when you brake, it’s unbelievable. I found on the downhill, in the rain when braking, the noise was so hard on your ears.
“The problem now is just when you flat. The wheel change takes too long. That’s the only problem. All the rest, is great.”
Carsten Jeppersen, team Sky’s head of technical operations
“The feeling I get is that the industry really wants it and is pushing hard. It’s a pro sport, it’s going to come or not weather we want it or not. Instead of being negative, I want to embrace it. At least be ready for it, or be ready for it on a decent level.
“It’s easy to take an old-fashioned approach and say a quick release needs to look like this. I think you can make something specific to a disc brakes wheel and fork. With a little bit of development, this can move forward. As it is now, you would not use it in a race environment. The risk is too high for mechanics changing wheels in a stress situation.
“It’s up to the UCI and the manufacturers. It needs a lot more development, but we can get there if that’s what we want.”
Stefano Cattai, BMC Racing’s team liaison from BMC Switzerland
“BMC is not ready to market this bike until April or May, so until then, the riders won’t race it. It’s not an urgent matter for the road teams. Cycling is traditional, before changing, it takes time. It’s new and needs time. But it is only a question of time until we see everyone on them because it’s an improvement.
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“It’s not dangerous anymore than what we have now. We have 100 different rims, brakes and brake pads and different uses. Crashes will happen, but not because one is using disc and another not, it’s about how the riders use them. This opens the door, having them for competitive use. Suppliers will make leaps ahead in development.
“Downsides? I don’t think so. If anything, you want disc brakes. If you make a long descent in the wet, you want them. Aero? There is no difference. In all the tests we did, we didn’t see an issue. Many competitors are already designing time trial bikes with disc brakes.”