CPA says that it attempted to bring riders' concerns to the attention of the UCI

Rider’s association the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) has come out in criticism of the UCI, saying that it failed to take into account rider fears about the safety of disc brakes when introducing the technology into the peloton.

This comes a week after Movistar rider Fran Ventoso was allegedly injured by a disc brake rotor at Paris-Roubaix, an incident which led to the UCI suspending its trial of disc brakes.

>>> “Disc brakes are still the future and will become an important part of road racing”

In a lengthy statement, the CPA set out the action that it attempted to take to bring the possible safety issues of disc brakes to the attention of the UCI, but claims that at numerous points of the process the UCI failed to take its opinion into account.

The CPA states that it started canvassing opinion on disc brakes among riders at the 2015 edition of Paris-Nice, well before the first disc brake trials in races last August, where “many riders, not all of them, expressed their fears related to the use of disc brakes (such as burns and injuries from falls).”


Watch: what do pro riders really think of disc brakes?


Throughout the 2015 season, the CPA and national associations continued to canvas opinion among riders, before presenting these views to the UCI’s Equipment Commission. Rider fears were also emphasised in a series of meetings with the UCI in October and November 2015.

However, according to the CPA, “the UCI clearly wanted to continue the planned tests without taking into account the CPA remarks and despite the numerous red flags.”

>>> Shimano and Campagnolo distance themselves from Ventoso’s disc brake injury

In January 2016, the CPA wrote another letter to the UCI, expressing similar concerns, but also requesting to have a representative on the Equipment Commission. Although this request was granted and the CPA claims that it “always highlighted the risks for the riders”, the UCI did not stray from its course of introducing disc brakes into the sport.

At the time of Ventoso’s accident at Paris-Roubaix, the CPA was planning “an anonymous survey to know their real views, without pressure from sponsors (bicycle manufacturers) and teams” which it planned to present to the UCI.

Going forward, the CPA says that it welcomes the UCI’s suspension of its disc brake trial and will “work with all the cycling stakeholders for the development in all areas of our sport but on one condition: the riders’ safety.”

  • ummm…

    pro cycling is mad. it is turning us all into paranoids. So I suppose the argument for a conspiracy has not true evidence, but only a supposition that since we can’t see the injury – or a medical examiner hasn’t investigated – we suppose that their must be a larger game at play. I’d have to respect your stance, but this doesn’t arise any particular interest in me – and I’m a diehard cynic.

  • grizzman

    Disc brakes are not a new thing… correct… but they are a new thing in professional road cycling where you have 200 bikes in one group and a mix of discs and rims…. They don’t just use what they are told… as long as they use sponsors equipment then they can use what they like… just like some still use mechanical groupsets. Did you notice that, even when they were allowed to use disc brakes, there were only a few teams and riders who took up the offer?… This tells me it’s not as big an issue to them as everyone is making out.

  • …no it is not my logic that is flawed. It is insufficient though. There is not enough information and UCI was forced to do something. The problem with what they did and more so how it was perceived by the media is that they their action to suspend the trial of disc brakes was equated to “disc brake rotor did it, disc brakes are dangerous”.

    Rotor injuries are not a common occurrence in any other discipline (MTB, CX, motorsport), and following Ventoso’s claim, try to imagine how what he described is even possible. Something cut him yes, that is undeniable, but that is the only thing that is beyond question.

    Disc brake benefits on the other hand are plentiful: more consistent braking performance, no deterioration in wet or muddy conditions, no possibility of melting your carbon rims, no possibility of blowing the tire off due to heat damage, much, much better modulation and control – not talking about power here which is about the same as for rim brakes.

    Besides, smooth edge rotors already exist, and are less sharp than a blunt butter knife. Also, rotors do not get hot unless you are on a long descent.

    …and speaking of modulation, I read that some riders reported that they were locking up wheels by accident when they tried disc brakes. I’d like to see them do it and talk to them in person.

  • The Awakening

    Henry Robertshaw,

    Thank you for writing this article. It gives us all an understanding of the importance of the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA).

  • Michael

    “In the wet it might have been a different result, but then I would have been dragging my brakes.”

    Fair enough but I think you just cite another issue with road bikes.

    When I started cycling on the road I had a hybrid, 700x37c tyres and front disk brake. I rode it exactly the same in the rain as I did in the dry.

    Indeed, when I purchased it in June 2012 that was actually the wettest June on record. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18678659 so, as you can imagine my keeness to cycle on my brand new bike wasn’t stymied by the rain. I didn’t feather the brakes going down hills because it’s raining or fret about whether the brakes were going to work when I squeezed the lever near a busy junction.

    So it was funny a couple of years later when I got my 105 equipped road bike seeing how the world of Sunday bun run cyclists that I thought I wanted to be part of was so wary of water – and my experience on the bike supports their fears. The brakes are next to useless if it rains and the bike doesn’t feel as surefooted in wet or dry.

    Which did make me wonder whether i should just go back to the hybrid or get a CX bike. Although now there are a plethora of road bikes with disks and wider tyres appearing I’ve gone for one of them.

    That said, perhaps some have no issues with their rim brakes – I certainly read mixed experiences, some thinking the 105 brakes are great “even in the wet” others not.

  • Michael

    The logic here makes it seem moot

    The guy did slice his leg, nearly down to the bone. That’s a fact, not a fear or a belief.

    At this point you’ve got a problem.

    You can’t ignore the gory photo and you can’t really say “Getting your leg sliced to the bone is part of cycling” either.

    MTFU isn’t going to fix this one.

    So, even if you say “Well, you can’t say it was the disc brakes” – you’ve still got the problem to solve.

    Are you suggesting keeping the disk brakes but removing wheels or spokes? Or something else? Obviously not. Are you saying “do nothing”? Again, not really an option.

    Albeit I suppose you could hope that if you did nothing the number of leg sliced open injuries would be low in the future. It’s a bit of a risk to take – and certainly one that the riders have a huge say in if the risk is them getting sliced.

    That’s to say, if we accept the things the injured cyclist said, which I believe are not really contentious are facts viz :”I can’t avoid crashing against the rider in front of me, who was also trying not to hit the ones ahead. I didn’t actually fall down: it was only my leg touching the back of his bike.”

    Let’s assume that quote is factual. Now we can say with reasonable certainty that the cause of his injury was something on the other bike. Sure, we can dismiss the rest of his open letter as more questionable, but I think it would be a poor argument to tell the guy attached to the leg that we know better about where that leg went prior to it being injured than he did even if it’s clear that him admitting he didn’t notice the injury until later does suggest he didn’t observe a disk rotor embedded in his leg or anything like that.

    If he’d ejected from the bike and could have been hurt by some street furniture, barbed wire, the road surface, a vehicle then the construction of the bikes probably wouldn’t be in question.

    But, if you accept that he injured himself on the other bike it seems rather moot to say “Well, you can’t blame the disk brakes” – because, I would argue, many of the other possibilities at the back of a bike are more critical when it comes to having a functional bicycle.

    At which point the UCI don’t really have a difficult decision here do they? If they remove disk brakes they’ve got more or less the same bikes they’ve had for decades with, presumably, a minimal number of ‘leg sliced to the bone’ injuries occurring.

    If legs continue to get sliced without disk brakes in place, oops, they’ve got a problem to solve still.

    But, if they don’t, well, you know, you have to ask why anyone would care about the disk brakes at this point.

    You can see some commercial interests here, perhaps. If Shimano et al sponsor cycling teams they probably want the equipment they R&D for them to have relevance to the cheaper bikes they sell to us.

    Not just from the “Chris Froome has disk brakes so I’m getting them on my bike” thing – TBH I don’t really think that’s a big issue. Indeed, I imagine the number of disk brake equipped road bikes being sold are rising steadily year on year regardless of what the peloton uses.

    More from the point of view of R&D. It’s that trickle down from Dura-ace to the lower groupsets and the time and money invested in that and its use in racing that makes sense for these people to sponsor racing as part of developing these products.

    If a bike used to race was nothing like a bike used to do the Sunday bun run then component manufacturers would need a different platform to conduct their R&D into our bikes. They’d probably think “Why do we bother sponsoring racing?” I think this is why some car manufs lose interest in F1 – because there’s little relevance to the technology they need in F1 to tech they need in the cars they sell.

    But, really there is no fear or belief driving this decision. There are facts : a guy whose leg is sliced by running into the back of a bike.

  • Professional cycling is, professional cycling. They do it for money. They will use what they are told… is the crudest way of saying it. Of course they should and will be consulted. I do not think that the industry is forcing them to use something novel, unproven and unsafe. Disc brakes are not a new thing, or unproven, and are actually a safety feature. The fear among some in the professional road racing field is real, but it does not make the reasons real, or rational.

    …and the idea for everyone is for the pros to ride faster, and safer. It is disingenuous by some of the more reactive early responders to the report of the injury to claim that rider safety is being ignored…

  • grizzman

    Nobody on this forum can say whether Disc Brakes are a good idea or not in professional cycling unless they are a professional cyclist… It’s like making judgements on the design of race tracks or Formula 1 cars… We just have no idea!! If the pro’s think they’re dangerous then we have to listen to them… The pro’s aren’t interested in the commercial aspect of disc brakes, they’re only interested in what helps them go faster… If they’re saying Discs are unsafe then there must be a real fear and no real benefit to using them to counter that fear… If the pro’s are happy on rim brakes then lets just shut up about it and move on…

  • I used both and brake feel is definitely better with hydraulic actuation. I did not use hydraulic rim brakes, so perhaps the same would apply there. However, with rim brakes there are other sources of flex: brake caliper arms, and thick rubber pads being the main ones. The amount of piston travel in disc brake calipers is minimal and pads are solid, so proportionally there is a lot less opportunity for extra flex coming from the brake system itself.

  • Chris

    One question I have, is that both my rim brakes and disc brakes are cable pull. How much of this modulation is down to hydraulics? Does anyone have experience with hydraulic rim and disc brakes as well?

  • Chris

    my head is full of conjecture and theories. When I know more , I’ll say.

  • Modulation is a lot better with disc brakes, especially on carbon wheels. The danger of disc brakes is actually overconfidence. I found myself getting into corners very fast, and braking very late… so if anything disc brakes are dangerous as they encourage risk taking behaviour since they work so much better.

  • What injury was caused by disc brake rotors? There is nothing but fear and belief, and gory photos of random injuries to support the current “debate”

  • ummm…

    what sort of agenda? could you give me the general idea?

  • blemcooper

    Disc brake advocates commonly cite better modulation in response to the grip issue.

    Never having ridden a bike with disc brakes (whether cable or hydraulic), I cannot say how much better it is with discs, but I assume with Chris’ example of an emergency stop, the modulation might not come into play before the skidding starts but could help with the backing off part??

  • Chris

    I believe there is an agenda I do not yet understand.

  • ummm…

    cmon, it is certainly possible. I wont even bother to imagine it because it isn’t necessary. If pro cycling can’t figure out how a rider got sliced up in a race then we have a larger problem. That problem being that cycling is run by morons. This continued use of the word “alleged” is obnoxious because it shows how much CW tippy toes around the industry folk regarding their marketing of tech, or how disinterested cycling really is in figuring out what is going on. Over a week later and we are just as befuddled by what happened as by reconciling e-mc2 and string theory.

  • Chris

    Two bikes going in the same direction, neither of them fallers, wound in the left knee. How would you explain it? I can’t. My only theory is that he collided with the other bike with some force. The rear wheel in front went between his leg and his frame. I don’t know if that is even possible.

  • ummm…

    so what may have? he didnt fall i dont think. he just got a huge gash in his leg SOMEHOW and he used it to tar DBs?

  • ummm…

    how come we have yet to figure out how this rider got a huge cut? what is this alleged business? Are we to assume that there are other ways to get a cut like that from a crash that didnt involve hitting the ground? Do we believe this man is lying?

  • Howmanyjackos

    Agree mike .overlap wheels or a cut off rider cause loads of incidents, its the reality of riding in a tight group. Add the reaction time of every rider behind and the pile up has happened.
    In my experience of cantis v, brake , road callipers and now discs its not braking power its grip/ judgement.

  • Howmanyjackos

    Great example Chris, braking power isnt the issue on a road bike .its grip.
    You actually eased off the brake lever to keep control/ grip.
    None of us should be trying this on a wet corner..

  • Mike Prytherch

    Do the test in the dry I agree, do it in the wet and I’ll bet my house and everything else the disc will out perform the rims, also crashes occur mostly when wheels touch and not locking, I couldn’t care less if the Pro’s use disc or rim, don’t care if they ban disc, but I would like the plus and minus points to be factual.

  • Chris

    I am not pro or anti DB’s having both, but better a skinned knee than dead! That is assuming that the DB’s caused the injury in the first place. That is not yet proven.

  • Chris

    Only yesterday in the dry, I was going down an unfamiliar hill (10% & 26mph according to Strava) when a junction at the bottom suddenly appeared. The bike and I weigh 88 kilos. I have 6800 Ultegra calipers. Riding on the hood’s, I braked with some urgency. My front tyre ( 4 Seasons) bit to the road and made my rear tyre light, which momentarily skidded until I backed off. I stopped successfully in about 40 metres. My winter bike has discs, I don’t believe they would have done a better job. In the wet it might have been a different result, but then I would have been dragging my brakes.

  • Howmanyjackos

    Suggestion; lets get two posh road bikes one disc one rim brake and do some simple stopping tests .these should include locking of wheels as this is where you will normally crash.
    We don’t need more braking power than we have

  • Butty

    Prove it

  • llos25

    But caused some terrible injuries they are very dangerous in a peleton.

  • Chris

    It’s a shame the CPA aren’t as vocal when it comes to motor traffic, team cars, media vehicles etc. At least DB’s haven’t caused any deaths.