Exclusive: UCI to restart disc brake trial in 2017

Paul Lew, aerodynamics expert and partner at wheel manufacturer Edco, tells Cycling Weekly that the disc brake trial will resume in 2017 after being suspended this season

The UCI’s experiment with disc brake bikes will resume in 2017, according to a Cycling Weekly source, having been suspended this spring due to safety concerns.

Paul Lew, an aerodynamics expert and a partner at Edco, told CW that we can expect to see disc brakes back in the peloton next season, with analysis of the trial’s success due to be carried out next September.

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Teams were allowed to use disc brakes in any race at the start of the 2016 season, but an injury to Movistar’s Fran Ventoso at Paris-Roubaix caused the programme to be suspended indefinitely.

“It continues to be a test programme, and no official determination will be made until approximately one year from today [September 2],” Lew told CW, having attended the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry committee meeting on Tuesday.

“The question was raised about whether there was a crash and a disc brake is involved in some way – whether it caused the crash or injured someone. Will the test programme continue or will it stop like it did this year? The answer was, we don’t know what will happen.

“We learned a lot from the situation this year, where there was a claim that the disc brake caused an injury, but under investigation a lot of people think that it was the chain ring.

“But the committee said they don’t know if the programme will stop again and start again the next year.”

What do the pros really think of disc brakes?

Ventoso suffered a deep cut to his lower leg in a crash at Paris-Roubaix, issuing an open letter in the aftermath calling for the ban of disc brakes in the peloton.

Several other riders are not in favour of discs in professional racing, including Ventoso’s teammate Alex Dowsett, but bike manufacturers are keen to see the technology return to the highest level.

And Lew believes that the UCI will not be setting out any rules to the manufacturers regarding the size of the brake ring, the necessity to have a cover for it, nor the rounding of the disc’s edges. Instead, it will be up to the teams and manufacturers to decide how they want their brakes to look and function.

“Based on the results from the test races, in one year from today there will be an evaluation as to the next steps,” he added. “As with any good scientific test, you test without an expectation of an outcome and you analyse the results”


The UCI responded with a statement addressing the situation on disc brakes in a statement on Friday evening:

“We [UCI] decided to suspend the trial of disc brakes in road races following a request to do so made by the Association Internationale des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels (AIGCP) – which represents all professional cycling teams. We are continuing to evaluate the situation and the test will not restart unless we and those representative groups believe it should.”