Braking News

TLDR version: Road pros can use disc brakes without limit in 2016. This makes overall adoption of disc brakes something of an inevitability, if only because manufacturers will likely make it so. Though we're far from disc brake evangelists, we've been prepping for this day for 5 years. But the bigger question to us is "what do actual real people think about discs on the road?"

Yes, we tested

With the cycling world's silly season headlines dominated by the recent UCI decision to allow discs in 2016, you had to know that we'd weigh in on it, and almost certainly with a terrible pun. Happy to oblige. But while every pro constituency has some angle on it one way or another, and while the general public seems to be in favor of letting pros use them, what we're curious about is what the people who matter - bike riders - have to say about them. 

We've actually been swinging at the road disc pinata for longer than I care to consider. In 2011, when we first tested what became the HOT BUNS cross frames, I pulled the straw to test the disc bike (which is actually still my cross bike) and thus began our road disc wheel story. Because you need road wheels for your cross bike. And you need cross wheels for it, too. 

This sexy beastThen, when we did the Timoneria, we did a disc version to check it out. The drop dead looker you see before you is currently kitted out in full winter regalia with fenders and saddle bag, but that just makes it kind of like a swimsuit model in jeans and a baseball hat - somewhat more down and dirty, but more than capable of setting things quite astir. 

Having ridden said disc bike in situations that run the full gamut, I can say that I believe that the danger of mixing discs and rim brakes is a red herring. Whatever crash that happens might happen differently, but my considered and experienced opinion is that no crashes will occur because of a mixed brake environment. I say this having crashed in a mixed brake environment on Sunday, when I simply wasn't paying super close attention, allowed my front wheel to overlap too much with the guy ahead, who is a strong but not steady rider, who swerved while I happened to be blowing a snot rocket (those of you who ride with me will know that this is about 1/3 of the time), and woof! down I went. No brakes were even involved, and no one got branded with red hot rotors. 

But my experience is also that while good disc brakes are undeniably better than rim brakes, they're not nearly the experience-changing switch that disc brakes were in mountain biking, or even cross. They're better. They remove the heat danger from rim brake wheels (yes, Virginia, you can even overheat an aluminum rim), but that just means they transfer it within the braking system.  

The standards are something of a mess, which if there's one good thing to come from pro peloton adoption it is that that should clear up. For amateur racers, the wheel swap speed is once again, to me, a total red herring. Most of my lifetime of flats has occurred in races. Two times I was able to absolutely smoke myself and catch back on. The far more other times, my day was over. If you flat in an amateur road race, you're probably hosed. 

But enough about us, what do you think about us? Have you got any experience with them? What do you see as the good, bad and ugly of it?

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As a cyclist in mountainous Utah, I welcome our new disc brake overlords.

Ryan Kendrick

Rico asked a great question…November! Where's your disc specific, tubeless ready, deepish-section wheel, wider internal width ?!?!?! Inquiring customers want to know… ;)


We don't really disagree with that at all


That's where the carbon rim market is—and will be. I currently use such a rim, and it is a fantastic configuration for a vast swath of pavement + gravel use. "follow the money"Re. squealing—my experience with disc brakes (mechanical or hydro—same) in the wet is that organic pads squeal far less then metallic pads…the metal pads almost invariably howl like a banshee in the rain. Shimano road disc pads are organic….


Mick – There are a lot of things you can do to improve things with what you have, without knowing what exactly you have. First, the road variant of whatever mech disc will work tons better than the mtb one (BB7 road works pretty well with road levers, BB7 mtb is barely functional with road levers – different pull ratios). Squeal is purely a setup issue. Rotors need to be CLEAN – no handprints or anything. Clean with steel wool and acetone and NEVER touch them with hands. Lightly grease the backside of the pad (NO grease on pad surface), but your pads are likely contaminated so you probably need new ones. Metal pads squeak more than organics but have other advantages. Rotor attachment to hub and caliper squareness to rotor are important in having no squeal. Cable and housings are REALLY important. You MUST have compressionless housing. Cable runs need to be secured to frame/fork. Skewer security matters. After going through a learning curve, my disc bikes are generally the quietest braking ones in the race, even with metallic pads. So there's a lot for you to change to quiet them down and have them work better. And hydros are tons better. But they still squeal if setup isn't correct.


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