It might seem odd to talk about cyclo-cross in the middle of the European summer but there’s a good rule change: disc brakes will be allowed.
Disc brakes replaced cantilevers on mountain bikes many, many years ago. But it’s only now that the UCI has got round to allowing discs for cyclo-cross races. The UCI delayed because it didn’t want to make the bikes too expensive. Although this argument never really stood up when riders were racing on Colnagos, Cervélos and other expensive frames, a change to the braking system only implies a small part of the price.
And the road next?
One follow-up to this could be that discs are allowed for the road. The gain here would not be improved braking power, since you can lock up a wheel with standard brakes already. Instead it’s modulation, the ability to feel the brakes and determine the point just before the wheel locks gives you maximum braking.
But the gains are not without cost, there could be a weight penalty, frames and forks need redesigning for the mounts and hub bearings can suffer more strain.
The most interesting thing for me is that the rim is no longer part of the braking surface. You can make some rims a bit lighter since they do not have to survive wear. Ultimately we will have featherweight carbon wheels with rock solid braking in the rain.