The Disc Brake Fiasco

Lars Van Der Haar

As product tests go this was not the case-study people had planned. When it was announced that disc brakes could be allowed on a trial basis it looked like an open door for the product to become established: a courtesy before a formality. Then Francisco Ventoso crashed in Paris-Roubaix, slammed into a disc and sliced his leg. He typed an open letter, used words like “machete” and within hours the trial was ended and disc brakes are banned.

The lobby group for manufacturers, the WFSGI, accepts the ban but is calling for an investigation into Ventoso’s accident. There are reports that Etixx-Quickstep’s Nicolas Maes was also injured by a disc in the same race too but this morning’s L’Equipe says that team’s sponsors helped quieten Maes’s story. If true then it shows how commercial interests are at work here as they want to quieten inconvenient stories. Equally it shows that a trial stops on the basis of one or two accidents and there’s a strand of logic which, if we pull at it, says chainrings are dangerous too. Of course though chainrings are not part of a voluntary trial and getting that “shark bite” injury from a chainring is deemed inevitable from time to time. But back to discs and in theory a trial would probably go on and then a comparison made after time to see if the prevalence of injuries was higher only when you’re dealing with riders doing their job few want to be guinea pigs and crash dummies.


Billed as The Next Big Thing it turns out that given a choice most pros prefer ordinary calliper brakes for now. A lot of sports marketing is based on endorsement and the idea of Product X being “the choice of the pros”. If it turns out that even people who are paid to use kit would prefer to avoid it then it’s a major marketing mishap.

As said on here before discs have their uses but there needs to be a whole redesign of the bike, not just the braze-on fittings. Pros pumping out big watts find disc rub in a flexing frame is a penalty so you need frames designed for discs and more rigid thru-axles only now it’s goodbye to speedy wheel changes. Pros starving themselves to slim down don’t want the extra weight penalty, said to be 500g-800g. As such few have used them in races and we end up with the likes of Lampre-Merida using them in the Tour of Flanders, a team that had no chance in the race and managed to finish only one rider: “Lampre to ride disc brakes in Flanders” was the talking point because nobody had much to say about the team. Not the shop window manufacturers wanted.

It’s illustrative of how the UCI governs the sport too. Whenever something goes wrong reflex comments appear: “Brian Cookson must do this“; “the UCI has to do that“. It’s normal, we expect the authorities to act however these cries assume the sport’s governing body has the authority. Only the UCI has never been all-powerful. It governs by consensus. This means it can rarely impose decisions on the sport, they have to be agreed by all and then the UCI goes and drafts the relevant rule. So when the UCI decides to allow a trial of disc brakes it’s really because teams, manufacturers and their representative lobby groups have asked for it and the time is right so the UCI works out the terms, agrees a trial and so on. When there’s an incident and teams and riders and their various representative lobby groups ask for the trial to stop the UCI follows suit. This happens elsewhere:

  • race vehicles – the UCI has been working on revised rules for many months but struggles to find agreement and cannot impose anything
  • calendar reform issues and the mess that results once the UCI decides to go ahead with plans that the largest race organiser has rejected: the World Tour is in jeopardy
  • see how the UCI tried but could not ban race radios, annual extending the moratorium to allow their use in World Tour races until finally giving up and letting all pros use them this year
  • look back the UCI tried to impose helmets on riders from the 1990s but met with rebellion until the peloton, or at least a share of it, decided to adopt them following the death of Andrei Kivilev during the 2003 Paris-Nice.

Social media
There’s also the role of social media in this. You’ll know the thought asking “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”. Nowadays the tree felling gets tweeted, GIF’d, Periscoped, Instagramed and posted to Facebook within seconds. Not long ago it might have taken days for Ventoso’s injuries to emerge beyond Spain and his open letter would not have been so openly visible around the world thanks to the web and translation engines. We might even have seen the manufacturers dampen down the story via their PR contacts and get control of the story. Instead graphic and gory images spread around the world on a Sunday night long before the cycle trade PR people can get into work on a Monday morning and start working the phones and email to contain the story.

  • Case study: see the live story about the Corriere/Stade 2 report about motors on bikes. In no time the thermal image of a rider with a glowing seat tube was doing the rounds and people asking if it was a motor, could it be just a Campagnolo battery and headlines about the Strade Bianche race. The story spreads virally and, like a virus, it mutates as it replicates. For example Popular Mechanics, a website, reports “damning evidence” only the picture in question came when the report filmed a 60 year old man riding a demo bike fitted with a motor as part of the process to prove a thermal camera can detect the heat of a motor. Here’s a sceengrab of the moment, note the grey hair and no number on the rider. For all we know motors could be used in a race but this is not the proof in a picture, it just shows how far a photo can spread and the story gets out of control.
Capelli bianchi, not Strade Bianche

Is there a way back?
If the trial has halted it doesn’t mean discs are gone for good. The trial could be resumed, perhaps at certain races that are less accident prone. There could be safety modifications like disc covers, as seen on many motorbikes although with each solution comes more weight and complexity to a system that’s heavier and more complex.

One other way could be for the marketing element to change. Instead of pro cyclists the manufacturers could back the kind of riders who would really benefit from them: heavier riders doing gran fondo type events. That said the French cycling federation has banned disc brakes from their mass participation events too for the same reasons as the UCI.

Disc brakes seem to get people hot under the collar. Yet this piece isn’t really about their danger, nor technicalities like frame designs, axles or rotors or whether we should or should not use them whether in the pro peloton or a Sunday ride. Instead it’s a way to examine how the sport is run. Hold up the disc brake story and you see how the UCI and the sport in general is run, the governing body is not some supra-administration but instead works in collaboration with others, it co-ordinates rather than governs. That’s not necessarily a weakness, exploring and achieving a consensus is a good thing. It’s also a way to see how a story spreads on social media when it could perhaps have been contained before. Perhaps it still can happen, certainly Ventoso’s case has got more publicity than Maes’s injury. If the peloton never really wanted disc brakes then all that was needed was an accident and social media outpouring for the trial to be halted, there wasn’t even an investigation. The future of road bike design and several marketing campaigns have been put on hold. Now that’s what you call stopping power.

162 thoughts on “The Disc Brake Fiasco”

  1. reviewed the Maes injury and it’s pretty conclusive that there was no disc-equipped bike involved in the crash:

    While I’m glad that they halted the trail this does cast doubts on what actually happened. Ventoso injured his left knee. In his letter he claims that he did it without crashing, he just leant on someones bike. So how did he injure his left knee? The disc is on the non-drive side. If the rider was upright then how does he get his left knee around the wheel and frame to touch the disc yet stay upright? Was it the front disc and the rider was facing the wrong way? If so the wheel would be stationary and I can’t see it cutting like that without spinning. if the rider has crashed and the bike is in the air, how does he not get knocked off and why would the wheel keep spinning to do that kind of damage?

    the whole thing is very emotive and I’m not saying the injury wasn’t caused by the disc, I’ve even applauded the halt in the trial elsewhere, but there are definitely things that don’t seem to make sense.

    • Ventoso didn’t say he did it without crashing, he says he did it without falling over. He specifically says he did crash into the rider in font. It’s not conclusive either way of course, but I can easily envisage a situation where he would crash into the back of the bike in front, slightly on the drive side, and he ends up straddling the back wheel of the other rider.

      • Hence why the trade group wants an investigation, the introduction of this valuable technology has stopped on the basis of a claim and it’s been enough to stop the test. Still there’s no reason to imagine why Ventoso would dream this up and crashes happen in strange ways, people and bikes sliding.

        • “… the introduction of this valuable technology” Valuable to the industry’s sales efforts surely…to everyone else I’m not so sure. In any case the UCI is not stopping any punters from enjoying this “value” as far as I can tell.

        • Not dream it up, but as I replied to David, the worst person to recount what happened in an accident is usually the people involved (eye witnesses are pretty terrible witnesses anyway in most things). He’s clearly wrong about Maes too, the photo evidence is pretty conclusive there. I think that, while it could well have been a disc, it could just as well have been something else.

      • Hi David. I suppose that depends on what you mean when you say crash, I meant actually fell over, but fair enough, good point.

        However, I still really struggle to envision it. For this to happen his front wheel is going to be tangled up with the riders legs, his handlebars need to be passed the seatpost or will at least be tangled up in it. if his left leg is still somehow over the rear wheel then, judging by the position of the injury it would still need to be clipped in as if he was unclipped and keeping himself upright with it then it would be stretched out to the left and there’s no way it could touch the recessed disc. if it’s clipped in, or at least he’s not balancing on it, I don’t see how he doesn’t fall over and still manages to wrap it round and contact the disc, his groin would basically have to be above the rear wheel.

        this is also all supposing the rider he crashed into was still moving, as looking at the damage caused I really don’t see how that could happen without the disc actually spinning.

        So, if he crashed into a rider whose back wheel was moving, wrapped his leg over their rear wheel and tangled his front wheel into their leg/cranks (because I don’t see how he gets the angle to get his knee into the disc without his bike being pressed against the other as his leg needs to point straight down) I really don’t see how he stays upright. And that still supposes that the rest of him/his bike doesn’t contact the rear wheel and stop it spinning, because I really don’t think that injury happens contacting a stationary disc. If it did contact the rear wheel as well, where is the injury on his thigh? You’re at least going to get some burn from a spinning tyre.

        Ask anyone who investigates any kind of accident who the worst person to give an account of it is and they’ll say the people involved, yet the only person whose account is available to us it Ventoso. He also mentions Maes, who I’m guessing told him it was a disc (we don’t know that, seems a reasonable guess), yet the evidence clearly shows that this was not the case.

        Like I said, I’m not saying it wasn’t a disc and I think suspending the trial was the right move, but the more I think about it the way it is described the harder it is for me to believe that’s actually what happened.

        • I’ve actually tried to re-enact this with two bikes: One with discs in front (with nobody sitting on it), and me sitting on the one in the back (without discs but that’s irrelevant to the test). You can reach around the rear wheel of the first bike with your leg and touch the disc with your foot if you really tried. Not easy at all, but possible. It’s however impossible to hit it on the front of the shin below the knee, and then move your shin even further down to create the type of cutting/ripping injury Ventoso clearly showed. And I was standing still, leaning against a wall putting my foot down when I needed. To do this at speed, I can’t even imagine…

          Many things on the right side of a bike are much more likely culprits. Most likely to me are: cassette, pedal, shoe buckle or shoe heel adjustment. Other options are rear derailleur, front derailleur, spokes, chainring, chain, etc. To top it all off, Ventoso admits in his own letter he never saw which part of the other bike hit his leg, and merely assumed(!) it must have been a disc.

          My (IMHO) standpoint in this whole “disc fiacso” is currently:
          I’ve seen three allegations of discs causing injuries in the pro peloton so far. Two have been disproven by irrefutable evidence (Maes and Cardoso). The third (Ventoso) is physically impossible, assuming things indeed went as Ventoso described in his letter. No reasons to stop the “trials” for me, until somebody shows me evidence I’ve not seen yet. How the UCI and CPA – but also the media and public – handle this whole thing can indeed be called a “fiasco”. But don’t blame the technology for that. Maybe the technology isn’t optimal yet, and can be developed further both performance and safety wise (just give the edges a radius already): I’m all for that. Teams don’t have to use them if they find them underperforming. I also personally really don’t care if the pros use them or not. But please make these kinds of decisions based on facts, not hysteria. Until I see hard evidence of the contrary, I’ll keep with this:

          Discs have not caused any (significant) injuries in the pro peloton! Please feel free to prove me wrong, but only with hard evidence.

          • How much do you think the aftermarket caliper brake pad manufacturers paid Ventoso to slice off a pound of flesh when no one was looking?

            I mean, the guys blog post was so well written and thoughtful. And he’s a Foreeener, after all. It must be a hoax.

            Secondly, what advantage do discs offer to you that balance all the physics based negatives, ie; weight (rotational and static), aerodynamic drag, frictional drag and the effect on wheel changing efficiency and brand to brand incompatibility for starters?

          • Who wants to volunteer for this experiment? Not anyone I can think of! The CPA has said NO. Maybe the UCI should test crash some big mortadella’s against the discs instead of a riders leg? 🙂
            I have to admit to thinking the safety issue was pretty much BS, but when you stop and a guy runs into you from behind and his disc rotor slices the back of your calf open OR you crash into the back of someone and slice the front of your shin open, you might rethink (as I did) the wisdom of these being used in a peloton. Especially when they’re really kind of band-aids for the poor braking of carbon rims. I’m with Eddy Merckx – make ’em run aluminum brake tracks with caliper rim brakes.

    • I can’t easily imagine of a way that he would have suffered the injury and stayed upright with or without disc brakes.

      I do think there is something in the idea that he straddled the rear wheel (and probably nearly crashed on his top tube) while unclipping his left leg (common for a right footed person) and slammed his knee into a rotor.

      I have disc brakes on my CX bike and have viciously cut myself pulling my pump hose out of the valve. It didn’t take much and the wheel didn’t rotate.

      The design could be changed, but I would think at either a cost or a weight penalty (as Inrng suggests). Personally I don’t think the pros need them.

  2. Now big industries will pause to push this “new” technology for a while, then they will come back to press UCI and the teams to restart the adoption of DB.

  3. The disc-brake fiasco? How about the motor the bike of pro-riders Fiasco? Inrng, did you see the Stade 2 report? Pretty damning. I know denial is a prevalent in cycling fan circles as is cheating in the peloton (in all its forms and guises), but come on. And what about that rider who got run over by a motor bike? Are we still quietly “waiting for the result of the investigation”? And what if it had been Sagan that died would we be so quiet?
    The Titanic is sinking (again) and we are all talking about the wallpaper (ie disc brakes) — what gives?

    • That seems to be the next issue and its under review. Again the UCI doesn’t just decide but it’ll be agreed among people, presumably the teams, manufacturers and perhaps the rider union the CPA although they seem to swing into action after events, to react.

      • I might be out in a limb here, but I support the continuation of the minimum weight limit (despite its completely arbitrary nature). I’m not a Luddite, but the minimum weight requirement means that someone who can only afford to spend a moderate amount on a bike isn’t left with an insurmountable performance gulf. this also helps keep the sport grounded in the face of corporate demands to sell more and more expensive bikes/components. When I ride a famous climb, I want my times to be more-or-less directly comparable to those of the professionals. It helps keep fans connected to the sport.

        • I’m sure you’re aware that Pantani had a lighter bike than those currently used. The weight issue is a terrible controlled parameter. Use proper safety standards.

          Even if $20K buy you 2 kg. of weight reduction, that’s still only a fraction of the system mass up a hill. If you’re going to put a limit on that put a limit on team budgets – you can see Sky / GB suddenly not being able to spend 50K pounds on wind tunnel testing and “prototype” frames and suits.

          • Sure, you can’t limit what Sky any their like spend on research, but the weight limit does reduce the equipment advantages of richer teams and riders, particularly in lower category races. I well remember wandering around at the start of the Tour de L’Avenir a few years back and seeing some teams on the latest Dura-Ace equipped carbon Looks whilst others struggled by on old aluminium frames with Campag Daytona groupsets. In races like this the weight limit allows the poor but talented to compete with the rich. If I wanted to watch a sport where money was the defining measure of a team I’d watch football.

    • I can’t wrap my head around the fact that uci “caved” to the disc brakes so quick. On the other hand I’d say the pressure from manufacturers to lower the weight limit is far worse and is going on for much longer. And yet uci doesn’t budge on that front.

    • Minimum weight limits are not uncommon in other sports, for example motor sports.
      It’s not at all unreasonable to have _some_ minimum weight spec, although reasonable people can disagree on what that limit should be.
      I wonder how bike mfrs would deal with super-ultra-light equipment in the hands of amateurs?
      Already you’ll see weight limits buried in the fine print, which I’m sure very few amateurs ever bother to read.

      • Minimu weights are a proxy measure for frame safety and durability. The argument has always been that without a minimum weight frames would become fragile and dangerous, leading to the buying public riding round on thin spindles of carbon that would probably kill them after a couple of years of use (to paraphrase considerably). It’s a reasonable concern, but as a proxy measure it’s pretty useless. Firstly, most pro bikes (without disc brakes) need to be weighted to meet the minimum requirements – so the frames are already “underweight” and by extension potentially dangerous.
        Secondly, underweight bikes are readily available in the shops, you just can’t race them in UCI approved races (not without a bit of chain down the seat tube).
        Thirdly, the weight limits are themselves pretty old, and are probably surpassed by technology now (lighter stronger carbon frames).
        Of course, any genuine safety standard for equipment will be exceptionally difficult to verify, standardise and enforce. For example, if you do stress testing of frames, what are the acceptable limits? Do you need to test every available frame size and geometry from a manufacturer? Who pays for that?

        • Actually the argument for weight limit from the uci was:
          “The rule 1.3.019 has been introduced and has been created as many other rules of the UCI Technical Regulation by an ergonomist expert in cycling. This specialist, with the advice of other experts, has defined that 6,8Kg is the minimum weight acceptable for a bicycle, for an essential reason that is the maneuverability of the bicycle. Of course, technical risks related to composites materials have also been considered, but the primary reason of this rule is the maneuverability. We therefore believe that bicycles of 5 Kg (for example) pose significant risks of maneuverability.”

          although in 2015 top tech guy said re weight limits:
          “We’ve trawled through the archives and tried to find people who were around at the time to find if the number was really picked for safety. The answer to that is “yes”. But now 6.8kg doesn’t make a bike that is safe — 10kg doesn’t mean a bike is safe nor does 5kg make a bike unsafe”
          no mention of maneuverability

          • As an ergonomist I would say that statement is bullshit. The amount of research required to determine weight versus manoeuvrability for the cycling population (for which I doubt there is even sufficient anthropometric data) would blow the UCI’s budget apart.

          • Further to the comment by Tovarishch: the idea that some weight is needed for stability does contains a sliver of truth, but we must understand what ‘weight’ means in this context, which can be two things, the first structural (mass is an important factor in self-excited oscillations such as wheel shimmy) and the other related to ergonomics (the force exerted on a control element such as a handlebar is the most important neuro-muscular feedback in our ability to control a vehicle, far more than the position or the movement of that control element). But these facts do not justify setting a minimum weight for bicycles. In the field of aeronautics, where the problems of stability and control are way more difficult, it has long been known that any control issue related to ‘weight’ can be fine-tuned if needed with a bit of damping and spring force.

  4. Well done – for the most part. I’m wondering if disc brakes will go the way of Spinaci handlebars? All the rage (to me just an expensive helmet holder) when the pros were using them. I got lectures all the time from fans of these things on their wonderfulness. Then suddenly they’re banned from pro racing and overnight vanish from the punter’s bikes. All that wonderfulness somehow evaporated when their heroes could no longer use them.
    For me the shark in the water is
    “The lobby group for manufacturers, the WFSGI” I find no rightful place for them in pro cycling and I’ll take the charge of channeling my inner Henri Desgrange 🙂
    Regarding the motorized bike reports, what about claims they had thermo images of RACERS in both Strade Bianche and Coppi-Bartali using them rather than just the old punter?

      • I didn’t see the TV show, that’s why I asked. The newspaper story online claimed they’d filmed racers with the thermo image camera and were pretty certain the hot-spots could only be motors. I would hope they turned over the evidence to the UCI but understand why they might not be keen on revealing the identity of the riders to the public on their TV show.

        • Why would you not name the names? Makes for a much bigger story.
          You don’t have to say ‘X is cheating’ – you only have to say ‘Here is X in Y race and here is the thermal image’.
          I haven’t seen the show, but from what I’ve read it seems to be completely lacking in evidence and there are hugely unlikely parts to it:
          For example: they caught 7 riders who just happened to be using the motors as they passed the camera – so either the cameraman got very lucky or there were loads of people using motors and this was just a small sample.
          Another example: this guy with the ‘magic rims’ – he has these incredibly expensive wheels that he sells to pro’s, which make them really, really good. But he then ruins his entire business by telling everyone about this.
          But, of course, with cycling there is always doubt, because the authorities are so incompetent/corrupt.

          • I think someone who is NOT the sanctioning body is probably smart not to publicize the cheaters they caught since they probably didn’t catch ’em all. Better to inform the UCI and let (hope) them check into it.
            As to the motorized wheel wizard, more publicity isn’t going to ruin his business when punters spend piles of money on EPO to win a salami at a Gran Fondo. Meanwhile, the pros who want to cheat will still send some minion to the wheel wizard to get theirs. I doubt BigTex was waiting in line at any pharmacy to buy his EPO.

          • Of course, there are so many things the UCI could be doing to combat this:
            Thermal cameras.
            Ban bike changes.
            Demand that all riders provide their data to the UCI – they could use UCI powermeters (or whatever is needed) – if they all have to do it, it’s fair. Then, you’d see when their effort didn’t match their speed. (This would also stop people hanging on to cars.)
            Tag every bike and examine every bike after every race.
            Why are the UCI not doing any of these things?
            Who cares – they’re following best business practice (the idea that corporate practices are a model to follow is hysterical) and playing the political card of appearing consensual (whether or not they actually are, we don’t know – except that we know they’re not when it comes to ASO).
            And it’s amazing how quickly all that got binned and disc brake use was suspended.

          • If I was king of cycling the team cars would be shorn of spare bikes. Spares can be at the start and/or finish but not swapped during the race. Maybe this would make it easy to limit the teams to ONE car in the caravan? ALL bike and wheel swaps would be solely from neutral service providers, which would probably mean a few more of those, but a net lowering of car numbers since each team would lose one. This would likely mean a big increase in interest in durability of equipment vs now as the bikes are treated as potato chips and consumed at a mad rate. It would also be much, much easier to inspect and control for any sort of mechanical cheating. The punters would benefit from durable, race-proven performance of the machines used by their heroes rather than the current, almost disposable bikes used these days.

    • Suspect disc brakes will hang around for longer, irrespective of whether the pros take to them, as they’re more useful in types of cycling where slowing down is important – MTB, commuting, etc. I can see that racers aren’t particularly attracted by tech that helps them be slower more effectively, though.

      Having said that, if discs were the existing standard technology, and rim brakes were being trialled (note to INRNG: both rim brakes and disc brakes have callipers), would the trial have been halted after Felline injured himself apparently trying to adjust his brake while moving?

      • Yep, first thing I thought when I saw the video of Felline tumbling: Was he adjusting his rim brakes while riding? This exact thing has happend before, with riders but also with mechanics hanging from car windows. Nobody seems to care.

        ps, I’ve had a very mild (phew) case of “hitting a spoke while brake-fiddling” myself a few years ago, and stopped doing this immediately. I’d rather pull over, and keep my hands and face intact, thank you very much.

        Back to the pros: Cycling is one big paradox of innovation: Out of all non-motorized (sic) sports, it’s probably (one of) the most “mechanical” sport, meaning that technological progress is and will always be paramount to cycling and helping pro athletes increase performance. Yet, at the same time, cyclings’ pro athletes are possibly the most conservative lot of all pro sports. That’s a massive “adoption of innovation” paradox for you, right there 😉

  5. Is this a largely pointless technology for road use? As Tom Boonen said, you can stop the wheel more, but how do you make the wheel stop moving on the road?
    I’ve no idea.
    With the weight disadvantage, no riders seem to want them.
    Either way, it’s been handled by the UCI with the usual aplomb: ignore the possible safety issues, don’t deal with the ‘difficulty in changing the wheels’ issues nor the ‘people on different brakes’ issues, just introduce it because it’s a money spinner and hope for the best.
    Then a knee-jerk suspension.
    Yet another one to add to the list: the first (really stupid) calendar idea, the determination to cut the Vuelta to two weeks, doing nothing about the multiple motorbike accidents over the last two years, the new weather rules, the nonsense with ASO, not using thermal heat cameras (does anyone actually know if the UCI’s tests for motors work?), selling cycling out to Velon…
    The UCI simply doesn’t work.
    And whilst everyone scrabbles around for ways to find sponsors, the thing that must really put them off is the lurching from calamity to disaster with all the attendant scandal.
    No improvement since McQuaid, but Brian’s a really nice guy and that’s all that matters.

    • How do you make the wheel stop moving on the road? Well the argument is that a disc has more control and modulation, allowing the rider to find the sweet spot as the tyre loses traction, like anti-lock brakes on a car. GCN did a test on it, not the most scientific thing ever with riders on opposing systems slamming on the brakes but it showed a small advantage in the dry and a larger advantage in the wet.

      Not saying they are worth the the downsides, (I don’t think they are) but from what I have read the argument that they don’t stop you better is spurious.

      • This is because of the different “mechanics” the two use to generate their “braking power”. If we compare the two (note: this is purely relative, one compared to the other, of course the mechanical principles are fundamentally the same)

        Rim brakes get their power from having a large “lever” (the entire radius, or half the diameter, of the wheel). They apply relatively little friction (pads to rim), but this is compensated for by that larger lever. This makes rim brakes lock easier, once they start to “grab”.
        Disc brakes apply much more friction (pads to disc) in total, but have a smaller lever (only the radius of the disc). The same amount of friction (increase) will have a much smaller effect. This makes disc brakes have more “modulation”

        A much smaller rim with the same “horse shoe calipers” would not lock up as easy, but would also generate much less braking power in total (too little = danger). A much larger disc with the same “piston calipers” would generate much more power in total, but would also lock up easier (too easy = danger).

    • Do you actually read what Inrng wrote?

      Only the UCI has never been all-powerful. It governs by consensus. This means it can rarely impose decisions on the sport, they have to be agreed by all and then the UCI goes and drafts the relevant rule.

      Bur of course, it’s all the UCI’s fault.

      • Yes, and I think that this is not how it should be.
        Hence I said ‘The UCI simply doesn’t work.’
        But of course we should all blindly accept whatever the authorities say is right.

  6. As ever, the careful, researched, contextual voice. Thank you – articles like this are a big part of what makes this blog superior to all the other cycling sites out there.

  7. Interesting that pros started tweeting no to discs in the wake of Ventoso’s crash injuries. Those that don’t want these brakes kept quiet until this happened.

  8. The end of disc brakes might just be tied to the reduction of the weight restriction, no? If you are a team owner or bike manufacturer, would you rather ride and tout lighter bikes or heavier machines with slightly better brakes? I think that history has answered this question. (Does anyone remember Cannondale’s advertising campaign to ‘make my bike legal?’)

    But the question really points to the argument here – we are talking about whether there is a controlling body or a consensus body in the sport. If I am honest, when I sponsor I think that my sense is that when the UCI agrees with me, they should be in control. When they are wrong by my standards, they should be a consensus driven organization.

    That was meant to be funny, but it really does put the UCI into a very interesting place. It also means that if we rely on them we are making a pretty fundamental mistake. They will always be without control on many key issues (radios, vehicles, helmets) and be doing difficult work to try and build a consensus. They are not perfect by a long shot, but can they ever be really good at this? I am not sure it is possible for them to succeed in this sport.

    The issue is not brakes. The issue is how we govern the sport we love. The answer is not to ask others to do the work of governing. The only answer is to either accept the organization (flawed or not) or to work to improve things. We each get to choose, no?

    • On your first point about bikes, perhaps it’s the trade dream to sell two bikes, a 5kg climbing machine and an 7.5kg all round aero road bike with discs?

      Your main point is really what I’m getting at with the piece, the UCI doesn’t rule the sport and the rules depend on all being in agreement. Whether it’s brakes, radios, calendar reform, vehicle safety and so on there has to be equilibrium in order for things to change.

      • It would be the trade dream if they could sell you a minion to go with those bikes that can facilitate a bike swap at the top of the hill – it seems to me the increased braking power obtained with discs is only really useful during descents (and, like you pointed out, when you carry some bulk).

        Great analysis as ever.

      • Thank you, and nice point about the trade dream.

        I tend to think of all of these pro rides as halo bikes, designed to show what could be if you are willing to spend those dollars. But, it may be that Trek and Specialized really do sell a lot of the same machines on which Cancellera and Sagan win. And if so, ummm, despite the multi-million euro salaraies, those are often equipped with cable actuated shifting and rim brakes.

        No-one controls this sport. And I think that is one reason that I like being involved.

        • If you go out on a ride with some clubs you will possibly be amazed at the bikes you see. I’ve seen plenty of top of the range Specialized, Trek, Canyon, Focus et. al. dripping with Dura-Ace and deep-rimmed carbon being ridden along at 16mph on an easy Sunday club run. I think they really do sell a lot of these frames.

  9. Ok, disc brakes may be useless and dangerous.

    Protections are available:

    There are also other possible ways to protect riders getting injured by cogs and rings…
    There are tons of possible ways to get hurt, really bad.
    Green soccer playgrounds have replaced old sandy yards. Players slide without getting injured anymore. Should we declare our roads too dangerous for cycling? I hate accidents, but this danger is part of the definition of cycling – as outdated as this may sound!

  10. So do any pro’s actually want discs? I’ve had a chat with a few pro team mechanic’s Pro Tour & Pro Continental, and they were both dead against them.

    The only people who seem to be for them are component manufacturers, and cycle newbies who listen to the marketing hype that you need disc brakes to be able to stop a bike safely!

  11. Thanks In Ring for bringing up the point about helmets. I have found it absurd that many of the same pros that fought the use of helmets and still train without them are now against disc brakes because they are too dangerous. Chainrings and bladed spokes are just as dangerous if not more so.
    Debating whether or not discs work better is absurd. They work better. A lot better. The stopping power isn’t just far superior it is always the same no matter the weather. With calipers you have the brake surface constantly rolling through mud and water. That is 19th century technology.

  12. It occurs to me (from my experience of using hydraulic disc brakes on a downhill bike) that it’s pretty pointless having a disc brake on the rear wheel. V-brakes and caliper brakes are more than good enough for the rear. ventoso’s injury would certainly have been avoided (or the risk lessened) had the rider in front only been using a disc on the front.

    The other thing that occurs is that you get more braking force from rim mounted brakes (hence trials bikes have hydraulic rim brakes, with ground rims and all sorts of trickery non-relevant to the road), so I really can’t see the point in discs. road bikes don’t get clogged up with mud like XC/downhillers. maybe there’s a small aerodynamic benefit, but it is surely minuscule.

    • “The other thing that occurs is that you get more braking force from rim mounted brakes (hence trials bikes have hydraulic rim brakes, with ground rims and all sorts of trickery non-relevant to the road)”

      Magura’s hegemony is long ended. Loads of trials riders ride with Hydraulic discs these days.

      • That’s interesting – i’m obviously not up to date. Rim brakes do have more power though, purely because of the bigger moment (same reason bigger discs have more power than smaller discs).

        • Rim brakes have the potential to be more powerful due to their size- if in fact they were designed as brakes. In practice I’ve found discs to be more powerful. Size and inertial momentum are factors, but there’s something to be said for a surface specifically engineered for braking – less compression (both rim and rim pads compress more than discs and disc pads due to geometry), more regular braking surface, less angular deflection (squeezing the calipers angles them, good disc brakes are fairly perpendicular to the rotor), not to mention things like material (carbon rims, or the horrid old steel rims that were impossible to stop when wet) and contamination from road spray.

  13. The disc brake fiasco is entirely driven by commercial interests. No one in a pro race actually NEEDS disc brakes as is attested by the fact that we have well over a century of road racing without them. Many pros have taken to social media to say exactly this as well and pointed out that they don’t run out of braking power as it is anyway. (I do not here address MTB or leisure cyclists as these are different matters entirely.) In fact, I’m hard pressed to find a pro road racer who is an enthusiastic user of disc brakes. There may be some and I’m sure others may point me to such statements. So what are we left with? Manufacturers trying to pimp their products and showcase them on the World Tour. Its a rather seedy spectacle in my view. Amateur riders (many of whom may well write comments here) don’t help. They just want the latest bling bike with the latest bling accessories in order to say “Look what I’ve got”. I repeat, disc brakes aren’t necessary for the pro peloton. No rider has ever said “I needed more braking power. I wish we’d had disc brakes fitted” in a pro race.

    • Pros also kept their foot down for 12 years saying they did not need helmets. They confabulated with all kinds of reasons for not wearing helmets. They went even on strike. Now, another 13 years later, no pro would even consider starting in a race without a helmet. Some might train without a helmet (which I disapprove of, but that’s not up to me), sure, but race? No way! And that’s not only because it’s illegal to start without a helmet: It’s routine to wear one. Just as, in 10 to 15 years from now, it will be absolutely normal to have disc brakes on your road bike. The Inner Rings of 2030 will write articles exaplining how absolutely ridiculous is was that the pros ever opposed them.

      • “Now, another 13 years later, no pro would even consider starting in a race without a helmet.” You state this as fact based on what? You admit plenty of pros train without crash hats and not all of them train alone, so it’s hard to take your claim seriously. 10-15 years from now all pros might have disc brakes, just like they have “Spinaci” handlebars.

        • What’s you’re point here Larry? Do you really, for a moment, believe any pro would even consider starting a race (note the word “race”) without one?

          Wearing a helmet in a race (again, note the word “race” here) is the ubiquitous rule. You’re not allowed to start without one. Because this has been the rule for 13 years now, bringing a helmet to the race (again, “race”) and putting it on before the start is “automatic”. Hence… the statement “Now, another 13 years later, no pro would even consider starting in a race without a helmet.” is fully correct.

          If they were all of sudden explicitly given the option not to wear a helmet in a race (yes, “race”), sure some might elect not to (pure speculation, but I’ll give you this one). But they aren’t given that option, and bringing and wearing a helmet is just a habit, as is bringing shoes and other kit. Not a habit as in “they really really want it” but a habit as in “they just do it”.

          Your Spinaci example is hilarious, to the same degree as Spinergy wheels would be. They are both examples of “the pros” being completely and utterly wrong about a piece of tech. While you misuse this example to illustrate that “all new tech is bad and disc brakes will never catch on” you’re actually doing a very nice job at proving that “the pros can be very, very wrong in what they want, and we shouldn’t just blindly listen to them”.

  14. NY Times has an article on the motorized bike imaging. Argh. So nice they report on cycling ONLY when there is a controversy or doping. Good lord.

  15. Like many these days I use calipers on the road and hydraulic discs off road. It is obvious that modern calipers are superb and locking the wheels is easily done. Discs are arguably better in the wet – but the jury is out on this one. Anyone who has had similar experiences has probably come to the same conclusion.

    The whole mess has been created by vested interests pushing the issue too fast, assisted by a dithering UCI which appears at sea whenever faced with pressure, be it from manufactures, Teams, DSs or doping agencies.

    Less haste better outcomes is something which might be recommended to the governing body.

    • Rim brakes lock up way to easy (in the dry that is, in the wet they don’t brake at all).

      I have two road bikes (Ok, one is officially a CX bike, but I use it as a road bike as well): Locking the wheels is actually easier in my rim brake bike… If I exaggerate a lot:

      The brake power of the rim brake goes: 1, 3, 5, 7, lock
      The brake power of the disc brake goes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, lock

      This is entirely plausible from a mechanical dynamics view: There is much more flex and motion in a horse-shoe-calliper-and-steel-cable-with spiral-housing-system, so it’s less precise in applying force (friction is a force) from the pad onto the braking surface. But, once it really starts to “grab”, it has a much lager “lever” (= the diameter of the entire wheel, not just a small disc) to lock the wheel and keep it locked. It surprised me at first, but it’s actually easier to “push through” the disc brakes. They still slow you down perfectly fine, even better (especially if you’re a bit heavy), BECAUSE they don’t lock up nearly as quickly. Pair them with wider tires (another benefit is that wider tires fit easily) and that advantage only becomes greater (especially if you value comfort, or again, are a bit heavier).

      ps, this is all on road surface. On dirt the story is a bit different obviously. There, it’s less about the diameter of the braking “ring” and more about grip from the tires. However, on dirt I actually want to be able to lock the rear wheel.
      ps2, Discs are better in the wet since they not only pick up less water and muck, but have lots of holes in them to let it out quicker. These holes are much more efficient than the grooves on rim brake pads are. And there is much more water on one turn of the wheel with rim brakes, since the circumference of the braking “ring” is much larger.

  16. Disc brakes add two new ‘cutting surfaces’ to a bike, that aren’t there with rim calipers. Would you rather crash into a pile-up of riders with disc brakes, or calipers? Hello!

    Having said that, I’d like to see the testing reinstated. Just require a ‘safety cover’, and resume. Let the teams decide. Neutral support is a nightmare. Even if all teams conformed to the same standard, I would think the tolerances are too tight to work for everyone’s wheels. But this could be the next innovation-wider tolerances for a truly standard standard.

    Competition at the highest level is the where innovation belongs. Do discs bring a competitive advantage? Maybe in a muddy race? Test ’em and find out.

    • 1) Those two cutting surfaces actually also cover a lot of spokes. Aero spokes (which they all have) are actually thinner and therefore sharper than discs. After Felline’s accident, nobody needs to argue how dangerous spokes are.

      Now, here’s the math: The “sharp edge” of a 170mm disc is about 533mm (circumference, one-sided). This disc partially covers 12 “sharp bladed spokes” on the left side of the wheel, at about 75mm covered per spoke = 900mm. Overall DECREASE in sharp spinning edges when using discs: 366mm per wheel, equals 732mm per bike. That’s 3/4 of a meter LESS sharp edges!

      2) These disc edges are far less sharp than the internet trolls make you believe. Experiment here: – Yes, I was actually trying my very best to cut myself here! I’d still applaud a bigger radius to be added though (unevenly sided possibly). Yes, it’s another stage in the production process, so that would add to the price of a disc. But for pros, that’s irrelevant anyway.

      Of course, slamming into a disc at 30k/h is a different story from my experiment. But most pile ups aren’t direct collisions at speed, rather riders stumbling onto each other. Furthermore, at high speeds, ANYTHING is a potential ripper of flesh, including the spokes that are now covered at least partially.

  17. I would have thought that the continued uselessness of the UCI would be the bigger issue here, but it seems people are more interested in the actual tech. It’s all very well to say that the UCI’s hands are tied, but the fact remains that the UCI is ineffectual and incompetent. Whilst fans, media, race organisers, teams, etc. tolerate this, it will continue (as we’ve seen).

    • Yep. It’s as if everybody has already accepted that the UCI is useless anyway, so they have a go at the tech out of frustration 😉

      • Ah, now I understand. If only I knew the first thing about the tech, I’d join in (as always, I don’t even know what half of the bits being mentioned are).

  18. As a regular road and off road rider, I’ll say that the last three bikes I’ve bought have had disc brakes, and when I was commuting seriously (before discs appeared) I rode fixed. The reasons are simple and neither relates well to the pro peloton. Firstly, control and consistency in the wet (in the UK roads are damp for at least six months of the year) is far superior, and secondly because of an increasing prevalence of rim failure caused by wear. Simply put, I think they are the best innovation since integrated indexed shifters and now only my summer bike has rim brakes. The pros already use TT bikes that are irrelevant to the every day user. Perhaps a similar digression is developing in the road bikes?

    • I agree with you colbagger. I have two bikes and wish I had 3.

      1 – Mountain bike. This has disc brakes but people don’t seem to realise that mountain bikers face a similar “braking power vs tire slippage” issue that road bikers face. On slick or gravel surfaces you are constantly trying to find the limit to your braking in the same way road riders do. So mountain bikers like disc brakes for lots of reasons – one of which is “control”. Same as road rider.

      2 – Road bike. I don’t race and rarely ride in a bunch. I really wish this bike had disc brakes because for my use case, it would be a big advantage – particularly in the wet. Same as colbagger.

      3 – Imaginary Time Trial bike. I don’t have one, but want one for the triathlons I do. I don’t need discs on this bike and it wouldn’t cross my mind to ask for them. The less I use my brakes the better!

      I don’t think this debate is about the appropriateness of discs on road bikes. Its about which road bikes they go on. The bike companies should consider changing their marketing tactics.

  19. Thanks for the extremely valuable points about the UCI you made in this. It’s been winding me up hugely every time there’s any sort of incident that can possibly be blamed on the UCI, or every time a policy is unclear or not what some twitter commentators would like.

    I think it’s also relevant to mention that Cookson’s strategy for the UCI, as I understand it, is to focus on process rather than executive decision making. Essentially the aim is to put in place the correct procedures, which should be transparent and executed by the people best placed to execute them, rather than to come with off the cuff rulings and decisions (as seemed to be the case with Verbruggen and then McQuaid). This amounts to the president giving up power, and control, of some essential aspects of UCI policy making.

    An example in point might be the Astana ruling, where the UCI made recommendations to the licensing committee, which the committee then ruled against. That feels (and I may be wrong) like the sort of situation that earlier presidents would have tried to control, and ensure their decision was the one that counted. It’s also worth noting that the licensing committee used a team of external auditors, with documented standards, to reach their decision, actually gathering quantifiable metrics and thereby setting up a robust process for future decisions. This is basically how other industries work (I work in an industry that can receive external audits, unannounced, that could withdraw our licenses to do business), and how various ISO industry standards are used.

    The “Cookson should do (so and so)” brigade seem to ignore the fact that making a president powerful enough to react instantly, with effect, in the way they desire is anathema to running a transparent, accountable organisation. Which does make me wonder how the decision to abandon the disc brake experiment was ended so quickly. Not that I’m against the decision, but I’d like to know how the decision was taken, by who, and if it had already been agreed as a contingency should a rider be injured by disc brakes. The alternative is that as soon as Twitter throws up a tweet storm someone makes a decision for PR purposes, entirely reactive, and possibly without possession of the full facts or representation from all interested parties. That’s old-school UCI.

    • Interesting reply, thanks and good to see an exploration of the UCI which was one of the main themes of the piece rather than the “disc brakes: yes or no” arguments which tend to see people stick to a starting position. With the UCI they don’t have a magic wand if if this existed they could only wave it if everyone else agreed it was a good idea.

      I suppose it begs the question of whether the processes are being put into place and the right people are being picked to lead on these matters. As you say this decision was made very quickly, almost overnight which seemed hasty, even if it’s understandable.

      • Yes, and there’s still not adequate transparency about that.
        I think we need to judge whether the UCI has made progress since the days of Pat/Hein on how they make decisions, not whether we agree with the decisions they make.
        With the disc brakes they’ve probably come to the correct decision, but I’m inherently suspicious of a snap decision made on the back of a high profile incident and a media fuss. If I’m right about what Cookson’s trying to do then he will make the UCI stronger. Any system that leaves its day to day decision making to an executive is only ever as good as that executive – you’re at the mercy of his whim.

        Incidentally, I know it’s not generally your thing to do interviews, but I’d love to see you sit down with Cookson and shed some light on what goes on behind the scenes.

        • Do we know how the UCI makes its decisions? Or do we only have what Cookson says happens?
          Personally, I have no idea and that’s why I judge the UCI and Cookson on what they actually do.
          There’s a lot of nice-sounding chat that comes from Cookson, but what happens often turns out to be very different.
          We don’t know his motivations, but we do know what he has done (or hasn’t).
          It’s easy to be hoodwinked if you base your opinion of someone on what they say, rather than what they do.

          • Well see my initial comment regarding Astana for a case study.
            The UCI were judged as being incompetent, giving in to vested interests, unfit to govern “as bad as Pat and Hein” because Astana were eventually allowed to ride.
            But what they actually did, instead of just saying “they’re dodgy – chuck them out”, which would set a difficult precedent (how dodgy, exactly?) and could have pretty much bankrupted the organisation in legal fees with CAS, was to initiate a process which referred the matter to the licensing committee, which in turn brought in external auditors to document Astana team practices, set minimum requirements for compliance, and verify them.

            To me, that’s remarkable and valuable progress.

          • But with the Astana case, at first – as is so often the case (e.g. the Kreuziger case) – Cookson was talking up how serious the doping cases were. Then, in the end, it turned out to be about team procedures, etc. And we’re supposed to believe that Astana are clean now? (And he’s sorted out Katusha too?) The talk didn’t match the action.
            The lack of action – on motorbike accidents, on motors in bikes (see my comment above) – is as bad as the actions: immediately rubbishing the Sunday Times doping claims (not staying neutral as he always claims he will) despite admitting he knew nothing about it; the new weather rules; the nonsense with ASO and siding with Velon; the initial calendar idea; the determination to cut the Vuelta to two weeks; the biological passport falling by the wayside seemingly, with less testing done.
            And all of these and people keep talking about what a ‘decent’ fellow he is, etc.
            He’s playing the politician brilliantly: he talks a great game and people believe him – ignoring all the bad things that are actually happening.

          • @J Evans
            OK, I get it, the UCI simply can’t do anything right.
            1) The doping cases at Astana were serious, but you’re talking about initiating collective punishment against the team. They had a possible legal get-out against a strict interpretation of the rules (cases on the development team). The UCI did what they could without getting ripped apart in court, which would have wasted loads of that money you’d like to use on testing.
            2) Motos/Accidents – as INRNG points out, there is little unilateral action the UCI can take. Neither you nor I have much idea of what they’re doing behind the scenes, though INRNG suggests they are (and have been) working on it. Others (Cavendish on the Cycling Podcast) have commented that much of the cause is how races are being ridden now, rather than any change in how many motos there are or how they’re piloted.
            3) Rubbishing the Sunday Times claims re Bonar: Frankly, they were rubbish claims. Should he have made “no comment”? Possibly, though it’s no hanging offence and makes little difference either way.
            4) The new weather rules: We at least have some. Some riders like them, others who hoped to take some time in the mountains weren’t so happy. They’ve been tried precisely twice, so as with any new implementation, they’ll take a while to be adjusted and fine tuned. You seem to mistake a Twitter/media palava for an actual problem here. I’m not sure what your issue with them is.
            5) “Nonsense with Aso, siding with Velon, new calendar “- politics. UCI are pretty much over a barrel as ASO own TdF, Velon represent industry stakeholders and will be needed if the UCI has to take on ASO.
            6) “Biological passport falling by the wayside, with less testing being done”: can you quantify that for me, with references please? It’s not a claim I’ve heard before.

            I’m not claiming that Cookson is perfect, but I’ve a damn site more respect for him and what he’s trying to do than I had for his predecessors. I see others out there that seem to ant to blame him/The UCI every time their favourite rider gets a puncture or the TV coverage of a race is fuzzy.

          • 1) Many Astana riders doped; very little was done.
            2) Nothing has been done. Nothing was done despite it going on all last season and then the worst thing happened. And these incidents are still happening. The UCI had a lot of time to do something.
            3) I’m not backing the claims; I’m saying he should stay neutral – would he have rubbished the claims if they were against, say, Italian cyclists?
            4) The new weather rules allow teams a say on when to cancel races. That’s a conflict of interest – as we’ve already seen at T-A. And cold isn’t dangerous (snow is).
            5) The UCI shouldn’t be taking on ASO (who – for their own financial purposes – protect the races: they’ve done far more for cycling than the UCI) – that’s just about power.
            The UCI shouldn’t be siding with Velon – another conflict of interest – to create a closed system that will stop new teams coming through to WorldTour level. (Teams like Dimension Data would not be WT.)
            It’s sport – it shouldn’t be political.
            And the original calendar idea was absurd.
            6) I said ‘seemingly’ because this is just a feeling – there seem to be fewer people being caught. However, there were claims by riders that there were fewer tests being done. Then it went quiet.
            The UCI shouldn’t be backing new Middle Eastern – money again – races over smaller European races, which are the backbone of cycling. If they cease to exist, younger riders have nowhere to learn their trade.
            Same reason he wants to ruin the Vuelta – take it down to two weeks so that they can fit new races in the calendar.
            It’s not ‘globalisation’; it’s a desperation to make money.
            His purpose is to make the sport better; not to make money.
            People assume that Cookson is doing an honest and decent job, but we know his reliance on Makarov and to quote Cookson (19/11/15) “I’m confident that the people running the Russian Cycling Federation are trying to do the right thing and I’m sure that if there were any problems there, they would not want to cover them up at all.”
            Really? He’s ‘sure’?
            I have no bias against Cookson – nor any liking for his predecessors – I’m merely judging him on his actions. (Nothing to do with any ‘favourite rider gets a puncture or the TV coverage of a race is fuzzy’.) And judging him by his actions, he has not been a huge improvement on McQuaid.
            Take one issue: motors in bikes.
            Can anyone honestly say that they are confident that riders are not using motors in their bikes?
            I have absolutely no idea.
            That’s a really bad situation.
            As I say above:
            Thermal cameras.
            Ban bike changes.
            Demand that all riders provide their data to the UCI.
            Tag every bike and examine every bike after every race.
            Why are the UCI not doing any of these things?
            Some of these are very simple. And none of this is new.
            It really makes you wonder if it is simply incompetence.

          • J Evans.

            Have you got an actual quote re the Vuelta? The reason I ask is everything I’ve read or heard him say on the subject has come across as an opinion rather than a want or wish. I’m paraphrasing but along the lines of “Mr Cookson, do you think the GT’s will remain 3 weeks long?”. “I think the Giro and TdF will but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vuelta goes to two weeks in the future.” As I said, not a direct quote but not far off.

          • Larrick –
            Cookson November 18, 2014: “We want to plan for a better sport, in that the best riders compete in the best races. With the current structure of three Grand Tours of three weeks it is impossible.”
            Cookson March 19, 2016: “I personally believe that the Tour and the Giro should remain three weeks, but it would not surprise me to see a two-week Vuelta,”
            You can call them ‘hints’, but if you’re the president, it’s not a hint.
            And what person whose primary concern was good cycling would want to shorten the Vuelta?
            The same person who isn’t doing everything he could do to combat motors in bikes (a problem that – unlike doping – can actually be stopped).

          • J Evans

            Ok. So the first one is a fact. No rider can compete to win all 3 GT’s whilst they all remain 3 weeks and the second was in answer to the question, what do you see happening in the future for the GT’s. His opinion is he wouldn’t be surprised if the Vuelta changed. Thanks for clarifying.

          • Also, the fact that he thinks the sport would be better with shortened grand tours shows he doesn’t know what is best for cycling. They’re three weeks long so that they’re the ultimate test – why water one of them down?
            It shows he doesn’t care about the history of cycling too.
            I can’t see how anyone would prefer to see Contador, Froome, Nibali, Quintana, et al go head-to-head in three two-week non-grand tours, rather than watch three proper grand tours through the season.
            Also, throughout history, there has often been one dominant rider. Watching this one rider win all three GTs would be dull.
            Also, all that would happen is that riders would saunter through the Giro, waiting for the Tour. How do you force them to compete?
            It’s a bad idea suggested by someone who doesn’t see what makes for the best racing, but sees it from the ‘celebrity’ angle of having all the best riders in a race.

          • I think we’re at cross purposes here as your and my ‘facts’ seem to say two different things. He WANTS 2 week GT’s and he THINKS 2 week GT’s MAY happen. Let’s just agree to disagree.

        • Now we are into what might be a really interesting column and discussion: How do you know where to set the next minimum weight?

          It seems clear that the current minimum is almost silly. But can the UCI just say “5.5Kg is the next level” and expect it to stick? Or do they need to build a consensus on a specific target? Or set of targets (TT vs road vs CX vs ???) How does one go about building consensus?

          We can say ‘safety matters to us all’ but what is safe? I remember a series of frames from two current sponsors that were both very light and very fragile. Heavy hail destroyed a bunch of bikes from one company, and more than once a tap on the top tube with a knee at a stop sign broke frames on another brand. I don’t think that was safe, nor do I think either brand is still making those, but how do you legislate design of tubes so that is not done again?

          If you could wave a magic keyboard, how would you find a way to set the new minimum weight????

          This is the kind of discussion where I think that the UCI is both underpowered and important.

          • @Peter – I think you were probably replying to my comment re bike weight as proxy for safety
            I believe the minimum weight requirement is probably on it’s last legs, but I strongly suspect that whatever replaces it (if anything) will be lacking any real use. If there’s some general industry standard then they’ll probably use that, but I’m not aware of any official body other than the UCI that regulates safety of bike frames. Possibly an EC standard somewhere? In which case: if they can sell it, they can ride it. There seems to be an ISO standard though I’m not shelling out CHF 118 to find out what’s in it.

          • I would set up two checks, safety and price.
            Safety – I guess every frame has to pass certain tests to ensure structural integrity during regular use and in event of a crash (in EU that would be EN 14781, I just did a quick google search I may be completely wrong), but UCI could set up more demanding test to make additional income and ensure rider safety.
            Price – as all bikes sold are tested and therefore safe for use, UCI could set up an algorithm to define the minimum weight. Something like: the average weight of medium sized bike from 5 major manufacturers that cost less than 1500CHF adjusted for inflation multiplied by 0.8.

        • Your thoughts are well written and seemingly reasonable until you generically package the two previous administrations; the days of Pat were Very Different than the days of Hein. I apologize that my days, presently, are too busy to respond in detail to the rest of your apologist position.

          The decision on the disc brakes was not a snap. While it was made after a very serious incident that could have been much worse, we are half way through a disc trial season where almost no pro wants to use a disc. What is suspicious is that it is even a discussion still.

          What is Cookson really trying to do? You overlook much, but let’s just remind everyone that Cookson’s campaign (and it’s empty dossier, and it’s meddling in the nomination process of Cyling Ireland and the alleged purchase of votes in the UCI presidential elections) was financed by Igor Makarov, owner of one of the dirtiest teams at the time who sits on the UCI Management Committee. Makarov’s RGCP is directly affected by UCI decisions. So too is the bookmaking business…

          So, stronger? Or, just better at putting a polished PR face forward for the punters?

          • And, it is not “Cookson”, a man who has spent his whole professional life hiding, it is “the present UCI administration”. Cookson is just the current spokesperson, and future fall guy.

    • @Dr Headgear,
      As an “insider” I really appreciate your well balanced post and I wholly agree with your thoughts about the possible reaction from prior presidents. It would have been far more “dictatorial”.
      The setup of the UCI since Mr. Cookson started really has improved processes and transparency very much.
      I have been a part of this and the changing regimes since 1997 and I think I can say now that the UCi responds with clarity and consideration. If you mail/phone them as an example, you are likely to have a respond within 48 hrs. vs. no respond at all in the old days.
      I wouldn’t go back for sure. It is way better today and has improved immensely.

      • Would there be many difficulties in the UCI tagging all bikes before each race, banning bike changes (except by neutral service) and then examining all bikes (or a random selection if there isn’t time/money to do all of them) at the end of the race?
        Seems like a simple thing the UCI is – for whatever reason – not doing.
        Otherwise, everyone ends up watching races and questioning them.
        Was Sagan’s performance on the Paterberg genuine?
        Did Contador do a brilliant ride on the Mortirolo in the Giro last year (after a – seemingly unnecessary – bike change)?
        Am we just being conned?
        That seems a terrible situation for a sport to be in – and yet it seems to have a simple answer.

        • Assuming you replied to have my take on it: I am not going to answer to that, sorry.

          Judging from your other posts, J Evans, I recommend you spend some time investigating which roles the various parties; organiser, riders, riders’ associations, UCI, national federations etc. play in any given event. It appears that you suffer from some kind of misconception about the powers of the UCI and the inner workings of the sport at event-level.
          Sorry if I offended you here, but there you go; that is what I read from your posts.

          • No, no offence at all – we just disagree.
            I dislike the way the UCI works – as you and Inrng describe it – because simple measures, such as the ones I have mentioned, are not taken.
            I don’t know the system, but I see the inaction that the system produces. Examples are motors in bikes and the large number of motorbike accidents with riders (this seems a much more complicated issue, admittedly, but nothing has been done and it’s been going on for a long time). In both cases, the UCI has responded inadequately.
            For me, that means the way the UCI functions is too slow and is incompetent (like most, I don’t know why).
            You like the process – OK. Me, I don’t like the results.
            If it is necessary to have more direct, strong leadership in order to actually achieve progress then I’d prefer that.
            But I don’t really care so much about the process – only the results.
            I don’t think the UCI is all-powerful – precisely the opposite. I think we have a president whose main concern – like all politicians – is winning the next election. Therefore he is too worried about placating all parties.
            As it is, motorbikes keep hitting riders; and the fans, sponsors, other riders are left wondering who – if anyone – is using motors.
            And with all of this the very quick suspension of brake discs doesn’t fit these ideas of a complicated, consensual process. If the UCI can act that quickly on brake discs, why not do so on something simple like banning bike changes?
            Whilst the UCI is not seen to be responding adequately, people are going to suspect that it is unwilling to find the cheats – particularly as this has been the case in the past.

      • You’ve got to be kidding. Aigle has taken the process and transparency back 20 years at least. Whoever is pulling Cookson’s strings is making Verbruggen look like an amateur.

        What we need, and will probably never have again, is a real Patron. None of the sniveling one thing and then doing something else entirely. It’s a crime, what’s happening now.

        But, I am glad that they answer your letters.

  20. Without clear video– or even with– any probable analysis of a crash requires a reconstruction expert including human factors analysis. These are immensely complex and expensive projects. Definitively determining what occurred to Ventoso and Maes is impossible for intuiting keyboard peddlers or anyone other than people trained, tested, certified, and experienced in this highly technical field; people who get paid huge dollars for the tasks of building science based proof. That said, I can envision– intuitively– exactly how Ventoso’s left leg was sliced by a disc rotor, which suggests the opposing sides should be fed data, not dreams.
    It seems UCI has an issue with financing, plain & simple. Thermal imaging cameras cost how much? Crash reconstruction analysis costs how much? Let’s wait to see what they come up with, whether they will spend the money needed for definition. It’s ironic that UCI gives a Shwarzenegger-style thumbs up to you, Mr Bike Consumer, spending $12,000 for a disc-equipped Di2 bike but so far they appear reluctant to spend similar amounts for thermal imaging or crash reconstruction (if indeed proven to work as asked)
    Maybe require bicycle equipment manufacturers wanting their machines in pro races to pay into a fund tasked with finding out exactly what occurred to Fran Ventoso?

  21. Everyone’s so worried about disc brakes yet we allow races to have unmarked bollards in a sprint, potholes, and rough sandpaper-y pavement. To paraphrase a poster above, would you want to careen into a rough scratchy road surface or something smoothly paved. Don’t even get me started on glassphault.

  22. There is not much technical competence available in cycling to run a properly designed multivariant experiment to really understand the benefits and disadvantages of disc vs caliper brakes. For instance, one would need to look a myriad data points to really understand the overall safety of one vs the other. Just some of the quick ideas that come to mind are road debris avoidance with better stopping power, things catching in a caliper brake, the aforementioned disc causing a cut, wheel strength disc vs caliper in a minor crash, etc, etc (I am not trying to be all-inclusive here just giving possible examples for reader understanding).

    Then one would need to measure interactions like disc and caliper bikes mixed together in a peloton vs all one type. There are plenty of other factors that would be need to be considered in a well-run experiment that a good engineer, bicycle brake manufacturing design engineer and riders could list out. Then an experiment could be designed that would measure these factors alone and their interactions. Any trained Six Sigma Master Black Belt knows how to do this stuff – it is not rocket science – just good application of proper statistical techniques.

    Then the data could be analyzed and all these things could be truly understood in context and a decision based on facts could be reached. Instead we mostly rely on emotion, knee-jerk reactions, and UCI politics with the political parties being manufacturers, race organizers, team orgs and riders vying against one another. That, as you pointed out very clearly, is a methodology fraught with inherent difficulty.

    This same type of experiment design could be applied to many other issues plaguing racing today like finding the balance between properly supporting riders with motorbikes and when the motorbikes become a danger to the rider. There is a balance there that could be understood a bit more scientifically than how it is done today. I don’t see the UCI and ASO being able to do this in the current climate. Somehow the riders are going to have to band together for an independent safety body to look out for their interests.

  23. As always I am more than surprised by the wrong idea and miscalculation the people in positions of power have of the current situation. Even a short look over various tweets, blogs and interviews in the last months showed you the pros don’t want disc brakes. Never wanted them, don’t trust them.

    Once upon a time this would have meant nothing – teams, industry and UCI were the ones with more power and could steer things their way. But the times have changed. Paris-Nice, Tirrenno and the extreme weather protocol was a case study how nowadays things go down. With social media the riders can now pressure and mob everybody else and they do (and I am not judging here, just explaining, no side in this are angels). And it was clear, that something like that would happen with the disc brakes, if the slightest possibility arose.

    The situation behind the scenes is highly explosive and sometimes we in the public see the results of that unstable situation. I always wonder why nobody takes notice or says something. I feel the sport as I love it is endangered by all these powerstruggles. What Cookson does can in some situations be a good thing, but now is the totally wrong time and with him it is the wrong man in charge. Although I do think he is waking up a bit and stops underestimating the situation. What we would need right now in my mind is a strong UCI with a plan and not some management nonsense. It’s the wrong time for that.

  24. If the article’s point is right, it’s dreadful news. It means there is no real regulator, not a single vision of what the sport is about, in charge of making it real. I’d much rather have every organiser be an absolute king in his realm, and decide all the rules, take or leave for the participants, instead of a fluid muddy network of ideas and interests producing convoluted, contradictory, ever-changing standards, that make cycling worse and worse every decade.

    • That basically equates in the real world to: you’d rather that ASO governed cycling.
      Unfortunately, ASO have no interest in ensuring e.g. sponsor stability (through ensuring participation in eents such as the TdF that earn them the most publicity), nor in sharing their revenues with teams. They really aren’t offering much other than dictatorship, which we could only hope was benevolent.

      • Exactly. ASO or whoever is putting up a race, not needing to take iinto account the interests of team managers or bike manufacturers, simply trying to capture as much public attention as possible, with a wild, adventurous, de-technified, old-fashioned gruelling race.

        • You’re right Ferdi, shame on them for not realizing who is really important here!!! The sport trades on the epic performances of the past, but doesn’t seem to want to produce any more while the industry trumpets product X “wins” the race, but hides the stuff when if fails.

      • I’d far rather have ASO than the UCI. ASO has shown competence in many areas – including doing more against doping in the past, at times.
        ASO has earned their place in the sport with the races – not sure many of the teams can say that. Why should they hand over the money?
        The sponsors will come back if the UCI does something about the scandals – motors in bikes must have knocked us back a few years.
        The teams – via groups such as Velon – want a system that protects their status for years: regardless of whether or not they’re any good. This would also stop new teams from becoming WorldTour.

        • And yet when a moto hits a cyclist at an ASO race (most recently at Paris-Roubaix) it’s the UCI’s fault, not ASO’s….

          ASO are a commercial organisation that try to maximise their own revenues. They put on some good bike races, competently.

          They also put on some of those new Middles Eastern races, notably Oman and Qatar that you seem to blame on the UCI: “The UCI shouldn’t be backing new Middle Eastern – money again – races over smaller European races, which are the backbone of cycling. If they cease to exist, younger riders have nowhere to learn their trade.”

          They are entirely opaque, undemocratic, and make their decisions according their own best interests – whether or not they coincide with the good of the sport or not. Because you’ve liked some of their decisions you’d like to hand them ultimate power over the sport. That is the most incredibly short-sighted idea I’ve ever seen.

          If ASO had complete power over the sport, they would pick which teams, and which riders, rode which races. Want to ride the TdF? You’ll have to send your top team to Qatar. They do this already for their wildcard entries. It wouldn’t be long until it was “Want to ride the TdF? We want this and that rider there, which means they can’t ride the Giro”.

          So how long do you think they’d keep making decisions you liked, as opposed to ones you disagreed with? And when you do disagree with a decision, you’ve abandoned any process or transparency on how it’s made, so it’s just “what ASO say”.

          I can’t actually believe there are people that care about cycling that would support this in any way. I also think I need to leave this “conversation” before I overstep INRNG’s commenting guidelines.

    • But my point wasn’t on ASO or any one special actor. What I want to highlight is the importance of an “individual’s vision” of the sport, as opposed to a collectively-negotiated, groupthink-prone, trend-influenced, lame, vision of cycling. And the importance of competition between visions: if there is one UCI-coordinated set of standards for the whole sport, then that’s is. If every race sets its own standards (say, have one “pro-Eroica”, competing with the race manufacturers would like to have), the sport would be richer, and would probably go down the way we, sovereign fans, would prefer.

  25. The FFC has prohibited discs for their mass-start events?

    I wonder how this will impact big sportive events such as etape du tour, which is run under FFC rules (and refers riders to FFC for allowed equipment).

    As INRNG says, these types of events are where discs are probably most beneficial, and where many hopefuls may have already made a big investment….

    • Ok, so I’m in the market for a road bike right now (thanks burglars…) – I was pretty wedded to the idea that a disc brake model was ideal for me, but if it’s going to be outlawed in events like the Etape etc etc, that I might have a crack at over the next year or two, then that makes a material difference to my thinking…. Any more information on this from anyone would be great fully received.

        • Well, I’ve ridden discs in those and similar events before and it seemed to me that there was rather more danger caused by riders who weren’t able to brake properly than those with discs. But if we think that bike manufacturers are grasping, they’re nothing compared with the insurance industry, so I can see why the FFC have bottled it.

          On the flip-side, many thousands of people participate in these events annually, and large numbers will have done so using disc brakes over the last few years. The organisers of these events should be able to let the UCI have information about how many injuries discs have really caused.

    • +1

      To add: These types of (mass start) sportives that consumers ride are in fact exactly what Ventoso mentioned in his letter… as the perfect place for disc brakes! Bobbie Traksel (member of the UCI equipment committee and has been riding a disc bike himself for a year now as a test) has also said disc brakes are absolutely offer big performance improvements for consumers riding in traffic en these kinds of events. Both Ventoso and the UCI have said “no” (or more specifically “not right now” to discs for in (pro) races , but a big YES to them in basically any consumer/tourist use case

  26. Crash in the pro peleton, injuries caused by the disc? NO SH*T? Now that ridiculous episode is hopefully dead and buried the bike industry can concentrate on working a bit harder for some real technological advances in racing bike design. Lets hope……

  27. I like discs on my bikes. I understand why a professional peleton rider would not see much benefit in them. Yet discs were pushed onto the riders. I think the Ventoso open letter is their way of pushing back. If the UCI tried to find consensus on this matter they should maybe have searched harder.

  28. Do people on here not have jobs to go to or lives to lead? Do they just sit at their keyboards all day waiting to out contribute each other? As for disk brakes, yes they have their place, but NOT in the pro peloton! My next winter hack will have full guards, wider tyres and probably discs because I’m sick of how wet the winters are getting and how crap the roads are.

  29. The thing is that whether the pros use them or not should not have an impact on whether the majority of enthusiasts bikes should use them. For most riders discs simply represent better performance. There is no reason we need to have the same bikes as the pros – we don’t drive race cars on the street. So the fact there may be an issue with their use in top level (or even any) bunch road racing shouldn’t necessarily halt the development of bikes using discs.

    • See my Spinaci argument. I’ve used your “F1 car on the street” analogy a time or two as well. But let’s face it, a whole lot of punters are encouraged by the industry to rush out and buy the exact same (or so they believe, but that’s another story) stuff their hero is using in the TOUR. How else can you explain Joe Crankarm riding around flat roads with a compact chainset and a bike optimized for climbing Alpe d’Huez when his usual route is more like Paris-Roubaix?

      • Joe has much less power so a compact is pretty much optimal choice for flat riding.
        But you’re right, there are those with 53/39 and 21 in the back (that would be me 10 years ago on Dura ace 9sp) riding high mountain passes as pros do.

          • 50/12 x 2.1 x 90 x 60 = 47km/h
            To achieve 47km/h – in the drops, no wind and flat, you would have to produce 450W.

            Mind you, I agree with you. I just happen to live in a hillier terrain and see plenty of examples of people riding standard double with small block in the back (just like pros do/ I need tightly spaced gears/ I need 16t…) and really suffering on the hills.

          • Regarding 53/39 v. 53/34, I’m thinking there is not much difference for the Cat 5/4 racer and average rider. I put out about 4 watts/kg for 3 minutes or so (max effort – an average local racer/rider, small stature), presently riding compact as that is what my bike came with. I never use anything taller than 50/17 on flats, even in a blazing peloton rushing towards the line. OTOH, I use the 39/27 or 24 daily on my local climbs. The extra tall gearing the 53/39 would give me would be of no use. As it is, my 13 and 12 look very clean compared to all the other cogs back there.

  30. Team Direct Energie also chose to race on disc brakes. Unlike Lampre this race mattered a lot to the team (both in that being invited no doubt pleased its new title sponsor who saved them from folding, but that they also placed Petit in tenth which isn’t an anomalous result given their modest success so far in 2016). “Only the irrelevant used discs” was a dreadfully lazy fiction to spin, Ring. No marks.

    And yes, BH is very keen to push discs (their Quartz model casual road bike is disc only in my market, and I believe that the successor to their G6 model that the team normally races, the shockingly named G7, is disc only) but the evidence that they would be behind this equipment choice seems at best idle speculation.

  31. I’m curious to know who, if anyone, bears the legal liability for injuries caused by the implementation of the trial. Would the riders union or something have had to sign off on the trial, accept it as an agreed and acceptable danger, and waive any right to sue and claim damages? If not, could the UCI be liable for permitting it, and putting riders in undue danger?

    Where a crash previously would have been rather mundane, a crash with sharp “machetes” might be considered sufficiently different / excessive from what riders originally agreed to.

    Or is this just considered part off the regular level of accepted risk that riders agree to when they become professional riders?

  32. I AM a criminal. Most of My life behind bars is spent climbing ( hour up 15 minutes down) with an illegal bike below the weight limit. Living near the base of Loveland Pass sporting a 39×25, which I don’t use. The base of the climb is 9,600′; tops out at 10′ shy of 12,000′. I save the 25 for ramps in the double digit %’s. Like Magnolia, Flagstaff, Mesa Cortina, Guanella Pass, or sometimes to survive behind gunslingers.

    And that’s where disc brakes go out.

    It’s not just the weight,

    It’s the gear.

    Add any weight and I need a BIGGER gear, which adds MORE WEIGHT.

    -Which slows everybody down. I already bury Myself keeping up. Who wants to pay more money to climb slower? Catch 22.

  33. I also do not think the discs – for now – belong in mass start events.
    If I were a manufacturer, I would start pushing for their use in TTs and I cannot understand why they did not try to nudge the disc brakes in here first.
    In a TT:
    -Weight is not that much of an issue
    -You very rarely have a pile-up of riders (TTTs, but still a limited number of riders)
    -You want to carry as much speed as possible as far as possible = late braking which the superior modulation of discs are perfect for; especially in wet conditions
    -You swap your bike instead of a wheel-change (on theWT, in minor races a wheel-change is more common but from your own service-car = no neutral service considerations. Or, in case your rider has neutral service, you have given wheels to neutral and the wheel-change can be done anyway)
    -Only drawback (one word?) I see is that the team will need to have 2 sets of wheels. They cannot interchange wheels from TT to mass start.

  34. A question to Larry and all the other traditionalists who commented on this article:
    When did the bicycle industry start to become evil or bad, in terms of not listening to what the riders want but inventing stuff and urging the pros to use that stuff only to make the “punters” (not my words) wanting to buy that stuff? Was it when they invented
    – lycra and other fabrics which quickly ended the era of jerseys and shorts made out of wool?
    – clipless pedals and shoes with soles that were no longer wooden?
    – light weight and fast rolling clinchers that eliminated the hassle that tubulars are.
    – indexed shifting systems?
    – brifters that united the two controls for the brakes and derailleurs into one unit eliminating the need to reach down to the down tube for gear changes?
    – the so-called system wheels like Campas Shamal or Mavics Cosmic?
    – carbon frames that weigh less than half of what a traditional steel road racing frame of the 90s weighed and ride much better especially for the demands of the racing crowd?

    Or did they just become the bad boys when they tried to bring disc brakes to road bikes?

    Here’s a claim: IF it rained during MSR or Il Lombardio last year and the winner would have been on disc brakes giving him the winning advantage in the final descent we would not have that discussion any more. As with any innovation listed above which all proved advantageous the pros would have adopted it in no time and no one would talk about those putative safety risks. As no one talks about the safety risk that bladed spokes are.

    I assume that the ones who are really against disc brakes are the team mechanics. Their job certainly would not get easier with disc brakes. They require more time when building up new bikes and more attention when handling/cleaning bikes and wheels. And you really have to make sure that each rotor is at the exactly same axial position which is not as trivial as it may sound to the non-technician. So the potential for error is certainly bigger.

    • +1… 😉

      Do keep in mind that hydraulic disc brake calipers have a certain degree of “self centering” brake pistons. A mechanic does not need to install every disc to the 0,01 mm. However I can surely imagine that powerhouses like eg Marcel Kittel can generate rotor rub (as they can also generate rim brake pad rub), which they will then blame the mechanic for.

      My take is that riders are just generally “instinctively” against anything that does not make them LOOK faster, and then make up safety concerns to frustrate progress. They were all for Spinergy wheel and Spinaci handlebars (make you look fast, but are dangerous as hell – no safety concerns from ‘the pros’ there), but against helmets and disc brakes (are safer, but don’t make you looks fast – in come the made up safety concerns from ‘the pros’).

    • STS- first let me tell you I’m a big EROICA fan, so you know where I’m coming from. Rather than comment on each of your straw men individually, I’ll explain I started to dislike the industry (I never called them evil or bad, but I do believe they act against sporting interests in favor of commercial ones) when huge profits from big markups taken on products made in low-wage countries became necessary to sponsor pro teams. And more when an industry lobbying group was formed to influence the rules of pro cycling. I admitted to channeling an “inner-Henri Desgrange” as a way to illustrate none of this is really new. As to your idea that pro mechanics are the ones preventing the widespread use of disc brakes – I doubt it – most of ’em just do what they’re told though they might grumble about it.

      • Thanks, Larry! Now I really understand where you’re coming from. And I also understand that with regards to this discussion we’re on different sides of the Grand Canyon where neither one will be able to jump over the canyon and there’s just no way to meet somewhere in the middle.
        Eroica for me is just nostalgy for, well, people who think that a lot of things were better in the past. As an engineer I’m convinced that this is not true for the most part. And as a bike rider I really enjoy the progress bike technology has made over the three decades that I’m a tiny little part of that sport. That’s why I really regret that there is no event on the same challenging and fun course of the Eroica for people riding bikes that would actually make sense on that type of course.
        But you’re offering one reasoning which I don’t understand. Which choice did the bike industry have when professional teams like USPS, Telekom, ONCE, Saeco and others were asking for not only a huge number of bikes from their equipment sponsors but also some considerable cash to come with the equipment? Their bike sponsors were companies like Trek (with made in the USA carbon frames), Pinarello (with frames made in Italy at that time), Cannondale (with made in the USA frames) and Giant (made in Taiwan). And every other company who wanted to become an equipment sponsor of a professional road team had to offer more money. So this development was driven by the teams not by their bike sponsors.

        • STS- You are correct, we must agree to disagree. You might find this helpful to understand EROICA 5 minutes explains it all.
          When I was in bike retail we often had “engineers” come into the bike shop. They were the ones who wanted the Klein (back when Gary Klein actually made them) bikes and blathered on about “efficiency” of the machine. I used to wind them up with, “Engineer, eh? What kind of train do you operate?” and then try to educate them about how cycling is much, much more than cold, by-the-numbers calculations, whether it’s money, watts or kilograms. Sometimes it worked and they became customers, other times they went away stroking their beards.
          The need for massive amounts of sponsorship money came with the UCI’s ill-advised globalization project, especially the World (Pro, whatever) Tour concept which has done little but drive up the cost to field a decent pro team. Add in the doping scandals and financial crisis and who (besides rich chamois-sniffers and gambling interests) is going to put those big piles of loot into pro cycling? The bike makers (as in the dstant past) put big money in and they want and expect a big say in how things are run…and this is NEVER in line with sporting values.
          As to origin of these bicycles, what percentage of total production for ANY of those you named is done anywhere other than Asia? They came in with the big checks and wanted naming rights for the teams only AFTER they’d moved production to Asia, unless I’m missing something?
          Finally, apology to Mr. Inrng for going so far off topic here.

  35. Surely with disc brakes the industry is listening to the mass market, where such brakes are viable across the board for use in a variety of riding types. When pushed, makers may agree that disc brakes are not well suited to the specialism of road racing. The lack may be, inter alia, in terms of weight, ease of fit, aerodynamics and now safety within the unusual confines of a jostling, high speed, 200 bike peloton.

    Is it not simply the case that the industry has been lazy, since it has set out along the old tried and true route of top-down marketing -where the ploy is to point to the exemplar of pro-peloton use- when in reality the impetus of fitting disc brakes to all manner of bikes is now market driven from the bottom up?

    This time the industry does not need the pro peloton factor: it has just gone after it as has been its habit in the past. The UCI has been dragged along in its wake.

  36. Trek-Segafredo, Cannondale, Lampre-Merida, BMC, Giant-Alpecin. What do those names have in common? Six WT teams that have a bike company as a sponsor. A bike company that pays the wages of the riders and staff. I don’t understand how people can say, “Oh, the evil bike industry is forcing things upon the riders. Oh no!”. Yet not realize that without the bike manufacturers, professional bike racing wouldn’t exist as we know it. The vast majority of the riders in the pro peloton would be out of a job if the manufacturers stopped providing massive sums of cash; if the manufacturers get no say in what the riders compete on, why should they continue to provide any monetary support? Maybe there’s another team out there that is more willing to take their money and ideas.

    • I vowed not to get involved with this argument… but here goes:

      You’re arguing that the riders wouldn’t have jobs without bike manufacturers, yes?

      But, without races and riders in the past, and without fans buying the bikes of their heros there would be no bike companies. The companies you’re talking about are mostly very young companies that started up BECAUSE OF BIKE RACES AND RIDERS.

    • You don’t think that if there are so many manufacturers sponsoring, and not ice-cream, coffee machines, or banking services… something is the matter here?

  37. Agree with CA and if the UCI sorted out the image of perceived cheating (by establishing procedures against motors in bikes that everyone could see were effective, for instance), ‘normal’ (non-bike) sponsors would come back. Whenever people complain of a lack of money – or ‘stability’ as they usually call it – in cycling, they ignore this massive elephant.

    • J Evans – I can’t see sponsors coming back until ALL the cheating (as in doping) scandals become rare rather than the constant drip, drip, drip that exists at present. If your company had the funds and thought the customers were out there with funds to purchase whatever it was that you sold (two things not guaranteed in the current European financial crisis) would YOU spend millions being associated with pro cycling? SKY’s the exception rather than the rule..and fits into my “rich chamois-sniffer” category due to Jimmy Murdoch’s interest in the sport.

  38. It turns out from many other (non-cycling) applications of disk brakes that the edge of disk (aka rotor) does not have to be sharp (i.e., thin); it just needs to be designed to pass through the caliper. Wider/blunt edges can easily be manufactured (e.g., CNC) at tolerances suitable for applications in road/mountain bikes. There will be a slight increase in the weight penalty, but a significant increase in safety.

Comments are closed.