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Recent reports suggested that disc brakes could make their debut by next season but, according to UCI president Brian Cookson, the new technology may potentially be in the peloton sooner than that.
The UCI and others have been weighing up the introduction of new braking systems for some time. Increased stopping power over a variety of climatic conditions is one of the big motivations, making braking much more predictable, while other factors such as lessening the risk of tubular tyres rolling is another possible benefit.
Cookson said that he has been chairing the UCI’s equipment commission in working towards this possible rule change plus others.
“I think it is such an important part of what we are trying to do, to look at new technology, to embrace it rather than to resist it. Hence we got the new rules for the hour record and so on,” he told CyclingTips.
“We have representatives of the manufacturers, the teams, the riders’ association, the race organisers and so on. I think we are very open to this [the introduction of disc brakes – ed]. We may well look at some experimental test events later this year with a view to perhaps wider introduction next year or the year after that.
“The important thing is we are talking with the industry. We have a generally good level of cooperation there and what we intend to do will be done in cooperation and collaboration with the industry and with the teams.”
Asked to clarify what those experimental test events would be, the Briton said that they would be UCI-ranked races.
“We are looking at selecting some events for later this year. We haven’t made any decisions yet.”
One point of debate is whether or not it would be safe to have riders on a mixture of current rim brakes and on disc brakes in the same events.
Some feel that the greater stopping power of disc brakes versus standard brakes could lead to crashes; the thinking behind that possibility is that those on less powerful systems could be caught out when disc brake users slow down suddenly or come to an abrupt halt.
In January CyclingTips spoke to Yves Möri from the WFSGI, the forum that represents the bike industry. It and has been dealing with the UCI over the use of disc brakes.
Asked if the WFSGI felt that the entire peloton needed to start using disc brakes at the same time, Möri said this was not the case. “I think it is not a secret that it was mentioned by the UCI themselves that they want to have an open introduction and have both systems in the same peloton.
“I am not a technical expert but we learned from many others that the difference in performance between good and bad rim brakes is already high. So the performance of the disc brake which is maybe a little bit better than the best rim brakes doesn’t really bring a big effect to the total difference.”
Asked the same question, Cookson echoed this thinking by saying he didn’t think it was necessarily important that every rider be on the new system simultaneously.
However he said that further thinking was needed on the matter.
“That is something that we are going to look at as part of the process,” he explained. “Let’s not forget that disc brakes themselves have differing levels of power. This is one of the issues that we are going to consider.”
Depending on the rate of those deliberations, riders may be debuting the new technology in a few months’ time.