Eight WorldTour teams to begin using disc brakes this month, expansion likely in 2016

by Shane Stokes


History will be made in the peloton this month when, for the first time ever, disc brakes will be employed by a number of squads.

“The UCI confirms that a total of eight UCI WorldTeams will trial disc brakes over 12 events in August and September,” the governing body told CyclingTips on Tuesday after being asked about the status of the roll-out. “More information about the outcome of these tests will be shared in due course.”

Details are scant at this point in time but the identities of the eight teams who volunteered to be part of the trial have not yet been made public. The UCI has also not named the events in question.

Velonews has reported separately that the disc brakes will debut in the Eneco Tour.

Each of the eight teams were able to pick two events in which to use the brakes. Their choices span a dozen events in total. Neutral service will carry wheels for these teams, as will their team cars.

In March UCI president Brian Cookson told CyclingTips that the UCI was considering relaxing its rules relating to this matter.

“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 explained then.

“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.”

In April the UCI then made this official, announcing that the devices would debut in August.

It said then that all of the teams would have the opportunity to use such brakes at two events of their choosing during August and September. It added that testing would continue at all events on the UCI professional road calendar in 2016.

“If the experience is satisfactory, disc brakes will be officially introduced to the UCI WorldTour in 2017. The aim is to eventually introduce disc brakes to all levels of road cycling.”

CyclingTips understands that this rollout will continue in 2016 and that widespread usage will likely step up then.

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Debate about mixed systems in the peloton

The move towards disc brakes has been studied in consultation with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI). The collaborative studies with the UCI were intended to determine if the systems were viable and safe and to consider when they should be introduced.

Advocates for their use say that the brakes are more powerful and, unlike the more standard mechanism, continue to function well in the wet. They believe there will be fewer crashes as a result.

Those who have voiced concerns have questioned if accidents could occur when teams using the regular systems are in the same bunch as those with more powerful brakes. Others have asked if the discs themselves could be a danger if a crash occurs and riders’ limbs are struck by them.

In January CyclingTips spoke to Yves Möri from the WFSGI. He said that the latter question about safety was being studied to see if it was a real issue.

Asked if that group 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.”

Cookson said in March that the matter would be studied prior to any final decision. “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.”

It appears the outcome of those talks was a decision that the differences in the various systems were not big enough to cause problems. As a result the first use of disc brakes in the pro road race peloton is now rolling out and, in the absence of any problems, the proliferation will continue next season.

The next wave in bike technology is here.

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