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by Dave Rome
May 19, 2016
Photography by Dave Rome
Given how quickly the UCI decided to suspend the use of disc brakes in road races, it’s little surprise many brands already had the ball rolling on 2017 disc-equipped race bikes.
Providing a clue of what’s to come, the UCI’s approved list of frames and forks was recently updated to include new disc-equipped race bikes from Giant, Specialized, Cannondale, Merida and Canyon.
Disc-equipped road bikes are already a common sight among the major brands, but in reality only a few offer bikes worthy of being raced at the top level. Many brands have dipped their toe into the road disc market with endurance-type bikes, not ones in the pursuit of speed.
However this list is dwindling, with BMC, Lapierre, Scott and Trek now arguably the only brands competing in the WorldTour without race-focused disc bikes. And even these brands already offer disc-equipped bikes perfectly suited to the Classics.
So while the industry and racers await the UCI’s decision on the future of disc brakes in professional road cycling, here’s a look at five new performance disc road bikes seemingly set for unveiling.
Of course details are scarce about what exactly these bikes will entail, but it’s a fair assumption that they’ll closely resemble the current rim-brake versions.
Typically the most notable changes are seen at the dropouts, with most brands adopting 12mm thru-axles in place of traditional quick-release skewers. Additionally, provisions for disc callipers and different braking forces must be made. These changes generally only involve redesigning the rear triangle and fork.
Following its overhaul for 2016, the SuperSix EVO 2 appears to be gaining a disc-equipped brother. At a glance the new rim-brake SuperSix EVO looks rather similar to the version past, but Cannondale claims to have added an element of aerodynamics while improving ride comfort and frame stiffness too.
With such slender fork legs and stays on the rim brake version, we suspect the disc option may gain a little weight.
Set as Giant’s all-purpose road race bike, the long standing TCR is soon to be joined by two disc versions. Set at the top of the range, the TCR Advanced SL Disc will be what the pros ride – if they ever choose to. The UCI’s list reveals that Giant is likely to offer the TCR Advanced Pro in a Disc version too, which will probably be a few grams heavier and with a lower-grade layup.
And it appears a refreshed Defy Advanced SL Disc will join these new TCRs too.
The all-round Ultimate CF SLX Disc has been teased since Eurobike last year, but the Aeroad Disc is something we hadn’t expected from the Germany consumer-direct company. With two disc-equipped racing models on the horizon, it seems Canyon was, or perhaps still is, expecting big things for discs on the road.
Satisfying the sprint needs of Alexander Kristoff, the Canyon Aeroad is an ultra-aggressive aero road bike. We suspect the general design of this bike won’t change much with the introduction of discs, but we also can’t see a need for such a bike as long as the UCI’s ban stands.
Borrowing a few aero lessons from the Aeroad, while keeping things super light and comfortable, Canyon’s recently overhauled Ultimate CF SLX is a Grand Tour contender. We’ve seen this disc-version in the flesh before, and have heard rumours that both Katusha and Movistar have had samples for sometime too.
Specialized was one of the very first brands to offer a disc-equipped race bike with the Tarmac Disc. However, it seems the American brand has been busy placing discs onto its McLaren collaboration aero superbike.
Specialized themselves previously proved that disc brakes offer more wind resistance than rim brakes, and so like the Canyon Aeroad, this is an interesting model to create.
We suspect that, slightly ironically, the disc version will be easier to setup than the current Venge VIAS with its proprietary rim brakes.
Merida’s relatively new Scultura Lite was a bike vying for the ‘world’s lightest production bike’. Surely the disc version won’t be able to make such a claim, but it’s quite possible such a bike could near the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit.
This one isn’t on the UCI’s approved list yet, but our own James Huang did spot one at the Taipei Cycle Show earlier in the year. What’s effectively a new rear triangle and fork for the addition of discs, the Noah SL is marketed in the same aero realm as the Specialized Venge VIAS and Canyon Aeroad.