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  • ebbe

    Agree wholeheartedly with Cadel, although I would find it safe to say that “better modulation” does in fact lead to “better ultimate braking power”. Simply because there is less risk of blocking the wheel, which essentially boils down to a sudden fall in or loss of braking power. Or maybe “stopping effectiveness” is the term I’m looking for. Effectiveness (from the system as a whole) in stopping me is mainly what I want from a set of brakes (+ tires + rims + surface + my own body + ….). Stopping efficiency would be second on the list, followed by low maintenance, adjustability, looks, etc…

    But… Much more important than this saga of “the pros” using disc brakes, or not, or yet again, or not, is that we’ve now *finally* heard form UCI regarding amateur/tourist events. Personally I still don’t really care what “the pros” ride. But I would be quite miffed if I would get banned from participating in an event – and be denied a refund – simply for having *better and completely road legal* equipment than others.

    • James Huang

      I still hold to my statement that ultimate braking power is defined by tire traction but you’re absolutely right in that a brake with more precise and fine *control* will allow riders to more consistently and easily hit that point without locking up the wheels.

      I wouldn’t raise hands in victory for amateur/tourist events just yet, though. While the UCI has clearly stated that it is allowing discs for mass-start amateur events (which would typically include gran fondos), it’s unclear whether national federations can institute their own *local* bans. Hopefully the UCI will be able to further clarify that situation soon.

      • ebbe

        I’m fine with that… I’ve given up on finding the 100% exact terminology… I just want to stop when I need to: A complex function of friction between pad and disc/rim, not blocking the wheel (especially the front), the various surfaces I’m riding on and the various tires I’m using, my own body position on the bike, hand squeeze power needed, etc… ;-)

        The French organisation (FCC) that was the first to ban disc brakes (for l’Etape du Tour and others) posted the UCI statement to one of their Facebook pages yesterday… Which tells me they’re certainly allowing discs. www – facebook – com/161549777240946/photos/a.534558406606746.1073741825.161549777240946/1166979543364626/

        Seeing as both (amateur mass start) bans (France and Spain) I’ve seen were specifically based on the exact UCI decisions which have now *finally* been specified to exclude amateur events, my hopes are way up. Biggest “if” I see is this one: If insurance companies managed to get any crazy ideas in their heads these past months… we may still have a problem.

        Anyway, good to (also) hear from a pro with a balanced view

      • zosim

        You’re right but also missing the point that in the wet, the issue is frequently how long it takes the brakes to start to bite and frequently people lose control in the wet due to grabbing too much brake before the water finally clears off the rim and blocks. Disc brakes don’t have that issue in the slightest. Pull and they’re there (unless you’re dragging them in which case good luck) in pretty much any condition from rain to snow to mud.

        Pro riders may not like them but I think not permitting them in pro cycling and not permitting them in sportives is two different issues and if local federations want to ban them from essentially fun events, they need to offer refunds to those who have signed up before they’ve banned them.

  • theoldadage

    This article is just so unapologetically one-sided. Ventoso is a big boy. He’s played bikes for a while. He knows what happened. I’ll take his word over a bunch of guys with vested interests who weren’t there.

    Then we get the opinion of one former pro – who is still on the industry payroll as an ambassador for BMC. Some ‘balanced view’.

    • Steve G

      He just psychically knew what cut him, despite getting back on his bike and riding down the road?
      Everyone has an agenda on both sides; technology will, no doubt, win through in the end. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. Do people need electronic gears, 11 cogs in a cassette or ultra-aerodynamics? Not really, but they all chase those gains.
      I’m not sure what you expected the Cadel part of the article? Some thing other than his opinion? Is that no longer valid because he’s a former pro?

    • Neil

      It’s really interesting how everyone in this debate chooses to see bias where they want to. When Ventoso was injured, the pro-disc crowd called him out because Canyon didn’t have a disc bike (at the time). When a report is released that is paid for by the bike industry that is pro discs, they call it sensible.
      With the anti disc crowd, because Cadel is still employed by BMC, he’s biased. When a mass cancellation of a trial is cancelled based on one unverified case, it’s a sensible decision.

      • Dave

        The reason people called out Ventoso at the time (well before the forensics report was released) was that his claims did not add up.

        There is a danger in over-analysing bias, you can start treating it like a political debate and easily forget that this was a real event which either did or did not happen.

    • Dave

      If he really does know what happened, he should contribute to the debate by coming out and clarifying the facts for us, not skulking away like a coward.

    • ebbe

      The irony is: Ventoso himself has made it very clear in his letter that he *does not know what cut him*. He just *assumes* it must have been a brake rotor/disc. Have you actually read the letter?

    • Hazy78

      Ventoso admitted he didn’t know when it happened until he looked down, that alone brings doubt.
      It very simple and true that disc’s improve braking. I can’t see any bias in this article, just reorting what has been said by different parties.

  • Nitro

    Quote of the week right there from Cadel…

    “…which results in going faster, which results in a big grin on your face”

    Lets face it, unless you’re a top level pro, the last part is a huge part of what riding is all about…

    • Mitchell Ho

      Agreed. First prize!

      Anyone can chime in on the pros and the topic at hand – but at the end of the day, 98% of us ride for enjoyment, and that’s the most important thing!

  • Neil

    For those of us who aren’t at the top level, discs could be great. I’ve got no doubt that disc’s will end up in the pro peloton, but I also think that few of the pros will want them. In mountain biking, the benefits of discs (braking control) far outweigh the costs (aerodynamics, weight). I can’t see how that will be the case for top line road racers.
    If you’re going to push the boundaries of aero efficiency, the last thing you want is the extra frontal area of a disc brake. If you want to ride a super light weight bike, why add more weight in the form of calipers, discs, extra spokes, etc? Sure, you might descend a bit quicker, but on mountain stages bikes are normally setup for the uphill, instead of the down. If the pointy end of the sport is all about marginal gains, I’m not sure that discs as a package bring that.

    • Sean parker

      It’s not really about what pros want, it’s about what punters want. the pros, ina sense, work for us – not the other way around.

      if you want an effective lightweight disc braked bike for amateur racing, training and recreational riding then this should be made compulsory for professional racing. because this is where the developmental impetus lies. the pros should have little say in it and rightfully so,they work – indirectly – for us, not the other way around.

      I think there is a misconception that bicycle design and sales revolves around pro-riders. like F1 sells more BMWs to businessmen, cycling sells more specialized’s to MAMILs.

      • Neil

        I don’t get your logic on this one. F1 aren’t racing Series 5’s around, they are racing the most cutting edge, aerodynamic, fastest machines on the planet. I’d suggest that Pro Cycling should be the same. Callaway don’t force pro golfers to use the clubs that a Sunday hacker would, same with Federer and tennis racquets. They want them to be as successful as possible. I’d suggest that Pros don’t need discs for bike manufacturers to sell bikes with discs. There are plenty of people out there who’ll buy a Pinarello with discs because Sky ride Pinarellos without.

        • Sean parker

          Why are pros employed? To sell stuff. To us.

          We should be riding bikes with disc brakes if we want to stop optimally in all weather conditions.

          We are more likely to buy better stopping bikes if the pros use them, because UCI rules dictate what amateur racing cyclists purchase. if you are not a racing cyclist than it doesn’t matter – except to say that better bikes are created via the testing ground of pro racing.

          pros are paid to ride stuff, unless there really is a valid safety concern just get on and ride it.

          • Carton

            I think this is main reason why we once again don’t have disc brakes in the pro peloton. Pros chafe at having to ride stuff they don’t want, particularly when it won’t make them any faster. Even when it’s stuff that will ultimately make them safer (anyone old enough to remember the racing helmet debate?). Which, life being life, they are for once finding leverage against since they they can ground their objections on safety, of all things. Cycling is the life of sport, if that makes any sense.

          • Neil

            The second line of your statement could be swapped for any aspect of bike design.

            We should all be riding aero frames if we want to go faster.
            We should all be riding endurance frames if we want comfort.
            We should all be riding compact chainrings.
            We should be wearing leathers if we want to be more protected in the event of an accident (to take it further).

            Telling pros that they have to use these, because it’s what a manufacturer has determined to be the best for the weekend warrior is ridiculous.

            • Sean parker

              It’s not analogous at all. Brakes are a new design that are a substantial, not an incremental, improvement on bicycle function.

              At the moment, an amateur (that is someone paying for their own stuff) considering a new bike to participate in racing is forced to purchase a bike with an inferior brake design. It is true that they could buy a disc bike for training and a caliper bike for racing but,that’s a lot more investment than 1 bike to train and race on.

              A disc brake fundamentally improves braking in wet weather. None of the other modifications to bicycle function that you have mentioned have the same substantive safety features.

              it is true that a bike could be fitted with airbags, an anchor or the rider could wear leathers but they are strawman arguments we are talking about a substantial gain in performance and safety with no inconvenience.

              The aero/endurance/compact argument is again a strawman because there is nothing preventing an amateur rider from using these devices to race. But amateur racers can not ride a disc bike that has substantial safety and performance advantages, yet still fits in with the spirit of modern road bicycle racing (just in case you wanted to mention recumbents).

  • Arfy

    The only predictability in the disc brake saga is the UCI’s ability to flip-flop more than Australian politicians during an election period.

    The UCI needs to put its foot down on the bike manufacturers to come up with a safety testing standard that ensures the discs meet the safety expectations of all stakeholders including the riders. This may take time and money, but surely if they’d done this a year ago they’d be showing off their disc-brake equipped bikes in the industry’s biggest advertising event, the Tour, and avoided being the clowns in this circus.

  • George Darroch

    And yet there is no effective protest over the motos, which *have* killed and injured cyclists, many times.

    Looking at the Wikipedia article on professional cyclists killed during races, in the last decade it has been collisions with vehicles, heart attacks, and loss of control in descents which have killed most cyclists, unfortunately. This won’t help the first two, but it could very easily help the last.

    • Jon_Wong23

      Agreed. The disc brake comparison seriously pales in comparison to the motos and the issues surrounding that and rider safety.

  • Dave

    The UCI should show some leadership here instead of continually following – just stop faffing around and allow them already!

    If they really are as bad as the riders’ association says they are, none of their members will use them and we can put the issue to bed in a year’s time.

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    Great (and funny) essay on this topic here
    Disclaimer: My friend Bill McGann runs this site

  • Paul Rosham

    I tried to read all of the Cycling Australia and UCI regs to find where it says they are banned. Couldn’t. CA’s pathetic response to my question was to refer me to the rules, where it doesn’t say they are banned, then they claim that anything that isn’t explicitly allowed is banned. Someone needs to talk some sense to them. If it’s banned, writes a rule that says so. Else, if you just demand 2 working brakes operated by hand levers, to my mind, that includes discs.

  • Conscience_of_a_conservative

    The biggest proponents of disc are the manufacturers and not the riders. That should tell you something.

    • Dave

      In that case, the anti crowd should not have a problem with the UCI allowing them.

      Clearly they are so bad that no riders will use them, and the anti crowd will be able to crow about it in a year’s time.

  • dllm

    I don’t care how the pros think about disc brake on rb. I just enjoy the fantastic braking in rain, with carbon clincher wheels, disc brake. No scratching on my lovely carbon rims. Check out my ride today > https://youtu.be/BbggWVsCLrk


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