UCI confirms restart of disc brake trial for 2017 season

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Buried at the end of a UCI communique issued Thursday was confirmation that disc brakes will make a return to the professional peloton beginning in 2017, but with a caveat. All rotors must feature fully smoothed and chamfered edges so as to reduce the perceived risk of danger to the riders — something CyclingTips called for in an editorial piece this past April.

“Following extensive examination of the equipment and a detailed safety report it has been agreed with manufacturers that the trial will restart on January 1st 2017, exclusively with discs which have been modified to ensure the perimeter edge of the brake rotor does not contain any 90-degree edges, but are smoothed or chamfered,” the UCI statement reads.

Bicycle manufacturers have long been pushing for disc brakes to be allowed in professional road racing, but the introduction of the technology into the top ranks of the sport has been rocky, to say the least.

After a few uneventful designated test events in late 2015, the UCI permitted disc brakes on a trial basis for the entirety of the 2016, only for the experiment to be dramatically derailed after a highly publicized rider injury that occurred at Paris-Roubaix — an incident that has been widely debated.

Disc brakes nevertheless still face an uncertain path in the months ahead, with many questions surrounding logistical issues such as neutral support and ballooning team equipment inventories.

It’s also worth noting that while the UCI has now again allowed the use of disc brakes in professional road racing, the use of the technology isn’t mandated, meaning there’s a very good chance of a mixed peloton with some riders on discs and others on rim brakes — potentially with dramatically different braking abilities and the inherent dangers those differences create.

Disc proponents will undoubtedly be buoyed by the fact that the two main rider groups — the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) and the Association Internationale des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels (AIGCP) — have finally expressed their support of the latest agreement. However, the trial is still just that — a trial. Even with this latest UCI decision, disc brakes will be allowed in racing, they’re still not technically legal for racing. They will be allowed, but no final decision has been made.

According to the UCI, “The trial will be closely monitored and formally reviewed every month.”

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