Earlier this week, Specialized sent out some pics of Stybar’s custom painted pink Crux cyclocross bike and many media took the bait. This is one of four matching custom painted bikes he was provided with, actually. Being that we don’t really cover racing so much as what’s being raced on, our inquiries led to some good discussions about why he wasn’t racing the Crux Disc model.
Introduced last fall, the Crux Disc uses essentially the same frame save for the obvious sections needed to modify it for disc brakes. Both are alloy, Specialized ceased offering a carbon version for the 2012 model year, so presumably one would want the benefits of disc brakes, right?
While we weren’t able to get quotes directly from Stybar, we did get some paraphrased bits from his, uh, handlers:
“As for the disc/no disc thing, there are a few factors – one being that the team’s wheel sponsor, Zipp, does not yet make a disc wheel for ’cross.”
…but Zipp is testing some disc brake wheels under other pro riders, albeit using White Industries mountain bike hubs. So we asked Zipp’s technical PR director what the word was on their development and what they’ve learned by using the WI hub:
We still don’t have a disc compatible hub that we are ready to unveil to the world as of right now. We have TJ (Tim Johnson) and a couple of other athletes out riding the WI hubbed wheel, for educational purposes only. The wheels build differently, handle differently and quite honestly are just a different entity.
Actually, we are not really studying the WI hub itself much as it is quite different from the design we are working on. We have had this hub in development for the last couple of years…Nothing against the WI, as it is a proven design and seems to glean quite a bit of respect in the marketplace as a mountain bike hub. But, we are going for more of a road oriented offering with the durability, lateral stiffness and sealing required for cross, but still uber lightweight. It should be pretty significant when it rolls out.
And by “when it rolls out” we have word that Zipp is launching some new goodies next week. Could be these, could be something else. Why has it taken a couple of years to develop a set of hubs? Well, when that, uh, rumor about Shimano going to 11-speeds starting, um, making the rounds, seems Zipp had to revisit their specifications to make sure everything would work right. Read into that what you will about veracity of certain rumors. Shimano’s official line remains “no comment” on any such unofficial speculation.
OK, but assuming some wheels were available, would Stybar be racing them? Back to Specialized:
Like some of the world’s top ‘cross racers, Stybar does not consider disc brakes to be a viable performance enhancement at this time. His insane handling skills do not require a lot of braking, and he is hyper aware of adding even a few grams of weight. Of course, mountain bike racers used to feel similarly back in the day…
It’s always interesting to explore technologies like this with athletes, and collectively work through what conclusions are based on personal preference, tradition or science. As with us recreational riders and racers – usually it’s a blend of all three. What are your thoughts on disc
brakes for ‘cross bikes?
Stybar is most interested in how the bike handles, and its power-transfer efficiency. With the Crux, he is psyched with both.
Aaaah, spoken like a true PR pro.
There are other manufacturer’s we’ve spoken to that say their top athletes simply aren’t asking for discs and so they have no plans to produce them. On that front, we’re calling BS and that we’ll likely see a disc cyclocross bike from every major manufacturer for 2013. As for whether the athletes take to them, well, some of that depends on what their sponsors can provide – if one of the big three doesn’t do a disc component group in time, will their riders be stuck on Cantilevers? – and some will just come down to personal preference.
It’s worth mentioning that White Industries does actually have a disc cyclocross hub, but it has 130mm rear spacing, which wouldn’t work on the Crux Disc or Cannondale prototype mentioned herein.