English Cycles Road Bike with Di2 Sprint ShiftersDisc brakes for road bikes seems a foregone conclusion ever since the UCI’s rule change for cyclocross bikes, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

What is surprising is the rumor that Shimano is adding a cog to the rear end and bringing an 11-speed group to market for 2013. Bikeradar’s sources are saying it won’t be shown to OEM buyers until the middle of next year. Word is they’ll offer 11-speed for both mechanical Dura-Ace and Di2 at the top levels, introducing it much the same way as Campagnolo did on their premium groups first. It’ll trickle down from there, no doubt. Most likely, the cog spacing and chain will get squeezed to fit the additional gear on existing freehubs.

Other updates coming for Dura-Ace Di2 are a bit more obvious. It’ll get the revised (ie. improved) wiring layout as the Ultregra Di2, which in theory means you’ll be able to swap parts and you’ll be seeing Ultegra/Dura-Ace Di2 blends on OEM bikes to compete at various price levels. It will also most likely be moving the brains of the operation to the module on the upper section of the front derailleur, just like on Ultegra Di2.

Why? Hmmm….


Mechanical disc brakes require nothing special from the levers, and we’ve seen plenty of rando and touring bikes with mix-and-match braking systems.

But by moving some of the electronics out of the brake levers for Di2, Shimano could be freeing up space for hydraulic master cylinders. This might be a bit forward looking, but let’s be honest, it’s going to come at some point in the next few years. Rumor is the first iteration will be mechanical only, which means the calipers should work with existing levers and you can upgrade just the brakes if you’re buying a disc-ready road or cyclocross frame. For those with a recently upgraded drivetrain, this is good news.

Now for SRAM. Their top of the line Red group is about due for a refresh, right? After all, there have only been color updates (Tour Yellow, Black) over the past two years. There’s rumor buzzing ’round that SRAM is working on something big and will have some impressive road bike disc brakes to show early next year, mechanical and otherwise. We’ve heard this from several reliable inside sources, but that’s about all we’re able to say. Use your imagination. We don’t have any real word on this, but it’d be surprising if they didn’t borrow XX’s chiseled cassette design and drop even more weight from the Red cassette.

Forward thinking companies like Volagi and Tomac are already showing road and ‘cross bikes designed with hydraulic disc brakes in mind, and next summer’s bike launches are likely to usher in a new reason to buy a bicycle.


Other rumors about Shimano’s next generation 2013 Dura-Ace are that it will finally upgrade from their 24mm crank arm spindle. We had a solid discussion with several of Shimano’s folks about this recently that went something like this (not verbatim):

Bikerumor: What about BB30 and now BB386EVO, don’t they make the crankset stiffer overall?

Shimano: Are you experiencing flex in our cranks?

Bikerumor: No. But those standards let the frame manufacturers make frames stiffer and lighter.

Shimano: True. Well, you know, we’re always working on new things and paying attention to the market.

See where this is headed? Word is they’ll have a BB386EVO crankset, which we’re pretty excited about because we think it’s an excellent and highly flexible standard. This should help escalate the weight wars by giving Shimano a significantly lighter crankset option. It should also keep things mostly backward compatible with their PF86 setup up by simply requiring new BB bearings rather than changes to frame design.

Lastly, a rumored Race Day Di2 battery is coming, too, that has half the power and 25% of the weight.

For now, of course, the official word from either company is, well, there is no official word. So, technically, this is all speculation…


  1. Placing the brain inside the FD in Di2 would be plain silly. What if I want to run 1×10 – will I have no such option? It would be way better if the brain was installed inside the RD

  2. There is no “brain” in the FD. I asked this at Interbike to the shimano guys. You can run any or all the parts and do a 1×10 or even more stupid, just run a electronic FD and mechanical RD. It is all completely modular. You can even have all the buttons shift down to the 11t

  3. ahh the only real value of the Di2 is the auto trim feature… if you use it on a 1×10 then you may have more money than you need.

  4. BB386EVO is a terrible BB standard. It just gives you the worst of both BB30 and BSA. Shorter life BB30 bearings, tight frame manufacturing tolerances, and less ankle clearance. Plus it requires longer BB30 spindles making the system heavier as well.

    Either Shimano and Campy should make actual BB30 cranks and not just use heavy adapters that ruin the point of BB30 or they should just go back to BSA. BB386Evo is jack of all trades, master of none.

  5. “It’ll get the revised (ie. improved) wiring layout as the Ultregra Di2, which in theory means you’ll be able to swap parts and you’ll be seeing Ultegra/Dura-Ace Di2 blends on OEM bikes to compete at various price levels.”

    This is doubtful unless they upgrade Ultegra to 11spd as well (assuming that rumor is true). But the chances that they’ll upgrade DA and Ultegra to 11spd at the same time is slim imo.

  6. Do we really need 11 gears? I would prefer less dish in the rear and a tight 8 or 9-speed. That said, I train on a cyclocross bike with a 1×10 with a 11-36 and 44 up front. When I get on my road bike, so many gears just seem silly, but I need that 53×11 for group rides.

    Dude, it goes to 11!

  7. @Gillis – it could work as long as they’ll let you reprogram the system to work with whatever shifter/derailleur/cassette combo you’re using. They already have a program to customize what buttons do what, so it’d be easy to program it for however many speeds you want.

    Yes – firmware updates for your drivetrain!

  8. Can anyone give me a good reason to want disk brakes on my road bike? Yeah, I get it on a ‘cross bike, it keeps the braking surface out of the water and mud. But, you don’t ride in the mud on a road bike. Disk brakes are heavier, and skinny road tires can’t use all of the breaking force generated by disk brakes anyway.

  9. I’ll hope someone important in the road bike design world pays attention to these posts and our comments.

    Road bikes and cross bikes don’t need 140 mm rotors. It’s stupid. How about an 80mm front and 60 in the back. Half the size. There I said it, someone give me the credit please. Most mountain bikes, unless you are living in some places where a giant rotor is needed, 160/140 is plenty for a majority of those users out there on mtb bikes. So, why on earth for a bike (road/cyclocross) that’s riding less steep, less technical terrain, would you need giant friggin rotors? You don’t.
    Oh by the way, How about some genius building a “Road” hub, with disk bolts, so you don’t have to go out and buy all new wheels/hubs for these bikes some of you are selling. DUH. Think of pit wheels for your current specialized cross bike with discs? what are you supposed to do here? use a wheel that’s not compatible with any of your road bikes – oh that’s right.

    11 Speeds – stupid. Waste. Shifting is hard enough sometimes to dial on a 10 speed mtb or 10 speed cross bike after you’ve been slogging through the mud all season. 11? pull-ezzze.

    However –
    I am totally into electronic drive train, and would love to have it, purchase it for all of my bicycles, IF – IF
    it was affordable and comparable to at least Ultegra and X0 in weight and cost. 1 x 10 on my cx bike would be cool for electronics, 2 x 10 on my mtb bikes, and 2 x 10 on my road bike.

    ok Hit me people
    I can take it.

  10. Shimano: Please don’t change the freehub width just to fit an 11th cog. We’ve been using the 8/9/10 hub standard for approx 15 years. I hope at least SRAM is smart enough to know that 10 cogs is plenty enough.

  11. Wait! I thought 5 speeds….no 6 spd…I mean 7 spd…….or was it 8 spd……dammit! Something in the past was more than enough before a new standard came out! Damn the future! The three speeds on my Huffy when I was 8 were enough…..yeah, that’s it.

    Man, new, different stuff is scary! Heck, have you heard that that there’s a place in Europe where they’re going to accidentally create a black hole that will swallow the Earth? EEeeeek! There should be a ban against technology and technological advances or changes! All of them can make people all verklempt!

  12. @ Chad: There are a couple benefits to disc brakes on road bikes.

    1. improved, more consistent braking, especially with regards to carbon rims.
    2. you can now build a lighter and stronger rim because the braking surface doesn’t need to be incorporated. This was proven for mountain bikes. Even if they are heavier you are taking that rotational weight and moving it inward, and moving static weight like the caliper lower
    3. Wheel alignment no longer affects braking. You can hit a pot hole or get your wheel run over in a cx race and still make it home without having to have your brakes wide open.
    4. Its easier to A. run larger tires B. remove the wheels.

    Discs don’t have as much power as you think. Or rather you may not realize how much power a standard road caliper can have. If I grabbed a handful of lever on my road bike it would pitch me to the ground in a second.

    @Monkey: the problem with going to such small rotors is that they will over heat. And when you’re descending for 30 minutes that’s gonna be a problem as you burn through pads like a packet of Gu.

    (side note: my captcha code was C2CV. If you’re a citroen fan you will understand my moment of glee)

  13. “It will also most likely be moving the brains of the operation to the module on the upper section of the front derailleur, just like on Ultegra Di2.”
    have you taken apart di2 shifters? there is no “brain” in there. there are small processors in each derailleur. the inside of the lever is practically empty, just a wire going to the button assembly at the lever blade. di2 is definitely the easiest option for developing hydro road brakes.
    i hope, besides being compatible with discs, they make it work with a very small, compact, hydraulic road caliper brake. it would be clean, powerful, aero, and be better able to integrate into tri bikes. come to think of it, i bet that’s what theyre gonna do.
    you heard it here first.

  14. I’ll take some road disc brakes please… my hands get tired on long, technical descents with these rim brakes. Road rims would literally last forever as well.

    And no, we don’t need 11-speeds, but Shimano needs you to dump your perfectly good 10spd stuff and buy 11spd so they can start working on a 12spd groupo. How many people have switched from Shimano to Campy because Campy has an 11spd groupo? Five people? Sounds about right.

  15. I just want a cassette for my TT/Tri bike that goes from 11-25 or 26 but doesn’t have that d@mn 15-17t jump. Any little headwind and that hole in the cassette on a TT type effort is extraordinarily annoying. If 11 spd could give me that I might just be in for the TT bike.

  16. To understand what a ballache it is to make discs work well on a road bike, check out Canyon Project 6.8:


    TBH the main attraction of road discs is being able to run weight weenie carbon rims without worrying about delamination, tub rolling or premature wear. But if you have to run four cross 32h lacing with a dual rotors and calipers sticking out in the airflow, the advantages of deep rims are somewhat negated.

    An alloy wheel rim is just like an enormous, well-cooled brake rotor. Trying to shrink this down to work with a <150mm circumference and not rip the hub out of the wheel is non trivial.

    I have a disc braked road bike and I would not particularly want to race it, particularly if that racing involved long fast descents. The 200mm rotors get very hot very quickly, and the modulation is worse than conventional road calipers. I like them for commuting when I might want to slam the brakes on hard to avoid rear-ending a bus, but the braking in a race situation is usually much more subtle and progressive.

What do you think?