Updated at 8:00pm EST:  Our little bird has been back in touch with details about availability and an on-scale photo of the entire assembly…

The little birds were up late last night and whispering in our ears…

What they told us was where we could find what looks to be Colnago’s new Formula disc-equipped road bike.  Unsurprisingly from a pair of Italian companies, it’s lovely- and includes the first major disc brake/shift levers we’ve seen.  Want to know more?  Follow the crowds below the break…

Though the Formula levers shown are clearly Di2-compatible, the text notes that the “C59 Disc is compatible with both electronic and mechanical groupsets.”  We’re not sure if that means that Formula will be making a mechanical lever or just if traditional cable routing is provided (and the rider is on their own, brake/shift lever-wise).

The brake hoods are very slim just behind the horn- shapes like those don’t evolve without a reason, so we’re hoping that they’re comfortable.  The inner lever looks to have a pivot part way down the brake lever blade, which could suggest how the shifters are actuated.

“The fork is completely new, whilst at the rear of the main frame the chainstays and the seatstays are also new, to cope with the increased loading that the disc brakes generate at their mounting points.”  The 140mm rotor has a heat-dissipating aluminum carrier and the calipers clearly resemble Formula’s mountain brakes.

“Along with the main chassis changes, Colnago have also designed their own matching wheel system, the Artemis Disc. These wheels feature disc-specific hubs and full carbon composite wheel rims.”  Given the similarities with Formula’s Italian-made Volo hubs (to say nothing of the Formula QR), we’re guessing that the wheels were also developed with Formula.

Exciting stuff?  Unnecessary complexity?  Either way, road discs seem to be coming.  Chime in below if you see anything that we’ve missed!


Wednesday evening update:

So, we’re at 339g for brake/shifter, caliper, rotor, and hardware.  Not too shabby considering that the shifter is included and better than some mountain brakes.  The photo also shows the cutaway shift paddle(s) and gives a better image of the lever body’s prrofile.

We’ve also been told to expect late-2012 aftermarket availability and model year 2013 OEM spec (on the Colnago C59 if not others).  More information as we get it…


  1. Looks great. What I don’t understand is how a company other than Shimano can offer a Di2-compatible brake lever. They (Shimano) wouldn’t allow for FairWheelBikes to offer their system to customers so how can Formula or TRP?

  2. They guys in the traditional steel forums are freaking out! Especially that it unveiled in Taiwan! Die hard Colnago fans (who are also old are freaking out too)

  3. Why hasnt anyone realized that MTB sized rotors will not work on road bikes. That front brake’s oil will boil on the first descent this bike makes. DH riders use 203mm rotors because the higher speeds generate much higher heat in the brakes. They therefore need much bigger rotors to help shed the heat. A 160mm rotor on the front of a road bike that wll be going down much bigger hills at much higher speeds will melt long before the rider reaches the bottom of the hill. the wheel size is also bigger needing even more power to slow it down.

    come on engineers. think about these things before you just blindly build what the general public thinks they need.

  4. I’m not sure ….. leaving aside the dubious colours of the frame etc, can someone tell me what this adds on a clear day? I mean I just got off a 70k ride into the hills above Geneva and my fastest downhill leg was 56kmh and I hate riding above 60. My brakes felt fine, in fact I was more worried about cars. Unless I intend to ride in the rain or snow (not likely as I move towards 50 years old) wouldn’t I be better off trying electronic shifting before disc brakes? Any views?

  5. Dover – you might be missing the most critical aspect of what cools disk breaks, airflow. As a DH racer who occasionally rides my road bike for training, there is no comparison to how much more air flow you get on both the rotor and caliper on a road bike vs. a dh mt. bike. There has also been a lot of DH races where I’ve ran 160 and 180 rotors with no issues just fine because the speeds/airflow/braking down require bigger rotors and I’m 185lbs without armor. Slow, steep courses (think Champery) require 203’s or 220’s for guys like Peaty). Also, you can adjust rotor size with terrain rider size. A 250lb guy in the mountains might use 180mm rotors while a 105lb woman in Kansas is fine with 140’s or even 120’s. I highly doubt 140/160mm rotors will be underpowered when compared to caliper road bikes, especially in poor weather.

    The biggest trick with disk brakes on road bikes is the reduced traction and surface area of the tires and being able to have enough modulation without locking up the wheel. Historically, modulation is where hydraulic disk breaks are superior to cable actuated.

  6. I own and regularly ride a sweet old Colnago steel bike. No freakin’ out for me because Colnago is introducing a disc brake bike. I imagine there are still a lot of traditionalists bemoaning the advent of aluminum and carbon fiber as frame materials, everyone is entitled to their opinion. The folks that are engineering the hydraulic disc brakes are no doubt designing them to operate when the rotors get overheated. I’ve done some long steep descents with disc brakes, no problemo! I doubt very much that disc brake road bikes will replace rim brake equipped bikes, there’ll be a good market for both type of bikes.

  7. Dover and GN… I wonder about rotor sizing too. Comparing MX and GP motorcycles the GP bikes have large dual front rotors. MX has one smaller front rotor.

    The power dissipation I think is proportional to the cube of velocity and is only directly proportional to weight. So the road bike may required much higher power (heat*time) dissipation than the DH mtb. Agree w/ GN that someone riding in Kansas won’t put near the demands on the brakes.

    Cross sounds like a great disc application but mountain road riding is much more demanding.

    Will be interesting to follow development for sure. Hope to hear some stories of that Colnago descending the Fedaia or Tre Cima!

  8. Riding the brakes downhill will overheat any type of brake. If you’re the type of rider that keeps the brakes on the whole descent, you’ll probably need bigger rotors. But you’d also need bigger rotors on a mountain bike. If you’re the type of rider that brakes going into turns, or alternates between front and rear braking to control speed, 140mm will be fine. It’s the same as in driver’s ed – they teach you not to ride the brakes on descents, but to coast until you pick up speed, then brake to slow down, coast, repeat. And yet, how many times have we smelt burning brakes on canyon roads? Proper braking technique will alleviate rotor size concerns, on road bikes, mountain bikes, and cars.

  9. It amazes me that “random internet guy” can look at a low resolution picture of a bike and immediately think he has more knowledge than the team of engineers that spent years developing, testing and retesting the bike.

  10. I think guys like James Stewart run 270mm front rotors and 220 rears in MX. As a comparison, their bike alone is over 200lbs and most of those guys weight 180+ protective gear and they go from 70 to 5 mph almost instantly without locking up on dirt. That’s part of why IMO 200mm rotors on road bike would be overkill for 98% of the riders/terrain around.

    The great part of disk breaks (in comparison to current road bike breaks) is you usually can add a cheap shim and move to bigger size rotor to get more power. For things like touring, cross, or even shops adjusting power to rider size this is nice to be able to change. Currently if your a 250lb guy blowing tires off the rim riding in the mountains on current road brakes, you don’t really have tons of options to cheaply increase your brake power. In DH racing I bring everything from 160-200mm rotors and change at the course based on conditions and the track and its a 5 minute change. Also, various synthetics have different temperature ratings if your overheating, so there is a lot more adjust ability in the system in that regard.

  11. I’m not keen on Disc brakes for road bikes YET. I refer you to Tyler’s accident article and his comments.

    “People, including me until very recently, tend to think they can look to mountain bikes’ success with discs and translate that to the road. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. At least not in the ultralight, super sleek package everyone’s expecting”


  12. How is something that was intentionally launched at an international tradeshow today “leaked”?

    Bikerumor – canhazstupid?

  13. @Brandon: This wasn’t “leaked” at all. BRAIN posted it on FB yesterday, and its been up on Cycling News/Bike Radar for a while as well.

    I have to laugh at all these armchair engineers worrying about overheating and the like. I mean really, do you think they haven’t tested it?

    If you’re going to be an armchair engineer, keep in mind: Fact: lighter wheels are easier to stop. A MX or GP motorcycle wheel, as well as (and especially) a DH wheel is significantly heavier than even the heaviest of road wheels. A DH tire alone can weigh more than a set a Lightweights. That’s rotating mass acting like a flywheel that plays a major factor in trying to slow down.

  14. @Gillis:

    since we are talking about “armchair engineers” we may as well critique your comment. . .

    when spinning up a wheel the rotating mass at the rim can certainly slow you down, but obviously not as much as the giant mass that sits on top of the bike (the rider). The same is true when the mass is already spinning. Sure the weight at the rim is easier to stop if it is less, but the massive weight that is being pulled down the hill by gravity (the rider again) is the major force to stop.

    that being said. . . it is likely that the engineers tat work for Formula and Colnago have sized their rotors appropriately, but the overriding factor will be stopping the rider’s weight going down a hill, not stopping the wheel itself. . . you wouldn’t need much of a brake at all just to stop 1500 grams flying down a hill at 60kph.

  15. Everyone who thought Tyler’s off with the light weight disc brake set-up was reflective of disc brakes on road bikes in general raise your hand. Ok, everyone who raised their hand please leave the engineering class: you failed. Tyler’s system won’t be the system on production bikes. Simple. It says nothing in general about disc brakes other than light weight kit can have limitations.

  16. So if there are mechanical shift/hydraulic brake levers available, there’s really no reason that a company like Giant can’t make their low-end carbon frames (I’m thinking the $1700 carbon + Tiagra/105 bike) disc-compatible, giving mountain bikers like me who want a road bike to commute on and “train” a bit an option with legitimate, real brakes that will actually work. It won’t really affect weight, not that it matters when it comes to that level of bike anyways.

    Amongst the cyclists I know, this would be the road bike of choice.

  17. I build only steel bikes and am already awaiting the parts to put hydraulic discs on my road/cross bikes. No freaking out here and I’m not bothering with any of the interim solutions. I can’t wait to get my hands on the real thing.

  18. Thinking about the advantages aside from better braking…more aero around the fork without a caliper brake there. Less rotational weight at the outside of the wheel especially once we see some high end road disc wheels. Really low maintenance, especially combined with electronic groups. The engineers at Campy are probably banging their heads on the drawing board about now considering their new group just landed and now they’ve got to start thinking about hydraulic ergopowers!

  19. @reynard… it doesn’t need UCI approval unless they (Colnago) have intentions of supplying it to their teams (they aren’t)…disc’s are not currently road legal for UCI races…This is an enthusiust’s bike…no approval necessary.

  20. Dover, the effective wheel size(diameter tread to tread) between a 26″ rim with a fat tire relative to a 700c rim with a skinny 23c tire is roughly the same. The smaller hoop with the larger tire typically weighs a fair amount more too. I’m no engineer but I don’t think your argument adds up….

  21. @Will

    I agree that rider and bike mass is central, I wasn’t arguing that. My point that I felt people were ignoring when comparing motorcycles and dh bikes and their accompanying rotor sizes was that the wheel weights involved are drastically disparate and that makes for an inaccurate comparison for argument. And that rotational weight is still relevant in this discussion.

  22. @JT – you need to go take a disc-braked road bike out for a test ride. I have the pleasure of actually RIDING my disc-braked Volagi down hills and curves in the rain (and light flurries) and the truth is that you can truly FEEL impending lockup and adjust accordingly. The increased confidence is priceless. The fact that I am bombing down hills faster and braking later will probably bite me in the ass eventually but it won’t be any fault of the braking system.

  23. @Nivlac

    It’s actually less aero with the rotor and caliper. Check the recent BR post on discs from the wheel industry, its mentioned there..
    I’m guessing Campy has already been working on a disc system (or is going to buy someone else’s) since they were made legal. They have the most ground to make up in this arena so they would be idiots not too. We’ll most likely find out by Interbike eh?

    The standard width is going to be 135mm almost assuredly. But crank/bb manufacturers followed by frame builders will have to match that of course.

  24. I live in Colorado and ride the canyons all the time. I did it for years on tubulars. Unless you are braking (not BREAKING) hard for a corner you control your speed by riding one brake (not BREAK) for a few moments and then the other. That way you don’t over heat one wheel and melt the glue that holds your tires on.

    I don’t know how I feel about the extra weight, expense, complexity, and service requirements (I work in a bike shop – don’t tell me these things don’t/won’t exist) but anything that improves braking (not BREAKING) might be worth a look.

  25. mellow – 03/07/12 – 8:31am

    now this is pretty slick looking…
    i cant stand rim brakes…

    wow what a comment…sounds like you never went for a ride until disk brakes came through.
    Go ride bro, stop fallowing trends. I repeat is just a trend. I don’t know any pro rider complaining about barking on a 95km/h descent.
    I don’t hate disk brakes but lets be real…..is just another option for us to spend money.

  26. @Carl: you should be looking at it as job security! All the those shadetree mechanics will be turning to you to fix their mistakes.Though it will probably all happen Friday evening or Saturday morning before their ride/race!

  27. Who here has had a good set of well maintained road bike brakes fail on him or her? The MTB crowd are obsessed with mud and dirt – and thats fine by me. I just don’t think these are ready for a sportive rider like me.

  28. Haha, die-hard steel Colnago fans are freaking out because this was presented in Taipei? Seriously, do these hipster t**ts know who builds lugged steel Colnago frames nowadays? The company is called Caribou frames and it’s based in Taichung. And it’s one of the nicest factories I’ve seen to date in Taiwan. Small but still spacy, clean, lots of daylight and fresh air. Simply amazing. So let those t**ts freak out.

    By the way: Formula is NOT first. They have to share the bragging rights with TRP/Tektro.

    Disc brakes ARE coming to a road bike near you, and I am enthusiast. About time!

  29. Taking a brake from talking disc brakes – why is it that I feel that while Colnago’s look beautiful their technology is a generation behind Spec, Trek and Giant.

  30. Haha, die-hard steel Colnago fans are freaking out because this was presented in Taipei? Seriously, do these hipster twats know who builds lugged steel Colnago frames nowadays? The company is called Caribou frames and it’s based in Taichung. And it’s one of the nicest factories I’ve seen to date in Taiwan. Small but still spacy, clean, lots of daylight and fresh air. Simply amazing. So let those twats freak out.

    By the way: Formula is NOT first. They have to share the bragging rights with TRP/Tektro.

    Disc brakes ARE coming to a road bike near you, and I am enthusiast. About time!

    @ Mike

    Completely wrong perception. It’s not about sheer power, it’s about consistent and controllable braking under all weather conditions with disc brakes. And most of all: Do you really want to grind at a carrying part of your bike to decelerate? Are you serious about that? Disc brakes are the future, period.

  31. @Laurens

    I don’t know where you got your info, but the Colnago Master is 100% built in Italy from Italian sourced materials. And hipsters buy beat up used italian bikes, they certainly aren’t shelling out $3300 for a new Master.

  32. If Colnago is doing this, that means UCI approval is in the works.

    I see no issue. Cannot wait for the C59 disc with Campagnolo EPS!

    As MMyers, said remember the choice of frames and custom sizing you can get on a high end Colnago. That is way you get lugs.

  33. Mike, I have had rim brake/rims fail on me.

    Terrible braking in the wet always. Rim being worn and and then heated in braking and splitting and blowing tire off. Rim cracking after a hit in a race descent and shaving off the pad until I was braking on metal. Melting tire and it failing due to temperature of rim from braking on mtn bike (in the days of cantilevers).

    Disc brakes will be far safer. The weight is not really going to any significant issue. Aero will be for the 1% who are racing at the level it will actually matter.

  34. @Matt:
    Lugs also have the benefit of allowing a much more slim-lined frame. They are far more rigid than a monocoque design. That’s why frames are becomming more chunky in the monocoque world – it’s the only way to get the same rigidity as tube-to-tube construction.
    They’re not only catering for the traditionalist who likes the old “steel” styling, they’re technically sound in their own right.
    Personally, I love both types of frame and couldn’t choose between an M10 and C59, so I got both!

What do you think?