Another bump in the road peloton for disc brakes from the CPA-Association of Professional Cyclists

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The CPA popped up in the news over the weekend issuing a new letter to the UCI calling for another halt to the use of disc brakes in the professional road peloton. It had seemed that after the start, stop, start, stop & start again, with the open CPA discussions in the UCI Disc Brake Working Group and the use of rounded rotors that professional riders were coming around to the idea of disc brakes and the realization that the safety concerns had been unfounded. Riders Tom Boonen and Marcel Kittel have even won races this year already on the same S-Works Venge Disc that we rode to test Shimano’s new top disc brake road groupset.

Well, the issue is clearly still not resolved. It seems the majority of the rider members of the CPA are still afraid of disc brake rotors, and they are holding fast to 3 demands that the group asked for last year: rounded rotors, rotor guards, and racing trials with all riders on disc brakes. Clearly that all isn’t so quick or easy to achieve (or maybe even something that makes sense) so the debate rages on, and we as consumers and spectators might have to wait another season before we see this resolved.

The CPA issued an updated statement today, read on after the break…

Tred prototype disc brake rotor shield for road bikes to protect riders from cuts and burns

The debate had been that rotors were dangerous hot spinning blades of death. It doesn’t seem like there is much merit to that, as the incident that got them kicked out at Paris-Roubaix last year (after a trouble-free Flanders) seems to have been debunked as not a result of a disc brake rotor anyway. In any case, manufacturers were clearly willing to make the edges of the rotors less sharp.

There have been some possible solutions to shielding the rotors themselves, but since this seems based on an imaginary threat (and is not a very elegant solution) not many bike makers have taken it too seriously.

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On the topic of racing test events exclusively on disc brakes, that is rather difficult for teams who have bike sponsors who don’t yet make top-level road bikes for disc brakes (or who have debuted new rim brake only bikes and want their sponsored teams to be racing on those.

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The debate here has been that it was unsafe to have a mix of rim brakes & disc brakes in the same peloton, due to differential braking. That hasn’t seemed to be a problem in early season races. And in a peloton that is already racing on many different carbon wheels that each have vastly different braking performance (we’ve ridden carbon wheels that were excellent no matter the weather, and others that have scared us to death) it’s hard to argue that even all disc brakes will perform the same. We’ve certainly seen how much even different rotors affect stopping distance on the road. It seems the issue probably comes dow to the fact that the pro riders just need to seriously put time on disc brake road bikes to get a feel for the performance benefits themselves, and this is still something that we’ve yet to see happen en masse. For example Cannondale-Drapac seems to be one of the few teams we’ve seen putting a strong focus on their pro riders spending their time training on disc brakes.

In any case, the debate rages on. The full text of the CPA (Cyclistes Professionels Associés or Association of Professional Cyclists) statement by CPA press officer Laura Mora is below:

The CPA President Gianni Bugno wrote a letter to the UCI Equipment Commission to inform once again that the majority of the riders are not in favor of the disc brakes testing unless the safety conditions required by the riders are not[sic] guaranteed.

The CPA, the body that officially represents the riders, submitted to the Commission three requests that the riders considered necessary to resume the tests. First, the discs to be rounded. Second, the disc brakes to be equipped with a safety guard; and third, that all the riders participating in these tests should all use the new system, allowing the same braking performance.

On the first request the UCI was able to get good results and regarding the second, some solutions are also under consideration. Regarding the third condition, there is not a satisfactory answer at this time.

“At this point, there is a reason to believe that it is not yet time to start these tests”, commented Gianni Bugno, adding: “As we have said several times, we are not against the Technological innovation, but we are worried above all by the safety of the riders on the road”.

In his letter Gianni Bugno also expresses his concern about the fact that some riders are already using disc brakes in racing while the Equipment Commission is still working to improve the safety and performance of this equipment. He called for a better clearness in the regulations concerning the use of the disc brakes, with the aim of reassuring the riders on the proper management of this project.

“We believe that the riders will finally agree and that at the end they will be happy to use these new technologies in the race, but only once the preventive safety measures that have been requested will be carried out,” ended Gianni Bugno, who said: “We also asked that all the riders will be able to use a bicycle with disc brakes as soon as possible for the training. It would be ridiculous to test such equipment for the first time in the race. This first step seems to me logical and indisputable in the process, if we want to put this new system in place in our sport.”

CPAcycling.com

Comments

39 thoughts on “Another bump in the road peloton for disc brakes from the CPA-Association of Professional Cyclists

  1. I don’t believe the riders have a voice. They are the beta testers. If they don’t like it, they can go somewhere else. They probably have no idea what they’re talking about anyway, just a bunch of luddites.

        1. These are the same roadies that protested against helmet use and snap drug inspections. Now they’re whining about better brakes. Seems like the generalization fits.

  2. Why aren’t they worried about the chainrings? I’m sure that they cause more injuries than discs, but the riders don’t seem to care about them. If they are going to demand to have disc covers, then they should at least be consistent and demand to also have chainring guards installed on all bike.

  3. Been riding discs for nearly 20 years; most of these concerns seem to be more resistance to advancement of the technology (except having all riders on discs – that has some merit).

    First question I’d pose to Mssr. Bugno: “When was the last time you rode a disc equipped bike?” Pretty sure I’d win the bet that the answer would be some obfuscation or a version of ‘never’.

  4. Professional road racers and BMX racers have same philosophy when it comes to using traditional equipment. Hard to argue with the best of the best why they need to change. Personally I would never go back to rim brakes after using disc on any of my bikes but I’m not a pro. Yes they would be better off on handling and performance. It’s almost refreshing to see the best hold out for tradition.

    1. Great post. Kinda like wood bats in baseball. I wish they’d make pro golfers go back to using steel shafts and wood drivers too. Of course though, industry sponsors want the pros using the latest greatest so the rest of us want to buy what the pro’s are using. I’m happy to use a 460cc titanium driver or disc brake road bike even if the pro’s aren’t.

  5. I still can’t believe that a single incident caused everyone to pull discs out of the peloton.. Even if it were actually caused by a disc, chainrings are essentially circular saw blades.. These decisions have to be driven by some sort of cash, because the arguments are all totally unreasonable.

    I’ve never once had an issue riding in a group with mixed braking mechanisms.
    The politics in this make road cycling look even more terrible than it already does.

  6. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but similar to the chainring argument, aren’t spoked wheels at speed fairly dangerous as well? What do I know, I’m just a stupid mountain biker.

    1. Exactly! We stupid mountain bikers tend take a tumble or three and yet no mountain bike has had to be put down because it attacked its rider…

  7. It seems their main concern is ‘braking differential’ from a peleton of mixed discs and rim brakes. But the luddites will also state “rim brakes are super strong and can already lock up a wheel, so there is no performance advantage to discs”. So which one is it??

    Honestly, I couldn’t care less if the pros use outdated technology or not. I just want more disc brake aero bikes on the market and it seems the best way to get that is having pro riders ‘push’ the technology forward.

  8. I wonder if this move is triggered by the teams who are sponsored by Campagnolo – they would not benefit from a move to disc brakes since campy doesn’t have ones.

  9. The pros can kick and scream, but if you don’t ride the sponsor’s equipment, you don’t race.

    The sponsors don’t make money giving them expensive, antiquated bikes to professionals. That sponsorship comes from the money they make selling stuff to consumers. The market has spoken, and for once it’s not “what the pros want,” it’s disc brakes.

    Turnabout is fair play, deal with it.

      1. Look, they get paid to do what they’re told. That’s what it boils down to. Their safety is not a concern, their opinions are not a concern, they’re entertainment. They get paid to risk their lives and put everything on the line to win. They don’t get paid to talk or complain or cry. What they think doesn’t matter, they need to just shut up and ride what they’re told to ride.

        1. Sponsorship is a voluntary arrangement: if you don’t like the sponsor, don’t take it.

          For all the sound and fury about safety, none seem willing to put their money where their mouths are. Teams and riders alike appear to prefer the obligations (and bigger payroll) that come with bike sponsorship.

      2. That’s easy! The UCI and their stupid rules 3:1 tube profiles. 6.8kg minimum, nothing aero for the sake of it, limits on bottle placement, limits on rider position regardless of morphology- it goes on and on. We would all still be on wooden bone shakers if it was up to them.

  10. So much buzzz about the discs.
    Has anyone noted the way the peloton is dressed, what protection does the jersey or bib offer when one crashes?

    1. I’ve been saying that myself for years now. No.mention of Kevlar padding and fabrics. Road cycling crashes leave.riders terribly cut up and they worry about a discs. The next time I YouTubehear a rider say they don’t like the look I may let their dry reYouTube

  11. The people calling pros babies for speaking against disks literally don’t have skin in the game. Just try bunch crashing at 50-60kph with lots of spinning knives around you and then come back here to comment on your experience. I understand that discs are good for most of you. But remember, you != everyone-else.

    1. What other sport will you have a guy have a high speed crash into barbed wire, turning his flesh into hamburger, or do a face plant onto pavement, only to continue racing for a hundred kilometers or more? People who call road racers “luddites” or crybabies are completely out of touch with reality.

      The disc brake argument, I don’t really care either way, but the name calling is unbecoming (and inaccurate).

      1. Only due to a need to get home or earn those points. I’ve had worse abrasions and pain.coming off my nth than on my road bike. I have newish disc brakes road bike and I feel.Mir confident on my carbon rims knowing that I’m breaking better and not risking.my carbon crunchers blowing. The heat build up.on carbon clinchers is a very real problem. I actually burnt.my finger touching the basalt brake surface after a steep descent and we could smell the acrid aroma of scorched epoxy. A failure can ‘ve deadly and many have swapped to aluminium hybrids which are heavier. My 38’mm 25 wide carbon wheels weigh in at 1560gms with rotors 1720. Ceramic bearing would shave of 100. My calipers weigh 75% of my old ultegra rim calipers. The.myth about weight gain is indeed a myth.The ice tech rotors don’t heat up as much and a cover could be easily fabricated. In cool weather racing the rotors would hardly get warm.Paris Roubaix hot rotors I seriously doubt it.

        1. You brake too much, no kidding. If you work on your braking technique blow outs are things of the past. Another thing that eliminates the problem is riding tubulars and they weigh less, much less, from 500g to 1kg less. That’s a performance improvement one shouldn’t easily dismiss.

    2. If you replace ‘disks’ with ‘motorcycle cameramen’, why isn’t there the same outcry? Riders have crashed due to crazy mcycle drivers way more than they have been cut by a rotor.

    3. While am not racing at 50kph I can say I have been multiple bunch crashes at 33kph. That speed is more then enough to test if disc brakes are dangerous. I have not seen or have been hurt. Plus look at pro cyclocross races. Again not road fast but more then enough speed to get hurt and you don’t see them getting shredded by disc brakes.

  12. Having used both I side with the road riders who, unlike many who comment here, log thousands of kilometres for a living each year. I find disc brakes to be highly unreliable in the sense that the slightest buckle in the rotor causes problems. Roadies crash all the time due to the high risk nature of their racing and those crashes are almost never because of a short fall in braking power. Lie a bike down on it’s rotor and it is game over until another bike is supplied. So if you are a pro, discs represent your sponsor experimenting on you in order to make money. Lots of risk very little gain. On a Mtb it is different, you are usually around no more than one or two other riders and conditions dictate that a clean rim is rare. I have seen riders hurt by chainrings but they are in the middle of the bike so are not often a point of contact. (Unless you are a beginner leaving a coffee shop). So let’s call this what it is…… a marketing exercise. I f YOU want discs, knock yourself out, enjoy but please let others make their own judgements.

    1. I have had a buckled rotor only road bike and only a very slight deflection on my.mob after years of riding. Rotors are strong and only a serious bash could do damage. If a disc is bent then the wheel.gets swapped out. It’s not an.issue in the pro circuits.How many pro.lay their bikes down? Kids drop their bikes down. The rotors are positioned not to be easily struck. Calipers move in crashes don’t forget that

    2. Roadies crash all the time, but MTBers don’t? Lay a road bike down on a flat surface, and the disc will not even touch the ground. Same story on an MTB of course, except that mountain biking rarely happens on flat surfaces. I’ve been riding discs in MTB for close to 15 years, and have never had ‘problems’ with a bent rotor, despite plenty of crashes. The occasional annoying squeak yes, quickly cured with an adjustable spanner. If brake rub never happens with rim brakes, why is it in every TDF we always see riders hanging on to team cars while the team mechanic leans out and adjusts the calipers? On the opposite side of the coin, on at least 4 occasions I’ve been on rides with friends who have broken spokes and ended up with wheels that would have been unrideable with rim brakes, yet discs allowed them to keep riding.

  13. As much as I don’t wish to mention it but quite simply Campag has not made available their disc brake equipment despite years of talk.

    I am 100% sure none of these disc brake ” safety concerns” would surface again once Campag are out of the gates with their disc brake offerings.

  14. I just don’t see much of a point in halting innovation. It seems to me that cycling industry by in large is on board with disc brake road bikes and it is just a few traditionalists that are trying to come up with every excuse in the books to knock them down. I would say that if their was a problem with running disc brakes we would have seen it by now in cyclocross.

  15. Just ban them and move on. stuff ’em if they don’t want them, who really cares anyway the rest of us can still have them and if you need another bike to race well all the better, you can never have too many!

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