The Disc Road Revolution

Posted by Andrew Hartwell

C60d 10

The last twelve months has seen nothing short of a disc road revolution.

Disc brakes are now a common sight in the cycling media and in bike shops, and the way we've been selling them they'll be all over the roads in the coming months. So what's all the fuss about? Why do you need a disc equipped bike in your stable?

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Voices of dissent can be heard decrying this revolution, as with any progression. Certainly the look can be off putting for some, yet a further move away from the traditions that provide such a legendary grounding for our sport.

Will they cause problems in pile ups in the Pro peloton? The UCI don't seem to think so.

Viewed from a purely practical standpoint however, the performance aspects simply cannot be ignored.

Parlee W5

- Parlee offer several disc models now. The Altum Disc was a natural development of their most popular model and has been joined by the Z-Zero disc , the all-road Chebacco and the XD .

With the prevailing weather conditions in the UK and our generally poor road surfaces, disc brakes on a road bike make a world of sense. Descending in the wet with traditional caliper brakes is less than ideal, as you feel your stopping power fading and your stopping distance expanding. Add in freezing conditions and numb fingers and it can be tough to tell if you are actually braking at all.

With hydraulic disc brakes you get more braking power for less of your input: no more white knuckle braking, no more fatigued forearms!

Caad12 7

- Cannondale have embraced discs with their new alloy CAAD12 and their award winning Synapse, not to mention the divisive Slate.

The power of consistent performance.

The consistent modulation provided by hydraulic disc brakes allows for confident braking in all conditions. Wet or dry, you know that your brakes will deliver the same performance. With rim brakes, your cables will pick up contamination from use. Grit, dirt and rust will collect on the cables, steadily compromising their performance by increasing friction. This is particularly an issue in bad weather conditions, and combined with wet, dirty rims the performance is diminished yet further.

Sp Roubaix 1

- Specialized are also backing discs, with models like the Roubaix and Diverge offering many disc variants. The Trek Domane was a similarly early adopter of disc technology.

With a hydraulic system there are no cables to contaminate. After a brief bedding in period, you can expect around a year and a half of use before we'd recommend servicing the hydraulics. The pads may suffer some contamination, but they can be cleaned or replaced cheaply and easily. It's entirely dependent on the rider, but we estimate a minimum pad life of 6 months.

Moots Routt 17

 - This ti MOOTS Routt is equipped with custom built disc wheels: Apple green Chris King R45D hubs laced to HED Belgium rims for a tough all-rounder of a wheelset. R45Ds are now available in a variety of colours, thru axle and QR options.

The issue of the rims suffering wear from braking is completely eradicated. This is a boon for consumers as it means that you can run carbon rims and experience all that the material offers without its negatives. You get the stiffness, the low weight, the good looks, but you don't get the problem of braking surfaces, and the wear and tear that shortens their lifespan. That means your investment in a quality rim will last you a lot longer.

But what about the technology? Is it too soon to get involved?

No. Road disc brakes are so well developed now that there's really very little worry about your groupset being outdated any time soon. Hydraulic disc options abound now from Shimano and SRAM, and electronic shifting, like Ultegra Ui2, makes perfect sense with hydraulic: weather proof, low maintenance riding at an affordable price.

Moots Routt 1

 - Bikes like this ti MOOTS Routt , aimed at long distance, all-road riding, benefit enormously from disc technology.

We don't think rim brakes are going anywhere soon, and that's great, but it's hard to deny the benefits of hydraulic disc brakes. At the end of the day it comes down to "horses for courses" and personal preference, but we'll be glad to talk you through all the options in store.

Evo Disc 1

- Hot damn! Cannondale are on fire with their disc offering for 2017. See this SuperSix HERE.

In conclusion...

In an industry that can sometimes feel fashion driven, it's clear to see that disc brakes on road bikes are here to stay and that they deliver significant advantages over rim brakes in almost every situation. For sportives, training, long distances and riding off the beaten track, disc brakes make total sense. It's pretty hard to come up with a reason not to use them.

PROS:

  • Better, more reliable, stopping power. Even in the wet.
  • Low maintenance.
  • No wear to surface of the rim.

CONS:

  • Err...
  • Little bit heavier?
  • Unsuitable for Luddites/curmudgeons/nay-sayers