2013 Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulic brake lever spy shot from Flow Rider

Photo found on Hong Kong's FlwRider blog.

Either this is a really, really good hack, a really good photoshop job or it’s a straight up leaked image of a future we’ve heard is coming in the form of a Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulic brake lever.

UPDATE: False alarm, it’s not from Shimano. The good news? We’ve found the source of this item. Hit the ‘more’ tab and see what’s up…

As an aside, one of the issues we’ve heard from a few manufacturers is the assembly and build up of road bikes with hydraulic brakes. Unlike mountain bikes, internal cables have become almost the norm for high end bikes, and hydro brakes are almost certainly going to start at the top end of the scale. It seems likely they’ll mostly come pre-bled and already cut to length, which means the factories doing the pre-assembly are going to have to be top notch. The alternative is that they’re shipped with dry hoses, your shop runs them through the frame (and through the handlebar if you want a super clean setup as shown here), then filled from the caliper up and bled before final assembly. If you work at a shop or with a brand, chime in and let us know what you think is the best way to go.

Big thanks to Barth for sending this in. Check the original on FlwRider. Anyone know what Karco is? Leave a comment…

Beru Factor001 road bike with Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulic brake levers and Di2 electronic shifting

The shifter/lever body is a bespoke unit built for the BERU Factor001 road bike.

UPDATE: Even though we now that we know it’s a third party custom build using an in-house hydraulic system, it’s still interesting to see how they went about it. The top of the hood is obviously quite tall to accommodate the hydraulic master cylinder, which we’re actually thinking looks kinda comfy. It’ll be interesting to see if it would pass UCI muster given that the shape is theoretically required by the functionality rather than just providing an ergonomic advantage. The shifting is built around Di2 electronics.

We’ve posted about this bike before, and when one of their insiders saw the image above, they let us know it was theirs. They wouldn’t tell us anything else about it, but take a close look at the very detailed electrical connectors on the shifter, then check out the similar connection to the rear derailleur:

Beru Factor001 road bike with Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulic brake levers and Di2 electronic shifting

Our source asked to remain anonymous for now, but did say that they’re working with a very well known non-endemic (read: not in the cycling industry) UK company to bring out something very exciting this year. Given the Factor001’s F-1 inspired design, we’re salivating at the thoughts. For their part, they said they don’t actually know where that top image came from. More as we get it…


  1. Splicha on

    There is already a very, very low profit in selling high end bikes. The more assembly required by the bike shop the more that cuts into the already dismal profit margin. So if (and that’s a big if) the bikes came pre-bled with hoses routed and cut (correctly) to length that would be easiest for shops. But since I rarely get in a partially factory built bike that is done 100% correctly, that seems like a leap.

  2. sloppy on

    Even though I use that hand position often while riding, putting a full size donkey boner there to hold onto seems a bit overkill. I don’t get how Formula can make the R1 brake so tidy and Shimano cant make a road lever without the need for equine manhood sized tumors.

  3. dan on

    REALLY!!! Does a road bike REALLY need disc brakes. I love the progression of things in the bizness. It has to happen. I put this “road disc brake” idea in the same bucket as the electronic shifting buzz. DI2/UI 2/ Campy electro are all solutions to a problem that really does not exist.

  4. Xris on

    Looks like a Di2 hydraulic lever. I personally brake from the top of the hoods a lot and that design just seems like the fulcrum of the lever is off by a little bit. I would like to try that longer handle if it is ever to come to pass.

  5. will on

    i keep shaking my head over why hydro and not mechanical. i totally understand why hydro on a mtb. my mtb riding greatly improved with hydro but i cant see why these designers feel that road riders need the same power as mountain riders out of their disc brakes. i think making mechanical more powerful than they currently are is perfect for a road disc application.

    i think what splicha said is spot on. a shop is going to have to work harder not only in terms of servicing and set up but also explaining to the customer why they are being charged for the work being done.

    i guess this plea is falling on deaf ears if that picture is to be believed.

    i can defend electric shifting and its merits. but i cant see the true value of hydro road disc brakes

  6. BRANDON on

    This is not Shimano, this looks like someone else trying to make a Hydro lever with a Dura-Ace Di2 brake lever. The Di2 cable in the Ultegra and DA doesn’t enter the body in that manner. I think we can all assume that the Ultegra Di2 will be the inspiration for any upcoming versions. The Di2 body has room in it for a small master cylinder and it wouldn’t need to have a giant cylinder pictured here. It will not need to stop 160mm discs, at most they will be 140mm.
    On internal routing, there are a few companies moving forward with brake away hydraulic housing that would let you run it internally without having to bleed. The bigger issue would be the weight of running it internally because you would have to have a sleeve for an already heavy housing.
    Just my opinion.

  7. Gaz on

    Lever position looks totally wrong for hydraulic. Check out the lever pivot placement on Hayes or Avid mtb brakes – then refer to this.
    And position of lever to brake in the hoods – almost impossible.
    This is a hoax for sure

  8. Turbofrog on

    @will – I would say the reason for hydraulics is less to do with power and more to do with modulation, where cable disks are generally not as good, and is essential for peleton riding. Power-wise, mechanical is ample.

  9. Marc on


    The reason to run hydraulics over cable discs is modulation. Mechanical discs can be made plenty powerful for dirt use, but their modulation (especially with older or cheap cables/housing) is poor by comparison- Avid. With such a small tire contact patch on road bikes, modulation will be even more critical.

    Hydraulics also gain the ability to move both pads simultaneously, for clearance on both sides of the rotor- something that’s possible but cumbersome and heavy on mechanical discs.


    What I’m guessing we’ll see on the road side is internal hydro tubing- not unlike what some of the NAHBS guys have done. It does mean a couple of extra fittings- but it sure is clean. My bet is that we’ll start seeing hydraulic fittings just behind the steerer before long.


  10. gee on

    could make a hella light tubular rim because it wouldn’t have to be reinforced for the rim brake….also woudln’t cook the glue off coming down a long descent. what scares me is the rich crappy rider in front of me in a group ride with amazing stopping power…..

  11. pimpbot on

    I dunno… so what if it isn’t UCI kosher? Not every bike sold is going to be raced in UCI events. We aren’t all racers. If disc brakes become popular on road bikes, UCI might come around and let them race.

    Take a tip from Volagi. They are selling bunches of bikes.

  12. Devo on

    SRAM/Avid simply needs to make a run of Rival CX levers with Avid’s Speed Dial. no brainer. I’m pretty sure the ratio in BB7’s from the road to MTB versions are the same, only the location of the torque arm and amount of throw at the caliper are working differences.

    simply but the Speed Dial knob on top of the lever, and run the slider down the lever. Leave the pivot where its at.

    Rival CX (Speed Dial) = solved.

  13. bart on

    I think they should build higher margin into these bikes knowing that the shop is going to have to bleed the brakes. So many need to be burped from the factory (that is right Avid I am looking at you!) so you may as well let the professionals set it up right.

  14. Scott on

    Disc brakes coming to road bikes makes me want to club a baby seal.

    I wanted to write a lot here but I’m restraining myself.

  15. brett on

    Disc road cannot come fast enough for me. Actual braking in the rain, replacing rotors is much easier than worn out rims, no more carbon brake pads that last 10 rides on carbon rims and still over-heat and explode the rims leading to long arguments with my LBS for warranty replacement. No more trying to adjust for 3 slightly different rim widths and changing brake pads for different rims.

  16. Typx on

    We already spend more time than we should on building up internally routed road bikes. Every 15/30/hour spent on a bike shrinks the already thin profit margin on high end road bikes. Having the brakes come dry would set a dangerous precedent for shops. And I’m not much of a road rider.. But is this technology even really needed?

  17. Robin on

    “…But is this technology even needed?” Well, are 10 speed cassettes really needed? Couldn’t we make do with 8 or 7? Are tubeless tires really needed? Are CF, Aluminum, or Ti frames really needed? Are power meters really needed? Is anything less than a 36 spoke wheel needed? No, none of that is actually needed because we could get by without it. If the industry only produced what was needed, it would have stopped producing new products years ago, maybe decades ago. Innovation doesn’t have to happen because it’s needed. We all have kit that we love that isn’t needed, so it looks a bit like we’re talking out our arses when we moan or complain, “Is ______ really needed?”

    Disc brakes provide:
    –consistent braking, no matter the weather
    –possibly lighter wheels
    –possibly more aero wheels
    –wheels that last much longer
    –relief from the worry of brake heat causing glue to soften, tubes to fail, or clincher rims to fail
    –easier braking for people with decreased function in hands or just weakier hands

    Hydro brakes additionally provide:
    –potentially better modulation
    –potentially less effort at the lever
    –more routing options for hose than cables
    –far fewer complications from use in foul weather
    –potential for adjustable effort at the lever (like with Brembo’s GP Master Cylinder)

    For racers and people who love going downhill fast, better modulation with consistent brake power will make for later braking for corners and ultimately faster downhill times/speeds. Also, the potential exists for hydro brakes to reduce weight.

    For people who ride in inclement weather (something a lot of folks have to do or enjoy doing), disc brakes obviously provide better braking and thus better safety, especially when riding includes dealing with drivers.

    For loaded tourers the benefits are obvious.

    The benefits for other riders obviously exist and go far beyond those listed here.

  18. mike on

    Robin you made so many good points that many people posting fail to see.

    There are so many benefits in a hydro drop bar brake or even a mechanical lever. This product does not only apply to the average road rider. This product can be used in so many other bicycle set ups. For example on a drop bar mountain bike. Loaded touring bike. Or even a basic commuter. A perfect bike for a drop bar hydraulic brake lever would be a Salsa Fargo. The bike has so much potential! Touring, mountain riding, road riding, commuting… and it excels in all aspects. A hydraulic drop bar lever will give this bike even more capability than it already has.

    Not only can a product like this improve riding but it also opens the door to potentially a whole new outlook into a cross country drop bar mountain bike.

  19. Scott on

    I’m with @robin. A lot of this thread sounded like one of those “When I rode bikes back in my day..” kind of things. No one is being forced to buy any of this stuff. You can still be smarmy at the coffee shop when you see someone with a Di2 Hydro set up. You can still profess your love for steel frrames or whatevs. You can even still get blown out the back.

    In the words of the great Gary Nixon, “to go fast, you need to be able to brake hard” and caliper brakes on carbon rims brake HORRIBLY. Facts is facts. Anyone who says rim brakes perform better than disc is just wrong.

  20. typx on

    Makes sense to me Robin. I wasn’t moaning or complaining. I was genuinely curious. Like I said I have no road experience; so I wasn’t sure what the advantage would be.

  21. Ripnshread on

    The nuances can be debated forever, but the facts are plain and simple. Hydraulic disc brakes outperform all other types of braking for wheeled vehicles in almost every category. The largest exception being ease of setup.

    As the Ed. said, the cycling industry is set up where OE brakes are cut to precise length, pre-bled and tested before being sent out to bike manufactures. Large factory assemblers only have clamp the lever to the bar, bolt the caliper to the frame, hold the lever closed and tighten everything down. Usually with high speed air wrenches. Internal routing adds a bunch of complexity for either the factory assembler or shop mechanic and takes out the in-house testing that every brake receives.

    As someone who has worked in the cycling industry in both the retail and factory levels this can be quite a conundrum. Adding hand assembly, routing and bleeding to a large factory operation requires that the bike can not be on an assembly line. Where bikes literally move rapidly on a conveyor belt from bare frame to a box in under about 15min. Having hand assembly needing to be done on a fixed stand adds significantly to the assembly time and final retail price of these bikes. In the case of most $3K+ bikes this is already done when suspension pivots, BB’s, seat tubes, fittings and head tubes are cleaned of paint and faced. Although the advent of press-fit BB’s and slip in head set bearings has done away with much of this.

    On the retail side, the OE manufactures are understandably worried that they will not be able to control the quality of the final assembly of the brakes opening them up to product performance and liability issues.

    This issue really comes down to tooling and what would best serve the end user of the product. I would consider that if the brake manufactures could come up with some universal standards for barb fitting, hose diameter and tooling, brake fitting and bleeding could be reliably done by the shop mechanic. Where I could see a problem is on the lowest end. Currently, the lowest end versions of most types brake systems are not easy to set up and keep adjusted. Though I guess at that price range hydraulic road disc brakes could just be done the old way and routed externally.

    In the end I don’t think most shops would balk at having to buy a couple hundred dollar tool and train their wrenches if it means a significant jump in performance, quality and fit. But I guess we’ll see….

  22. p mart on

    Disc brake is ridiculous on a 20 lbs bicycle ( to begin ; you just have to not have carbon rim ) And you know for what . Cause simply the larger is the diameter of the disc ( here the good old rim ) the better the leverage any pads could aply . And I know that here everyone love hi -tec …so just take a look at a ( defunct ) motorcycle brand like Buell . Just tell me why Erick develop the zero torsional front brake on his motorcycles , maybe it’s after simply looking at an good old bicycle rim brake . On a bicycle the use of the allready in place rim mean no additional weigth and a lot of total surface area for the good old pads to bite .

  23. Wheelsnobrakes on

    I’m happy to see that I’ll be able to run to my local Radio Shack for some RCA cables to wire up this bike. Innovation is paramount!!!

  24. J-Sub on

    I see a lot of people here questioning whether hydraulics on a road bike is a good idea or not. I’ve been riding my hydraulic road bike for months now and I’ll never go back. I’m a big heavy guy and not a weight optimizer, so the feel of my brakes is the most important criteria I care about. The way I came up with to do it, I didn’t need any expensive custom systems. A simple retrofit was all it took to make it all work beautifully with my existing STI levers. I posted pictures and how to’s over at http://hydraulicroadbike.com in case anyone wants to see in detail how I did it.

    But back to the original point, it’s fantastic. I always hated heating and scoring my rims, especially the carbon ones. It rides great and I’m really looking forward to see what happens in the next couple years when the big commercial players start offering disc solutions.


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