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In a not so surprising move, the Union Cycliste International (UCI), in conjunction with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), announced today that disc brakes will be allowed in a limited capacity within the context of professional road racing beginning in August for this year, with plans for continued testing moving into 2016. The goal is to extend the introduction of disc brakes at every level of road cycling, though disc brakes are already allowed within USA Cycling road events with the exception of UCI qualifying or UCI events in the United States. Get the deets after the jump.

The decision comes after “numerous consultations with different stakeholders” and testing will consist of professional road teams being able to utilize disc brakes in two race events, in August and September of 2015 and is planned to continue through the 2016 season. If testing is successful throughout the duration of testing, the technology will be allowable for the 2017 UCI WorldTour and, eventually, will be allowable at all levels.

Many manufacturers have been developing, or have ready in the wings, elite level disc or disc-compatible road product to introduce to the public in anticipation of such a policy change. However, there remain challenges of neutral and team support wheel and technical infrastructure in the case of mixed brake fields, just as there remain questions of safety of a mixed braking capability field- or of hot rotors cutting through racers’ arteries like a hot knife through butter in a mass crash scenario.

SRAM Hydro recall final update red force rival s700 (9)

The decision isn’t being taken lightly. From Brian Cookson, UCI President: “Although disc brakes have been used for around a decade in mountain biking and for the last two years in cyclo-cross, their introduction to road cycling must be carefully studied in collaboration with all those who are directly concerned. That includes riders, teams and manufacturers. This step is part of the UCI’s desire to encourage innovation in order to ensure cycling is even more attractive for spectators, riders, bike users and broadcasters.”

The manufactures represented by Robbert de Kock, Secretary General of the WFSGI, look forward to the opportunity that the new technology represents, stating, “The industry is delighted by this news and also thanks the UCI for the very positive collaboration. This decision will further develop innovation and create new possibilities for the bicycle industry as well as additional performance for the riders. There is still some fine tuning to do on detailed requirements for the procedure, but it is very exciting to finally have reached this decision. The remaining open topics such as neutral race support or the UCI and Teams protocol will be tackled soon.”

For the full press release, and for further UCI news, visit the website.

UCI.ch

34 COMMENTS

  1. “This step is part of the UCI’s desire to encourage innovation …” Bwaa ha ha. The uci would have us all on wooden bone shaker bikes if it could.

  2. I’m putting on my flame suit for this one:
    I hate disc brakes on road bikes.
    There, I said it. I’ve been fortunate enough to go on several rides on a high-end carbon model and I’ve been severely disappointed each time. Do they have a place in the road market? Absolutely! For heavier riders, those who frequently ride in poor conditions, gravel bikes, etc – disc makes sense. However, for someone (like myself) who loves a high-performance road bike and likes to race – disc makes too many sacrifices. Yes, it obviously brakes much better – but for this you need a much heavier, more expensive, rougher riding (if getting thru-axles) and generally slower bike. These sacrifices for 90+% of the ride don’t justify the better 10% of the ride. I hope that the UCI makes them optional or continues their ban.

  3. @wako29 Throguh Axels roll faster isnt that a good thing? I think you can change a tire quicker because you don’t need to release the rim brakes.
    I’m yet to see any like for like figures on weight but I think Orbea (and i could be very wrong here) said that disc in a head wind could be a little more aero. You may be able to save some weight in the rim not needing a brake track.

    Sure you dont need them on a TT bike.
    They do make me more confident on the down hills and in traffic maybe even hold more speed into the tight corners in a crit race.

    My idea bike would be something like the BMC TMR01 with disc. if i had a big credit card.

  4. wako29 – you do not seem to have a clue. Through axles and disk brakes are not heavier, not more expensive, not rougher riding and faster – as you can control and modulate speed better.

  5. I think the biggest challenges are going to be around wheel changes and interchangeability. I don’t think frame and hub companies can be exact enough for a rider to give his wheel to a teammate. Also, they’ll have to forget about neutral support wheels.

  6. It’s a shame that bicycling continues to be hampered by the least important and most regressive aspect of the sport as well as the most close-minded and uninformed of its participants. Racing is the most uninteresting aspect of cycling and it is only there where people fail to realize that disc brakes make a superior product.

    The buying public doesn’t care about neutral support for their bikes nor do they get value out of the idiotic quick release skewers that their bikes are burdened with to support activities they will never do. What they do care about is that disc brakes are a superior brake AND are an enabling technology for superior tire and rim solutions. It’s a no-brainer except for those with no brains.

  7. If you’re going to start throwing around absolutist statements, you should have evidence to back it up. Fact is, disk brakes are very much heavier than traditional calipers even if you disregard differences in cables vs. hoses, spoke lacing, and rims.

    Shimano R785 Di2 / Hydro:
    Shifters: 515g
    Brakes: 262g
    Oil: 21g
    Rotors: 278g (140mm)
    Front Hub: 185g
    Rear Hub: 372g
    Fork (Enve): 435g
    Total: 1,929g

    Shimano Ultegra Di2:
    Shifters: 295g
    Brakes: 335g
    Oil: n/a
    Rotors: n/a
    Front Hub: 158g
    Rear Hub: 330g
    Fork (Enve): 350g
    Total: 1,468g

    Difference: 461g / >16.26oz.

    Sure, you’ll have better stopping power and modulation, but you’ll also be shelling out for a completely new bike that will weight a pound more and all your current wheels will be obsolete.

  8. I may have to get involved in this one, disk brakes work well in all weathers callipers do not and I don’t imagine that they ever will.

    Disks are heavier and the tech on road disk wheels and frames is in its infancy producing heavier bikes.

    With this in mind a pro rider will choose the braking package that best suits the conditions on the day as they currently do with tyres.

    For the everyday rider the use of disks in racing will produce better and lighter products in the long run.

  9. Mike B. UCI is about racing & doesn’t care what kit you have now if you want to ‘upgrade’ to discs.

    Bike weight doesn’t make any difference to performance, except for finishes at the top of a mountain (where if the bike wasn’t down to the UCI weight limit, you might change to a calliper braked bike). Otherwise, it’s only weight weenies who (should) care.

    For neutral service, disc diameters will need to be standardised. And shouldn’t hydraulic callipers adjust for disc position & thickness variations?

    So, I assume Campy must have a system?

  10. The weight argument might as well be thrown out of the window. The guy who’s gram counting is also the one who keeps a tape measure in his bedside nightstand.

    It is a great feature for the people who find it beneficial. Anyone can benefit from having thru-axles and disc brakes. I think much of the limitation comes from users who are terrible at caring for disc brakes and find it challenging. I’ve had a disc road bike for the past year and it has been completely mindless in terms of care.

    Yes there is some merit about a classic cable actuated road bike, they’re pretty sweet. But i am not sure why someone would throw down on a set of carbon rim brake wheels, knowing every time they use the brakes their wheel’s lifespan gets a little bit shorter. I think a lot of people will be willing to go for nicer wheel sets now that all you need to do is replace pads every so often.

  11. Race bikes already have stuff done like finding the heaviest bottle cages out there to make race weight, or fishing weights in the steerer tube. The UCI weight limit will actually be relevant again.

    The oft parroted concern of “RAZOR SHARP DISC ROTORS SLICING THROUGH JUGULARS!!!111one” is the most ludicrous thing. They’re not razor sharp, they’re square edged and around 1/16th inch thick. The rotors are also 140mm and tucked very neatly into the bike’s structure. If there’s any worry about the bloodletting capacity for rotors, the UCI can mandate round, unfeatured outer diameters. There’s no need to ‘clear mud’ on the road.

    Neutral service *will* be a problem, but one that can already be solved. If you’re familiar with disc brakes, you know you’ve got to center the caliper over the rotor or you’ll get some brake rub. I expect each team will have a jig that ensures the rotors are all shimmed to the same position relative to the end cap. Get every team using a jig from the same manufacturer; problem solved.

    The hub and wheel technology anything but “in its infancy”. There’s nothing new required for hub design, just start building wheels with flanged or splined hubs.

  12. If disk are all they are cracked up to be why are pro cyclo cross riders choosing cantis over them. You would think in a sport as crazy as cross they would want all of these “advantages” you guys are talking about. But in reality they are not needed. The danger alone is pretty crazy…did you see Trebon’s leg after he went down? (https://twitter.com/ryantrebon/status/430041511343185920) This was a cross race…there are countless more mass pileups in road.

    I think they sound good for the guy looking to hit some mountains with packs strapped on his bike…but this is just another way to make people buy new technology.

    I’m going to be riding rim brakes on my road and cross bike for a very long time…

  13. The oft parroted concern of “RAZOR SHARP DISC ROTORS SLICING THROUGH JUGULARS!!

    How often does a chain ring decapitate a rider?

  14. While the weight argument may or may not be off a bit, but I think the details of the actual race might be more important. Wheel changes will take longer. Disc brakes are usually particular to the pads. Swapping to a new wheel will degrade braking until the pads and discs are bedded together. Plus all the different systems might make neutral support very challenging. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. I am sure discs are coming, but the tech in its current state doesn’t seem applicable to pro racing.

  15. Just look at all the brake mods this past weekend from Paris-Roubaix just so racers could use tires fatter than 28mm. Disc brakes? Not an issue with tire choice.

    Lulz to all you people who hate discs. Go back to your sloppy, sh*tty v-brakes on your mountain bikes! Enjoy, while the rest of us enjoy progress.

    Also, what kind of an idiot thinks a rotor is going to slice through an artery? That by far, is THE stupidest argument against discs.

  16. All the issues brought up are frankly easily overcome.

    1. Weight – not an issue as most modern bikes are well below UCI limits. Disc brakes won’t be an issue and the tech will get lighter and lighter, just like everything else does.

    2. Wheel changes. Easy. I am not even sure why this is an issue. A neutral car can have 1/2 disc, 1/2 caliper if there is a mixed field (which in 2-3 years I’d be surprised if there are any caliper road bikes except for TT). Hub widths are basically standardized. Thru axles would be the only issue, and the UCI can either outlaw or mandate.

    3. Safety. If an actual issue, a very simple and light guard can be built into the forks and rear triangle which upon hitting a rider, ensures the wheel stops before significant disc to skin contact occurs. This will also act as a thermal barrier. And it need not be a full cover, just a simple guard (similar to a commuters chain guard). But frankly, I don’t see this being an issue. It rare for a bike wheel to be spinning at high speed in a pile up. There are simple too many things for it to contact and slow it down.

    4. Pad bedding – serious? This is no different than rim brake now.

    5. Wheel design – no radial spokes at the rear or brake side front. Who cares, since it will be universal across the board.

    6. Wheel change speed – non issue with some thru axles now. Tech will only get better. But more importantly, wheel change speed will be the same for everyone.

  17. I am yet to find any benefit of riding and owning Disc Brakes on road bike in flat Texas. In my experience disc brings more maintenance and cost (more annoyance) compared to caliper brakes:
    • Once in a while I get rotor/pad rubbing sound due to the pads not being centered. Have to stop and mess with it.
    • Through axle fork for Disc Brake seems to me lot stiffer and makes for “rough” ride on the road, IMO
    • In efforts off the saddle (sprints) I often hear the disks touching. (Is it possible, that the Pros would get this too and be slower in their sprint finish?)

    In general, I never had to consider caliper brakes as something to pay attention to. With Disk Brakes, I have to check them before every ride.

  18. I’m not a disc hater, but I don’t understand the apocalyptic pronouncements coming from all sides on this issue.

    Milessio – I completely agree about weight and the UCI; as long as the bikes are >6.8kg, it’s not an issue. I have heard Campy is working on disks, but haven’t seen any news let along pics of such a system.

    The Dude (et al) – I’ve never seen a carbon road rim fail at the sidewall, though I have seen a few aluminum rims fail, some pretty spectacularly. If anything, my experience is I go through brake pads faster when using carbon rims on the road. Has anyone else here ever heard of carbon rims being worn down and failing from normal braking wear and tear?

    Everyone expousing “RAZOR SHARP DISC ROTORS SLICING THROUGH JUGULARS!!!111one” – maybe ask Clint Malarchuk about the ability of squared off metal to cut through the jugular? Fact is, it can and (though not in cycling that I know of) has happened.

    Eric Hansen – Please, no more jigs, the UCI has enough trouble setting up and using their own bike jigs and I’m not sure the bike industry could come together to formalize a single standard for anything even if they tried (though I would love it if they could).

  19. Quite simply…….people always fear the unknown. I don’t understand why everyone must be so divided on this subject. I have an opinion…..but it certainly doesn’t make me want to control what type of brake setup others should have to use. In gravel terms….”run what you brung”. I have been on disc brakes on my Road and Gravel/Cross bike for over 5 years now and will never go back. Yet, it doesn’t make me want to dictate what others use.

  20. I wonder if we’ll see a floating one piston caliper soon, so save weight for road applications (and to allow for more tolerance in caliper/rotor misalignment.

  21. Eric Hansen: “Neutral service *will* be a problem, but one that can already be solved. If you’re familiar with disc brakes, you know you’ve got to center the caliper over the rotor or you’ll get some brake rub. I expect each team will have a jig that ensures the rotors are all shimmed to the same position relative to the end cap. ”

    That kinda sorta is already the situation already. Contrary to popular misconception, neutral support can’t just pop a wheel into any old frame, close the QR and off you go. Dropouts vary in thickness from frame to frame and fork to fork. This means a neutral mechanic usually has to adjust the QR when putting it into a bike, slowly down the wheel swap. Team mechanics don’t have this problem. Any good team mechanic will have a gaping tool that allows them to preset the QRs on their spare wheels so it’s quicker to swap them out. Realistically, if a rider is in a breakaway or is a team leader they will usually just be given a spare bike since that’s faster than a wheel swap. That will continue to be the case with discs. For cyclocross any smart racer knows you’re better off having two inexpensive bikes than having one expensive bike and a set of spare wheels.

    For non-racers the main issue I have with discs is comfort. Moving the point of braking force from the fork crown down to the hub means the entire fork leg much be made MUCH stiffer to resist the braking force. This in turn also means the fork will be less able to absorb impacts and ride harsher. I’ve ridden a few disc bikes and even when equipped with the same tires and PSI you can tell the difference. Granted, this is probably only an issue for people who ride truly long distances such as randonneurs. If you’re just doing a century it likely won’t matter as much.

    As a former team mechanic I have to say I like the idea of electronic shifting and hydraulic brakes! Maintaining cables, especially on a couple dozen bikes, is such a headache. Now if they can just make a multi gear belt drive transmission… 😉

  22. UCI could dictate QRs, but for consistent rotor/caliper positioning for fast wheel changes it has to be thru-axle. FWIW, Focus Bikes developed a really slick design for the thru axle they call RAT that doesn’t use threads and is as fast to change as QRs for rim brakes.

    @JBikes: “Hub widths are basically standardized”

    Not true. Specialized’s disc brake road bikes are designed for their proprietary SCS rear hubs that move the cassette inboard by 2.5mm, making them incompatible with wheels based on any other hub standard, QR or TA. Maybe a single UCI standard could put an end to that particular strain of bike manufacturer madness, but I doubt it…

  23. Knocking the UCI is fun, and it deserves criticism after spending decades looking the other way on the use of PEDs, but they’re being smart about road disc. Remember that UCI is responsible for the integrity, safety, and sustainability of the sport. Formula 1 is also governed conservatively for the same reasons.

    Weight minimums and design constraints are good things because they encourage innovation. Because of the ease of hitting the 6.8kg limit, we got frames that were more aero and more comfortable.

  24. The only problem I see with disc brakes in the pro peleton is the neutral support issue, but that can easily be addressed.
    The weight issue is non existent since pro bikes typically use some heavier parts to achieve the minimum weight limits.
    The issue of safety is also ridiculous, a spoked wheel is far more dangerous, so is a chainring and how many injuries do you here about with those? Ive also heard concerns about the hot rotor “melting skin” when, in a pro race is someone dragging their brakes? If they are, they need to attend “Jeff’s school of proper desending techniques and braking”

  25. @ john –
    I did not know that about Specialized.
    Is it just the cassette that moved (affecting shifting) or is it the disc as well as width of the hub?
    Anyway, seems like it would become standardized via UCI or via the market. Specialized supplies a lot of race bikes to pro’s but they are also not a majority in any sense. I’d think they (or anyone else with different cassette and disc spacing) would put themselves and the teams in a tough position by being bullheaded about it. The market wants it. They will ensure it will be seen in racing.

  26. Concerning the neutral support issue, why do we still have neutral support?
    Does the future of road racing maybe not include the famous yellow Mavic cars anymore?
    Most teams have a more than adequate budget to support themselves.

  27. this whole “hot knife through butter” stuff has got to stop… When is the last time there’s been a pile up after a steep descent? It happens on the flats, where discs will be relatively cool…. But the UCI should require 160’s up front and 140’s out back and a standard thru axel design so that neutral race support can function (and us consumers can function with one standard!)

  28. this won’t happen folks, riders just don’t to use them, they make the bike heavier and slower. We are talking about pro-tour racing. For training, sure most pro’s would enjoy using a disc brake road bike, and also all of us who actually pay for our bikes. But in pro-tour racing? this is a movement by the Uci to please the industry, that it’s also putting some money on it. MTB is mostly financed by the industry, uci almost gets no profit, in road they get 10 times more though. Perhaps for roubaix and similar races… maybe, but when riders have spoken, they just don’t want them in races.

    And of course, some teams, a lot of them, will use them for secondary races, or non main riders, just to show them on tv, and disc brake road bike sales will go over the roof. Yes, this is gonna happen, granted. Money buys.

  29. @Pistolero: it won’t matter that discs make bikes heavier and “slower” because in just a handful of years, everyone in the pro peloton will be using them. They’ll have the same disadvantage.

    Interviews with riders show that your believe that riders “just don’t want them in races” isn’t true in every case.

  30. @Pistolero, Im concused about your statement that disc brakes will make the pros bike heavier and slower. The pros bikes built up with disc brakes will still easily achieve the under 7kg weight limit that is being used today with rim brakes. The bikes will be slower but only when they brake.

  31. Bikes will al weight the same 6,8Kg. But ones can have wheelsets of roughtly over 1kg front and rear, and disc ones, with 3x croseed spokes, thick spokes and/or higher spoke count, will run for 400g more, in the best scenario.

    – Thin tires can stop you really, no matter how good your brakes are. Better modulation is welcome though.

    – Riders who do understand equipment, do not want them. Some other don’t know their material, or are payed to say whatever their sponsor tells them to say, but they all hate discs.

    – all discs rub, except shimano, they all do. Through axles have to develop more to make faster wheel changes.

    This is pro tour, a 400g in wheels make a 0,01% difference, and that is quite an unffair disadvantage.

  32. I bought my last “racing” bike back when Lance still had a reputation to defend. Every bike I’ve bought/built since then has had disc brakes, including an endurance road bike and a gravel/utility bike. If one purpose of team sponsorship is to sell product to folks like me, then pro racers will soon be riding disc-equipped bikes whether they want them or not — because having used disc brakes extensively for several years now, I will never, ever buy another bike without them. Never, ever. Print that on your team jersey.

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