shimano r785 hydraulic road disc brakes ride review

There was never a doubt we would be seeing disc brakes in the peloton soon, but now it’s unofficially official! The Union Cycliste Internationale announced Friday that they would allow all riders of UCI professional road teams to use try disc brakes in 2016 as a continued trial.

Head past the brake for the details……

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We’ve already seen UCI-ready road bikes with disc brakes popping up as the governing body had allowed limited testing of disc brakes by World Tour Teams this past August and September to address initial safety concerns. In cooperation with stakeholders, riders, mechanics, organizers, neutral service providers, teams and the bicycle industry, represented by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), they’re now allowing all UCI professional road teams to use disc brakes during the “continued trials”.

In short, disc brake use won’t be “officially” allowed until the 2017 season given hell doesn’t freeze over, as the 2016 season is considered a final trial period before sealing the deal. This decision, though seemingly an easy one, isn’t being taken lightly as there has been safety concerns regarding injuries and burns occurring during a crash within the peloton as well as the additional braking performance increasing the frequency of crashes (concerns that are all but non-existent in mountain biking and cyclocross).

Back in April, UCI President Brian Cookson said:

“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.”

Starting starting January 1, 2016, all UCI World Teams, Professional Continental Teams, Continental Teams, and UCI Women’s Teams will have the green light to use disc brakes so as long as their equipment meets the modified articles 1.3.017 (frame regulations) and 1.3.020 (fork regulations). Though braking performance will be significantly improved, especially in wet conditions, due to the disc alignment and thru axles, wheel changes will not be as fast.

2016 Votec VRd disc brake road bike

What this means more than anything is that the next high end road bike you purchase is highly likely to have disc brakes whether you like it or not. The general consensus seems pretty positive about the idea (unless they have a small fortune in wheel sets), and now that they’re allowed in the top levels of competition, there’s just no stopping the future…

Check the UCI press release for the full details.


  1. “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.”

    …So UCi is encouraging innovation now. Huh. Seems like the innovation already happened, but what do I know.

  2. So does anyone know the modifications to 1.3.017 and 1.3.020?
    This article makes it seem like they may require thru axles for disc use.

  3. “And this summer’s tour de france will be worth watching for the hourly pile ups alone.”

    Which will make it different from the last several years… how exactly?

  4. More otb pile ups, way worse crashes. Just a guess. But I will enjoy them personally on solo rides/descents. The local fat dorks in “fast” group rides are going to see a lot of carnage lol. “I thought that squirrel was going to dart across so I slammed my brakes.” “It’s not may fault Donald still has rim brakes”

  5. Imagine the car racing world analog: “Formula 1 will allow cars to ditch their drum brakes starting in the 2018 season.”


  6. Let’s wait to hear from the world tour peloton about this. You can’t compare mountain biking and cyclocross to ultra tight pro road racing. Just wait until a dog runs out into the main bunch and we’ll hear all about it lol.

  7. I really am concerned about the mix use in the peloton. Whatever your views on disc brakes are (I still am not sold as the end-all-be-all since they are heavier, less aero, more expensive, louder, ride rougher when used with thru-axles, and more complex with hyrdo systems), there is no question that they brake significantly better than rim brakes. So by UCI allowing mixed-use, I think this actually increases the risk by a rim-brake rider not stopping as quickly as the disc rider. More-so when they are riding so extremely close to each other. Plus, not all manufacturers in the pro peloton make a comparable disc model to the race-oriented bikes the racers are used to riding. They should make it one way or the other – that’s fine. Mixed is the most dangerous option.

  8. JBikes: I assume it means that the frame and fork will need the same UCI tax stamp, I mean “UCI approved” sticker, that the organization requires on all new mass market racing bikes. Prototypes are an exception, though I’m curious what happens when that design is brought to market (as required) but doesn’t make the cut.

    Modern rim calipers are much more powerful than the old single-pivots. They were dropped on the peloton without fanfare, and we have decades of evidence to prove that they weren’t dangerous—they’re just a heck of a lot better.

    Like it or not, discs are next.

  9. @Jbikes:

    1.3.017 The distance between the internal extremities of the front forks shall not exceed 10.5 cm; the distance between the internal extremities of the rear triangle shall not exceed 13.5 cm.

    1.3.020 For road competitions other than time trials and for cyclo-cross competitions, the frame
    of the bicycle shall be of a traditional pattern, i.e. built around a main triangle. It shall be
    constructed of straight or tapered tubular elements (which may be round, oval,
    flattened, teardrop shaped or otherwise in cross-section) such that the form of each
    element encloses a straight line. The elements of the frame shall be laid out such that
    the joining points shall follow the following pattern: the top tube (1) connects the top of
    the head tube (2) to the top of the seat tube (4); the seat tube (from which the seat post
    shall extend) shall connect to the bottom bracket shell; the down tube (3) shall connect
    the bottom bracket shell to the bottom of the head tube. The rear triangles shall be
    formed by the chain stays (6), the seat stays (5) and the seat tube (4) with the seat
    stays anchored to the seat tube at points falling within the limits laid down for the slope
    of the top tube.
    The maximum height of the elements shall be 8 cm and the minimum thickness 2.5 cm.
    The minimum thickness shall be reduced to 1 cm for the chain stays (6) and the seat
    stays (5). The minimum thickness of the elements of the front fork shall be 1 cm; these
    may be straight or curved (7). (See diagram «Shape (1)»).
    The top tube may slope, provided that this element fits within a horizontal template
    defined by a maximum height of 16 cm and a minimum thickness of 2.5 cm.
    The effective width of the head tube zone may not exceed 16 cm at the narrowest point
    between the inner join of the top tube and down tube and the front of the box for the
    head tube.

    ED: I didn’t link this as I didn’t see any update reffering to thru axle and disc mounts.

  10. Mountain Dew Drinking Flatbiller – If you have an M5, you’re likely well to do and chose a great ‘Driving Car’. I see no animosity in owning one.

  11. Does anyone have any stats (or even some anecdotes) on how many crashes have been caused by a mix of aluminum and carbon rims? Those don’t stop equivalently either. Or at least, didn’t used to.

  12. @boom, and the standard issue FUD campaign…

    Heavier? In a world where weights are added to make a frame UCI competition legal…

    Studies exist to show that the aero “deficit” can be largely dismissed:

    More expensive? Running disc brakes means those expensive carbon rims will last a lot longer because there’s no brake track to be concerned about. Getting rid of the brake track should make the rim lighter…

  13. All you haters realize we’re talking about pro cyclists, right? These guys will adapt to the stronger disc brakes and use them accordingly. I highly doubt they’ll all be grabbing a handful of lever at every little thing that startles them on the road and causing massive pileups.

  14. A few valid points above:

    -When rim brakes went from single pivot to dual pivot the difference in stopping power was remarkable. No issues from the peloton.

    -When carbon rims started getting used the brakes stopping power on the carbon rim surface was very poor, much less than on an aluminium rim. No issues from the peloton.

    -My guess with disc brakes? No issues from the peloton.

  15. Let’s not forget that we are talking about the pro peloton here. These are some of the greatest riders and bike handlers on the globe. When it comes to braking, these guys know how to do it, and many come from backgrounds in mountain biking/cross, so they are well acquainted with disc brakes and how they work. An improved tool in the hands of an expert user will more than likely yield good results.

  16. I’m just going to register a big ol’ “whatever” on this one. Unless it’s raining, I find discs on the road to be essentially overkill, but all this hub bub over safety seems overblown (both the more dangerous and the more safe camps). Any roadies on discs care to comment on their performance? (Yeah, I already know discs are orders of magnitude better on mountain and cross bikes… kind of irrelevant on the road though).

  17. not so convinced that disc brakes will be a big improvement oven high end road brakes which have come a long way since single pivot brakes and have great modulation and braking power. disc brakes will shine on those wet rolling stages. there is still the issue of brake fade, probably less of an issue with riders of the peloton, who will probably do much less brake dragging than amateur cyclists.
    cannot wait to hear that disc pinging during the sprints!

  18. @Mike

    Performance? I’d say meh so far. As you noted, the most noticeable difference is in the wet. I’m in Seattle so better wet weather performance is a pretty big plus. If I still lived in Phoenix…not so much.

    I think for recreational riders the real improvements could be more on the maintenance side. No cable stretch, no cables developing friction from grit/grime and requiring regular replacement. Pads automatically adjust as they wear. Pads can be changed in a few seconds and without any tools. Rims never wear out from braking. All of these are pretty awesome bonuses for the recreational rider.

  19. FU, CI. They allow aero-machines that don’t even resemble real bikes, and yet squash “new” tech like disc brakes and 35+mm CX tires. A one-year boycott of all UCI events would bankrupt them, and then we could get back to real racing in all disciplines.

  20. I ride for adventure and fun in Oregon; some of the rides on the forest service and blm roads have lots of climbing…and lots of down hill

    my wrists/arms use to get very tired braking on the down hill…so when disc brakes for road bikes came out I decided to try them

    GREAT! no issues with wrist/arms

    ***note- been riding 20+ years and I did not stop riding because my wrist/arms hurts but now that I have choice, I go with my disc road bike

  21. Does nobody else here realize that we’ve been riding on bikes that have “clamps”, that mash the actual wheel which is designed for holding a tire? Think of how 1920’s that sounds.

    Discs allow better and lighter rim design sans braking surface (decreased outer rotational weight), consistent braking in ALL weather conditions, and if you warp a wheel, it likely won’t ruin your ride if the wheel isn’t rubbing the brake pads. Drawbacks? Some really nitpick stuff that is a drop in the bucket compared to the benefits.

  22. Didn’t read everything but… Once upon a time there were Campy equipped teams with single pivot brakes on carbon rims in the peloton alongside Shimano equipped teams on aluminum rims (this was even in the ceramic braking surface days). That is a huge difference relative to modern calipers and rims vs discs in terms of stopping power and modulation (well, if dura ace). I think the increased crashing argument is being blown out of proportion.

    That said – glowing hot rotors slicing and cauterizing roadie flesh from some pile up after a descent is a sight I eventually expect to see.

  23. Sickboy, although much of what you say is true, the term “clamps”, seemingly used to make rim brakes seem archaic and crude, can just as easily be applied to disc brake calipers – they just clamp a different surface.
    For most riding, rim brakes are an incredibly simple and effective tool. I do welcome disc brakes though.

  24. @JB, Exactly my point. Disc brakes contact a braking surface that is just that….. vs a rim that is modified to be used for braking. By separating the two different purposes into two independent systems, you can make both of them perform better.

  25. With disks carbon rims should be lower cost, no high temperature resins required and no track treatment. Lower weight and more aero shapes too.

  26. (deleted), the same arguments everytime.

    Usual nonsense that pro riders don’t understand how to modulate their braking and that glowing rotors are going to burn through flesh. You realise that it takes an awful lot of brake dragging to get rotors that hot and pros generally don’t drag their brakes too much.

  27. @Sickboy, your argument is specious. As an engineer (some aero back ground) and former A grade rider what can I say other than that brakes only slow you down. Aero will make you faster but I suppose new gimmicks are loved by the marketing department to sell bikes. Let’s look at some scenarios, you are a sprinter: do you choose discs of some low spoke count aero wheels? or you primarily ride crits and often cover breaks or make breaks yourself: do you choose discs or go for a low spoke count set of aero wheels? or, I could go on. The least number of spokes for a wheel in tension is twelve and they will be radial and not crossed, since when would a wheel like this work with a disc hub? Push the boundaries and one might attempt a 24 spoke disc wheel to take advantage of the stopping power for descents. So Sickboy a disc system make a bike better for what? Stopping, heck I thought these were for race bikes. Improved rim profile is not an argument, it’s a non-issue. But I guess history will give us more insight.

  28. Sickboy – the requirement of a rim for strength, impact resistance, resistance to spoke tension, and ability to hold air pressure up to and over 120 psi make it such that they tend to already be capable of being clamped by a brake caliper. The gains in weight from rim to disc brake, or the wheel rim, will be very marginal.

    Mortimer – yes, they are better at stopping. And yes, these are race bikes, but threshold braking and braking later is key to maintaining higher average speeds on a course. Disc will rule in when weather is suspect and I suspect they will be seen on many courses with more technical descents.

  29. Apparently, they have only ratified some specifications while others are just recommendations at this point.

    100 x 15mm thru axle front is only a recommendation, not official yet.
    142 x 12mm thru axle rear is also just a recommendation.
    160mm diameter discs are official.

  30. The transition btw caliper to disk on road racing is taking longer to allow all manufactures to transition and sell their caliper models….
    that is the only reason.

    once disk will be official, consumers will not buy the caliper bikes anymore, so they need to sell the current stock. unlike cyclocross and mtb, road bike is 20 times larger…

    as far as the pros, they all stated they are fine with the calipers, but they do what the sponsor wants them to do….

    mixing disk with caliper…. the pros hardly brake… but the general american consumer on a mixed ride may have little problems…

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