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…
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.
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.
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.”