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WFSGI rebukes disc brake dangers in pro peloton

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Considering the number of comments we’ve received on the CPA statement about the dangers of disc brakes in the peloton, it’s a wonder it took so long for a counterpoint to surface. Last Friday, the WFSGI (World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry) released its initial findings on the matter, where it stops short of issuing its own opinion as statement and instead rely on professional assessments.

And of course this video (above, sourced here) of a team mechanic stopping a spinning rotor with his thumb and escaping unscathed, which followed the Owain Doull accident at Abu Dhabi 2017.

Regarding the Ventoso accident at Paris-Roubaix 2016, the WFSGI asked forensic doctor Ulrich Zollinger based in Bern, Switzerland to analyze the wound of Francisco Ventoso as well as the entire course of his accident. His conclusions state that the “injury caused by a disc of a disc brake couldn’t be reasonably explained” and that “Both the bottom-up impact and the jagged (toothed) lower wound edge are in contrast well explainable by the impact of the chainless front gear.”

The WFSGI also commissioned the German bicycle accident investigator Dirk Zedler to make and independent investigation & risk assessment of the same accident as well. His conclusion can be summed up as “it can be stated that the documented shape of the incision across the leg cannot have been caused by a brake disc during the ride.”

The WFSGI’s report says more than 15 million disc brake bikes have been sold, which includes all categories (road, ‘cross, mountain bikes, etc.), and that the UCI is looking into minimum performance standards for road bike brakes used in competition. These standards would help ensure bikes with disc brakes and rim brakes are on more equal footing, important since one of the main concerns is the difference between braking power that can cause issues in a tightly packed peloton. Another feature that’s already been implemented are the rounded rotors, which eliminates the sharp edge a stamped rotor can have.

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Dale C
Dale C
6 years ago

Ha, so they found that not only was it not the disc rotor that cut the guy, it was a chainring that probably did it?? Time to mount bash guards on every bike in a UCI race….

But seriously, that video with the dude stopping the rear wheel with his thumb on the rotor should completely debunk the entire sharp rotor myth. And before someone jumps in to argue, heating up the rotor adds zero cutting ability to a dull piece of metal (unless it’s glowing red hot…)

AK Fatbiker
AK Fatbiker
6 years ago
Reply to  Dale C

Spin a wheel up on a repair stand and stop it with your hand.
Now, spin the wheel up to the same speed on the road and stop it with your hand.
Still feel like that video debunks anything?

Stray Spondonicle
Stray Spondonicle
6 years ago
Reply to  AK Fatbiker

The only case where it would be different stopping a disc brake on the road vs in a repair stand is if you’re applying power to the wheel at the time of impact and not freewheeling. Now, go show me a crash where a rider is still pedalling whilst being in the middle of a massive pile up and I’ll reconsider my stance on this issue.
The only other way would be for a rider to actually kick a disc brake rotor with their foot/shin whilst in the peleton AND moving, which is rather hard to physically manage and to then decide to ride along upright letting a duller-than-a-butter-knife disc slowly cut you… in which case you’re probably crashing and see the earlier point. Because riders seem able to miss kicking a drive-chain, which is just as easy to do as a disc brake!

anonymous coward
anonymous coward
6 years ago

A wheel spinning in a stand only has the momentum of the wheel. A wheel spinning on a moving bike has the momentum of the wheel, bike, and rider. Your not stopping a moving bike with your finger.

killa cam
killa cam
6 years ago

I’m no physics buff but wouldn’t it be harder to stop a rotor with your thumb if there’s forward momentum with the weight of a rider, rather than on a bike stand?

Stray Spondonicle
Stray Spondonicle
6 years ago
Reply to  killa cam

Physics:
assume crash has freewheeling wheel
for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction:
kinetic force of lightweight carbon rim freewheeling in one direction vs resistance force provided by thumb in opposite direction + internal resistance of freehub.
use your energy equations, sub in numbers, and you’ll figure out a 400g rim which is free wheeling doesn’t need much stopping power.
If the rider isn’t freewheeling, you probably have yourself a crash scenario or a glancing blow.

boo
boo
6 years ago

how do you pedal when crashing?

1111
6 years ago
Reply to  boo

Pedalling is a contributing factor to a crash, but not always necessary 😉

Robert Bowers
Robert Bowers
6 years ago

When statistics show sales of disc’d road bikes have reached saturation, what fashion accessory will the marketing dept push next?

uzurpator
uzurpator
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert Bowers

Suspension. Not that I would complain. I’ve been riding FS/Disc gravel bike since forever.

PFS
PFS
6 years ago

I think that what the video shows is that rotors are not sharp. Obviously it would be much more difficult to stop a bike with your thing on the rotor but in that situation it would still likely not cut. However, it seems like in most pile-ups where they are concerned about rotors spinning and slicing, there is no rider on the bike and you are just stopping the wheel like shown in the video.

fred
fred
6 years ago

stick your thumb INSIDE the rotor and tell me it isnt dangerous. solid rotors for the safety win!

Quixote
Quixote
6 years ago
Reply to  fred

Way easier to catch a digit in a bladed spoked wheel…

fred
fred
6 years ago
Reply to  Quixote

disc-disc wheels front and rear with solid disc rotors. super safe!

Adam
Adam
6 years ago

Ban all lycra if pros truly care about safety

Tim
Tim
6 years ago

If the dude stopped it by slamming his thumb against it as hard and fast as he could while the wheel was loaded AND still wasn’t injured, then we’d be on to something. Obviously that is impossible, so stop shilling for bike companies and let the pros be safe if they want to. It makes zero difference to anyone else.

Brian
Brian
6 years ago

I think what is interesting about this video is that the person did not try to stop the disc brake by putting his fingers or his face or his nose or his ear into the spokes of the rotor. I have been involved in peloton crashes and i can assure everyone you have no control over what body parts go where and in what direction they go. The real issue for the WFSGI and the small number of bike manufacturers who are pushing road bikes with disc brakes is that it is the legal responsibility of any manufacturer of a new product not to increase the level of danger or potential risk of injury, disability and death for the consumer, us. This is evidenced by the current cases of legal litigation in the USA by users who have been injured while using their road bike fitted with disc brakes.

BanBladedSpokes
BanBladedSpokes
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Bladed spokes are way thinner and sharper than a disc, plus they’re travelling faster near the rim, and with larger gaps to get a finger or hand into.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
6 years ago

Few years from now when everybody is on disc those stupid mfer’s like Ventoso, Maes, and Doull are going to look back at their failed conspiracy and hang their heads in shame while throw a leg over the newest rig with disc. The rest of us will forget this ever happened, just as it did with mtb and cx.

Will
Will
6 years ago

Discs are better at braking. Discs probably don’t cause any increased chance of cutting accidents happening.

But. . .

Discs are just harder to deal with. I like to take my wheels on and off, adjusting disc brakes are more time consuming. Disc fluid and lines are more difficult to deal with than cables. Don’t get me started on thru axles because now we have a disc brake that is more fussy to adjust and a thru axle that is more time consuming to pop on and off. Sure, it improves braking power and allows for true independence on carbon rim design, but at what cost to daily users.

I would say that 95 percent of road riders would be better served by traditional aluminum rims of the Hed belgium varietal, rim brakes, and quick releases.

But, whatever, if you have thousands to spend on each iteration of new tech, more power to you.

Quixote
Quixote
6 years ago
Reply to  Will

Bingo! And on a road wheel with only 23-25mm rubber, it isn’t at all about braking power. Good rim calipers have more than enough stopping power – it’s the finer modulation provided by discs.

JonB
JonB
6 years ago
Reply to  Will

Thru axles take slightly longer to take off, but have many benefits – much stiffer frames/forks for a given weight (improved handling), much more consistent wheel placement (better shifting and braking), and quite frankly no added time for removal/reassembly of the front wheel. Discs are also adjusted only once, then they stay rock solid. Also no concerns about wheels being slightly our of true for consumer bikes. The rear wheel takes maybe 5 seconds more to remove, and goes back together just as fast or faster in my experience (assuming discs).

Disc brakes stay in adjustment way longer, are unaffected by inclement weather, require less maintenance (no need to clean rims, far fewer pad changes, self adjusting for wear, no need to replace cables and housings) at the expense of a tiny bit of weight and learning how to bleed brakes. Quite frankly, bleeding is something you’ll only need to do a couple times a year, and only takes 30 minutes to do both brakes once you get the hang of it. Initial setup is a bit fidly, but Overall maintenance is much reduced.

Hydraulics and discs seem complicated until you have them. Even if braking performance was on par on my mtb, I’d never go back to rim brakes.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
6 years ago
Reply to  JonB

Before you start writing paragraphs that has absolutely nothing to do with the article, you should probably know that there’s already 3-4 thru axles that were specifically designed to be faster than a QR in a wheel change. Please try to keep up.

joe
joe
6 years ago

How many times have you been riding downhill on a road bike and not been able to brake in time to stop for an obstacle? It’s happened to me quite a few times, I don’t know why people think you can’t benefit from better brakes.

Honestly, in MTB the argument of disc brakes ended 20 years ago, I just can’t understand why the road cyclists are so slow to adopt this. I mean you’re already on electronic groupsets, and I can say you definitely don’t NEED those.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
6 years ago
Reply to  joe

The performance debate is moot. They’re crying wolf about ‘safety’ because some precious roadies at the elite level don’t like how they look.

boo
boo
6 years ago

funny thing is youre probably right. the world we live in.

satisFACTORYrider
satisFACTORYrider
6 years ago

The only thing that allows you to go faster is better stopping power

Flatbiller
Flatbiller
6 years ago

I went on a group road ride yesterday with 17 people. Fourteen of us had disc brake-equipped bicycles. Only two of us died due to disc brakes (one had his jugular cut while checking his NDS BB cup, the other when removing his bike from his bike rack).

That’s a 12% death rate, which is acceptable, right?

Allan
Allan
6 years ago
Reply to  Flatbiller

OK this whole disc brake thing has jumped the shark, but this was funny!

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