In favour, dead against, or just plain indifferent; here’s what the professional peloton had to say about the introduction of disc brakes at the 2015 Eneco Tour

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Disc brakes were used for the first time in professional road raing on Tuesday, when two riders on Team Roompot trialled the equipment on stage two of the Eneco Tour.

As part of the UCI’s project to test the technology in the pro peloton, Team Sky’s Bernie Eisel also trialled the brakes on his Pinarello Dogma during Wednesday’s stage three.

However the issue of disc brakes in professional racing remains divisive. What did riders and mechanics at the Eneco Tour make of their introduction this week?

“It’s working perfectly!”
Bernie Eisel (Team Sky)

“Trust me I was the last one that wanted to use disc brakes. They gave me them to try, and see, and then I could still complain about it. At the moment it’s working perfectly, no rubbing, nothing. For the moment, no complaints at all.

“This [stage three] was the first time I’ve ridden with them. In the first 50 to 60km I had to figure out how it worked, but at the end it’s just super easy. After three or four corners of hard braking you know how it works.”

Bernhard Eisel's disc brake-equipped Pinarello Dogma F8

Bernhard Eisel’s disc brake-equipped Pinarello Dogma F8

“A recipe for disaster”
Greg Henderson (Lotto-Soudal)

“A lot of the crashes already are caused by guys, say 20 places in front of you touching their brakes a little bit, and then by the time it gets 20 back it becomes a lock on, an accordion effect.

“If you have guys who just touch the brakes and they lock on, as far as I’m concerned there are going to be more crashes in the peloton.”

“I can tell you I’ve been cut by chainrings so many times; in a crash there’s always a mark on your leg or your arm where you look at it later and go, ‘yup, that was a chainring.’ So now you’ll be able to add, ‘oh yeah that was a disc brake.’

“It’s a nice idea, it looks good, it looks different, but as far as I’m concerned I don’t think it’s safe in the pro peloton.”

>>>New contract is close, but nothing signed yet, insists Tom Boonen >>>

“It doesn’t change a thing.”
Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep)

“I don’t think anybody noticed. Everybody is acting like it’s the biggest deal of the century, but it doesn’t change a thing.

“The one thing that limits brake power is the tyre of the bike, it’s not the brake. With a rim brake I can brake as hard as the disc brake, because when the wheel jams, the wheel jams.

“I prefer disc brakes, I think it’s safer to use disc brakes, but I don’t know what the fuss is about. Let all teams be free, give them the choice to use them or not this season.”

“Every time you put the wheel in you have to set the calipers up.”
Filip Tisma, mechanic (Team Sky)

“The main challenge is to make both levers feel the same, front and back. Just everything is different, wheels and everything. You have to go back to basics and make sure everything is correct.

“The plan at the moment is just to change the bike, not to change the wheel [if there is a puncture]. It’s not about time, but every time you put the wheel in the bike you need to set the calipers up. So if you do it in a rush, in the race, it’s impossible to get it correct.”

  • blueorangatang

    I think Side pulls are safer in any group/ club or race, less chance of crashes

  • Semnoz

    Not sure about Parix Roubaix…..do the riders actually use their brakes much in that event apart from a dozen or so cobbled 90° bends ?
    When did a pro-tour rider last crash because their brakes weren’t powerful enough ? It’s much more about tyre/road contact, which cannot be improved much, as Tom Boonen states above.
    Also, disc brakes will make neutral (Mavic car) wheel changes a nightmare – you’ll never get a ‘generic’ disc hub/rotor combo that fits all bikes. Even if this was accomplished, I think it would make wheel changes take too long, unless guide plates are fitted to the lower edge of the brake pads.
    Most pro riders are very confident on a bike, and I’m not sure they’re all that fussed about brake performance. What they do care about is low weight and aerodynamics, which are two aspects not in favour of disc brakes.
    But for overall consistent braking in all conditions, disc brakes win easily, so they might have a place in road racing.

  • Michael Garvey

    Disc brakes-unnecessary in dry conditions, essential in the wet-it’s as simple as that. I have a set of Dura ace rim brakes and a set of Ksyrium sls wheels on my racing bike and they work really well when it’s dry, but are practically useless in the rain if you need to slow down or stop in a hurry. Even worse if you are riding carbon rims without one of those specially treated brake tracks. Personally, I feel safer on a bike with disc brakes when it’s wet and, given that I live in Ireland, it’s wet a lot of the time. If I had to cancel club rides every time it rained, I would probably get out on the bike once a month in the winter. I don’t see a problem either with disc and rim brakes being used together in the peloton-at the moment, teams ride wheels and callipers which brake in different ways, so discs will hardly make much difference in that regard. As Boonen says, it’s more relevant what tyres you are on. n terms of safety, the point about discs becoming sharp weapons in a crash is a good one, though I would think that the number of crashes might be reduced by the improved braking performance you would get in wet conditions. Once disc brakes become the norm on road bikes, it will also mean better designed wheels which will have a much longer lifespan because you will no longer be slowly wearing down the brake track each time you ride.

  • Michael Garvey

    Disc brakes-unnecessary in dry conditions, essential in the wet-it’s as simple as that. I have a set of Dura ace rim brakes and a set of Ksyrium sls wheels on my racing bike and they work really well when it’s dry, but are practically useless in the rain if you need to slow down or stop in a hurry. Even worse if you are riding carbon rims without one of those specially treated brake tracks. Personally, I feel safer on a bike with disc brakes when it’s wet and, given that I live in Ireland, it’s wet a lot of the time. If I had to cancel club rides every time it rained, I would probably get out on the bike once a month in the winter. I don’t see a problem either with disc and rim brakes being used together in the peloton-at the moment, teams ride wheels and callipers which brake in different ways, so discs will hardly make much difference in that regard. As Boonen says, it’s more relevant what tyres you are on. n terms of safety, the point about discs becoming sharp weapons in a crash is a good one, though I would think that the number of crashes might be reduced by the improved braking performance you would get in wet conditions. Once disc brakes become the norm on road bikes, it will also mean better designed wheels which will have a much longer lifespan because you will no longer be slowly wearing down the brake track each time you ride.

  • Bob

    you cant stop progress, and I think this is definitely progress – I’m with tom Boonen

  • RobTM

    A minute would be a huge rain advantage, a no brainer. I just doubt that’s likely, with rim brakes you can squeeze them to dry the rims without significant slowing. What I think will happen is a change of wheels, FORCING disc brakes; when manufacturers want to drop the awkward dual function of carbon rims and provide disc only wheels

  • RobTM

    Yeah it’s funny, one club Sunday run noone showed up due to rain, I had just had enough time to get to another clubs meet and had great small group ride in what I regard as safe conditions.
    Oddly, they do group ride despite over-night frost on route in “dry” sunny conditions and been caught by black ice. Those days I go later, alone and on carefully selected routes as I feel that’s much more dangerous.
    Havind ridden mixed disc/rim on club group rides, I don’t think it’s as much of a problem as feared; though there will be rear enders in the wet, but the same situations where they’re coming off anyway

  • BhSimon

    I agree with this statement, however, most road cyclists I know simply don’t ride in the wet. I do. I like it. But the club I ride with will simply cancel an organised ride if the conditions are wet. It’s a safety issue and I totally understand that.

    I believe it has to be all or nothing in the pro peloton. Problems will occur if some guys are riding rim and others are riding disc, especially if the conditions are wet.

    Perhaps we will see a clever professional use them to gain time on a descent in wet conditions. Then we will see increased interest from other professionals.

  • Henry Gomersall

    I once had my brake fluid boil on a long descent, with substantially larger discs than those. Is this sorted now?

  • Ben Crossley

    True mtb tyres are wider but how much of that contact do you actually get on tarmac after all they are knobblys not slicks like road, so I would say that the area of contact would be more on tarmac with slicks than with mtb tyres, hence the reason that motogp, f1 use slicks for more grip, obviously if its wet then disc brakes lose their power as you cant apply the brakes with the same force as in the dry

  • mattoid

    mountain bikes have 2+ inch tyres, road bikes ~1 inch. a disc brake will always overpower a road tyre in all conditions. it has nothing to do with power. the only advantage is heat dissipation and lack of fade in long descents.

  • Mark Webster

    Guess it depends if using QR or through axle, a through axle will line up a lot better than QR. Also how close do you like your brakes. I have discs on a tourer, with QR, unless I have slack in the levers the discs rub after every wheel change unless I adjust the calliper. Not worth the extra hassle.

  • fhaas

    Being the number of special bikes the pro peloton has now, I could see them having rain bikes equipped with disc brakes in the mountain stages and then dry day bikes with standard side calipers. For events like Paris Roubaix I’m sure many might want the disc brake as the rims get covered in mud and may not stop well. A disc might be an improvement. Only thing is now the teams will have to have spare wheels set up for the day on the support cars for whatever bikes they’re using. I can see this happening in the next years. If a pro can gain an advantage of even a minute on a 160 mile race in the rain using a disc brake, I’m sure all the guys will jump on that wagon. Racing is always changing and evolving, sometimes I feel not for the better, but I’m not in charge of the UCI either. I still wish they’d run traditional team kit: (team jersey, black shorts, white socks, black shoes) and ride steel bikes, but those days are long gone.

  • ChuckD59

    +1

  • Dan Cole

    I can see why possibly – I have found this when putting a different wheel in my mountain bike (when I’m too lazy to repair a puncture before a ride!). But if all the wheels, frames and callipers are identical then surely not?

    The radical answer would be re-design wheel to just change the rim/spoke part, as with cars – via a Lefty style one sided frame!

  • Ben Crossley

    if I was doin 80-90 kph down an alpine descent I would want to know something powerful will be stopping me, everyone is always concerned with more speed but remember you have to stop aswell, iv ridden road bikes for years with caliper brakes and the difference is like a mountain bike with v brakes then the switch to disc

  • Ben Crossley

    iv just bought a road with them on I was very unsure and it looked odd compared to previous bikes iv had, but trust me I went out to test them on a long twisty descent and Wow they give you so much confidence, and the bike seems a lot more stable under braking as you can scrub off more speed before corner entry and carry speed through the corner without having to brake mid corner, I would recommend people start to switch over to disc now, as soon as the pros do the price will increase

  • Adam Beevers

    Can’t see what the fuss is about with hot discs, unless you are Thibot Pinot of course. But for pro’s riding a closed road in a race, there’s a minimum amount of braking, so I doubt they will get that hot.

  • Adam Beevers

    I can’t remember when I had to adjust the caliper on my MTB when I changed the wheel.

  • The funny thing is that they’re only just now being used in the peleton, so Greg Henderson’s opinion is very much hypothetical at the moment, no?

  • RobTM

    Everyone using them will help on a wet day, when quick braking needed. With a mix, wet rims may mean disc-ed riders get rear ended

  • RobTM

    That also can happen with rim brakes when you suddenly have to pull them unexpectedly and don’t shift weight rearwards in preparation. Tyre/road adhesion is the limitting factor.
    Many peleton crashes are caused by people changing line across front wheel of another rider, even if you avoid going down, the wave of reaction grows in strength. Perhaps with bike cams they could do more about that rather than just shrug shoulders and say “a touching of wheels”. But changing things is always going to be harder than voicing fears

  • RobTM

    Bike manufacturers want Pro’s riding their latest gear. Disc brakes offer safer wet braking through predictability and improvements to wheels (carbon rims are noisy & poor braking surfaces, requiring expensive additives to disipate heat on alpine brake descents).
    The sport needs to be relevant to bike manufacters, and they need that backing. Otherwise they could have everyone riding the same steel bikes & budget gear, so it’s all about the riders, no need for expensive equipment

  • Ali89

    I’d love to see a comparison of the profit margins between disk brakes available for sale to the general public and caliper brakes.

  • briantrousers

    Yes, there may be a slight shaky period at the start but as soon as everyone’s using them, and used to the feel, then it’s back to the same state as previous.

  • “If you have guys who just touch the brakes and they lock on, as far as I’m concerned there are going to be more crashes in the peloton.”

    This guy’s talking like the brakes are binary. Discs have loads of modulation.

  • “…but every time you put the wheel in the bike you need to set the calipers up.” What kind of lies is this? I’ve had discs on my mountain bikes for years, take wheels on and off when getting the bike in the car, and very very rarely adjust the calipers. That’s only done when I’m doing some more in depth maintenance.

  • bluelena69

    I can guarantee that pros care a whole lot less about what they are riding than most Freds and weekend warriors. Many pros could care less, as long as they have a bike that works, doesn’t hurt them and doesn’t put them at any disadvantage to other riders.

    This is all about up selling new technology to weekend warriors and those who insist on having the latest and greatest, perhaps to move from 25th to 23rd in their local crits.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    Not necessary. It’s not as if the pros are whooshing down alpine passes with fully loaded saddlebags. Modern rim brakes are pretty effective nowadays. Also, the fiddle required for resetting the calipers after a wheel change means bike changes every puncture, not wheel changes. That’s not practical. Imagine Paris-Roubaix?
    Nope, I don’t think they are appropriate for pelotons.

  • Dervelo

    Cant see the reason for them in the pro road peleton.
    Who, where & what do they need them for?