Following the announcement by the UCI that disc brakes will be allowed in the professional peloton, both Campagnolo and Specialized have told Cyclingnews that despite the race against time and the extra expense involved, they will be ready to supply their sponsored teams for the 2016 season.
The de facto introduction of disc brakes will create a mixed peloton, with some riders using disc brakes and others on traditional caliper brakes. There have been concerns that this could cause crashes due to different braking techniques and braking times but the people who have sat in work groups and tested disc brakes believe this is not a major problem or a risk to rider safety.
However, the introduction of disc brakes will create some teething problems and headaches for everyone involved.
Most teams have already been supplied with their new bikes for the 2016 season, and so extra frames, specifically designed for disc brakes will have to be produced; riders will have to learn new braking techniques and learn how to ride alongside riders using disc brakes; some kind of protection of the discs might be needed to prevent burn injuries.
The teams will need a further selection of bikes and wheels for their riders, and neutral service providers face further more complex wheel changes. There will be added costs for everyone involved and added confusion because not everyone will be obliged to switch to disc brakes.
The start of the 2016 season will likely see teams and sponsors roll out the use of disc brakes at different times. Disc brakes will no doubt be popular amongst the Classics riders but Grand Tour riders, concerned about the weight and possible problems, could be more reticent.
Specialized already has two disc brake models in its 2016 range of bikes on sale to the public and so the professional riders could use bikes based on those.
“Specialized is in favour of the introduction of disc brakes, we believe they are the technology of the future. However, it will be important to understand if all Specialized riders want to use them,” Simone Toccafondi - the head of Specialized Racing, which supplies frames, equipment and performance information with the Etixx-QuickStep, Astana and Tinkoff teams - told Cyclingnews.
“There are lots of factors involved in a decision to use disc brakes, and we think it is best to study their introduction and use with the teams. We’re scientific in how we work and so will study when to take advantage of the disc brakes in the professional peloton.”
Campagnolo ready to outfit its sponsored teams
Cyclingnews understands the Astana team will begin to use disc brakes in the spring, possibly in time for the cobbled Classics in Belgium and northern France. Astana uses Specialized frames with Campagnolo components. Lotto Soudal and Movistar are all sponsored by Campagnolo, as are smaller Professional Continental teams such as Bardiani-CSF, Nippo Vini Fantini, the British Condor JLT Continental team and several women’s teams. Many of them will no doubt want to ride on disc brakes in 2016.
The legendary Italian brand has yet to officially unveil a disc brake system, but according to bike tech expert Patrick Brady, Campagnolo has filed a patent for a fluid system hidden in handlebars and showed off a disc brake system to selected product managers at the recent Taichung Bike Week in Taiwan.
Shimano and Sram have arguably stolen a march on many of their rivals by having brakes on sale and ready to be used in the professional peloton, but Campagnolo insisted to Cyclingnews it will also be ready, without fully revealing its plans and future products.
“Campagnolo is dedicated to putting the professional athletes and teams that it sponsors atop cycling componentry that allows them to compete at the highest level with a technological advantage coming in the form of their drivetrains and wheels. If the professional peloton is racing with one standard or another, Campagnolo will be present to outfit its sponsored teams and athletes in a manner consistent with governing UCI rules,” Campagnolo said in a statement to Cyclingnews.