Cycling manufacturer Fizik may consider impact testing in its investigation to determine if disc brakes can legitimately slice through its shoe products following a hotly-debated crash at the Abu Dhabi Tour.
Owain Doull sustained superficial wounds to his foot after his left R1B model shoe was cleanly sliced through in a stage one crash that involved Marcel Kittel, who was using disc brakes in the race.
Doull and his Sky teammates attributed the straight slit to the toe of the shoe to Kittel’s disc brakes. There has since been speculation, however, that the damage could have been caused by a race barrier.
Fizik global sport marketing manager Nicolo Ildos has no first-hand evidence, but said it was possible disc brakes could have inflicted the damage.
“I’d like to see the outcome of the official investigation before providing final statements, but I’ve never seen such a cut on a Fizik shoe, and we do have more than 50 pro riders wearing our shoes, so unfortunately we have collected a lot of crashes over the years,” Ildos told Cyclingnews.
“This cut is different. It’s over clean, straight and deep so the most plausible cause is for sure a sharp edge, like a chain – but I haven’t seen any grease – the edge of the barriers, or maybe the disc.”
Doubt surrounding the ability of the disc brake to slice through the product started when pundits considered it was Doull’s left shoe that was spoiled. “A high-speed crash mixes everything around. Plus, of course, I do trust what Owain says,” Ildos said.
Fizik has not previously tested its shoes against disc brakes but the company complies with rigorous general examinations including abrasion and tear-off tests. Ildos said it uses premium quality materials and “does not compromise on safety and durability to save some grams”.
“We do a huge amount of internal tests to be sure our shoes protect the feet. For instance, the front area is reinforced using a composite part underneath – you can feel the front is hard – because it is the most affected part of the shoes in case of a crash," he said.
Fizik has been in contact with Doull to organise collection of his shoe, which reignited polemic over the perceived rider safety risk of disc brakes and put pressure on the UCI to improve its regulations.
The UCI reintroduced the disc brake trial this season, which currently only requires those using them to ensure the rotors are fully smoothed. In the wake of the incident, Kittel said that while he still favoured the use of disc brakes over rim brakes, he supported a push for mandated covers as well as uniformity: either the entire peloton should use them, or no-one at all.
When asked if Fizik had a position on disc brakes, Ildos said the company was chiefly in favour of rider safety. “We strive for innovation so we are not against them, but we make rider safety a priority. I’m sure teams and the UCI are investigating this issue and will arrive at the right decision,” he said.