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Industry prepares for paradigm shift
This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
The UCI is expected to make a decision on approving disc brakes on road bikes for use in professional races within the next six months.
Respected bike engineer Dimitris Katsanis, who was brought on as a UCI technical consultant at the start of the year, said he had invited manufacturers such as SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo to suggest when they would have systems ready for use by the pros – and he's expecting answers in the next couple of weeks.
He told BikeRadar: "I'm waiting from some responses from the manufacturers. Because with any introduction of new technology we need to make sure we can do it in a nice and smooth way and we're not going to have any big problems.
"Number one on this is availability of the equipment. We should have these responses within the next two weeks. Depending on what the response is, the UCI will work with manufacturers to [discuss] when would be a good time to introduce the disc brakes."
He declined to specify a date when disc brakes could be first seen in competitions such as the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.
Currently Shimano is leading the way with a race-ready system, SRAM has promised a reworked version of its hydraulic discs in mid-April and Campagnolo is thought to be working on a system, too. Campagnolo declined to comment on the status of any internal project, however.
Katsanis also emphasised that the whole bike industry needed to be ready: "It's not just brakes – you need to have appropriate frames, forks wheels… we need to make sure that there is a package available for pretty much everybody who wants to use them."
In a separate conversation, a UCI spokesman said the governing body expected a decision to be reached within six months.
Katsanis suggested that hydraulic brake systems will be required to conform with a global standard – most likely an upcoming global ISO standard expected to be introduced at the start of August.
"There is a new ISO standard that comes into force… this summer. We need to find out the applicability of this standard.
"The ISO standard looks pretty good. My intention is to try and pass this kind of work to this kind of organisation which has armies of engineers who have been working years and years to define the standard so it's correct."
Senior engineer and project leader at Cannondale, Peter Denk, told a BikeRadar a decision in favour of disc brakes would be a "game-changer".
"It's a paradise. In the industry you can hardly find a brand that will not support that. First of all, a lot of them are bike freaks by themselves so they can't wait to have that, and second, everybody realises it's a huge improvement of the riding experience, so for them it's pure money because there's another reason why they should buy a new bike. As the riding experience is so much better than it was before, the market will grow a little bit because the higher the pleasure of riding, the higher the market will be."