As good as modern rim brakes have become, it's clear that the tide is changing as nearly one-third of Cyclingnews Reader Poll respondents voted disc brakes for road and cyclocross bikes as the top tech innovation of 2012.
That so many voted for disc brakes is particularly impressive considering that nearly all of the most popular models have design roots more than a decade old and save for a handful of mechanical-to-hydraulic conversion systems, all of them are cable actuated as well. Even so, the stopping power and modulation provided by a stainless steel rotor, two nearly non-compressible brake pads, and a stiff, compact caliper body easily trumps squeezing two blocks of rubber against an aluminum or carbon fiber rim - and the advantages only grow exponentially in wet conditions.
Moving the braking surface away from the rim also eliminates the dangers of heat build-up on long descents, thus preventing tubular glue failure and also likely paving the way for lighter-weight carbon fiber clinchers. The disc brake market is sure to get a big boost in 2013, too, with the anticipated release of fully hydraulic systems from SRAM and Shimano.
Frame, wheel, and component manufacturers still have a few things to figure out during the transition period but one thing's for certain: disc brakes are coming, and faster than we originally expected, too.
Coming in a strong second are cycling-specific smartphone apps. Whereas advanced features were once limited solely to dedicated, high-end cycling computers, the explosion of apps has now packed many of those features - and then some, in many cases - into the phone that's probably already sitting in your pocket.
While it's obviously convenient to pack everything into one device, it also makes functional sense, too. Almost without fail, your phone has a better screen, more computational power, and more programming flexibility than any dedicated cycling computer could hope for. Even better, the vast majority of cycling-specific smartphone apps are very inexpensive - sometimes even free.
If you can't find the cycling app you want, it probably just means you aren't looking hard enough.
Filling out the top three are inexpensive action video cameras, used for everything from simple POV action to professional-level movies. Well known companies such as GoPro and Contour currently dominate the market in terms of name recognition but it seems not a month goes by before another company enters the fold, some with retail prices well under US$100.
Image and audio quality, features, and the availability of accessories will obviously vary but what we once said about GPS can now be said about video: if you didn't get it on film, it didn't happen.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Disc brake-equipped cyclo-cross and road bikes||30.97%|
|2||iPhone/Android cycling apps||19.50%|
|3||Inexpensive action video cameras||12.76%|
|4||Trek Domane IsoSpeed 'decoupler'||8.24%|
|5||Advanced helmet safety systems (Eject Helmet Removal System and MIPS)||7.27%|
|6||Hydraulic road rim brakes||7.08%|
|7||650b/27.5" mountain bike wheels||6.06%|
|9||RockShox and Fox electronic shock lockouts||2.25%|
|10||Soft-shelled reactive body armor||2.10%|
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