Marcel Kittel’s success on a disc brake bike at the Dubai Tour sparked curiosity, debate and some doubts in the peloton this week. Most riders now believe disc brakes offer excellent braking, but the debate regarding if they are really needed continues unabated, with several issues still to be resolved.
Kittel won stage 1 and stage 2 at the Dubai Tour riding a custom-coloured Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS disc. With Friday’s queen stage to Hatta Dam cancelled due to high winds, Kittle is now favourite to win the Dubai Tour for a second year and could also win Saturday’s final sprint stage. Kittel rarely needed to touch the brakes on the flat and dry stages he won, but he is convinced disc brakes offer an improvement on rim brakes. He is the only rider using disc brakes in the Dubai Tour.
"What I can say from all the training sessions I did already in training camps now is that it's a very strong improvement," Kittel said.
Tom Boonen also used and won a sprint in the Vuelta a San Juan on a disc brake bike, with Quick-Step Floors and Specialized keen to promote the new braking technology in the peloton.
However, other teams and riders are not as keen. Some teams are expected to use disc brakes for the spring Classics but others may avoid testing disc brakes throughout the whole test phase instigated by the UCI.
Elia Viviani told Cyclingnews that Team Sky currently have no immediate plans to switch to a disc brake equipped Pinarello.
"Everyone seems happy to use disc brakes, but perhaps we should wait to see what happens when there are the first crashes. The first problem emerged at last year’s Paris-Roubaix when about 30 riders were using disc brakes," Viviani pointed out.
"For sure we’ve got to get used to them because they’ll be used more and more going forward," Viviani said. "Disc brake are definitely an improvement on rim brakes, but we’ve got to see if we really need them and also find the right compromise between safety and the improvement in braking. For example, the changes they’ve made to the discs by flattening the edges is a good idea. We’ll see what happens going forward and how the UCI rules evolve."
Bennati tested Campagnolo disc brakes but concerns remain
Daniele Bennati (Movistar) revealed to Cyclingnews that he tested the Campagnolo prototype disc brakes for a spell while training at home over the winter. He likes them but has concerns about a mixed peloton of riders on discs and others without them. Campagnolo is still to present and put on sale its final disc brake design.