A couple news stories out this week on road discs. First up is a Time bike using prototype Shimano mechanical cable-actuated disc brakes, connected to a standard Ultegra Di2 lever. The full story on Road.cc can be read Here. Some of these bikes look sleek, but there is such limited ride testing of many road disc bikes let alone long term testing.
Next is this first look at a Colnago with hydraulic disc brakes, using a set of Formula calipers and special brake levers with built in Di2 shift buttons. According to the article, this an interesting early concept of hydraulic discs for the road, but comes away disappointed. The bulky levers are hard to use and the beefed up frame leaves a less than desirable ride. Again this brings up the counterpoint of really needing disc brakes on road bikes. Again this is brought to us by the great reporting at Road.cc, found here.
I’ll wrap this post up though this link to a great article from Bikerumor.com, giving a real world application (and then failure) of road disc brakes. I see the potential of road disc brakes taking much longer than projected to gain widespread approval, due to the different technologies from different companies that must come together to make them work. It would appear just the right rotors, cooling fins, pads, calipers, brake fluids, and sealing methods will be needed for disc to gain acceptance with the road crowd, who look for minimal designs, light weight, quiet operation, and minimal maintenance.
And I’ll say one last thing, the need for proper brake technique can’t be a requirement as brakes are developed and as discussed in the article, because it will kill discs dead. This simply won’t happen, or can’t happen on crazy 10 mile descents, and accidents will happen. Then the internet posts of crashes and serious injuries will pile-on and discs will become death traps in the minds of road riders.
Avid have released a new version of the popular BB7 road discs, which really had a monopoly on the road disc market. I’ve seen a couple others, but they had no business being connected to road levers with insufficient pad travel and troublesome adjustment. Named the BB7 Road SL, they offer a different finish, titanium hardware, and organic pads to drop 25 grams per wheel. What we are seeing though is Avid starting early in the road disc market by dramatically increasing the price just because, well it is the road market. Add the moniker “SL”, throw in some titanium, and charge twice the price because the early adopter disc roadies that seek the best will pay for it. Nevertheless, with hurdles to overcome for hydrauic road discs, high performance cable versions for road bikes may be the best choice and the SL is likely to be another step in the elevation of road discs. If these start selling, I would expect money to be pumped into the program from SRAM. This would lead to better actuation and more machining to reduce size and weight.
Link to Road.cc article.