We have speculated earlier that Magura could possibly team up with German compatriot Acros on a new road group with both hydraulic brakes and derailleurs. That may still hold true, but Magura’s recently unveiled support of the Garmin-Barracuda road team – coupled with the pending release of team sponsor Cervélo’s new P5 – now has us thinking in a slightly different direction.
Hydraulic disc brakes or rim brakes?
We’d heard rumors for months that SRAM was working on a hydraulic time trial brake design so it’s entirely possible — even likely — that Magura has been working on one as well and in particular, one that would cleanly integrate into Garmin-Barracuda’s new Cervélo P5 time trial bikes.
Such a thing would arguably make even more sense on a time trial bike than a road racing one. Braking performance on time trial bikes are often notoriously sub-par what with modern machines’ highly integrated (and often proprietary) designs matched with convoluted cable routing that is more often designed to reduce aerodynamic drag than friction.
On the other hand, a fully hydraulic brake would not only be potentially smaller and lighter but hydraulic lines are far more tolerant of tight bends — meaning the new brake would not only be impressively tucked safely away from the wind but it’d also actually work. Time trial bikes typically don’t see long descents with lots of prolonged braking, either, so heat capacity – and associated physical requirements like airflow and oil volume — wouldn’t be a huge priority.
Hydraulic or electronic shifting?
Magura’s promises of a new road-based product that would “revolutionize cycling” and its mention of a “cooperation partner” quickly generated visions of a fully hydraulic group with disc brakes and a more refined version of Acros’s A-GE transmission. We’re not ready to cast that possibility aside just yet, but with Magura’s surprise sponsorship of the renamed Garmin-Barracuda team — who recently made a rather public switch from SRAM Red to Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groups back in November — electronic shifting is now a strong possibility as well.
Garmin-Barracuda isn’t likely to use any new Magura system on its road racing bikes, though. Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 system is well proven, many of the riders are already used to both the functionality and hood shape, and given that the team actually purchases those groups on a comparatively small budget we’d be very surprised to see those Dual Control levers lying fallow on the team truck.
Time trial bikes are a different story, however.
Shimano notorious for wanting sponsored teams to go all-in with its product, which is why so many Shimano-sponsored teams also use Shimano wheels and pedals, plus PRO cockpits, and sometimes even shoes. That Garmin-Barracuda is buying groups out of pocket lends the freedom to mix and match to the team’s delight with no restrictions aside from functionality. We already see evidence of that with the team’s Rotor cranksets and chainrings.
Team riders aren’t likely to sit well with the idea of push-button shifting on their road bikes mixed with a hydraulic system on their time trial bikes. But given news that TRP has apparently successfully integrated non-Shimano, but Di2-compatible, shift buttons into its own pending hydraulic road brake release, it isn’t outlandish to think Magura has done the same with a TT setup. Hydraulic brake levers wouldn’t affect the riders’ interface with the bars and electronic shifting would allow for shifting from multiple positions.
As an added bonus, mechanics would be able to use the same spare derailleurs for both fleets and the presumably sealed fully hydraulic brakes would never require a late night cable and housing swap after a wet time trial.
In a more general sense, the suggestion that both SRAM and Magura are both working on hydraulic time trial brakes gives us hope that there is some cooperation on a common mounting standard. If that’s the case, all time trial frame manufacturers would stand to benefit by a design that’s not only functionally superior but one that is easier on consumers (and shops) long-term, too.