The UCI say they will keep an open mind about the use of disc brakes in the professional road peloton, but said manufacturers need to provide performance data before the components can be properly considered for competitive use.
In the aftermath of SRAM’s announcement of disc brake options for their new Red 22 groupset, a test rider tweeting a photo of a comparable offering from Shimano, and Formula disc brakes said to be compatible with Campagnolo EPS shifters, the trend is inexorably moving towards disc brakes for road racing.
But Matthieu Mottet, technological coordinator at the UCI, told BikeRadar serious challenges need to be overcome before disc brakes could even be considered for use in UCI sanctioned pro races – and they start with the analysis of temperature, performance and crash test data.
“We’re thinking about disc brakes for future use, but for the moment we don’t have enough data about them,” he said, adding that the first stage would be analyses of the manufacturers’ performance figures. He said, however, that none of the road disc manufacturers had provided data yet.
The Shimano Di2 hydraulic road disc brake photo leaked in February
He pointed out two additional safety considerations. Firstly, if some riders used discs and other used rims, the variation in braking performance would be dangerous inside a fast-moving peloton, potentially leading to even more crashes.
It means that, if disc brakes were sanctioned, all the main manufacturers – Shimano, Campagnolo, SRAM and market newcomers such as TRP – would have to supply UCI accredited discs to the pro teams simultaneously.
A second safety concern, Mottet pointed out, is heat buildup in the discs, which could lead to serious burns if the brakes touched riders in a crash.
In the meantime, hydraulic rim brakes could fill the gap, offering better modulation but similar stopping power to cable brakes. The UCI’s only stipulation concerning hydraulic rim brakes is that the brake hood is not overly elongated to become a de facto handlebar extension giving an aerodynamic advantage.