Chris Boardman has said that the introduction of road disc brakes to the pro peloton is “inevitable”, and believes they could be competition legal within two years.
Boardman, Olympic gold medallist and former head of British Cycling’s R&D department, said he spoke with Dimitris Katsanis, the consultant hired by the UCI to accelerate innovation in international cycling. It was Boardman’s “educated guess” that they would arrive in competition in two years.
In the meantime, Boardman said one of the biggest obstacles to the introduction of road disc brakes faced by the UCI is political considerations.
Boardman said: “I think [disc brakes are] coming but one of the things [Katsanis has] got to deal with is politics.
“You go and ask people can we introduce this into the pro peloton and you’re going to get a third of the people saying yes, a third saying they would like to have the choice and another third who are sponsored by Campagnolo who say ‘no we don’t want that’, so you’ve just got to deal with the politics.
“At some point somebody’s got to make a call and take a risk and take the flack from a group of people. I think [RDBs] are coming but probably not as quickly as people think.”
Boardman, said he was in favour of the technical development and believed that within 12 months the weight penalty for road discs brakes will be less than 300g.
“The industry needs change,” he said. “They want people to buy more stuff, so they’ll be happy. But from a functional bike rider’s perspective I prefer them – I really don’t like braking on carbon rims.”
Boardman also believes the introduction of disc brakes will have to take place wholesale – all riders will have to adopt to a new standard.
While Boardman supports their introduction, practical obstacles to their implementation – which we highlighted in April – still need to be overcome: wheel changes in mid-race being a key consideration.
He added: “It’s a culture change – everybody’s got to do it at the same time. It’s inevitable that it will come to the pro peloton but it will take longer than people think [because of practical issues]. My education guess will be two years.”
Boardman was head of British Cycling’s R&D department for nine years before he stepped down after the London Olympics. During that time the R&D department – nicknamed the Secret Squirrel Club – placed huge importance on aerodynamics and helped keep the Team GB at the forefront of technological developments.
Campagnolo declined to comment on its development of a road disc brake system.