Disc brakes - our view

Disc brakes - our view

Aug 26, 2020Ben Wheeler

The 2016 season had barely begun before the UCI suspended the trial introduction of discs in the pro peloton after Fran Ventoso was injured on the Paris Roubaix.  The trial restarted on 1 January 2017 but by the end of February at the Abu Dhabi Tour the controversy had started over when Team Sky’s Owain Doull came out of a crash with a slashed top to his shoe. Douell blamed the damage on the disc of Marcel Kittel’s bike and Kittel started the second stage back on caliper brakes.

An industry body representing cycling brands - the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industries - has disputed that either of those injuries were caused by discs. Coming from a mountain bike background I’ve never seen anyone injured by a brake disc in a crash but have seen many legs gashed badly by chainrings and that seems far more likely to have been the cause in the peloton. That’s not to say discs can’t cause injury - clamping your legs around a hot disc to straighten an off centre handlebar will give you a bad burn, and sticking your fingers in a spinning disc will cut them badly, but no more than sticking your fingers in the spokes (I've witnessed people do all three).

Each year sees discs fitted to more models in each manufacturer’s range and we’re starting to see more disc equipped bikes at RCE. The advantages of disc brakes are less about the increase in power and more the consistency in both wet or dry conditions and the modulation, which means it’s much easier to brake hard without locking up the wheels.  These benefits are less pronounced on a road bike than a mountain bike, with only marginal benefits in dry conditions, which is probably why take up has been much slower on road.

Here at Road Cycle Exchange that means that as people upgrade to disc versions of bikes, which we’re particularly seeing on endurance bikes like the Trek Domane and Specialized Roubaix, prices have dropped and our stock of pre-owned caliper brake bikes are even better value.  

For a thorough look at the technology try this Bikeradar piece:  http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/disc-brakes-everything-you-need-to-know-bikeradar-45859/

Check out our current stock of disc brake equipped bikes and frames here:


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