Bike Racers Question Efficacy of Disc Brakes

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CHATHAM, Mass. – Two international bicycle racers, in articles on different Websites, question the overall positives and negatives of disc brakes on racing bikes.

The riders acknowledged the positive aspects of disc brakes – consistent braking performance regardless of the weather – but said there are still questions about their safety and overall superiority compared to rim brakes.

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome told VeloNews he was “not 100 percent sold” on disc brakes while Matteo Jorgenson, seriously injured when a disc rotor cut through his calf muscle during a race accident, told cycling news “They [disc brakes] are definitely more dangerous than rim brakes”

Related post:
Bicycle Brake superiority: Disc or Rim in Tour de France

Having said that, Matteo went on to laud the in-race performance of disc brakes, saying he would not want to give up their competitive advantage.

“I’d definitely be at a disadvantage [to return to rim brakes]. I notice it in a race where guys have to start braking earlier because they have rim brakes and they can’t slow down as fast and I can come round them, “ he told the cycling publication. “Disc brakes are very consistent, so when you pull the brake at first, it grabs just as much as 10 seconds later. Whereas with a rim brake, especially in the rain, you pull it and it starts to heat up, and then you get either less or sometimes it grabs more depending on the pad type. It’s very inconsistent, you have to kind of think through it while you’re braking. If you’re braking quite hard into a corner, you have to try and anticipate how much more you can brake.”

Froome also praised the performance aspects of racing bike disc brakes, “I’ve been using them for the last couple of months. Performance-wise, they are great. I always stop when I need to stop — dry, wet — they work, they do the job, they do what they’re meant to do.”

He then pointed out some of the major drawbacks to VeloNews: “The downside to disc brakes: The constant rubbing, the potential for mechanicals, the overheating, the discs becoming a bit warped when you’re on a descent for longer than five to ten minutes of constant braking,” Froome said. “I think the distance between the disc and the rotors is still too narrow. You’re going to get that rubbing. You’re going to get one piston that fires more than another. You’re going to get these little issues. I don’t think the pistons quite retract the way they’re meant to be, all the time. Quite often it will work in the stand when the mechanic sorts it out. Then, when you get on the road, it’s a different story.”

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The two bike riders, along with others interviewed, discuss the issues surrounding this braking technology, which the authors also cover.

To view the posts in their entirety, click on the respective site names: VeloNews and cycling news.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.