Red Herring:

(been a crazy few weeks. getting back on the bike in a real way and work is keeping me too busy as usual. meant to write this weeks ago and now my coach and dozens of others have weighed in too. redundant to write this, I know. But, it was already started so, I’ll finish.)

My friend Joe Martin asked (in response to my snarky comment about a custom cyclocross bicycle being designed for mechanical disc brakes):

“What exactly is the problem with disc brakes anyway? Weight? Or is it just a conservative, purist thing? Personally I like the idea of change and development. Will lead to some awesome winter training bikes anyway.”

Not purist BS. And you won’t ever hear me hating on disc brakes. I love them.

The technology is just not there yet for me to get excited about discs for cx racing. If they could make a significantly lighter disc brake setup, World Cup XC riders would not be running v-brakes on courses where they don’t need tons of stopping power. They would use lighter and less powerful hydraulic discs. But they don’t exist. Yet.

So the market has always been there. And, it is not the top cx riders clamoring for discs. The biggest market for discs in cyclocross are age-group riders. Sure, there are a handful of top cx riders who would love them and champion them. But Sven and Stybar will still beat all of them regardless of braking design or function.

I think designing a bike for mechanical discs (which do not operate that great, don’t try to convince your self they do) have none of the great features of hydraulic brakes (superior stopping power/modulation and low maintenance) may be jumping the gun a little bit. Or, it may just be that client’s preference for braking. Not my place to tell people what to do but, certainly my place to heckle them a little bit.

red herringThis is similar to using Rockshox forks for Paris-Roubaix. Sure, they worked great and they even won a couple of cobbled classics. But, at the end of the day for top level racing, a standard road bike still wins classics like mad.

And, who needs more specialized equipment? I like that I can use my cx wheels on the road and back again. You would not be able to use a 130 disc wheel for anything other than your purpose built disc cyclocross frame. No VTT, no road use.

Maybe I should make this rant a blog post, eh?


I LOVE these old posts about V brakes vs. Cantilever brakes:

Click here for the long version.

And here for the short version.

And we can always reference Sheldon Brown.

The lesson here is: less whining, go ride your bike. A lot. No, I mean a lot more than you are right now. Who cares about disc brakes, there will always be someone riding better than you technology aside. And learn how to adjust your brakes correctly. (or support a shop that knows how) We have virtually eliminated fork shudder on every bicycle we touch at the Veloshop and Portland Bicycle Studio regardless of fork material or cantilever model.

Or just go buy some TRP mini V brakes if you really need more stopping power.


And, I’ll link here to the few articles I noticed that have already well covered the topic.

UCI rule changes at Cyclocross Magazine.

More UCI rule changes at Cycling Reporter.

An old one from Dirt Rag!


Love this video:

Fitting music for this grey morning in July. Oh hey look, it is pissing rain!


3 comments for “Red Herring:”

  1. Thanks for the clarification. You know, I could really see not wanting any changes made to the bikes if it were to change the “sport” in any real way or hurt it for any reason. Being a “purist” in that case would seem totally justifiable.

    I definitely see your point on mechanical discs. I certainly wouldn’t want to use them.

    But, like you mentioned, (knowing it’s not the stated or intended purpose) I think in a few years, when hydraulics are developed, they will be great for winter(road)training. Great stopping power in the rain and less wear on the rims. With that said, I am not a fan of first gen tech anyway. There is no doubt I will still be rocking the canities for some time to come.

    I really like the idea of seeing a new set of components develop though. It’s the tech geek in me so that’s where my real interest in this story lies.

    Posted by Joe | July 3, 2010, 6:32 pm
  2. Well said! I love my juicy discs, but like you already commented I also like having and being able to use my wheels on all my rides, and you and yours at the Velo Shop set up my brakes awesome! No chatter No shutter

    Posted by Guy | July 4, 2010, 8:32 pm
  3. [...] By the way, a few tidbits of cycling ephemera to shepherd you to the rightside of the weekly calendar: Molly Cameron gives his two cents about disc brakes being allowed on cross bikes… [...]

    Posted by Midweek Yawwwwny « The Hawley Blog | July 7, 2010, 1:57 pm

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