One of the latest road bikes fitted with disc brakes and SRAM wireless electronic gear shifting.
One of the latest road bikes fitted with disc brakes and SRAM wireless electronic gear shifting.

Brakes no long on discs in cycling road racing

BIKES with disc brakes can be used at cycling road races across Australia.

Cycling Australia has given the green light to the new brakes, which have rapidly become commonplace on the latest road bikes.

Racing events include club, state and non-UCI national championship level road races.

Safety concerns had halted the introduction of disc brakes to racing. Last year, Movistar rider Francisco Ventoso claimed to have suffered a deep cut to his leg at Paris-Roubaix due to contact with a disc rotor in a crash.

But rim brakes also have shortfalls, including reduced stopping power in wet conditions, the risk of overheating a rim (particularly carbon-fibre) and bursting a tube or blowing out the tyre sidewall.

Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green said the new stance on disc brakes will encourage and allow more people to get involved in racing, particularly at the local club level.

"Cycling Australia is taking a leadership role in the global discussion around disc brakes and look forward to seeing a positive effect on the Australian cycling landscape with this announcement,” said Mr Green.

"Cycling Australia actively works at all levels to remove barriers for people getting into cycling, and we believe this is another valuable step towards getting more people to give racing a go.”

The decision follows a comprehensive review and consultation with a number of other national cycling federations, including particular discussions with USA Cycling which has allowed disc brakes in racing since 2015, and cycling manufacturers, and feedback from our member state and clubs.

Elliot McKean on a road bike with traditional rim brakes.
Elliot McKean during the recent Rosemount road race with traditional rim brakes. Mel Keeble

"With the continued uptake of road bikes with disc brakes by our members, it's important that Cycling Australia keeps up with industry's progress and support those at the grassroots of the sport to participate,” said technical commission chairman Peter Tomlinson.

"We've seen a successful implementation at USA Cycling and at a UCI WorldTour level and there have been no reports of additional hazards being posed to riders.”

Cycle Zone Mooloolaba's Stuart Phelps has already fitted several bikes with the disc brakes and SRAM electronic wireless gear shifting technology.

"This technology offers the equivalent of what has occurred in the automotive industry where there has been the shift from drum brakes to discs,” he said.

"The modulation is improved and braking performance increases, which means there is more confidence when descending as well as general use.

"It means reliability in all conditions and there is no aerodynamic disadvantage either. You also don't get rubbing on the rim which can be an issue when climbing as the brakes are closer to the centre of the wheel.”

Lucy Coldwell in action at the Sunshine Coast Cycling Club Rosemount Road Race.
Lucy Coldwell in action at the Sunshine Coast Cycling Club Rosemount Road Race. Mal Keeble

At Noosaville's Venture Cycles, Jez Peterson said there was a growing market for discs.

"Those who know about it seem to be educated enough to know disc brakes are going to be the future. A couple of customers we have got prefer the disc brake feel just for a safety issues,” he said.

Some events are still excluded from using disc brakes.

Events excluded from using disc brakes:

  • Elite Road National Championships
  • Para-cycling Road National Championships (hand cycles are already permitted under current UCI technical regulations.)
  • U23 Road National Championships
  • U19 Road National Championships
  • Subaru National Road Series events