PressCamp ’14: Part II

PressCamp ’14: Part II

To the degree that I had any questions on just how broad a range of bikes disc brakes would appear in MY 2015, that curiosity was settled in a single meeting. Cannondale will be offering a CAAD10 with discs. This particular build sported SRAM’s new Rival 22 with hydraulic discs. While I didn’t get a suggested retail on this bike, I suspect will go for less than $2000 as the CAADX with 105 and discs is $1570.


To their credit, Cannondale didn’t just slap some discs on this bike and call it good. It features an all-new fork. The dropouts are turned forward to make sure that under hard braking forces pull the wheel up into the dropouts, rather than out. Stay tuned for a full review of this bike.IMG_8740

Cannondale has increased the number of disc brake versions of its popular grand touring model, the Synapse. I had the chance to ride the Hi-Mod disc edition earlier this year and really liked the bike. There are now nine disc brake versions of the Synapse—six in carbon and three in alloy. This suggests that for Cannondale’s product managers, disc won’t so much join Cannondale’s product lineup as replace the rim brake versions. Certainly, at the low end, rim brakes will continue to be spec’d, but I expect we won’t see any rim brakes on a bike above $1000 after 2016.


With the Synapse, Cannondale went the extra step of spec’ing its own wheel, the new C-Zero. It features centerlock hubs, straight-pull spokes and a carbon rim with no brake track. It was arguably the coolest wheel on display from someone other than Zipp, Enve or Reynolds. They also went the extra furlong in spec’ing the Schwalbe One in a 25mm width. IMG_8742

During my New England winters I spent hours best left uncounted on a stationary trainer. Generally speaking, they are devices that share as much appeal as a past-date Powerbar. I was fairly secure in my belief that I wouldn’t have the urge to return to this sort of training until I encountered Bkool. I sat, nearly slack-jawed, through the presentation. First, it’s a good deal cheaper than any product it competes with. The ANT+ trainer goes for $649.99. It features a magnetic resistance unit controlled by Bkool’s software. What’s significant here is the way the Spanish maker has programmed momentum into the unit. One missed pedal stroke does not immediately cause the unit to arrest. Changes in output ramp smoothly and the unit can dish out up to 1200 watts of resistance. Cat 1 upgrade anyone?

What’s truly significant about Bkool’s system is that it the software allows for some very heady interaction. It’s social in a manner similar to Strava in that you can download routes you’ve ridden and then will recreate those routes for you to ride (in terms of profile and distance) on the Bkool trainer. There’s also a video editor feature so that you can shoot the route while out on a ride and enjoy a visual reminder of the course. Better yet, you can download routes from Bkool. Depending on how you define a good time, you can pedal the Col du Galibier and see the views that you might on a vacation. I pedaled a portion of a stage of the Vuelta a Burgos. IMG_8745

The unit folds up easily so that you can slide it under a bed or stash it in a closet when not in use. One nice thing about the system is that because so much of what it does is based on software, every time they upgrade the system, downloads are free and easy to update.  Some features, such as the video component, do require a premium membership. The premium upgrade allows you to participate in challenges, racing against other riders. Strava in your bedroom all year long, and not limited by where you live. It’s a compelling argument for riding inside. IMG_8746

The big reveal from Enve this summer is for smaller riders. The Utah company that likes to brag “U.S. made by choice,” has introduced a 650C set of carbon clinchers, the SES 5.6. The rim depths are 48mm front and 56mm rear, putting them just between the 3.4 and the 6.7. Honestly, it sounds like a terrific option for 700C wheels as well. However, the mission here is to give more diminutive riders, triathletes in particular, an option for a hi-zoot carbon clincher other than the Zipp Firecrest 404. 
IMG_8750SRAM introduced an update of its affordable Rival group, bringing it into the fold of 22 gears and hydraulic disc (and rim) braking. It employs the same Yaw front derailleur as well as rear gearing options, including the WiFLi mid-cage derailleur that will allow riders to use an 11-32 cassette. The dual pivot calipers have been opened up slightly to make it easy to run 28mm tires.

One of my favorite features of SRAM’s engineering is that when the company produces a more budget-oriented group (Rival will be mostly destined for sub-$2000 bikes), the components don’t sacrifice performance. Rival’s double-tap levers work just as well as Red’s, but they give up the carbon fiber and titanium for aluminum and steel. One long-standing complaint I’ve had with Shimano is that Tiagra brakes have a fraction of the stopping power of the Dura-Ace units. Not so with Rival. I enjoyed a brief spin on a Rival-equipped bike and can attest that the Rival dual-pivot calipers have loads of stopping power.


, , , , , , ,


    1. ChrisC

      Yes, just like my 1st Gen Force group which is still running every bit as smoothly and shifting every bit as well as it did 35,000 miles ago. Absolute crap!

      I sure wish it had held up like my previous Ultegra 6600 group which had rattles in the shifters and flex in the brake calipers at around 25,000 miles…

    2. Walter Nash

      I just purchased a new MTB with discs and had the chance to ride a disc equipped road bike at Interbike. The discs work extremely well: good stopping power with better “feel.” That said, I have several road wheels sets that are non-disc and here in Tucson we just do not see any rain riding. No real reason to change over for me.

  1. Miles Archer

    I don’t get the appeal of disk brakes on a road bike. I don’t ride mountain bikes so I don’t have a point of reference.

    With regular brakes, stopping is close to the limits of grip – particularly in the back. Are they lighter,, faster or simpler?

    1. Anonymous

      The appeal of disc brakes and hydros in particular is it will drive more business
      to the LBS service department, where the margins are better.
      Road bikes are going the same way cars went, too complex to work on in the driveway
      like Dad did in the 1950s.

      nb. Recreational cyclists around here never ride in the rain.

    2. W

      Discs stop better. 1 finger, complete stop every time. They will be on all bikes over the next few years because they are safer and with better.

  2. Randall

    @Miles For me, the disc benefit is all weather, all condition performance. If you buy a tire like a Vittoria Rubino Tech, which is designed for wet-weather grip, brakes limit stopping power in the rain – by far!

    Even the pros, with the best gear, and the most skill (in theory), how many bad weather descent crashes have there been this year? Getting a 25c or 28c with better traction is easy, so adding in more all-weather braking power and better modulation would give an advantage to the rider.

    1. Full Monte


      Absolutely true. I’m given to riding my mtn bike (it’s an oldie but a goodie, pre-disc though) in freezing, snowy conditions because, well, it’s pretty fun. But snowy, icy rims and frozen-hard-as-rocks brake pads once resulted in a nasty zero-brake-grip crash.

      I just picked up a new gravel bike equipped with discs, which is now my trail and bad weather bike. In a recent deluge — we’re talking 6″ of standing water in the streets in places — I enjoyed completely reliable, good-as-dry brake modulation and stopping grip.

      I now keep my road bike for beautiful, sunny days, and to Miles point, its traditional Ultegra brakes are plenty good in any fair weather condition. Though, were I to be in the market for a new road bicycle, I’d give serious consideration to the disc brake equipped models. Perhaps they’re not for the dedicated racer, and may never be mounted to pro, top-of-the-line race bikes. We’ll see. For me, though, I’m a believer in the technology, and by no means a bike racer. I like ’em. A lot.

  3. James

    Discs, in 90 percent of the country, are a solution in search of a problem. Major mountains and carbon clinchers, sure. Everywhere else? just disadvantages
    They probably negate the full advantage of an aero frame, with no fix for the drag issue, add weight, and are like those deli-counter meat slicers in a wreck.
    As to rain, the right carbon wheels brake fine in the rain, but Im not on my nice stuff in the rain anyway, except for races.

    1. ChrisC

      Agreed. For 90% of the country… But for some of us (obviously the terminally un-cool ones) with 10 mile descents and switchbacks on rough pavement and the pop-up mountain rain storms, the extra modulation and predictability is quite welcome.

      The market doesn’t need to *abandon* rim brakes, and it doesn’t appear that they are going to. So I don’t really understand the animosity that some people have. If you don’t want a disc brake road bike, don’t buy a disc brake road bike. Hell, if you really want to, you can still get parts to build up and ride a 6-speed with downtube shifters!

  4. souleur

    @miles et al

    its also, IMHO, going to be to the credit of the ‘carbon clincher’ crowd, as the technology as good as it is, still hasn’t IMHO mastered the clincher for carbon hoops esp with the downhill runs and the heat/brake issues. (ie Levi’s gran fondo incidents). The disc brake literally neutralizes this, and will give you a true set of hoops for perhaps dare i say…life??
    So, i welcome them, and yes, the conditions are better controlled with the disc

    I for one love the sram stuff, and look forward to the sram rival 22 grouppo

  5. Robot

    Just two cents here. I couldn’t see the point of disc brakes on dedicated road bikes, and I still don’t think it’s a slam dunk. But I recently built a dirt road bike with them, and they are fantastic. It’s the modulation more than the stopping power. Again, not sure I need them on a dedicated road bike, but as a non-racer, I don’t think they would be a big disadvantage to me either.

  6. Author

    Miles Archer: I differ with some of the bike industry on how we talk about disc brakes. Talking power doesn’t help because everyone knows their brakes offer enough power to lock up either the front or rear wheel at will. The difference that is meaningful is more power with less effort but even more importantly, much better modulation. Ultimately, my experience is that you end up with better control. And as Randall notes, discs will make braking in wet conditions substantially better. Again, more control.

    James: I can’t disagree about discs being a solution in search of a problem in many places. Most of the world is pretty flat. Most cyclists don’t ride to the ragged edge of control. Most riders rarely reach 40 mph on their bikes. Ergo, most riders need neither disc brakes nor a 50×11 high gear. However, what little testing that’s been done so far shows they don’t really hurt aerodynamics. Regarding braking, there’s not a rim brake out there that performs as well in the rain as discs will. I’ve tried a lot of variations and that much will be significantly different.

  7. Carson

    The new Cannondales look great, but I’m wondering why they built a specific new fork and wheel and didn’t make it a thru-axle.

    1. Anonymous

      Because they did not think it through, or the tooling in the new factories in Brasil weren’t set up for it and it would cost them too much to change tooling in the middle of changing production location.

  8. MCH

    I live at the base of the Rocky mountains and like to descend quickly. I ride exclusively on carbon clinchers. I ride occasionally in the rain. I’m 6’4″ and weigh 190ish. And I like cool, new stuff. Guess I’m the target market for discs! I’ve actually been waiting for better brakes for a long time. Discs look like the solution for me.

  9. Pickels

    There will always be an evolution and frankly the previous iteration of something will always have been perfectly functional for the given task.

    I am experienced riding a plethora of brakes across various bike platforms.

    Road discs allow you to brake with as much force and modulation as you choose, using a finger. Most beneficial is that the force required is well within grip strength which allows your keep your hands, wrists, arms and entire body supply during hard braking. This aids in compliance and traction, increasing performance and safety.

    Imagine if you had to essentially leg press the brake pedal in your car. You’d think it were adequate until you drove with “normal” brakes and realized there was a better way.

  10. Geraint

    “for Cannondale’s product managers, disc won’t so much join Cannondale’s product lineup as replace the rim brake versions. Certainly, at the low end, rim brakes will continue to be spec’d, but I expect we won’t see any rim brakes on a bike above $1000 after 2016”

    Hmm, do they know something we don’t about UCI legalisation of discs? And/or are they planning to stop sponsoring a pro team?

    If they go this way, then it might spell the end of my relationship with Cannondale, and my collection runs to double figures. I have a CAADX disc as a winter commuter, so I understand the benefits of discs, but I also understand the disadvantages and I simply don’t want discs on my nice-weather road bikes.

  11. Spider

    Anything else from the boys and girls in Utah (Enve) Padraig?

    Thought a through-axle CX fork was in the works (prototype on the IF at NAHBS)….maybe some componentry in all-black stealth stickers (just like the Cannondale hi-mod stem and seatpost).



  12. Mark

    I have the Shimano di2 hydraulic system on my new bike and I love it to bits. However, there is no hiding the additional weight that it adds to the wheels. The weight will improve as disc-specific road rims are optimised but I wish rim makers would hurry up already!

  13. Michael Quayle

    RE Disc Brakes. Some of the discussions around disc brakes for road bikes are around negative impact on aerodynamics and apparent reduction in safety (presumably more focused on racing pile ups). It seems to me that both these issues might be addressed or improved with a fairing around the disc similar to what a motocross bike comes with. Just a thought as I’ve never seen or heard it mentioned before.

    1. Author

      Michael: I’ve talked to a couple of companies that have done some limited aero testing on road bikes with disc brakes. No one is willing to go on record just yet, but the data suggests that road bikes don’t suffer aerodynamic losses when discs are added, that at high yaw angles they actually gain a small measure of aero advantage. And until we actually see people being cut by rotors I think we can relax on that issue.

    2. Tony

      Michael, those disc guards that come on moto bikes are designed to thwart damage from rocks. There is no concern of “slicing” riders in a pile up because it simply does not happen. Everyone who keeps claiming the sky is falling with disc brakes slowly growing in the road bike market are simply dinosaurs who are afraid of change (for the better). As soon as my local lbs gets the new Caad 10 SRAM disc in, I will own it.

Leave a Reply to Miles Archer Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *