Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome has revealed that he still regularly experiences disc brake issues but he has a solution of sorts: he puts earphones in so he can’t hear them rubbing.
Froome has had well-documented issues with disc brakes in the past. Way back in 2016, before the widespread adoption of disc brakes in professional road racing, Froome said that having different braking systems in the peloton would be more dangerous.
“I’d say either everyone uses them, or no-one does,” he commented.
Then Froome spoke about disc brakes in a YouTube video early last year. He said, “I don't think the technology is quite where it needs to be.”
He said that he wasn't “100 per cent sold” on the technology and mentioned that he had concerns over rubbing, overheating and the potential for rotors to warp.
Froome tried a number of different parts with the aim of alleviating the problems. Rather than the Shimano equipment normally used by Israel Start-Up Nation, Froome’s bike was fitted with Magura MT8 SL FM disc brakes during the 2021 Tour de France. The team also used SwissStop pads and rotors.
Froome returns to the subject of disc brakes in his latest YouTube video.
“I don’t know if you can hear that,” he says.
We can hear that – ‘that’ being the sound of his disc brakes rubbing.
“My entertainment with disc brakes continues. I think they're sort of work in progress. I think the technology is improving but the margins are so slim. You do a big descent and the alignment moves completely so I need to stop and readjust everything again.
“We’re riding Shimano at the moment. I hear the new 12-speed Shimano has sorted out some of these issues but… with the 11-speed [we’re] still getting a lot of rubbing, getting one piston firing more than the other one, which always puts things out of alignment.
“No matter how many mechanics I’ve spoken to or taken the bike to, you just can't get 100% on top of that. [You] always… start getting a few issues as soon as you start doing some some really big descents.
“But c’est la vie, for the time being. Just put the earphones in and pretend I can't hear it.”
Okay, it’s not tackling the issue at source but this is one way of dealing with it.
Froome is still using 11-speed Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 components because, although launched last year, there have been supply issues with Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 mostly due to fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shimano says that its R9270 Dura-Ace hydraulic disc brake calliper has a 10% wider pad clearance than previously to reduce the chance of rotor rub.
Shimano also says that there’s less heat deformation with its RT-MT900 rotors, meaning a reduced chance of interference.
In our review of the Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 groupset, Liam said, “Yes, the pad clearance has been increased by 10 per cent but that is 10 per cent of a tiny gap. It isn't enough to clear a rotor warped by heat, and while the MT900 rotors are better than the old Dura-Ace design, I still prefer SwissStop or Campagnolo rotors with their solid design. They might be a touch heavier, but they don't seem to warp quite as easily.
“This rotor warping results in that annoying ting-ting-ting sound when you come off the brakes after scrubbing off a lot of speed. You can also get a tiny bit of noise if you lean the bike over excessively when sprinting or out of the saddle on a climb. For me, it's an issue that can be solved by using a better rotor, though that will be a change you make based on personal preference.”
It’ll be interesting to hear Chris Froome’s reaction when he gets to use Shimano Dura-Ace R9200
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.