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Another pro rider injured by disc brakes - are disc brakes really dangerous?

Orica BikeExchange's Sam Bewley claims disc brake injury on Twitter

The rollout of disc brakes in the professional peloton has been anything but smooth, with Fran Ventoso famously reporting an injury from a disc brake in Paris-Roubaix back in April which led to the UCI swiftly halting its trial of disc brakes. 

Now Orica BikeExchange's Sam Bewley also claims to have suffered an injury from a disc brake, sharing a photo of on Twitter that appears to show a burn or scrape that he says is the result of a hot rotor touching his skin. 

- UCI officially suspends disc brake testing

Will this deal another blow to disc brakes being adopted in the professional peloton? The issue of safety has been at the forefront of concerns especially amongst the professional racers, who much use this new equipment, and it seems like many aren’t really in favour.

We don’t know any more details about the incident involving Sam and a hot disc rotor, but we’ve contacted him so hopefully we might be able to shed a bit more light on the matter.

- Have disc brakes really led to injuries in peloton?

The latest on the UCI disc brake trial is that it’s currently suspended, following the drama after the Paris-Roubaix incident, and there has been no update as to whether it might commence soon. We’ve heard rumours that it will be restarted in 2017. We’ve contacted the UCI for a comment on this latest incident and an update on its trial suspension.

It’s clear the industry is behind disc brakes, with most big bike brands now offering disc-equipped road bikes, and the technology is advancing rapidly and we’ve even reached a point where there appear to be common standards. 160mm rotors, flat mount and 12mm thru-axles being dominant on all new disc road bike releases. 

Meanwhile, Andre Greipel appears to be happily testing Campagnolo's new disc brakes at the moment, without crashing...

Are disc brakes really dangerous? What do you think?

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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47 comments

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the_mikey | 7 years ago
0 likes

 

   There are all sorts of good reasons to use disc brakes (better braking efficiency),  there are also good reasons to stick with rim brakes (they won't be mangled in the bike shed at work,  they're easy to maintain) , outside of sporty cycling , heat loss isn't one of the concerns that will affect most people,  that doesn't mean that Sam Bewley doesn't have a valid point,  I feel any problems encountered should at least be investigated,documented and properly understood, not casually written off.  

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Adamar | 7 years ago
0 likes

Couple of days later and the tweet is gone, hmm...

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Ciclismo | 7 years ago
0 likes

I weigh twice as much as these jockey-sized pros. They can keep their poor brake feel, fade, and crappy wet performance, because they'll just bounce off the street whereas I will need to be dug out after an avoidable crash.

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Dario365 | 7 years ago
0 likes

Surely all it would take is a carbon fiber or plasitc cover over the disc. After all as some bike are having to have wiaght added to be with the reg this would work. With testing you might even find that with a correct design cover could improve airo.

Also looking at the 2 bad crashes on the damp corner on the road race at the omypics i dont recall then locking up. Which means with disc they could of scrubbed of more speed or even using the back brake to lock up and turn the rear of the bike in the direction of the exit of the corner making the corner. Having coming from rims to disc i dont understand why anyone wouldnt want to. You go fast. I love out braking rims into coner and overtaking them cause i can brake so much later. The onlt reason i would like to see disc in racing is, some off my friends how do race but can't afford aload of differant bike dont know what to get as they are looking at a new bike. But also the public needs the money that would be invested in disc if used in racing to improve what we might buy over the counter. So much teck in your every day car comes from things like F1.

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
2 likes

My next 'best' road bike, whatever it will be, will have disc brakes for sure. No.1 reason being I can have posh, fast, carbon rims, cheaper, that last longer. Even the really super expensive guys like Lightweight and Enve are doing more 'affordable' carbon disc rims - they're just cheaper and easier to make without the brake track.  

 

Who doesn't want to ride on posh wheels. Disc brakes will democratise carbon wheels for the market. Everyone should be on board.  

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JumboJuice | 7 years ago
0 likes

So leave the disc brake to us, stop the trial and be happy everyone.

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smax | 7 years ago
3 likes

Are discbrakes really necessary?

the cynical side of me says that well set up rim brakes work well enough on most occasions and are more aero. What's the point of having a brake that is more effective than the grip of the tyres surely that's asking for more incidents. Or could it be just the next new way of getting us all to buy new frames rather than hang onto our current ones just that bit earlier. Pros don't seem to want them, the rest of us seem generally ambivalent the only ones pushing hard for them are the manufacturers which unfortunately smacks of trying to make more money out of the majority of cyclists. 

Yes carbon rims in the wet on steep hills are not the best so perhaps use some of the other rim brake options in the mountains e.g. Magic exalith brake tracks etc. 

All for innovation but where it's proven and safe.

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Thelma Viaduct replied to smax | 7 years ago
2 likes
smax wrote:

Are discbrakes really necessary?

the cynical side of me says that well set up rim brakes work well enough on most occasions and are more aero. What's the point of having a brake that is more effective than the grip of the tyres surely that's asking for more incidents. Or could it be just the next new way of getting us all to buy new frames rather than hang onto our current ones just that bit earlier. Pros don't seem to want them, the rest of us seem generally ambivalent the only ones pushing hard for them are the manufacturers which unfortunately smacks of trying to make more money out of the majority of cyclists. 

Yes carbon rims in the wet on steep hills are not the best so perhaps use some of the other rim brake options in the mountains e.g. Magic exalith brake tracks etc. 

All for innovation but where it's proven and safe.

 

Why are roadies still writing such shit as above????

 

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StraelGuy replied to Thelma Viaduct | 7 years ago
1 like
smax wrote:

 

Why are roadies still writing such shit as above????

 

 

A valid question. Discs keep heat away from your tyres and tubes, eliminate rim wear and make heat issues with carbon rims a moot point, work more consistently in the wet etc etc etc

 

For the love of god, how long must we dither about disc brakes indecision.

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700c replied to Thelma Viaduct | 7 years ago
1 like
Thelma Viaduct wrote:
smax wrote:

Are discbrakes really necessary?

the cynical side of me says that well set up rim brakes work well enough on most occasions and are more aero. What's the point of having a brake that is more effective than the grip of the tyres surely that's asking for more incidents. Or could it be just the next new way of getting us all to buy new frames rather than hang onto our current ones just that bit earlier. Pros don't seem to want them, the rest of us seem generally ambivalent the only ones pushing hard for them are the manufacturers which unfortunately smacks of trying to make more money out of the majority of cyclists. 

Yes carbon rims in the wet on steep hills are not the best so perhaps use some of the other rim brake options in the mountains e.g. Magic exalith brake tracks etc. 

All for innovation but where it's proven and safe.

 

Why are roadies still writing such shit as above????

 

 

@Thelma Viaduct, thanks for your contribution. 

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. . replied to smax | 7 years ago
0 likes
smax wrote:

rim brakes ... are more aero.

Not according to Cervelo

"Disc brakes improve safety and boost stiffness, says the company, but it also says the disc brakes offer improved aerodynamics. "

http://road.cc/content/tech-news/206942-cerve%CC%81lo-launches-mind-bend...

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buzhidao | 7 years ago
1 like
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Grizzerly | 7 years ago
3 likes

So, guy, this professional rider is telling lies about his injury...

Why? Just to annoy you? 

You must all be very influential and controversial figures in the sport.

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Jackson | 7 years ago
3 likes

700c is bang on. Sam Bewley isn't saying no road.cc reader should be allowed to ride a bike with disc brakes. He's not turning up to your work telling you what kind of chair to sit on or whether to use a PC or a Mac. He's simply saying that he doesn't want to use a disc brake bike at his job.

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levermonkey | 7 years ago
2 likes

To my untrained and non-medical eye the injury does not look like a hot metal contact-burn.

I put it to the Jury that although this is a burn that it was not caused by contact with a hot disc but is a friction burn caused by contact with a fast spinning tyre. If the rider falls and props himself up with his arm to prevent himself either resting or landing on a fallen bike then the inside of his upper arm would be in the perfect position to receive such a friction burn. Probably from a rear wheel as is has greater momentum.

The skin is abraded rather than blistered.

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DonDrum | 7 years ago
0 likes

Ach, fer dearsake!! How do you  get an injury like that from a disc?

If that's the extent of it, apply rule 5, and slap some cream on it.

I've done worse falling of by not getting unclipped quickly enough.

What sort of reaction should we expect the next time someone gets a severe gravel rash, busted collarabone / hand / teeth knocked out? Ban all cycling activities? Duh.

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mythbuster | 7 years ago
2 likes

what utter bollocks. Rotors indeed get hot, but directly proportionally to the speed, mass of bike+rider and the amount of use. In order for the rotors to get so hot as to burn flesh the crash would have had to happen on a steep descent after a lot of braking, not exactly in a middle of the peloton.

Discs brakes are not magic weapons of mass murder...

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Broady. | 7 years ago
0 likes

I don't get how this could have happened, I've intentionally tried dragging my disc brakes on and off down a massive descent to see how hot they get and they don't get bad enough to do something like this. I can't imagine any ride Bewls would be doing would involve people that are intentionally dragging their brakes that much.

Not to say this didn't happen as it clearly has, but these recent disc injuries seem bizarre. To get the rotors this hot would take some serious effort, I've only ever seen burns on a calf after a DH MTB run.

Regardless, if the pros don't want them they shouldn't be forced to run them, for your everyday rider the pros far outweigh the negatives.

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The _Kaner | 7 years ago
3 likes

Am I missing something? Is the picture of the injury shown up at his armpit?

Because if so, that's a strange old place to sustain a disc 'burn' injury...and if it is in fact a disc burn injury, did the crash happen after an extremely long brake dragging session, or at the bottom of a fast downhill section?

If I'm going at, say 40kph (that's what the Garmin showed), and I suddenly jam my disc brakes on to come to a standstill - my rotors will/do not heat up enough to produce a burn such as that (in a single emergency braking effort).

Unless my rotors are immensely efficient at dissipating that heat nearly instantaneously...OEM TRP Spyres...(don't think so...)

I have tried cranking the (upturned) bike up to speed and can generate some heat whilst dragging the brake, but even after a small period of time the wheel stops (heat is generally completely dissipated within a few seconds - if that).

If I pump/modulate the brake (manual ABS mode) then the wheel stops over a longer period of time and I feel no discernible heat from the rotor.

Now  - my own experiment is in no way a lab based/conducted test and was done in my kitchen and no calibrated temperature measuring equipment, save my fingers, were used.

I would expect that in an open air test the heat dissipation would be even quicker (external wind/breeze etc).

I'm also not implying that the rider in question did NOT suffer the injury from a brake rotor, but it looks like a very strange set of circumstances in the mix, that may have caused that particular injury.

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rix | 7 years ago
8 likes

As I do not have to ride with the pros, I do not give a flying f@£$ if they are banned or not.

I am certainly keeping my CAAD10 Disc. It is a very good bike!

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fukawitribe | 7 years ago
5 likes

"Another pro rider injured by disc brakes"

 

Another ? Who was the 'other' one ? I remember Fran Ventoso got slashed by what looked like a chainset a while back...

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CXR94Di2 | 7 years ago
3 likes

Cauterised the wound beautifully. I concur, it's a minor wound compared to road rash, fractured collarbones etc.

There is under current of pro riders quickly publicizing minor disc injury incidents as they are hyper dangerous.

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gsavill90 (not verified) | 7 years ago
0 likes

Doesn't look too painful.

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bendertherobot | 7 years ago
1 like

Did he just lie on it for a few minutes?

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surly_by_name | 7 years ago
4 likes

What with this article and "widower calls for mandatory helmet law" - I hadn't realised it had become clickbait Wednesday.

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LarryDavidJr | 7 years ago
5 likes

Sureley the biggest attraction is being able to buy a nice set of wheels knowing that they won't be worn down to useless in a couple of years?  It's certainly something that stops me from spending much on wheels.

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handlebarcam | 7 years ago
0 likes

It is odd that, at the same time as there are calls to force people to use of one more piece of equipment (helmets), because anything that has any potential to reduce injuries should be mandatory, the response to stories like this is often that adding one more piece of equipment that is a possible source of injury (disc rotors) is insignificant because of all the other unavoidable risks of riding a bicycle. I don't know which view has more validity, but I know cycling equipment manufacturers must be laughing all the way to the bank.

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
1 like

The disc brake needs to be in the centre of the wheel to end all danger and aero complaints. Hub brakes of a sort.

Has to be a way.

 

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ChrisB200SX replied to tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
0 likes
unconstituted wrote:

The disc brake needs to be in the centre of the wheel to end all danger and aero complaints. Hub brakes of a sort.

Has to be a way.

 

Can't the manufacturers just chamfer the edges of the discs?!

Or, Rule #1 ?

Anyway, if you fall off and land on a tree stump, kerb, road sign, whatever, you can't really blame the thing you landed on. Plenty of other bits of road bikes you could injure yourself on!

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tritecommentbot replied to ChrisB200SX | 7 years ago
0 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:
unconstituted wrote:

The disc brake needs to be in the centre of the wheel to end all danger and aero complaints. Hub brakes of a sort.

Has to be a way.

 

Can't the manufacturers just chamfer the edges of the discs?!

Or, Rule #1 ?

Anyway, if you fall off and land on a tree stump, kerb, road sign, whatever, you can't really blame the thing you landed on. Plenty of other bits of road bikes you could injure yourself on!

 

Who you working for? UCI? 

 

Yes, looks like they'll blunt the edges and resume DB trailing in the peloton in 2017, according to velonews a couple days ago!

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