The 2013 Eurobike trade show saw the rise of the disc-equipped road bike.
Recent Eurobikes have seen disc-equipped machines appear in far flung corners of the Freidrichshafen Messe’s 12 aircraft hangers, often as ‘show bikes’ like the prototype Time Fluidity S spotted in 2012, rather than those due to go into production and subsequently on sale to the public.
But the 2013 edition of what is effectively the Tour de France of trade shows saw such bikes if not round every corner, then healthily represented among machines with conventional rim brakes. Disc-equipped road bikes remain a trend, rather than the norm – but, like it or not, they’re coming.
The launch of SRAM and Shimano’s hydraulic disc brake setups has opened the door to bike manufacturers who want to dip their toe into the water, though we saw more of the former, rather than the latter, at Eurobike.
SRAM stole a march on Shimano in that regard, unveiling the disc-ready Red 22 groupset in April, two months before the Japanese firm’s non-series, Ultegra-level hydraulic road lever.
The arrival of disc brakes is consumer-driven, rather than pro-driven, in that disc brakes are currently banned by the UCI for use in road racing. In fact, Shimano placed a billboard ad beside one of the roads leading to Eurobike announcing that punters can now “have what the professionals can’t”.
What the pros can have is SRAM’s hydraulic rim brakes, though we only saw one bike equipped with that option at Eurobike – and that was a replica of the machine Mark Cavendish rode on stage one of the Tour de France, suggesting that, for now at least, it’s disc brakes or nothing as far as off-the-shelf bikes are concerned.
The type of bike equipped with disc brakes at Eurobike also bore that out, with sportive bikes – those built for comfort and ‘endurance’, rather than all-out speed – more frequently spotted with rotors attached to the fork and chainstays. The Colnago C59 Disc, originally unveiled last year, Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Hydro, Bianchi Oltre XR2 Disc and Wilier Cento1 Disc were the exceptions to the rule.
Disc brakes technology remains in its infancy, at least as far as road bikes are concerned, and there are ‘standards’ to evolve. While most bikes were saw at Eurobike had regular quick release skewers, some, like the Focus Izalco Max Disc prototype, had thru-axles, while Orbea have sought to future-proof the new Avant – dubbed “the most versatile bike ever” – by making it compatible with both 130mm and 135mm hubs, the standard for road and mountain bikes (which now almost exclusively have disc brakes) respectively.
With that in mind, there’s some way to go before disc-equipped road bikes are commonplace, but Eurobike at least gave us a glimpse into the future. Open the gallery above for a closer look at the machines we saw at this year’s show.