The UCI (The World Governing Body for the sport of cycle racing.) recently lifted their ban on disc brakes for road racing and allowed them to be used in the Paris-Roubaix race.
Then when Movistar rider Francisco Ventoso suffered a severe cut on his leg, that may or may not have been caused by coming into contact with a disc brake, banned them again just as quickly.
By the way, this is just an observation, but:
Don’t manufacturers see that the fears the pros have might be a little less if the current crop of disc brakes didn’t look like a device for slicing meat. (See top picture.)
I’m sure someone will explain to me why the outside edge can’t be smooth and rounded, instead of resembling the teeth of a circular saw.
After the UCI ban, I read stories about the major bike manufacturers being in a panic, as in recent years they have all invested heavily in the development of disc brakes for road bikes.
Looking back at my own experience coming from Europe to America some 37 years ago, the industry has not a thing to worry about. As far as cycling is concered, the American leisure market drives itself, unaffected by what the European Pros are using.
Not only does the US leisure market drive itself it eventually influences what equipment the rest of the world uses, including the pros. Take helmet use as one prime example of this.
When I first came to the US in 1979, I came from a cycling culture where everyone who was seriously into the sport belonged to a local Cycling Club. Almost all club members raced at some level, either in road races or time-trials at the very least.
No one used a helmet except for the leather hairnet kind (Right.) mandatory for amateur road races, but not time-trials.
Nowhere in the UK or the rest of Europe did cyclists wear helmets for leisure riding or training. In fact the idea was ridiculed.
Everyone had their bike set up like a pro, the club system saw to that. It helped coach and influence newcomers to the sport.
I arrived in the US to find no one had a clue what was going on in Europe, and neither did anyone care. Very few owners of racing bikes actually raced, and across the board everyone rode a frame that was 3 or 4 centimeters bigger than their European counterparts.
Handlebars were up level with the saddle, and brake levers were high up on the bars with the levers sticking out like a pair of six-guns.
And the helmets… Ugly white things that looked like an upturned pudding basin. And everyone had at least one story how their helmet had “Saved their Life.”
So the use of helmets is a prime example of how the American leisure market influenced the rest of the world. The UCI did not make helmets compulsory for the pros until as recent as 2003.
The Mountain Bike is another. Developed entirely in America, caught the imagination of all leisure cyclists and the general public, to the extent it killed the road bike market for a while. It created a huge market worldwide and got the corporations involved.
Index shifting too, brought about by the mountain bike and the large numbers of inexperienced riders it brought in. People who did not know how to shift gears with a friction shift. This then lead to gear levers up on the brake levers, and eventually 10 and 11 speed cassettes.
I am not suggesting these developments have been adverse, many have improved the sport. That is not my point. The technology was not developed in the pro peloton. In almost every sport, equipment is developed at the professional level, but not in cycling.
In fact the UCI bans the use of prototype equipment, thus stifling any useful technological advancement there. Disc brakes first appeared on mountain bikes, and have gradually made their way over to road bikes.
If the pros had more say in the development of disc brakes, their safety concerns would have already been addressed. But the UCI does everything ass backwards.
Meanwhile I don’t see why the big bike corporations are panicking (If indeed they are.) The American leisure rider doesn't give a damn what the UCI sanctions or what the European pros use. He never did, and never will. He is more influenced by what his buddies use on the next Sunday morning coffee ride.