Hydraulic Road Disc Brakes: Interbike 2010 Edition

Sorting through the Interbike 2010 coverage (and post coverage), one can pull a few different threads together to weave a more complete vision of the Bliggity Blog ROAD BIKE OF THE FUTURE. In any event, a couple of interesting “proof of concept” type things popped up…as well as the first, full-fledged, market-ready framesets it would seem.

Let’s start with the disc-ready framesets, because that is probably the most exciting – or certainly the most important in terms of reasonable disc-ready bikes getting to market. There are now two bikes out by the Volagi company, which it appears was started by two engineer types who left Specialized. I assume they are in Northern CA as the pictures on their site are straight out of Sonoma County – Geysers and Pine Flat would be my best guess. Volagi seems to be aiming for the high-end endurance/Gran Fondo market opened by Specialized’s Roubaix and Cannondale’s Synapse lines a few years back. Here is the Venga SL model, shown at Interbike:

via procyclingnews.com

There are many great things about these bikes even apart from the disc brakes; the quick rundown would be:

– full carbon construction

– taller headtubes for comfort and position, without having to resort to crazy high post or a riser stem

– BB30 bottom bracket

– cool looking cantilevered seat mast design that probably offers a supple ride

– integrated fender mounts

– ability to run most any size tires without worrying about clearance

In short, you’ve got all of the features that are becoming standard for high-end carbon frames (and presumably this could quickly include a tapered steerer setup as well).

Then, of course, you’ve got the disc brakes:

That fork in particular seems really nice. Would love to know about how it works in practice, as the road disc skeptics usually argue that standard forks can’t handle the torque from braking down at the tips. More on this to follow…

So, what else do you need?

  • hydraulic discs
  • shifting options that work with hydraulic
  • fork (and frame) redesign that can take advantage of the options opened by hydraulic discs

I’ll take each in turn in the posts to come!



5 thoughts on “Hydraulic Road Disc Brakes: Interbike 2010 Edition

  1. Ben, looks like your vision of a raceable fully fendered disk ready road bike will be ready by 2012. Imagine if they made a disk brake ready electronic road kit. That would be perfect for the type of weather we have here where it is always raining and cables only last a couple of rides before they get all messed up.

  2. YES! Ben, you see the future. It will be road bikes with disc brakes. Yes, we’ll have to add a few grams to the wheels and have some more spokes, but the rim profiles can be adjusted for strength and aerodynamics without concern for a brake track and the extra material needed there. It also removes the concern of crap braking on carbon rims, overheating the rim on a monster descent and having a tubular come unglued. Also, a disc brake might be an aerodynamic advantage, as there is less turbulence at the brake/wheel/frame area, which I guess is supposed to be a bad spot for airflow.
    Bigger tires make sense, more clearance for a fender if you want…
    I’ve built some cross bikes with discs, one tough thing is that cross bikes use road parts, so you should use a 130mm rear hub. A 130 disc hub is hard to come by at this point (Velocity makes one). We are also limited to the Avid mechanical disc – not the best caliper and not so light. The future is a super light, minimal rotor and caliper, hydraulic, and works with road shift/brake levers. They should be able to get the weights in line with road caliper brakes.
    I’m really tempted to make my next road bike with disc brakes.

  3. John — Thanks for stopping by! I’m still drafting the next installment here, but the braking department would totally be improved by some Big Name hydro options. Seems like Shimano is the most likely candidate: they’ve already got Di2 dialed (coming in second edition soon, maybe), they have some totally bad ass hydro stuff in XTR, and they have the money to throw around with it.


  4. Hi Ben,

    Barking up the very same tree…have you stumbled upon our dual-disc Adventure? We spent a great deal of time with like-minded folks at ENVE and Shimano at NAHBS where we showed the rig. Nice to “bump” into you this way. I was rolling up towards St. Claire’s Retreat in the rain on Saturday and was reminded of our two-wheeled rants around the County. Good stuff.


  5. Hey Mike — Yeah, cool for you to drop by! Glad to see Calfee seems to be on the upswing again…and maybe because of your PR efforts. Much needed, as Calfee does not get the respect due for pioneers and for continued innovation. The dual-disc Adventure has indeed been on a my radar (your rig on the Facebook page is totally sweet). I’m happy as well to hear about your discussions with Shimano at NAHBS – there just MUST be people there interested in the hydraulic road lever options!

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