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Gilbert unconvinced that disc brakes belong in road racing

The debate rages on about disc brakes in professional road racing, and the former world champ is not convinced the time is right to change

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Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) isn’t convinced the peloton is ready to convert to disc brakes.

With disc brakes becoming more popular on road bikes, there’s a discussion of if and when they should be introduced to the elite peloton.

Gilbert said the only way it would work is if the entire peloton switched to disc brakes at the same time. He pointed out the braking distance between disc brakes and caliper brakes is too great, and having two braking systems inside the bunch would present a dangerous scenario for a peloton whipping along narrow roadways at 50kph.

“You need to have everyone ready at the same time, because you could not have some on disc brakes and others not,” Gilbert said during a team camp last month. “The braking distance on a disc brake might be 10 meters, and on other brakes, 20 meters. With 17 WorldTour teams, and the Professional Continental teams, do you think everyone could be ready at the same time?”

Disc brakes have long been used in mountain biking, and have been introduced in cyclocross, but the debate rages inside the peloton about whether or not they’re appropriate for the speeds and demands of road racing.

“You would have to adapt all of the tubes, tires, everything,” Gilbert said. “Now they are made for the brakes we have now. It’s complicated [to change].”

Gilbert also pointed out concerns among many that the disc presents a real and present danger in the bunch, especially in the case of massive pileups and high-speed mash-ups that are part and parcel of road racing.

“If you land on a disc brake, it’s warm, it can open you up. If you get it on a vein … boof,” Gilbert said. “I am worried about the security. It’s not the same as a chain ring. I would be more scared about a disc brake.”