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Working on disc brakes in the pro peloton

Working on disc brakes in the pro peloton

With three riders from Quickstep using the Specialized Venge with disc brakes, RIDE asked team mechanic,  Rune Kristensen, a few questions about servicing…

Disc brakes on road bikes are no longer “new”. They’ve been raced in the pro peloton – on and off – for a couple of years but now we see them in the WorldTour… on the other side of the world. And there are were two teams using disc brakes by Shimano in stage one of the Santos Tour Down Under.

Quickstep and Trek-Segafredo riders raced with this technology which is being adopted by more and more cyclists in 2018.

Last year RIDE spoke with Rune Kristensen, the mechanic from Quickstep, after stage two of the Tour de France – the first time a bike with disc brakes won at Le Tour – and he offered his take on what it was to service them. Marcel Kittel was the winner that Sunday and Kristensen swapped wheels midway through the stage.

No fuss. That was his appraisal. The wheel change was easy.

And servicing? No trouble either.

The Belgian team and Danish mechanic have been experimenting with different methods to make the wheel changes even more efficient. Kristensen told RIDE this morning that they may opt to use an electric drill for the thru-axle arrangement required for most bikes using disc brakes. ‘Quick-release’ of the modern era.

Elia Viviani (above) is one of three riders from Quickstep using the Venge frame with disc brakes at the Santos Tour Down Under.

We’ll continue to chart the arrival of disc brakes. They were once a contentious issue but there’s little complaint coming from those who use them – actually, it seems like only praise – and less grumbling from inside the peloton than there was only a little while ago.

Kristensen admits that he’s realising one of the minor drawbacks of the hydraulic systems, largely that it requires a little more servicing attention after travel.

“We have to get used to going overseas,” he said. “With all the flying we always have to re-bleed the whole system. We’ll try it out this year and see how it goes.”

Specialized has a range of bike options for the riders but the sprinter who is designated leader for the Tour Down Under, Elia Viviani, has selected the Venge for his visit to Australia.

“For all of our aero bikes – the Venge – we are only using disc brakes this year,” said Kristensen about the Specialized bikes used by Quickstep. Originally released with frame-specific callipers that were configured in the seat tube, the Venge has evolved and it’s the bike of choice for Viviani, Michael Morkov and Fabio Sabatini at the Tour Down Under in 2018.

It’s thru-axle front and rear for the Venge bikes with disc brakes at the TDU in 2018.

Kristensen did change a rear wheel for Morkov in stage one but the mechanic wasn’t certain if that’s how it would be. In the team meeting it was agreed that front wheels would be changed but, in the event of a rear wheel change, the decision would be made based on the scenario of the race at the time. A bike swap is the other option.

There was no sign of any electric drill when Kristensen serviced Morkov’s mechanical in stage one.

He does, however, like the idea of using extra equipment for wheel changes. “We took a electrical drill to swap the wheel and it’s a lot faster now. We like to develop our technique a bit.”

The mechanic isn’t bothered by any of the extra tasks that disc brakes demand. Even the hydraulic fluid work is something he’s used to from experience with mountain bikes.

“Sometimes for us on the road, we are a little bit behind the mountain biking scene,” he said. “We just have to get used to it.

“I think, especially the younger generation of mechanics, are pretty fast to get into it.

“It was the same with the electronic gears when they came out; everybody was like, ‘Ah, this is a new thing…’ and, in the end, it’s much easier.”

Viviani’s Venge.. (above).

The three from Quickstep who used disc brakes in stage one of the TDU will race the Venge bike in every stage of the Australian WorldTour race.

“For the wheels, we’re using 140mm rotors and we have the same on all the wheels.

“If we puncture on the front, for sure: we’ll change the wheel. If it’s a puncture on the back we’re going to take the decision based around the circumstance of the race.”



– By Rob Arnold

Other tech tid-bits…

At the start of stage one of the Tour Down Under, a few other interesting product amendments were noticed.

Baden Cooke (above) was showing off the AG2R La Mondiale team’s Factor bike which is now fitted with Ceramic Speed’s oversize pulley wheels and white-coated chain.

Lotto-Soudal, meanwhile, seemed to be experimenting with Wahoo products… an Elemnt cycle computer was spied fitted next to a SRM power meter on one of the team’s bikes (below).

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