So last fall, I caved, decided to upgrade my 8 year old cyclocross bike. I’d kept it so long because it didn’t feel like it was holding me back. Being spec’d with excellent wheels, good components, and an aluminum frame that wasn’t an afterthought by a company trying to hit a low price point, it was easily under 18lbs. It served me well when I sold my road bike that I wasn’t using very often. Since then, disc brakes have been deemed legal for use in cyclocross races and after a few hiccups, we now have hydraulic brakes on road shifters.
I’ve always felt that the push for legalization never really came from the top athletes. It came from recreational riders who wanted Shimano and SRAM to make hydraulic disc brakes. I don’t know why these recreational riders had to go to the UCI to get disc brakes, I would think they would have enough market share on their own. 10x as many riders show up to a gran fondo/charity ride/buy road bikes compared to a local road race.
Cantilever brakes are “good enough” for cyclocross and nobody at the World Cup level really wants to add another pound to their bikes when the races are so competitive. They’ve got clean spare bikes to use during the races, personal mechanics to keep the brakes dialed, and equipment sponsors to replace worn out rims. World Championships are still being raced and won on cantilever brakes.
For the privateer or recreational rider who doesn’t have a mechanic around to dial in their brakes every ride, or free carbon rims, discs are pretty nice! I can even use my nice mountain bike wheels on my cyclocross bike.
There’s a similar push bring disc brakes into road racing, but with resistance from the top levels of the sport regarding valid points of safety and wheel change logistics, the experiment is being put on hold. I don’t have much issue with this, if I wanted to road race, I’d buy a road bike. But I don’t want to road race. My cross bike lacks the snappy handling of a road bike for criteriums. Cat 2 races hurt too much. But doing the odd spring series or midweek road race? Should every aspect of provincial...er club level be run to UCI spec?
Legalize my Marin!