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The Weekly Wibble: Disc-oh Infernal

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Photographs: Balint Hamvas

“I implore you to reconsider.”

So said the editor of this very website when I mentioned the winter bike was going on eBay. Strongly worded, but he had a point. The Genesis was handsome – cherry red, steel, drawing admiring glances from the first time I rode it, despite being one of the cheapest bikes on the market.

But you know how it is. A couple of years of familiarity and it could have been a case of change for change’s sake. There was no compelling reason to swap it for a shiny new beast when it had served me well and still performed perfectly well and looked good too.

If the idea had been floating around my head for a few weeks without any concrete decision either way, a commuting incident pushed me into action.

Coming face-to-face with a car that had pulled out in front of me (correction: make that a car driver, as the car itself was blameless) required emergency action – slam on the anchors, grab with everything you got.

The trouble being, I was on the ‘cross bike, with its utterly useless cantilever brakes. At a closing speed of, probably, all of two miles an hour, I bounced off the car’s bumper, held it upright, and we went our respective ways unharmed, the inattentive driver suitably chastised, and me suitably shaken.

My given position on anyone starting cyclo-cross and moaning about how frigging useless the brakes are is to reply that they are doing it wrong. ‘Cross is not about braking. It is all about going fast, with occasional brushing off of speed, courtesy of those rubbish canti brakes – especially when matched with carbon rims.  


Cyclist, appraising bike, in middle of street, black bike

“Hey, guysh, shumone is schtealing my brakes, eh?”

But now I have witnessed Lars van der Haar in action (featured in issue 51) and seen what can be done with brakes that actually work in any conditions, I’ve been forced to reconsider.

Disc brakes are the future, whether you like it or not. The industry has decided – and the UCI will surely follow suit before long – so stop fighting the inevitable and get on with it.

Sorry, Tim, but there is a road bike with disc brakes on its way. And to hell with aesthetics. When a handful of brake lever is grabbed, I expect to see some stopping going on, not a dribbling glide into the yonder. Or a bumper, for that matter.

I might even set up a little test situation when the new bike arrives: cantis versus dual-pivot calipers versus discs. I’ve a fair idea what the results will be already. 



1,600 – stakes (not steaks) used at Milton Keynes to mark out the course

24 – different ales available at MK from local breweries. It would be rude not to… 



The cyclo-cross World Cup comes to Milton Keynes this weekend. Check out the 1992 World Championships in Leeds. David Duffield waxing lyrical about duck ponds while Adri van der Poel, father of emerging talent Mathieu, takes bronze.

Those top chaps from GCN with a rather good guide on getting a Van der Haar-style flying start in your next ‘cross race.

As we feature the Col d’Izoard in issue 51, here’s a clip from 1960 featuring the great Fausto Coppi on the mountain.

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