- The new SRAM hydraulic road levers on Tim Johnson’s team bike are quite tall to house the vertical master cylinder. Photo: Lennard Zinn
- Powers’ Focus with SRAM Red and Avid BB-7 discs. Photo: Lennard Zinn
- Trebon’s Cannondale with SRAM Red and Avid BB-7 discs. Photo: Lennard Zinn
- Summerhill’s Ibis with SRAM Red and Avid BB-7 discs, and a 39-tooth single chainring. His is the only of the three with a SRAM Red cogset. Photo: Lennard Zinn
- The (almost) all-disc, all SRAM Red men’s podium, brought to you by Feedback bike stands. Photo: Lennard Zinn
- The women’s all-cantilever podium, brought to you by Feedback bike stands. Photo: Lennard Zinn
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (VN) — If you’re harboring any doubts about disc brakes in cyclocross, cast them aside along with your old, tired cantis. Not only did the men’s podium at the Derby City Cup include two and two/tenths disc users (more on that later), but SRAM’s long-awaited hydraulic road disc brake made a brief appearance in Louisville, too.
On Friday, I found the one bike at the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross with the new hydraulic brakes. But as I fumbled to get out my big SLR camera to snap a photo, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com manager Stu Thorne grabbed the bike and hid it in the team truck.
So, on race day I came armed with a tiny point-and-shoot and climbed into the truck while Ryan Trebon was warming up on the trainer by the truck’s back gate. I managed one crappy shot before I was ordered out, but you can see that the tops of the levers are quite tall. There was no way to get down in there to snap a shot of the caliper, but it resembles many small XC calipers.
The brakes are on one of Tim Johnson’s bikes, which Rapha-Focus team leader Jeremy Powers was seen riding on Friday during course reconnaissance.
SRAM has been working on the hydraulic brakes for some time, and the word that they are ready has been out for a while now, but an official introduction has yet to be scheduled.
“There are a lot of things that go into it [a product introduction]. We don’t know when it will be yet,” said SRAM marketing director Michael Zellmann.
Discs dominate the podium
Saturday’s men’s race in Louisville was almost a clean sweep for disc brakes. Powers, Trebon and Danny Summerhill all started riding SRAM Red groups with Avid BB-7 mechanical discs, but Summerhill switched to a cantilever-equipped Ibis after two of 10 laps.
“The disc bike is heavier, and even though it’s not much — the cantilever bike weighs 15 pounds and the disc bike weighs 16.5 pounds — it’s noticeable,” said Summerhill. “With all of these technical bike carries, four per lap, I knew it would really wear on me. I was starting to make mistakes on the run-ups and screw up the guys around me, so I switched bikes.”
Nonetheless, when it came time to display the podium bikes — Feedback Sports, a USGP sponsor, shows the top three bikes in its stands alongside the podium — Summerhill’s disc-equipped bike had replaced the canti’-equipped model. Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone.