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Interbike 2013: Hydraulic brakes on the road

Three years ago when the UCI began to allow disc brakes for cyclocross racing, it opened a floodgate — a number of manufacturers rushed to adapt discs for road/cross disciplines. Quick advances in brake assemblies, frame fittings and forks, hubs and all the other attendant bits occured. Still, many people wondered if brakes were really needed for road bikes…and if mechanical (cable-actuated) brakes were up to the task. A couple boutique manufacturers developed mechanical-to-hydraulic adapters, such as the TRP Parabox, among others.

And that set the big manufacturers to putting their R&D muscle behind the idea of hydraulics for the road…but how to fit a master cylinder into the shifter body? It took a couple of years before it was ready, but things are finally starting to make it to market.

SRAM came through first with the “Hydro R” setup in two versions: RED for the well-heeled, and the S-700 for a somewhat more affordable option. The master cylinders are contained in the brake/shift lever bodies, and here’s the really interesting thing: they come in disc OR hydraulic rim brake options.

Forgive these somewhat awkward photos, but SRAM’s display made it difficult to get a good shot of the brake options. Check SRAM’s website for all the lurid details and better product images.

RED rim brake:
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RED disc:
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S-700 rim brake (left) and disc (right):
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Over at Shimano, things are not quite ready for release. They had prototype Dura Ace Di2 hydraulic brakes/shift levers on display, and they felt good in the hand. They’re not scheduled for release until spring 2014, according to one of the Shimano techs I spoke to. Visit Shimano’s site for more details on the brake systems they will offer for the road.

Here are the shift levers with master cylinder hidden within:
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And the brake bodies/discs as installed on a road bike:
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The brake bodies and discs borrow technology from Shimano’s mountain groups, namely the ICE heat management system. Road discs can get extremely hot during prolonged descents, and that is the Achilles Heel of hydros, according to a number of sources. Shimano’s ICE system should help alleviate heat-induced brake fade.

I asked the Shimano tech if this hydraulic wizardry would trickle down to more affordable options for “regular folks” who can’t afford Dura Ace/Ultegra. Alas, Shimano plans only to offer hydraulic discs on their two upper-end Di2 groupsets…not even mechanical Dura Ace will be graced with a master cylinder setup. The reason for this is that they wanted to maintain the existing Di2 lever shape without a “unicorn bulge”, according to the tech I spoke to. SRAM’s shifting assembly and the master cylinder together take up a lot more room and necessitated a lever redesign on their end.

Finally, for those of you who use other components, or dig your current brake/shifter setup, there’s hope for you. TRP has unveiled their HY-RD system, which is cable-actuated and has the master cylinder mounted to the brake body itself. TRP claims this HY-RD system will work with any current mechanical shifting system.

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TRP also still offers their Parabox adapter system.

We’re curious — are road disc brakes in your future? Any thoughts on mechanical vs. hydraulic? We’d love to hear your thoughts/gripes/concerns/WTFs. The technology still has a bit of refinement to go, but it is great to see the big component makers getting behind this new application for hydraulics.


Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Interbike 2013: Commuter accessories from Serfas

We ran into our pal JT at the Serfas booth today — and he was happy to show off a variety of commuter-friendly accessories.

The handsome JT:
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A HUGE array of headlights in various outputs:
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A matching array of taillights and front/rear light combos, including some with flexible mounting options:
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Even more taillights:
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Here’s a great headlight (to be released soon) where the battery pack doubles as a powerful taillight:
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Serfas lights are known for their true lumen outputs. The light pictured above is rated at 1000 lumens, and when Serfas claims an output, that’s what you get — no fudging the numbers like other companies do.

Need to light up the night on a dark commute? Serfas offers this 2500 lumen monster, complete with bar-mounted remote control!
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There were tons more accessories for the commute and for the home shop. Take a look at the wide variety of floor pumps and travel pumps Serfas offers:
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Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Need to carry a suit? Here’s a product for you

There’s a lot of Eurobike coverage all over the web right now…tons of new bikes and parts being revealed in advance of our own Interbike visit in a few weeks.

Almost all the coverage I’ve seen has been racing-oriented — new race bikes, new racing kit, new racing components. What about us commuters? What’s new for us?

One thing that DID catch our eye, thanks to the good folks at Bike Biz, is a clever new way to deal with fancy work duds. Do you happen to work in an office where formal attire is required? Struggling to juggle your bike commute and your need to wear a suit? Enter the Freefold:

Presumably, the Freefold works on business suits/attire for men AND women.

There are a couple of kludgy bags on the market now that purport to make suit-carrying easy…and while they work adequately, this Freefold system seems very simple and VERY versatile (you can fit the folded assembly into any messenger bag, backpack, or pannier). This might be just the thing suit-wearers have been looking for!

We’re going to reach out to the Freefold people and see if we can run into them at Interbike. Who knows, we might be able to score a test version to show you.

New Bike Doctor app guides you through bicycle repairs

Here’s a cool one for you smartphone users — our friend Andreas over at London Cyclist just released “Bike Doctor”, an app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. This app guides users through over 40 of the most common bicycle repairs:

Bike doc promo image showing it on different devices

Read about its development by visiting the London Cyclist page, go to Google Play or the iTunes Store to download the app, or take a look at the video below to see how it all works. The app price is $2.87 USD.

Friday Musings: Would you ride…uh, FLY these?

Here are a couple of oddities that popped up in the Google News feed recently. The first is an experimental bike by the Czech manufacturer Duratec:

More information is available here.

The second is a project developed by two British creators. Dubbed the Paravelo, it’s a bike/plane hybrid:

More information on the Paravelo can be found here.

Now, the big questions: Would you ride these things? Are flying bikes the future of two-wheeled commuting?