Disc brakes and steel trends

conquest%20classic.jpg Pictured here is the Redline Conquest Classic, a drop bar bike easily serving as an all-weather commuter. Ironically, though it is named “Classic”, it is the first the steel frameset in the Conquest lineage. Yes, steel is back, and disc brakes continue to propagate the entry and mid-level road bikes.

UPDATE: from Andrew – Redline contacted BikeHugger to let us know that this bike will be in the ‘09 lineup after some tweaks are made. I’m sure we’ll have more once it’s launched

What many people don’t realize about the resurgence of steel bikes is that the almost complete disappearance of steel wasn’t just bike companies deciding to force consumers on to aluminium frames. The reality is that many of the Taiwanese and Chinese factories just are not capable of steel bike construction. A factory can’t order different tubes one day and switch to steel frame production like you would switch out the milk to make a soy latte. However there have been a number of factories which are now ready to produce steel, working to fill the market demand.

As for disc brakes on road bikes, what we see is a number of bike companies spec’ing bikes under$1700 or so with disc brakes. These bikes are frequently very versatile platforms, compatible with fenders and racks. This is great for the commuter, and I hope this trend grows. The more people riding bikes as part of their normal life, the better, I say. But what I don’t see is the actual technology of the brakes improving.

The brakes on the market are all basically adaptations of MTB models, redesigned for the greater mechanical advantage (ie less cable pull) of road levers. Since MTB development mainly centers on hydraulic systems, you don’t see top quality in items you can use on a road bike. Maybe if the UCI tech committee changes their minds about disc brakes in cyclocross, we would see a leap forward. Perhaps an integrated brake/shifter unit with hydraulic for road bikes, or a mechanical caliper/rotor that would rival a racing sidepull caliper (rim brake).