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Bernard Hinault on disc brakes: 'If I were a pro now I’d have them'

Peter Stuart
25 May 2017

Five-time tour winner Bernard Hinault says that disc brakes in pro racing would prevent crashes and increase speeds

Bernard Hinault says that if he were a pro cyclist today he would opt to use disc brakes. Citing safety and increased speed on the descent, Hinault believes disc brakes would benefit pro riders who are reluctant to technological change.

Speaking to Cyclist in Tahiti as part of La Ronde Tahitienne sportive, he suggested disc brakes as one possible means of reducing the quantity and severity of crashes in the peloton today, claiming that modern equipment was partly to blame.

‘In the first place we need material to be adapted to our climate conditions,’ Hinault said.

‘Carbon rims are very good when dry, but terrible when wet.’

Hinault suggested that nervous riders often slipped in bad weather when braking, but discs could offer more control.

‘At the moment, professionals are against disc brakes, but that’s nonsense.’

Having been ambassador for ASO for over 20 years, Hinault has a unique insight into the changing nature of pro racing, and importantly has no strong commercial affiliations to bike brands which may influence his opinion.

‘It’s the most secure braking system, whether it rains or not. Whether you have carbon or aluminium rims, it doesn’t change anything.

'There are no more accidents, it has existed in mountain biking for almost 30 years, do any more riders get injured through it?’ he told us.

Where injuries have been reported, Hinault was dismissive of the verity of such claims.

‘It’s a chainring,’ he said. ‘Because it’s impossible for them to be injured where they are. For instance in Dubai, when [Owain Doull] says the chainring opened up their shoe. Except the shoe is all rusted, so it’s a barrier because he fell to the left, while Greipel was on the right hand side of the road. So they need to stop talking rubbish.

‘Riders need to start thinking. When one doesn’t want a certain product, one tries to think of all the solutions to avoid having to use it. You need to work at it, to improve the product,’ Hinault continued.

‘If I was a pro, I’d have disc brakes. It works.’

As for the practical advantage, Hinault claimed that there were serious time gains to be made on the descent.

‘Technically it has a lot of advantages. When you descend a col, with disc brakes you can brake 10 metres later than the others so you gain an enormous amount of time.

'And you start out again quicker than the others out of every corner.

‘If you have an advantage of 5 metres, and you do this 200 times a day, it adds up,’ he concluded.

Note: This interview was conducted in French and then translated 

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