Bikes with Disk Brakes: Allowed or Not?
Hi, all. I am the Sask Triathlon Association (STAC) Director
of Officials. Over the last few months there has been a lot of discussion and
concern about whether disk brakes on bikes would be allowed in triathlon
competitions. This article is meant to inform all participants that are
considering getting – or have already obtained – bikes with disk brakes
(instead of caliper brakes) on a bike, and what that may mean for taking part
in triathlons or duathlons that are within Saskatchewan and outside of the
If you want to cut to
the chase, here’s the bottom line: Bikes equipped with disk brakes will be
allowed to enter STAC-sanctioned events within Saskatchewan if the race is not a
draft-legal event and you are not trying to qualify for a national or international
position through the race. But they may not be allowed outside of Saskatchewan
in any race.
For those wanting more information about this statement,
here you go…
Here are two examples to reference; a bike with traditional
caliper brakes, a bike with disk brakes.
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) issues annual rule
updates that all ITU-sanctioned races are expected to follow – through
Triathlon Canada, through STAC, to all the STAC-sanctioned events. And this
applies to competitions in other provinces and internationally. The latest rule
update that was issued in November 2015 included a statement that disk brakes
are not allowed in multisport competitions sanctioned by ITU. The following
Because of the ITU – Triathlon Canada – STAC
organization hierarchy, this rule would be in effect for all the
Exceptions that ITU has subsequently made to
this rule are to allow disk brakes for paratriathlon PT1, cross triathlon, cross
duathlon and winter triathlon events – none of which are applicable to any STAC-sanctioned
races (at least for now).
ITU does not oversee and sanction Ironman races,
so the ITU disk brake rule does not apply to Ironman-type races.
The rule is safety-related. There has been at
least one recent incident at a high-level cycling event where a serious
laceration injury was attributed to contact with a disk brake, which has
further reinforced the justification for this rule.
Applying this rule (or not) at STAC (and other province’s)
sanctioned events will be problematic.
Many new retail bikes are now increasingly being
equipped with disk brakes.
Because of this, there will be an increasing
amount of bikes with disk brakes showing up to STAC events that will be used by
youth and age group participants.
It would be very detrimental to the sport of
triathlon/duathlon to turn these participants away because they have disk brake
equipped bikes that, likely not known to them, would be illegal to use in the
Arbitrarily allowing disk brake equipped bikes
into a sanctioned event could open the organizers, officials, and the
provincial body to the potential for litigation if the rule was ignored and a
serious injury occurred. And, depending on the risk tolerance of the people
involved, participants could experience inconsistent enforcement of the rule
where one event might allow it and another may not.
The following is the STAC solution to this conundrum.
The disk brake rule will definitely apply at any
draft-legal race. Draft legal races will present the highest risk for a disk
brake incident because of the consistent proximity of bikes to each other
within packs. In 2016, the only draft-legal race planned is the July 10 Echo
If a person enters a STAC-sanctioned event to
qualify for a national or international event entry, they will be disqualified
if they use a bike equipped with disk brakes. There are no events of this type
in Saskatchewan for 2016, but this could be applicable in 2017.
All remaining STAC races are draft-illegal. This
means bikes must maintain more than 8 meters separation on the cycle course from
the bike in front of them except to pass. Given that separation for these
events, the risk of injury caused by disk brakes is extremely low.
Subject to the approval by the triathlon Sport
Governing Body (STAC), the insurer has stated that the Board members, officials,
and event organizers will be insured if a disk brake-related injury incident
arises at a STAC-sanctioned event.
And finally, the STAC board has approved
overriding the ITU disk brake rule with the conditions above for
This means that, for the 2016 season, all Saskatchewan Kids
of Steel events, try-a-tri events, and almost all sprint and standard distance
events will allow bikes equipped with disk brakes. To ensure that everyone
knows what they could be getting into, those very few events that will disallow
bikes with disk brakes will strongly highlight that condition as part of the
race information and event registration option.
Please note that, at this time, there is no formal
consistency with other provinces for how they have decided to deal with the
disk brake rule issue for triathlons. It would be a good idea, if you are
planning to enter a triathlon event outside of Saskatchewan, to plan not to use
a disk brake equipped bike or find out ahead of time whether the sanctioning
provincial or national sport body would allow disk brakes. Otherwise, you will be
taking a chance that that your bike with disk brakes will not be allowed entry
into the event.
If you need further clarification on the above, please
contact me through the STAC general office email at
As a side note, we know that we have many STAC members that
are also involved in cycling events, and we want to give you a heads-up on
related issues for that sport. The UCI (the international cycling sport body) operate
in a similar manner as ITU for setting rules that carry down to local cycling
race events. UCI has also made disk (aka disc) brakes illegal in certain
conditions. So, if you are planning to enter a bike race that will be using UCI
rules, it would be prudent to check with the Provincial Sport Governing Body (Sask
Cycling in Saskatchewan) about whether it is legal to take part with a bike
having disk brakes. As a quick reference, this is the statement copied from the
Saskatchewan Cycling Association web site as of June 7, 2016.
Cycling- Disc brakes Not Permitted in Road Events
From Cycling Canada
– To All Provincial Associations and Commissaires,
Although the UCI
regulations never allowed disc brakes at lower levels, until a recent incident
at the UCI Paris-Roubaix Classic, the UCI had permitted the use of disc brakes
on a trial-basis for all divisions of UCI Professional Road Teams. As of April
14th, 2016 this trial has ended with
the decision to suspend the use of disc brakes until further research can
assure their safety for use in road competition.
Currently, UCI and
Cycling Canada regulations forbid disc brakes for all Road competitions.
We don’t recommend them in any instance riders will be in a group or bunch,
however for club activities and non-competitive events disc brakes are not
banned unless specifically stated by your provincial association.
As the 2016 race
season is set to begin, we wanted to be sure all Provinces/Territories and
officials have a clear understanding of the regulation concerning the use of
Disc Brakes in sanctioned Road Racing competition.
specifically approved by the UCI, Disc Brakes are NOT permitted for use in road
cycling events, as outlined in policy 1.3.025 in
our updated 2016 Cycling Canada Companion Guide:
Cycling Association will abide by this regulation banning disc brake use in
road competition as stated above.
Saskatchewan Triathlon Association Corporation