The inspiration: Cars, motorcycles, mountain bikes and pretty much every high-tech wheeled vehicle on the planet use disc brakes because they’re simply much more effective than rim brakes. Added power, improved control and, in many cases, increased reliability make hydraulically driven discs the stoppers of choice, and road brakes are finally catching up. While they aren’t the best option for every bike on the road, they upgrade stopping performance without adding much weight.
In practice: SRAM and Shimano are putting their considerable experience with disc brakes into road technology. Both have long made industry-leading hydraulic disc systems for mountain bikes, and that knowledge helped these two leading component companies resolve the challenges of hydraulic road discs. The result is incredible stopping power and control. Wheels are starting to catch up as well. Smooth-riding, light and aero options such as the Zipp 303 Disc help get the most out of the braking systems. Since the technology is brand new, the options for frames, wheels and matching component groups are still limited (and very expensive), although expanding rapidly.