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Hydraulic road shift levers still rare

Published August 30, 2012
Colnago C59 disc fork

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — In February, SRAM somewhat reluctantly revealed that it was working on a a Red-level PowerTap brake/shift lever that would work with hydraulic disc or rim brakes, which promised to provide something of a Holy Grail for proponents of disc brakes on road bikes.

At the time the company also said it was working on a hydraulic rim brake, and said they would be ready in the fall of 2012.

Well, 'fall' in the cycling world generally starts with the Eurobike tradeshow, which is being held this week here. And SRAM's PowerTap hydraulic levers are a no show in the Messe Friedrichshafen.

SRAM road marketing manager Michael Zellmann said the company continues to "forge ahead" on developing the levers and brakes.

"There is no time table for their release. We will release them when they are ready," he said.

Shimano also is said to be working on a hydraulic STI lever, but the company has given no sign that it will be available anytime soon.

Major brands are itching to test the waters for road discs, but most are waiting for a hydraulic option from one of the big component companies. 

Meanwhile, some brands are going to market with cable-pull disc calipers.

And there are other options.

Colnago and Formula have developed shift levers and a hydraulic disc brake for the road. The companies had six test bikes at the outdoor Demo Day at Eurobike, and dozens of testers took the bikes for a jaunt. 

Shimano's new Di2 wiring has thrown TRP and Colnago/Formula a curve.

The Colnago/Formula levers will be available in two versions. One is compatible with Campagnolo's EPS electric shifters, and the other works with Shimano's 10-speed Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain.

Shimano shuts the door

However, when Shimano changed its wiring system for its Ultegra Di2 and 11-speed Dura-Ace Di2 groups, Colnago and Formula were given a challenge. The test bikes at Eurobike work only with the 10-speed Dura-Ace, with the older wiring system. Colnago's Alessandro Zenesini said the levers will be available by the end of the year.

Zenesini also noted that Colnago's C59 Disc frame and fork and matching Formula wheels are also compatible with cable-pull discs. 

Meanwhile, TRP continues to offer its Parabox converter, which connects cable-pull levers to hydraulic brakes. Volagi is spec'ing the Parabox on one of its models. Other Volagi models use Avid's venerable cable-pull disc caliper, the BB-7. Magura has a similar product.

But TRP ended development of the Di2-compatible hydraulic road lever that it displayed at the Taipei show this spring. The lever was similar in concept to the Colnago/Formula offering — and at Taipei it appeared to be closer to release. But TRP's Lance Larrabee said TRP has been unable to adapt the product to Shimano's new wiring and the lever was not being displayed at Eurobke.

Topics associated with this article: Eurobike

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