Disc brakes on road bikes. What’re your thoughts? When it comes to new technology, there will always be room for conjecture about what should be the standard. That is, of course, until everyone has the opportunity to try them out and make their own judgement.
Aesthetes argue that disc brakes clutter with the traditional mechanics of the bike, until someone like Peter Verdone arrives, bridging the gap between old and new. The dropouts he designed for Firefly Bicycles has streamlined the issues involved with the evolution of road bikes to disc brakes.
Boston’s Firefly Bicycles triumvirate is made up of Kevin Wolfson — Director of R&D, and fabricators Tyler Evans and Jamie Medeiros. Between a busy customer schedule, Jamie was able to finalise his personal Firefly and he incorporated the dropouts designed by engineer wunderkind, Peter Verdone.
When it comes to skateboards, scooters, motorcycles and firearms, Peter is a bit of a genius. He’s a tinkerer that can’t leave well enough alone, but a technician in the highest sense of the word. He’s always looking to make things better, and look for solutions when they are needed.
Road bikes are more svelte than mountain bikes, so attaching a disc brake to the frame needs to be considered in terms of maintaining a flowing line between one end and the other. Do they attach to the chain or seat stay? Both have inherent issues, but Peter resolved them.
Jamie tells us: “The bike was built by all of us here at Firefly. Kevin dialled in the geometry for me, and Tyler and I did the fabrication. The bicycle is sort of an all-road bike. Geometry-wise, it is close to a ‘cross bike but with a road-height bottom bracket.
“I have been riding the bike only for a few days but my first impressions of the drop outs are great. They do what they are supposed to do and there is no chatter when locking up the rear wheel. I rode the fire roads in the Blue Hills last Sunday.
“The trails were perhaps rockier than what I designed the bike for but it was nimble and responsive. The 140mm rotor in back seemed to have more than enough stopping power,” Jamie says.
“The frame is a bit of an experiment. It is made out of titanium tubing with thinner walls than I normally use. I was riding the ENVE tapered cross fork for most of the summer and found it made the bike it was on a little jarring in the front end.
“With the thinner down tube and top tube I found the bicycle is much smoother, yet still very precise in handling (using the same wheels and cockpit and front end geometry).
“The drop outs were great for building with. The angle of them is what is necessary for road and ‘cross length seat tubes. The mountain drop outs we use are a tighter angle and more appropriate for seat tubes less than 46cm.
“The new drop outs are also shorter along the chain stay making it easier to use them with shorter chain stays and not worry about heal clearance issues.”
Special thanks to Peter Verdone, and Jamie Medeiros for the words. See more on the Firefly Bicycles flickr stream, and you can contact them via the Firefly website. Head to Peter’s website for the full background on his design innovations.