Q&A: Shimano Road Product Manager Dave Lawrence

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Shimano’s Dave Lawrence has been with the company for 25 years. Photo credit: Shimano/Eric Wynn

If you’re like a lot of cyclists, you’re wondering, do disc brakes on road bikes make sense for me? Only you can answer that question for sure, but it’s always interesting to hear what other people have to say.

With that in mind RoadBikeReview sat down for a one-on-one interview with Dave Lawrence, road and pavement product manager for Shimano America. Not surprisingly, Lawrence is a fan of disc brakes on road bikes, especially now that Shimano has its own system about to hit the market. But even Lawrence admits he wont be making the complete switch right away. Read on to find out why, plus where he thinks the new system can be improved.

RoadBikeReview: Now that Shimano’s R785 hydraulic road disc system is ready for prime time, how do you see it fitting into your cycling life?
Dave Lawrence: For starters it’s going on my cyclocross bike as soon as a I get a new disc compatible frame. I’m trying to work out a deal with an industry friend right now. So that will definitely be my first choice. I had that realization last year during our last local ’cross race. It was one of the few times when we had rainy conditions and it was just so obvious to me that there’s no way we should not be using disc for ’cross. I also already use mechanical disc on my commuter bike, so now it will just be a matter of switch it over to hydraulics.

RBR: So what about your road bike? You haven’t mentioned that yet.
DL: That will be the next one, but we still make great rim brakes and I like to train on what I race on so until [disc brakes] are fully legal it wont be on my race bike because I want to be comfortable when racing. Instead the plan is to build up a secondary bike that is more versatile. So the road racing bike stays as a pure road racing bike, and I’ll have another bike that has R785 that gets used for more adventure type rides, gravel roads, that kind of thing.

RBR: Obviously you’re in the fortunate position of being able to have multiple bikes. But what do you say to the person who only has one road bike and feels like this change is just change for change’s sake?
DL: The way we look at it is that people are looking for more versatility in a road bike and this will help facilitate that. A lot of people are looking to do other things on their road bike, beyond just riding pavement. So if you are one of those people than this is a really beneficial change. For instance by making the switch from traditional brakes to disc, your max tire clearance is going from 25c up to 32c or even more. Being able to run those wider tires can open up a lot of new terrain.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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