TRP brakes deliver excellent braking performance in all weather conditions

Road Bikes: Rim Brakes Vs. Disc Brakes

rim-v-disc

The last decade or so has seen some massive changes for road bikes. The mainstream shift from aluminum to carbon fiber in the 2000’s marked the beginning of a new era in bike design, while the introduction of electronic drivetrains in the last 5 years or so has seen a fundamental rethinking of how bikes shift. But what about how bikes stop?

It started slowly. Very slowly, in fact. But in the last year or two, disc brakes on road bikes have really caught on, and are set to create yet another revolution. As always, there are fits and starts, and not everybody is on board (we’re looking at you, UCI), but like most changes, this one is gaining momentum.

Over the last year we’ve had a chance to test ride quite a few disc brake road bikes. Here’s how we thought they fared versus standard rim brakes.

STOPPING POWER

Disc brakes. There is no question about this. Disc brakes deliver incredible stopping power in pretty much all weather conditions. What’s more, that power is easily modulated, which means it’s easier to control how much brake you need at any given time. Often times no more than one-finger  is needed to stop the bike in a reasonable distance.

Rim brakes, especially with carbon wheels, can sometimes take a little bit to really bite into the rim and slow the bike. This is doubly true if your pads are worn or dirty.

The upward slant of the chainstay helps to minimize hits from bad roads, and helps perfectly position the disc caliper
Disc brakes provide superior stopping power and modulation over rim brakes

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COMPATIBILITY

Rim brakes—for now. Disc brakes are still going through growing pains, and in an industry where the term “standard” is pretty much meaningless, that can mean some headaches for consumers. Some disc brake bikes come with standard quick release wheels, some use thru axle. There are all different kinds of rotor sizes out there, and aftermarket wheel options are still fairly limited.

But these are actually fairly minor problems.

This year will pretty much guarantee a bumper crop of disc brake wheel options, and most of those will be interchangeable between QR and thru axle, making them more versatile for consumers.

ridley_helium_06
For the moment, rim brakes have fewer compatibility issues than disc brakes

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WET WEATHER

Disc brakes. This is a no brainer. No matter what is falling from the sky or laying on the roads, disc brakes don’t care. Snow, ice, and rain don’t have much of an effect on disc brakes—regardless of rim material.

Wet weather conditions can severely limit the effectiveness of rim brakes, especially carbon wheels.

DSC_0686
If you’re riding in wet weather, there’s only one way to go when it comes to brakes

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EASE OF INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE

Rim brakes. Frankly, these are pretty easy. Make sure they’re facing the right way, bolt them on, make sure they’re roughly centered and go. Every other year or so you change the pads.

Disc brakes…not so much. Mechanical disc brakes can be notoriously frustrating to install and get centered so they aren’t rubbing the disc rotor. Hydraulic disc brakes are easier to install, but maintenance can be an involved and time consuming, since you have to bleed the lines, replace hydraulic fluid, etc…

fenix_03
For all their benefits, disc brakes aren’t always as easy to maintain as rim brakes

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WEIGHT AND AERODYNAMICS

Rim brakes. Because of the simple design, rim brakes are currently much, much lighter than any available disc brake system.

And, because of where the brake is placed, disc brakes are also much less aerodynamic than rim brakes.

Bear in mind though that this is  likely to change in the next couple of years. As disc brakes become more widely adopted and pressure builds to use them in racing, the industry is likely to begin refining the designs to be lighter, and better incorporated into frames for improved aerodynamics.

fuji_altamira_sl_007
What they lack in stopping power, rim brakes make up for in weight savings and aerodynamics

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THE VERDICT

More than any other decision, this is going to be a very personal choice. Disc brakes offer unquestionably better and more consistent stopping power than rim brakes, but at a cost of weight and aerodynamics, and they are still not yet race-legal.

It’s all a matter of what’s most important to you—and we don’t mean stopping power (that’s important to everyone).

What we mean is that if you love racing, fast road riding, and having plenty of wheel options, then it might be best to stick with rim brakes for the time being.

If you’re just looking for a road bike to ride for the love of riding, like to explore gravel roads, bomb big descents, ride in an area that experiences frequent bad weather, or even for racers looking for a second road bike for training and base miles, then disc brakes are probably the better option.

Without question though, disc brakes are the way forward—so love them or hate them, odds are in the next 5 years, most road bikes will be equipped with them.

So tell us your thoughts. What do you think about using disc brakes on road bikes?

144 thoughts on “Road Bikes: Rim Brakes Vs. Disc Brakes

  1. Why change something unless it’s broken? Because there is more MONEY for the manufacturers and aftermarket, that’s why.

    1. You nailed it Eric. I don’t need the added expense, so I will never buy disc brakes. I never had a problem stopping with rim brakes.

      1. Its not a matter of problems, its more about functional efficiency. I guess we also never had problems with coaster brakes, steel frames and wheels, 6-8 speeds, non compact chainsets, single bottom cage mounts, non ergonomic saddles, caged pedals etc. The lists goes on. The brake revolution is just simple bicycle techonology advancement. Yes, theres commercial value and corporate interest attached to it, so does most things we buy and use.

      1. I’ve read the comments after I left my first one and some of them are just hype. I’ve been on road bikes with rim brakes since I was 14, I’m now 61, I even raced for 10 years and reached Cat 3 level and raced and trained all over the mountains of Southern California and NEVER did I have an issue where I was even remotely concerned my rim brakes were going to send me over a cliff even exceeding 55 MPH, and guess what? neither did pros that raced in even more serious and faster descents all over the world.

        I find this debate and the comments about safety to be ridiculous and overblown on road bikes

      2. Hi Fred,
        Thanks for commenting. The advantage of rim brakes isn’t so much about safety as performance. Rim brakes work just fine, and most of our employees are still using them with little concern.
        The real advantage of disc brakes is that, when compared to most rim brakes, they offer better modulation and control, and appear to provide a shorter stopping distance in wet weather, as well as better tire clearance in frames.
        Rim brakes aren’t going away any time soon, so adding disc brakes to road bikes simply expands the number of equipment options that cyclists have.

      3. I appreciate your response, but this better modulation, more control, including more stopping power they bragged like crazy about when dual pivots came out, but after I owned dual pivot brakes I learned they weren’t any better than high quality single pivot brakes in any of those factors, so don’t take this the wrong way, but having gone through cycling hypes before and having rode my friend’s bike with the disk brakes, I don’t believe any of it because I didn’t experience anything different!!

        Sorry I’m such a hard case!! LOL!!!!

      4. Hi Fred,

        I tend to agree there is an overkill by the marketing/ PR these days for new products, and I think generally because it’s an extremely competitive market for the bicycle industry. As obviously all new tech that comes out has its pros and cons and there’s varying degree of adjustment and adaptability. Just like dual pivots cantis when they first came out and now it is widely adopted because of lab and real life tests to show they do provide better stopping power, control, modulation, less vibration etc. Simply put its just technological advancement.

        The way forward with discs is similar to single vs dual pivots where you find cheaper bikes equipped with single and more higher end ones equipped with dual. In a few years time discs will be slotted to the top of the brake system hierarchy where it will be the preferred braking system, with single pivots cantis becoming obsolete and cheaper bikes being equipped with duals. The next phase of bike revolution I think will be the drivetrain with auto shifting, belt driven gears like CVTs in cars. Who knows!?

      5. They’re already working on CVT transmission hubs for bikes, it’s on the market but so far hasn’t caught on big time, probably weight issues since the hub weighs about 5 pounds! Maybe what we need for bicycles is auto braking when danger is sensed like what’s happening with cars…

      6. False logic and false analogies. Most of the things you babbled about in the past had clear problems, while offering no clear advantages over their replacements. That is completely untrue regarding rim brakes, which offer multiple very important and obvious advantages over disc brakes, particularly hydraulic disc brakes. They are relatively much lighter, much more aerodynamic, far easier set up, and far easier maintenance. Every single one of those points listed is a LARGE rim brake advantage over a typical disc brake set up.

        The reality is that for 99% of us and our riding rim brakes (even the canti type) stop a bike just fine. In fact they stop a bike very well. Tons of people do heavy loaded touring with cants and have no issues stopping their bikes coming down nasty mountain passages. I have relatives, who live in the Alps and ride up and down those mountains all year round in weather and conditions that are much nastier and challenging than your typical american rider ever experiences, and they use rim brakes, and guess what, they have no issues stopping. They all ride, and they all come home alive with their antiquated rim brake set ups.

        This is yet another fad and a pure marketing gimmick aimed at the road bike market. If these things were such a huge advantage for road riding you’re delusional to believe that the road market would have simply ignored this stuff for 2 decades, while they have been available in the MTB market. They ignored it because discs offer most roadies no real advantage on several fronts. In fact, on most fronts they offer clear relative disadvantages compared to rim brakes.

    2. You’re right and rim brakes are a broken idea so that’s why they need to be replaced. Rim brakes don’t work consistently in different weather conditions and on all types of rims. This causes issues when riding in groups. It can be very difficult to stop down a big hill in the rain. They can over heat the rim and pop the tube on big mountainous downhills. These problems are made worse for Clydesdale riders like myself at 250lbs. I find it very scary cycling with my road bike down Flagstaff in Boulder Colorado because of the rim brakes. I have had red hot rims pop my tube too. I used to have similar problems with my mountain bike until I switched to hydraulic disc brakes.

      1. Sheldon Brown:
        Tire blow-off occurs most commonly on tandems where substantial energy of descending mountain roads is converted to heat in rims by braking. In contrast, a single bicycle is usually able to dissipate enough of its descending energy by wind drag to not suffer from this. Rim heating with rim brakes on continuous steep descents can increase inflation pressure substantially. For this reason some mountain passes in the Alps prohibit descending by bicycle, while uphill riding is permitted. For instance, Zirlerberg between Zirl and Seebach (Innsbruck), a major road between Germany and Austria, is one of these. The road has several runaway tracks for motor vehicles with brake failure.
        source: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/blowouts.html
        Can happen to Clydesdale riders like me too.

      2. Right, and you ride down the Alps every day. By the way, disk brakes under those same Alp scenario would get glowing red hot and fry the grease in the hub which would burn the bearings in addition to suffering from severe brake fade. The problem with you is you don’t know how to brake coming down steep descents, the only way you could have blown a tire using rim brakes is if you rode, or feathered the brakes all the way down, if you have used the stab method of braking (you hit the brakes hard for 5 seconds and let go for 5 seconds and repeat) you would have never had that experience. Rim brakes actually suffer from less brake fade than disk brakes because the surface of a rim is far larger than the surface of a rotor and thus has a larger capacity to get rid of the heat faster. Professional racers have been using rim brakes for years and riding as fast as they could go down very steep descents and never suffered blowouts. I knew guys who rode road tandems with a combined weights of over 375 pounds riding the mountains of Colorado above Denver and never blew tires.

      3. If you’re using carbon wheels you’ll have braking problems, but I have never have any problems with my aluminum wheels(no even in wet conditions).
        second, how often we riders ride on wet condition, most rider prefer to stay dry instead of going for a ride in such a terrible condition.
        third, once you switch to disk brakes you’ll put a lot of stress on the spokes because of the over heating of the disk and also on the side of the fork and frame. That’s my personal opinion.

      4. I’ve never had any issues stopping in the rain either, and neither did anyone else back in the day when that’s all there were was rim brakes, and that includes people who toured carrying an additional 75 or so pounds of gear going down mountain roads and tandem riders all doing it in the rain! When I hear people moaning about rim brakes inability to stop in the rain I look at them and notice they’re under 30 years old riding disk brake equipped bike, at that point it’s the end of discussion because they never lived it and will never understand.

      5. I suffer with ‘tennis elbow’ and in a lot of pain going down a hill on my road bike . Is the pressure less with disc brakes ? I’m cycling London to Paris soon and worried about down hills and my arms . I have a ladies cannodale synapse with rim brakes

      6. Hi Denise,

        Sorry to hear about your elbow injury. I would definitely recommend using disc brakes (especially hydraulics and not cable pulled mechanical ones) as you don’t need to squeeze as hard on the levers for the same braking performance, which shoukd save your forearms for the long distance ride. But as you probably know you would still need steady elbows and arms to balance and ride and not sure if this may cause you pain. Maybe you could try adjusting your riding position to sit more upright to take the weight off your arms or choose a urban or touring bike with less aggressive bike geometries.

        Also of course to give yourself some time to practice on disc brakes before the trip and depending on which side is your injured elbow, you could swap the brake levers around so your good arm can operate the front brake as this is the most efficient brake to slow you down, but as you probably know already always shift your weight towards the rear of the bike when braking hard to avoid going over the handlebars!

      7. It only takes about 4 pounds of hand pressure to activate dual pivot or high quality single pivot brakes to stop a bike, that’s very little pressure. But if you want the easiest to activate brake system for a bike then look to hydraulic disk brakes and not cable activated, though with hydraulic there will be a weight penalty over the cable ones.

        What you really need to do is test ride a high quality dual pivot rim brake like Dura Ace along with a high quality hydraulic and cable disk brake and see which one you like.

      8. I’ll call BS on that claim. Maybe in theory it occurs, but not in most real life riding. I have relatives, who happen to live in the Alps and they bike all year round up and down mountain passes and in conditions that most americans never or rarely ride in. They use rim brakes and none of them have issues stopping their bikes or blowing out tubes from overheating. I have never in all my years of recreational riding or racing (raced Cat 2 in New York for a decade) seen any riders consistently blowing tubes on fast deep descents. If this phenomenon was real you would see such blow outs occurring on such descents all the time because it would be a simple matter of physics, but guess what, you don’t! And there’s a reason why you don’t, because it doesn’t happen consistently. Yeah, on a rare occasion under extremely hot conditions on a severe descent I have seen guys roll a tubular off their rim, but even there, most roadies are not riding tubulars on any consistent basis. This is a solution looking for a problem to solve in regards to road bikes.

        And I also don’t buy into the better modulation BS claims made of discs. I have MTB’s with discs and I have never experienced this far superior modulation that the internet pundits love to claim, never! The only way you would have much better modulation is if you are riding an absolutely crappy out of true rim on a rim brake set up. Ride a quality rim and your modulation is just fine. The physics of this stuff is pretty simple. Rim brake, much longer mechanical lever (more leverage), disc brake much shorter lever (less leverage). That’s basic mechanics so anyone that claims that the shorter lever braking format stops faster with less effort is talking out their arse. Mechanics and physics do not magically change for bike components and braking, sorry they don’t! I’ll take the longer lever mechanism every day for more stopping power with less effort, and the physics and mechanics of it says it will be that way. Sure, you might find some goofballs riding carbon rims on recreational rides having issues with braking consistency on their rim brakes, but that is a substantial minority of most roadies, who for the most part are on aluminum clinchers that brake just fine with rim brakes.

  2. I agree with Eric and here’s why. There are some advantages but mostly wet weather which I’ve never had a problem in 40 years of riding rim brakes. The other pro is they don’t wear out the rim, but the problem with that is I get about 50,000 to 60,000 miles on a set of rims using rim brakes. They also don’t tell you that the pads last anywhere from 500 to 1250 miles on a set (depending on conditions, yes rain, snow, dirt etc affects the life of a disk pad), this pales in comparison with rim pads that easily get 8 times that (1250) amount and a lot more with better pads; and a set of disk pads cost around $20 while a set of top of line rim pads cost $15; in addition to that expense you have the rotor replacement expense about every 20,000 miles and these cost an average of $40. Just in disk pads alone you could have around $1,600 in cost over the life of two rotors, whereas with rim pads you would only have $20 and at the most $40. Also on long descents due to surface area disk brake rotors heat up a lot more than rims do, they get so hot they have been known to damage hub bearings which is why tandem bike manufactures have not embraced disks. Some argue disk brakes stop better in normal weather, this isn’t possible because the stopping power is all about rider weight, and tire adhesion to the road, if all things are equal a disk brake bike will stop in the same distance as a rim brake bike. And this is what Eric was saying, there is more money for the manufactures and retailers.

      1. Interesting read. I think this article is redundant now and creates unnecessary debate. It’s like evaluating the pros and cons drum brakes vs disc brakes on cars.

        IMHO, disc brakes will catch on for all forms of bicycles sooner or later. It’s just the evolution of the braking systems on bike technology. No doubt we’ll still see rim brakes on roadbikes but they will be packaged to cheaper and more affordable ones say sub £1,000 bikes.

        That’s why if you are deciding on a new race geometry RB now you should go with discs eventhou there aren’t too many options to choose as there are only wider options on endurance/ sportive geometries. CX bikes have definitely embraced the technology for obvious reasons we don’t even need to spend time discussing anymore.

  3. I’ve have had both disc and rim brakes. I’m partial to the stopping power of disc brakes. While riding in winter in rain and snow I don’t have to worry much about stopping. Adjusting them can be a pain in the butt. Rim brakes are much easier to maintain. Right now I have a Fuji Sportif 1.3. Although this year I will be looking for a road bike that has disc brakes. I guess I want the best of both worlds.

  4. Wow I’ll have to come out in support of Disc brakes. They are super easy to change. No having to toe them in just right. No adjusting them so that the full pad is on the rim. Disc brakes just pop out and pop in no adjustment at least true on the BB7 mechanical. As the pad wears you just turn them in. Not to mention your wheels will last almost forever no wear on the rim. I would only get 18,000 miles on my rims due to the fact that I commute in a urban/city setting and I am always stopping for lights or stop signs which is hard on the rims with rim brakes. I am getting about 3,000 miles out of a set of pads. I never paid that much attention to how long rim brakes lasted so I don’t have a comparison. I would have to give a thumbs up on disc brakes I find them so much easier than rim brakes not sure why the articles dings them for installation. Like I said when the pad is worn pop them out and just pop the new set in. It takes all of 1 minute to swap them out. Rim brakes at least for me was always such a pain to change and adjust.

  5. I ride about 3000 mi per year in Indiana on a Madone 4.5 and never had an issue with stopping power in any kind of weather, and they’re virtually maintenance free. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to add expense and complexity to something that works so well.

  6. I grew up on rim brakes … and have had bikes with all sorts of rim brake designs – side pull, center pull, cantilever, you name it. The last bike I bought (a Specialized Sirrus Carbon Comp) came with hydraulic disc brakes. The stopping power, the “wet” performance, the smoothness – not to mention the “forgiveness” that a disc brake equipped bike can have for mildly “out of true” wheels make choosing disc brakes a no brainer for my riding. I’ll never own a bike with rim brakes again.

  7. Disc brakes are not race legal? What exactly does that mean? I’m new to the triathlon world, but I raced in my road bike with disc brakes last year with no problem.

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for commenting.
      What this means is that disc brake road bikes are not (yet) legal to ride in USA Cycling or UCI sanctioned road races. They are legal for cyclocross and MTB racing. A quick check of the USA Triathlon rules shows that the bike rules are pretty vague and open to interpretation by the event organizer, so some might definitely say that it meets the “two working brakes” guideline and call it a day, while others might say they violates the “non-traditional or unusual equipment” guideline and say no.
      Before using a disc brake road bike at a triathlon, we’d definitely recommend checking with the event organizer first.

  8. I am not a racer, don’t pretend to be, too old to start, so the love of cycling is not lost on me, but I do love having control on my 20 mile daily Portland Oregon 40 mile commute, and disc is the only way I will go. Love them! I used to go through a set rim brake pads every other month, and a new set of wheels every year. Now, a set of disc pads and rotors once a year, at worst. Do the math.

    1. Rim brake pads every month? I use to train and race in the mountains of California and would average 13,000 miles a year and would go through a set about once a year, what the heck were you doing to your brakes that they would only last a month? Maybe some really bad pads sold at Walmart might have lasted me a month but not the good Mathauser Salmon colored pads (which are now the Cool Stop Salmon pads).

      1. I agree, Fred. I have a 2003 Trek 2200 with thousands of miles on it — AND the original set of brake pads. I just ordered a new set of pads for the front brakes — not because they’re WORN out, but because they DRIED out (and started to crack). The rear pads are still fine, for some inexplicable reason. Anyone who is replacing brake pads every other month is likely ‘on’ the brakes way too much. A good road biker brakes with his eyes before engaging the pads (regardless whether they are rim pads or disc pads).

      2. Exactly, and when I use to put on 13,000 miles or so a year on a bike I took my old pads off and rubbed sandpaper across them then used the SAME pads AGAIN on a beater bike I use to ride on the wet sand along the ocean and commute on, and they would last another 2 to 3 years, of course that bike only saw maybe 2,000 miles a year at best.

      3. “…what the heck were you doing to your brakes…?”

        Riding in wet weather, up and down hills, in traffic. I have the same experience with my Velocity Dyad rims using kool-stop salmon pads. My Portland-area commute isn’t quite 20 miles one-way, but between the hills, rainy, wet roads, and stop-and-go conditions of urban/suburban streets and traffic, pads and rims can wear out quite quickly. Of course, I will admit not spending the extra 20-30 minutes every day to wipe down my bike, clean my rims and sand my brake pads, etc. There have been dozens of times my bike has been “rode hard and put away wet”.

        …And to Vincent (below), yes, a good road biker does does brake with his/her eyes first, but in heavy auto traffic, the distances at which one can predict what some idiot driver might do are much shorter, and the probability of engaging the pads, even with spiderman-like predictive abilities is still extremely high.

    2. BS! There isn’t a disc pad on this planet that will outlast a decent set of rim pads as you claim. In fact, it is just the opposite. Even the best disc pads will wear out about 6 to 7 times faster than a comparable quality set of rim pads.

  9. The most significant advantage to this would be the rims themselves. By ridding the rim of a brake track, better and more efficient aerodynamic design in rims can be achieved. Right now wheel designers have to design rims around having a flat smooth brake track of a certain width. This limits the number of potential shapes that a rim can take.

    1. Yeah, and that gets more than offset by the incredibly non aero disc brake that you now have hanging off both your front and rear wheel versus a classic caliper set up.

  10. The only interesting and burning question will be whether the pro peleton will adopt disc brakes or not. For us mere mortals, it will be of no significant importance whether we will keep using rim brakes or change to discs at our own convenience and preference. Some of us will follow the pros, some will do what the heck they like to.

  11. I live on a hill and ride in wet weather a lot in Oregon. My Fuji Absolute 1.1.1d has Hayes hydraulic disc brakes and are trouble free and fantastic for controlled slowing and stopping.

  12. I returned to riding last season after a decades long hiatus. In my prime, I won a national road championship as a Junior – and have lots of experience with rim brakes. My current bike is Specialized Sirrus Carbon Comp (carbon frame, “flat bar” road bike with hydraulic disc brakes). I’ve never experienced braking control like that which I get from the hydraulic disc brakes. The article is right on the money – fantastic stopping power, in any weather conditions – all with effortless control. They can be a little finicky to align – but for me, the pros far outweigh the cons. I’ll never have another bike without ’em!

  13. Thank God for disk brakes, we no longer have to hear about the masses of pro riders flying off of fast descents and into the canyons below because the inferior rim brakes couldn’t be controlled for slowing or stopping. The mass graves I witness due to those horrid rim brakes is just…it can’t be described, oh God the humanity of it all. I was the last surviving member of my 12 member race team, I was lucky, the rest all died due to those death brakes.

  14. Even on my trail bike I prefer rim breaks. I’m usually only doing 10-20 mph if that so it doesn’t take much to stop. The only time I would want disc is for down hill where gravity is assisting your constant acceleration. On a road bike the last thing I want to do is slow down. If there is a down hill and I’m doing 40+ mph… I’ll better find another option than breaking, or trying to break and flying in the air.

  15. I see is the upgrade options available as an issue . Unable to upgrade one design to another and your stuck with what you get in a disc options, rim configurations , and pads . At least with rim style braking one one style will work with another on center mount pivot , while your are stuck with frame mounts pivots you can change the lever arm to anything you desire … I have experience in machine shop and milling out one isn’t that hard to do but the fees are a little steep unless you one a mill / lathe / CNC and are not some now made with carbon fiber …

  16. So many die hard traditionalists trying to cling onto their precious rides with soon to be out dated technology. Yes, disc brakes system has commercial value attached to but its simply also just simple advancement in bicycle technology, similar to electronic shifting, internal cable routing, compact chainsets, carbon fibre etc etc.

    Of course the old bikes or the ‘bikes i used to ride 20 years ago’ works and all the technology attached to it works, coaster brakes works, 20 kg bikes works, no quick release axles works, no tubeless tyres and non uni directional tyres, ‘stack hat’ helmets works. The lists goes on.

    This inevitable evolution on brakes is just nothing more than technological advancement in bicycle technology, and we must change with the times, whether you like it or not. Compare this to the motor industry, yeah, roll up windows works, unassisted steering works, drum brakes works, no air cond works, torsion beam suspension system works, no air bags works, no parking sensors works, no tyre pressure monitoring works.

    Finally, for those that are so adamant that they will never buy a road bike with disc brakes, unfortunately, comes technology and obsoletion, whether you like it or not, you won’t be able to buy a roadbike with calipers in a few years time, just like how v brakes faded out on MTBs.

    1. Sorry but more weight, worse aerodynamics, harder set up, more maintenance (particularly hydraulics), significantly faster wearing disc pads, a much shorter lever, and a much smaller effective disc that heats up much faster isn’t a technology advancement relative to rim calipers despite your BS claims to the contrary. :-)

  17. Rim brakes have worked great for me for years. I never thought twice about disc brakes until I started riding a CX bike with Hydraulic Disc Brakes on tarmac and dirt. Well — in my experience on some pretty tough grinders and and some pretty steep tarmac runs I don’t ever think I would go back to rim brakes. The disc brakes are confidence inspiring. Turns are quicker and over a long ride with lots of braking, the effortless braking of a hydraulic disc is far superior to rim brakes. For those of you trashing disc brakes or saying you don’t need them… well – my only comment to you is .. you don’t .. if you don’t mind stopping slower and being more fatigued ,slower in the corners etc. etc. etc…

    1. BS! Many current top riders including the current world cross champion ride cants due to the weight savings and better aerodynamics to name a few advantages. All the less effort braking claims are complete BS as well. Smaller disc and substantially smaller effective brake lever of disc versus rim brakes does not equal less effort, it equals more effort. It’s basic physics and mechanics and those things do not magically change for a bike component. Longer effective lever on a rim brake caliper = less effort and more effective stopping power versus a shorter effective disc brake lever every single time. Again, this is basic physics and mechanics and the laws of those do not change for bike brakes. Sorry, they don’t! You bought into the marketing hype and convinced yourself with placebo effect that your disc brakes require less effort for the same stopping power. You’re a marketers dream.

  18. In MTBING, Try finding a decent bike without a tapered headtube. Better just realize you will be switching to discs now. Or, buy up a bunch of good rims and rim brake pads now and stock pile them.

  19. Always remember…Technology never regresses, it always advances. Look around in your house for example. The TV, phone, washer/dryer, kitchen appliances, everything moves forward and bicycles are no different. It’s pointless to whine about how your rim brakes have worked perfectly over the years and that you don’t need disc brakes. You didn’t need a 52 inch flat screen TV, an iPhone or a car with bluetooth technology, but you bought them anyway. Why? Because it was available. You also didn’t need a carbon frame or brake lever shifters. The bottom line is disc brakes are here to stay. Ten years from now rim brakes will be sitting in our closets beside our old leather helmets, down tube shifters, and rat trap pedals.

    1. Actually there has been regression. Look around your house, the appliances today last an average of 12 years, in 1973 they lasted an average of 24 years. A phone you never had to replace thorough out the 50s, 60,s and 70’s , the only reason phones got replaced was because technology evolved to the point where you get a combo phone and answering machine so people ditched the working old phone to get a modern one that lasts only 8 years on average. So while we may be getting wiz bang technological features the life expectancy of these products have been reduced by at least half of what they were 40 years ago, AND some of the newer stuff, especially appliances cost more than inflation should have allowed for, granted some electronics like phones and TV’s are actually less expensive than inflation allows for, but regardless you have to buy products made today more frequently. Even modern TV’s, while the picture quality is superior to the older picture tube TV’s, the life expectancy is only 8 years on average whereas TV’s made in the 70’s would last an average of 20 years, but like I mentioned earlier you can get a 47″ TV for under $500, back in the 70’s a 27″ TV would have costed almost that much.

      One could make the argument that a modern appliance is more efficient so you save energy using it, problem with that is would a person over 12 years save $1,200 in energy in the cost of a washing machine for example, enough to make it worth while to spend another $1,200 plus inflation for another machine? I doubt it. Plus what about all the energy and natural resources used to build machines to sell twice as often?

      The same is true with components used on bikes today, I have a bike with Suntour Superbe stuff and it has over 160,000 miles on it, I seriously doubt any components made today would get anywhere near that, and they’re more difficult to work on, and you can’t get replacement small parts like you use to be able to get.

      Technology should not only evolve to improve functionality but also improve life expectancy, we’re going forward in one direction and backwards in another.

      This is just my opinions of course, but young people today never were around in the 60’s, 70’s, and even the 80’s to know how long stuff lasted, they look back 10 to 15 years and go gee things are better now, us older farts know better.

    2. False logic and false analogy. Disc brakes offer many disadvantages versus rim brakes: more weight, less aero, harder set up, significantly faster wearing pads, more maintenance required (particularly with hydraulic discs), smaller disc that heats up faster, shorter effective lever which results in more effort required for same brake force as longer effective lever rim brakes. Very little actual advantages unless you are talking about braking on carbon rims. In fact, most relevant comparison points are clear disadvantages when compared with rim brakes on a road bike.

  20. For road-biking applications, anyone who advocates disc brakes over rim brakes has never taken physics, and does not understand how torque works and/or what a ‘lever advantage’ is. Disc brakes are excellent for cars — but bikes are not cars. The author can SAY that disc brakes have more stopping power than rim brakes — but saying it (and even repeating it) doesn’t make it so. And saying that it’s “doubly true if your pads are worn or dirty” is like saying that carbon bikes weigh more than aluminum bikes “especially if you put an extra 20 pounds of weight on them.”

    Disc brakes are marketing hype, at least for road bikes. (I’m not a MTB biker, so cannot comment on the comparison between rim brakes and disc brakes in the unique MTB environment — but the physics argument still favors rim brakes, all other things being equal.)

    I’ve no doubt that Performance would love to sell more disc-brake systems — hence, this blog post.

    1. I agree Vincent, Not only is disk brakes marketing hype but so is electronic shifting. I watched on You Tube lots of various kinds of mechanical and electronic shifters in action and quite frankly I don’t find electronic having any positives over mechanical, but I did find a lot of negatives. Bose was the marketing genius of their time, and sold $20 speakers for $1000 and people bought them regardless of the fact that most Bose speakers sound like crap compared to most other brands. And so once again marketing geniuses have told us that our new emperor clothes look fantastic and we all jump on the bandwagon without seeing the naked truth.

      1. Yes, and “touche” on the Bose analogy. I could never understand why people spent so much for Bose anything. I suspect that the same crowd that bought Bose also buys overpriced coffee and disc-based braking systems.

      1. Yes, but on a friend’s bike — i.e., (full disclosure) not for an extended period of time, in varying conditions, on one of my own bikes. FWIW, I found the stopping power to be pretty much identical between disc and rim brakes, but I have just the one data point for disc brakes. However, that is not the source of my position on disc brakes. As I note, physics is not on the side of disc brakes; you generally want the braking force to be applied at the greatest (practical) radial distance from the hub, where it provides the most effective translation into torque. For bike wheels, in particular, you would not want the torque to be applied at the hub, given that the contact with the ground (which is where the drag or “slowing” actually occurs) is at the perimeter of the tire — thus causing the spokes to have to translate the force from the disc out to the tire. And finally, the disc brakes are necessarily offset from the centerline of the hub — which causes a lateral or shearing force that is roughly proportional to the amount of braking that is being applied (and is also proportional to the amount of the offset from the centerline of the hub), which can result in a lateral “pull” under very hard braking conditions.

        All of this in a system that is more expensive, more complex, and heavier. For road bikes, I see no advantages — UNLESS you ride in inclement weather conditions. (I have never used disc brakes in inclement weather, but I understand that they provide more reliable braking in wet conditions — and I can see how that would be the case. So, for those who need to bike in any weather, disc brakes may make sense. For the rest of us, not so much.)

  21. Disc brakes on a road bike are laughable unless you are planning on running your bike in constant snow or mud. That is their only meaningful advantage. Other than that, they are heavier, the pads rub far more easily due to misalignment, pads wear much faster, its a heavier system, and they do not have more stopping power. Basic physics tells you the leverage and stopping power advantage go to the system with the largest disc and rim brakes EASILY have the largest dis and leverage. The so called claims of superior modulation of disc brakes also comes from those with ZERO clue as to what they are babbling about. That modulation advantage comes from the hydraulic action of the brake, NOT the disc caliper. SRAM right now makes a hydraulic system for rim calipers and no one would be able to tell a modulation difference between that system and a comparable hydraulic disc brake system, NO ONE! This is yet another example of a fad, disc brakes have a logical use for MTB due to the rims on those bikes often getting beaten to crap, and the mud that one encounters. They make almost no sense on a road bike and are certainly not better than a good rim brake set up unless you are constantly riding your bike through deep snow and or mud. Another fad chased by clueless sheep. :-)

    1. Gotta give you credit for sounding the most arrogant, ignorant and obnoxious on your comments. Hydraulic capability on rim brakes, now that’s a fad and marketing hype.

      1. Just calling your BS what it is Skippy, and the BS you have laid down in here regarding discs is truly a mountain load. LOL :-)

  22. Lots of discussion here.

    I’m not a traditionalist but there is one thing that worries me. Safety. I have a close family member who races at Pro-Conti level in Europe and there is a genuine concern about mass crashes involving disc brakes. Of course there are other sharp things on bikes – the chain rings for example – but sharp, spinning and a leading edge – that is just not great. There will be more injuries because of these brakes; that is not my opinion but one of a pro (admittedly one who has not ridden discs yet – although he’s raced with others using them in The Tour of Britain).

    Another concern, albeit a more minor one, is that there has been evidence of discs warping under the heat of a long descent. Whether the risk is higher than a tubular sliding off or not I don’t know.

    From the coalface: “you will hear some pros stand up for discs but they don’t represent the majority and, in all likelihood, they have been paid to offer an opinion. Discs are not wanted in the pro peleton – for safety reasons – and that is a fact.”

    For us regular punters I’m sure they’re sensible for many reasons but we probably won’t buy them if the pros aren’t using them. The pros are the guinea pigs and – due to my emotional connection – I’m anti disc brakes being introduced.

    Just my 2 pennies worth.

    J

    1. Well, we aren’t racers and I think disc is certainly safer for real world cyclists like you and I. Just the other night I was riding home and it rained quite heavily. I was extremely glad that I had reliable and consistent disc brakes as it had there was no brake fade and no need to periodically pre clean the brake track. Most of all, the stopping power does not make the wheels lock up more easily in the wet. The ultimate advantages are consistency, modulation and feedback especially in inclement weather. Will never go back to rim brakes even my discs are mechanical on my RB.

      As for me, when I crash I am usually more afraid of a broken collarbone, hip and possibly head and neck injuries than I would be of flash wounds from flying chain rings, pedals or disc rotors for that matter.

  23. What’s funny is that after 50 plus years of rim brakes suddenly their dangerous to real world road cyclists, of course no thinks this all hype brought on by the disk brake people and others carry on the brow beating. I’ve ridden in so many rain storms, wet roads etc with rim brakes for over 40 years and never swore at my brakes and wishing something better would come along, funny thing is…neither did any other road riders or even the pro road racers.

    It’s ok if you want to buy some new technology, but it’s not ok to falsely make up horror stories about how bad the old, and still current, technology is without any bases for facts. If rim brakes were as dangerous as some here are pressing they would have been banned a long time ago along with steel chrome rims.

    1. No one said rim brakes are dangerous. They are just inferior to disc brakes. I presumed you ride a road bike with an integrated break and indexed shift lever on the hoods (brifter). Why not stick to the traditonal non index system with the levers mounted on the downtube? No one asked to come up with an improved system!? Respectfully sir you sound like a senior with your immense riding experience. As you would appreciate, disc brakes is nothing more than just technological advancement in bikes. Just like electronic shifting, carbon fibre, ceramic bearings etc. You will catch on sooner or later.

      1. There’s a lot of posturing on both sides. I doubt that disc brakes are particularly dangerous in a crash; there are sufficient bike and body parts involved in crashes that they’re dangerous regardless of the presence of disc brakes.

        What wins at the end of the day is physics. Anyone who advocates for the advantages of disc brakes over rim brakes for road bikes in anything except inclement weather (in which very few of us actually ride) has never taken a course in physics (or at least didn’t pass it).

        MTBs, mud, inclement weather — sure. But for road bikes on clear days, there are only disadvantages: weight, complexity, and cost. That’s not a win IMB.

      2. Yeah, but basic physics and mechanics of how they ACTUALLY operate says they are not only not inferior to disc brakes, they are actually superior in almost every conceivable way: longer effective lever, larger effective disc, slower wearing pads, less maintenance, easier set up, lighter, more aero, and they actually brake more with less effort (that pesky longer lever idea of basic physics and mechanics). And FYI, those laws of physics and mechanics do not simply take a vacation for bike components or brake systems. LOL

      3. Actually it cost more to maintain a disk brake, price the pads and average life of the pads, they cost more than rim pads and they don’t last a long. Then about every 3 pad changes you’ll have to replace the rotor which you don’t have to do with a rim brake. Of course the rim brake as the issue with wear on the rim but the cheap rim will last an average of 30,000 miles before one should consider replacing it, and longer if a person is diligent about keeping the pads free of embedded debris. But over a 30,000 mile period calculating rim pad and then rim replacement it’s a bit cheaper than disk brakes with their pads and rotors.

  24. Vincent, unless your a weight weeny and are not mechanically competent to perform routine maintenance on your bike, disc brakes are no more complicated than adjusting toe in, centering the calipers evenly between the rims, dialling in the adjustment screw before pulling and tightening the brake cable, closing the quick release etc. You get the drift, in short it’s relatively simple once you are accustomed to it.

    If you still have a lot of riding years left. I will almost certainly guarantee in your future bike stable there will be a road bike sitting there with disc brakes.

    1. Straw man, Mark — I said nothing about maintenance. The *system* is more complex. There are plenty of complex systems that are easy to maintain (often as a benefit of their complexity).

      Additional weight, even in small amounts, is an issue for many of us. Lots of road bikers will shell out more cash for reduced weight. With disc brakes, they’re shelling out more cash for more weight — with no decided advantages.

      As I said, what wins at the end of the day is physics. Anyone who advocates for the ostensible advantages of disc brakes over rim brakes for road bikes in anything except inclement weather (in which very few of us actually ride) has never taken a course in physics — or at least didn’t pass.

      Cheers….

      1. Pretty bold statement don’t you think about physics and not have the faintest idea about the background of other posters? Yeah read your comment again mate…. Sounds pretty ignorant doesn’t it?

      2. You seem to be arguing more from passion than reason. If you’d like to go point-by-point on the physics of disc vs. rim brakes, I’m happy to. But straw men and ad hominems do nothing to advance anyone’s understanding of the technology.

        Bottom line remains: Physics does not support the case for disc brakes. Doesn’t mean you can’t like or prefer them. You can like anything you want to; you just don’t have physics on your side.

      3. Vincent,
        I like your physics reasoning, but don’t know if you can respond to this question or not. How about the travel scenario with hydrolic disc brakes? As a closed system, is it not susceptible to pressure differences during flight or going from high altitudes in Colorado down to sea level? I’m wondering how sensitive these type of brakes are in pressure changing conditions.

      4. Dan, I do not know enough about hydraulic technology — and specifically the type(s) of hydraulics that are used on hydraulic disc brakes (which is not all disc brakes) — to answer that question with confidence. As a guess, I would say that the sorts of pressure changes you’re talking about would not have any impact (or at least no noticeable impact) on the braking performance of hydraulic disc brakes. The heating of the disc, itself, likely has greater impact on braking performance than exterior pressure changes will. But again, that’s just a guess.

    2. You forgot to mention the other “advantages” of disc brakes (big sarcasm) vs. rim brakes: more weight, less aero, more maintenance required, harder set up, harder to maintain proper set up, pads wear significantly faster than rim brake pads, rotors wear significantly faster than you’ll wear out a clincher rim brake rim, shorter effective lever = more effort required for same stopping power (basic physics and mechanics 101), much smaller effective rotor that heats up far faster (basic thermodynamics) than a rim (much larger effective disc size)…….. :-)

  25. Vincent, there’s nothing passionate about disc brakes. It’s just a more efficient system. Your argument seems to hold steadfast on the physics behind stopping the wheel. I think most of us that learnt it will recall about angular velocity, arc length and the different torque forces required at the rim and at the disc rotor to stop a spinning wheel so we won’t go into the details and we know in the end, it all comes down to the coefficient of friction between the tyre and the road before wheel lock up occurs.

    Disc brakes are certainly more responsive, consistent and have better modulation, control and feedback and that is a given. Some may not like these advantages or say we don’t need or want an improved braking system, and argue they cause more stresses on the spokes because of the greater torsional forces exerted on them, or the additional sideway stress applied to the forks and frame on the rotor side, etc etc but at the end of the day disc is still a more superior and efficient system. Respectfully, I guess you might be one of the groups that will catch on at a later stage and make the switch. Nothing wrong with that, each to their own….

    1. My argument in favor of rim brakes is rooted in physics. Your argument in favor of disc brakes seems to come down to “at the end of the day disc is still a more (sic) superior and efficient system.” We all have our rationalizations. Enjoy your disc brakes.

      Cheers….

      1. I’m wanting a new bike to replace my 15 year old Look,so do I go rim or disc??i just don’t know.You can’t change your mind or adapt .Once you decided you’re stuck.The manufacturers are clever.

      2. John Wyatt: The decision is really up to you. Look at your bike type (road, MTB, cyclocross, etc.), riding style, and riding behavior (e.g., do you ride in inclement weather). And also what’s important to you. For some people, cool tech is important. For others, cost is the primary driver — or perhaps where you PUT the cost (e.g., better group set vs. disc brakes). I don’t think anyone here can tell you which is better for you. It’s important to look at your situation and weigh the pros and cons of different options — and that applies to the entire bike.

      3. This Vincent guy is a piece of work: he thinks that nobody but him has taken newtonian physics.
        Alright Mr. Einstein, let us hear your “arguments rooted in physics” (funny how he keeps saying this but never actually brings up the said argument he’s referring to). Myself, I’m getting a Ph.D. in engineering at arguably the best university in the world and have taken plenty of physics, so lets test your knowledge of not only basic freshmen newtonian idealized physics, but also thinking about a REAL system, where the stopping torque is not only determined by a single variable (such as the length of the stopping lever as I assume you perpetually refer to).
        Also, argue from your knowledge of physics if you can, why do all cars use disc brakes now? Does it really boil down to everything you learned in your freshmen physics course (or maybe you only took high school physics) as you claim? You remind me of people that take a course on general chemistry with a few lectures on nuclear reactions, then think they know everything about nuclear reactors and energy.

    2. Yeah, but the only problem with your argument Mark is that it is completely NOT a more efficient system versus a properly set up rim brake. Again, this is very easy to analyze on an item per item basis versus rim brakes. Disc brakes are:

      a) heavier – more inefficient
      b) less aero – more inefficient
      c) harder to set up – more inefficient
      d) harder to maintain proper set up – more inefficient
      e) disc pads wear out significantly faster than comparable rim pads – more inefficient
      f) smaller effective disc that heats up faster – more inefficient
      g) shorter effective lever require more effort for same stopping power – more inefficient
      h) smaller disc will wear out much faster than comparable rim – more inefficient

      Unless you are talking about very specific situations like riding your road bike in mud, extreme wet weather, or snow, or braking on a carbon rim, the efficiency argument is easily won by the rim brake set up. And basic physics and mechanics 101 is also on the rim brakes side of the argument big time! :-)

  26. As mentioned before there are cons and pros to disk vs rim brakes, in the long run rim brakes will be cheaper to maintain.

    The cons are disk brakes put more stress on spokes which means they can fail quicker than rim brake rims but rims will wear out faster with rim brakes…however rims using rim brakes will last at least 30,000 miles, spokes on the other can fail a lot sooner with disk. There is also more stress on the rear wheel due to more dishing require to fit the disk on this will result in faster wheel failure.

    Disk rotors heat up much quicker than rims do and the rotor can’t dissipate the heat as fast which is only a problem in fast mountain descents.

    You cannot swap wheels with another disk brake equipped bike.

    Disk rotors are vulnerable to bending which makes the bike unrideable until repaired, whereas with a rim brake even if you bend a rim you can retrue the wheel and continue riding even if the retruing is not perfect.

    Disk brakes require more re-adjustment and will squeal for no reason whereas rim brakes you set them once and can forget about into the pads wear a bit then readjust, rim brakes can squeal as well but the fix is easy and usually won’t usually squeal again till they’re worn out or are old and develop a hard glaze (which can be easily fixed by using emery paper and sanding off the glaze), but newer disk designs have made it about the same in the maintenance department except as noted below.

    As of this time rim brake pads are far more easier to find, the cost is about $20 for the best Kool Stops Salmon rim brake pads made for Dura Ace and Ultegra which is about the same with disk pads however where the cost pile up is that disk pads only last between 300 miles to 2500 miles (depending on weather conditions and the type of terrain) whereas a good quality rim pad like the Kool Stops can last easily 10,000 miles no matter of weather. I have a set of Kool Stops with 15,000 miles and a set of fast wearing Shimano pads with over 6,000 miles and both are still useable. In addition to the pad expense you have rotor expense which will need to be replaced about every 15,000 miles and will cost you between $25 to $50 each. Marketers of disk brakes will say disk pads last longer but this hasn’t been holding true in real life according to several local bike shop mechanics I spoke too.

    Disk brakes are really necessary if using carbon wheels and or plan on riding in a lot of wet weather.

    Again the braking difference between the two is nil unless riding in wet conditions; this is according to VeloNews: “Road tire traction is high enough that in practice, the braking limit on a road bike is often not the traction limit, but the tip-over point — the point when the forward weight shift from braking causes the rear wheel to lift off the ground and the bike begins to do an endo. (You can test this yourself by riding at a slow speed on smooth pavement and clamping the front brake trying to induce a front wheel skid — if you brake hard enough, you’ll find that the rear wheel lifts off the ground before the front wheel can begin to skid). In other words, road tires often have more traction than can actually be used for braking.” Thus what they’re saying is on dry conditions it’s all about tire adhesion to the pavement, if all things are equal, body weight, bike, riders ability to stop fast, tires, road surface, etc, they both will stop in the same distance.

    So you have to weigh out the pros and cons, but if you decide on disk do not buy a disk brake equipped bike with standard quick releases, make sure the wheels have thru the axle hubs otherwise the pressure of the disk brake can make a wheel come loose in the dropouts because the QR levers are not strong enough to handle it which of course could result in a crash. See this video about the differences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y8Rn9WINPs This is about MTB’s but is now being accurate to road bikes due to the disk brake being marketed heavily.

    1. Froze, sounds like you are rim brakes bias and making some false claims on some potential problems on discs. Why are discs vulnerable to bending? Don’t tell me it’s heat build up due to braking etc. Only time they could bend is from an impact like a crash, and these could also happen to the caliper arms on rim brakes. You also waffle about loosening of QR due to braking stresses on the axles?! As you know there are alot of manufacturers making disc equipped bikes on standard QR so are you implying these are potential death machines? And all the testing and QC done by these manufacturers are hogwash.

      1. I didn’t waffle on about QR’s, lets not go into the drama queen world of reality. I even mentioned to make sure the bike used thru axle hubs if the person decides on disk brakes, hows that waffling on about QR or even being bias? If you want the most secure fastening method for a wheel with disk brakes you need to be using thru axle designed hubs. Then you go on with the drama bit with mentioning that I’m implying regular QR’s are death machines, nice bit of drama there but way over the top, evidently road bike manufactures are indeed slowly switching away from regular QR hubs to the thou axle hub design because it is more secure and a zero chance of a problem.

        I think, as I said in my post, that disk brakes have their reason to be around, in crappy weather conditions and with carbon fiber wheels, but that rim brakes are as adequate as disk brakes in dry conditions with aluminum rims. That’s not being bias at all.

    2. Yes, I agree with Ben on those point. Properly set QR release forces can (should) be pretty high. If there’s an issue with QR wheels coming loose in the dropouts, I have to assume it’s because the owner didn’t correctly set the QR tension. I would expect to see much higher forces on the dropouts from riding shock than from braking with disc brakes. And also concur on the bending.

  27. For what it’s worth, I’ve been riding for decades, was a messenger in SF for years back in the ’80s, and my last bike (at ti mtn fram w skinny tires for urban riding) got some nice discs. This was my first experience with discs and has been the absolute best braking experience I’ve ever had. Smooth, micro-control (modulation), relatively quiet (haven’t had a squeeky sound ever), quick stopping and my rims are not getting abraded. Keeping rim brakes properly adjusted has always been a PITA as well. I’m not all about jumping on gimmics or trends, but the experience of riding discs is simply primo. I think it’s just a matter of time & material advances and rim brakes will be thought of as an old skool retro thing that hipsters and old timers are into for the nostalgia factor.

    1. I am looking at buying an introductory road bike for my wife, who is a novice rider, who does not want to start off with a traditional road bike with skinny tires and narrow seat, but instead work up to that after using wider tires and a larger, softer seat for some time. I was told that an advantage of a bike with disc brakes is that it does not have the tire size limitations associated with caliper brakes, and thus can accommodate a variety of different sizes of rims/tires. I did not see that listed anywhere as one of the advantages of disc brakes and was wondering why, or if perhaps our local bike shop (performance bike) was more interested in selling me a bike than giving me accurate advice. Thanks, Steve Haughey

    2. Yeah well when those funny little things like physics and mechanics suddenly change their basic principles and demonstrate that a smaller effective disc and shorter effective lever leads to better braking I’ll be on board. Nothing about the design of a disc brake system makes it inherently modulate better than a properly set up rim brake, nothing. It’s a smaller disc with a shorter lever, all other things being equal nothing makes it modulate better other than one’s imagination. Just more internet BS being spread like a wild fire.

  28. I think the reason why its not widely marketed as an advantage is because the width of tyres are limited by the rims and ultimately by the clearance in the forks, seat stays and chain stays. Disc brakes equipped road bikes still design the frames according to these conventional tolerances so they would still use the same width tyres that are been used on bikes with rim brakes. Also, in essence for some rim brakes you could easily be able to widen the gap between the calipers arms by adjusting the cable clamp to accommodate wider rim and tyres so this advantage is not really an advantage at all.

    Re your wife’s bike, IMO buying a cyclocross bike would best fit her intention as you could change out the knobbly tyres with road tyres until her confidence grows. The general tyre width range for a normal cyclocross bike is between 25mm – 50mm so that’s wide range. Also, for road bikes it seems there’s a consensus that riders are opting for wider tyres say 25mm and above for extra comfort and grip with minimal to no loss of performance. So it’s not essential for your wife to think ‘skinny’ tyres say back in the days of 18mm to 21mm as the norm for new road bikes. You will note that most road bikes nowadays come equipped with 25mm or 28mm tyres.

  29. I have read as much on this as I can but I think two major points which are related are being missed:

    1 The bending moment on the fork with discs is enormous. at about 1oomm there is the full torque of the wheel with rider and bike mass and momentum. On a rim system there is no torque on the fork at all and the stopping torque frame to wheel is at 300mm. For this reason the fork with a disc system must be significantly heavier (at least 1000g) and always heavier than the rim system fork. The chain stays need to be beefier too.

    2 The disc system will always be heavier as it has a rotor and calipers, also the hydraulics have greater mass – remember the rim system can keep getting lighter too and lose weight faster

    As we see with all other accessories and cycling technology – everyone wants to go fast and minimise weight, stopping is a second order issue

    Riders will pay a $1000 to shave a few grams going from a 105 to a Dura-Ace system

    Who is going to add thousands of grams with rotor, caliper and heavier forks?

    I agree the braking is better and is a better option for 90% of riders

    But the marketing wont work – it will die like the dynamo

    1. Off subject a bit, but the bottle type, or sidewall dynamos never was successful in the grand scope of cycling, but it still isn’t dead either, in Europe they still make a really nice dynamo made by Busch and Muller called the Dymotec and of course they’re are headlights made that go with this unit.

  30. I disagree about the hefty weight penalties. I have been riding on diamondback century sport disc bikes for 3 years now.

    My lastest build with that frameset(52cm) on Hed alloy rims, FSA carbon cranks,seatpost and K wing. I also upgraded to bigger rotors 180 both front and rear. And it weighs in 16.8 lbs and that’s with pedals.

    My Commute is the same frameset but in 58cm. Alloy everything, Crappy block rs rotation rims and conti gatorskin hardshell 700×25. with lights, go pro and mount and cateye computer. It weighs in at 23lbs exact.

    That all being said I train with my commuter and I average 17.2 mph( over 20 mile workouts) in Boston Ma.(Yes Im a crazy city cyclist) On flats I can maintain 27/28 mph all day. On my sprints I push 38/39. PR= 49mph

    Stats? 27yrs 5’6 and 138 lbs 200miles a week during winter 600 during the summer

      1. Did you say your Diamondback Century Sport weighs 16.8 when the factory stock says 20.1, I don’t think you saved enough weight with the CF crank, and seat post to do that, plus adding the wing, all three of those items don’t weigh more than a 2 or 3 ounces less than standard components, so it would have to be the wheels but those HED are just alloy so the weight savings isn’t there either, but you could have applied the cost of those CF bits stayed with the standard stuff and applied it towards a lighter set of wheels than maybe you would have saved a 1/2 pound but you still wouldn’t be down as far as you claim.

      2. Actually a lot of shallow allow wheelsets are very light. In fact lighter than most carbon ones.

        To back something up that guys build you can definitely shave 3 lbs off with the right components. Ie pedals, wheels, tires, stem, saddle and cables. Perhaps he didn’t mention every little change he made.

        I can take a factory diamondback disc brake road bike and get it down to 16 lbs easy. Starting weight is 18-20lbs with out pedals. So that’s easy to achieve.

  31. I have some experience with disk brakes: I love the way they work and the way they look and even the way they sound in operation on my mountain bike. I’m going to buy a road new bike soon (I already have a few road bikes) and I would love see my next bike with disk brakes.

    My new bike, though, will come equipped with rim brakes, because they’re lighter in weight than disk brakes. I don’t race (although I did), but I do push myself. So if the gain is even just one second going up a long, steep hill on rim brakes over disk brakes, I will enjoy having that one second.

    I keep my weight low my reasonably slim body in order to ride my bike faster uphill (and being slim is usually better than being overweight). I’m not about to add weight with disk brakes to my bike because of “it looks cool,” or even because it works better in the rain or snow or mud. I’m spending my money to have the lightest and best road bike I can afford.

    When most bikes are equipped with disk brakes, which will happen sooner than anyone probably realizes, my bike with rim brakes is going to look very cool, and at some point, every other cyclist will be emulating me.

  32. Discs provide powerful and reliable braking in all types of weather and terrain so they’re ideal for trail riding. I like disc brakes for these reasons: they’re easier to keep oil off than rims bent wheels don’t rub, easier to adjust, easier to get wheels in and out, my rims don’t wear out.

  33. I’m new to biking and googled the difference between rim and disc brakes. Thanks to you all I’ve learned more than I expected. It’s kind of like when computers came to the work place and the older generation was hell bent to keep pushing paper. The emergence of technology in the workplace simply.. gradually, replaced the outdated methods. Did it make everything more efficient? I think not but was driven by the technological advances. So… Being said, I’m new to all this. I doubt I will be riding in the rain unless it starts raining when I’m out. I won’t be riding downhill towards the edge of a cliff. And I don’t want something I can not maintain. I’ve come to the conclusion that baby bikers like me do not need disc brakes at the moment. When I grow up and it becomes the norm, like phones, laptops and TV’s then disc brakes will be with me. All this feels like a Coke and Pepsi challenge. They are both sodas but everyone usually has a preference. And it usually turns out to be that which we were first introduced too. I appluad the passion but I hope you all can agree to disagree. It’s been a while since these posts. I would love to know if anyone has changed their opinion. Thanks for the debate.

  34. Even if you are in the “disc is better than rim” camp – the issue is that you cannot simply upgrade from a rim to disc brake without having to change your WHOLE bike !! Why would anyone upgrade their fully functioning rim bike to a new disc bike purely for the disc brakes (unless money is not an issue for you).

    1. Michael…

      I agree. I own both and would like to state that yes having disc brakes on a road bike has its advantages. I train IN Boston. Literally throughout the streets where there are tons of road hazards (pot holes, pedestrians, cyclist, bike commuters and inattentive drivers). Disc brakes have my hiney over 50 times. The control and modulation is great.

      That being said the biggest frustration are wheelsets. I simply can’t afford 3 sets of wheels for each bike. Ideally would want something I can bring over to each bike. So the added cost of buying another bike or “upgrading” a frame is not worth it.

      If you want something awesome, aren’t a weight weenie and ride throughout the year I would buy a disc brake road bike any day.

      Oh and please spare your fellow cyclists and get organic pads. Metal on metal is brutally loud. Almost like nails on a chalk board. 😂😂😂

      1. I trained and raced in Los Angeles. Literally throughout the streets where there are tons of road hazards (potholes, pedestrians, cyclist, bike commuters, lots of traffic and inattentive drivers), and rim brakes literally saved my hiney a lot more than 50 times, and the control and modulation was great even on older single pivot brakes. I may have repeated what you said but I’m being very serious about what I just said, I put over 100,000 miles in Los Angeles and the county including all over the mountains all over Southern California, never had any issues arise where supposedly a better braking system would have worked. So spare us that know what the different type of brakes are and how they work and used them, the drama.

      2. Froze,

        It’s quite clear that you don’t understand the differences in braking technology. Why go on a rant and attempt to bash someone when it’s clearly proven that disc brakes have advantages over rim brakes.

      3. Sorry, but it hasn’t been clearly demonstrated with road bikes that disk brakes are superior over rim brakes except in rain and with carbon fiber rims, which is why disk brakes came to road bikes to begin with…the use of carbon fiber brakes and the inadequacies of rim brakes with special brake pads that had a difficult time stopping the wheels especially has heat built up as one would fine riding in the mountains.

        This has been mentioned before here, so let me mention it again; it’s real simple actually, it’s not about braking, it’s about surface traction which is related to the tire and the type of road surface, once the tire is at maximum stopping (traction, or friction) capability with the road it doesn’t matter what type of brake is doing that because both rim and disk can do that.

        This tire friction business is the reason anti lock brakes was invented and put on cars because car manufacturers realized that once you lost friction you were skidding and not able to stop as fast, so anti lock brakes restores the friction by preventing the skid and thus braking distances decreased dramatically from the old non anti lock brakes. Now if someone comes along and figures out how to miniaturize the anti lock system and put them on a bike with disk brakes then you would have something I can agree on.

    1. Dang, I guess all the tandem riders before disc brakes came out were all killed riding those dangerous tandems with rim brakes. Good thing you got those disc brakes, I hate to see that happen to you.

  35. Froze

    I disagree and here’s a simple, loosely scientific but clearly proven difference between rim and disc brakes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHFSSXOSnxs&index=8&list=PLUdAMlZtaV11LAqXNLDr38oTXh9RuyiRY

    Overall If you want a bike and aren’t racing a disc brake equipped bike will outshine a rim brake one.

    Better control
    Better Modulation ( Such a wide spectrum of pressure on the pads)
    More control of the power thus throwing your traction reason out of the window.
    Less effort in pulling the levers
    Better in the wet
    Better on poor road surfaces
    Better off road
    Consistent year round( temp, conditions and Precipitation)
    Will allow for bike manufactures to design bikes for wider tires

    Rim brakes wheelsets are easy to swap as of now.
    Take a peak at 2017 disc brake models. 80% of brands are thru axle and off cheap hydraulic options.

    Take note that surely the majority of bikes will come with disc brakes. From end to base models.

    Sure it gives brands something to sell us but it indeed is better and provides loads of more confidence.

    1. BS! There is no such thing as a disc brake inherently providing better modulation or control versus a properly set up rim brake. This is nothing but an urban legend of nonsense that has been perpetuated over and over and simply claiming it a gazillion times does not magically change the mechanics of how disc brakes work versus rim brakes. Nor do these brakes brake better with less effort, this is more total nonsense perpetuated over and over like many other easily disproven urban legends.

      In limited situations disk brakes brake better because the disc brake surface is superior to the rim brake surface. Examples of this are riding through mud or snow where a rim can become inundated with crap, which negatively affects the rim brakes ability to function properly. Or when a rim brake caliper itself becomes inundated with mud and debris as happens in MTB and Cross in muddy conditions. Disc brakes can also provide an advantage over rim brakes when dealing with carbon rims, but this has nothing to do with a disc brake itself being better, it is about the disc brake using an alloy braking surface in such a situation versus the rim brake, which will be braking on carbon.

      There is not a single thing about the mechanics of how a disc brake works that makes it modulate or give better control or less effort to brake than a rim brake properly set up on a round and true alloy road rim. Nothing! Most mountain bikers and Crossers that moved away from rim brakes to discs did so for several reasons and issues they regularly encounter, which most roadies rarely if ever encounter – mud, other debris fouling the contact surface on the rim’s braking surface, and trashed rims from MTB hits and activities that most roadies just simply do not ever encounter unless they have crashed their bike.

      The mechanics of both systems are pretty simple. One system uses a substantially larger disc braking surface on which to brake and uses a significantly longer effective lever to brake (rim brakes). The other uses a significantly smaller disc surface on which to brake and has a much smaller and less effective lever to brake (disc brakes). That is reality, it is basic physics, and it is basic mechanics and the simple laws of physics and mechanics do not suddenly magically change themselves or take holidays off for bike components or brake systems to favor the system with the smaller disc or much shorter lever! All other things being equal or even close to equal a system with a longer effective lever and a larger effective disc size to brake on will outperform a system with a much smaller effective lever and disc EVERY single time. Not 9 out of 10 or 99 out of 100, but 100 out of 100 all other things being equal. A rim brake is simply a mechanically superior system with other things being equal! The mechanics and physics of it say so and anyone can easily test this out themselves. A little kid could test it themselves.

      Go spin any object you desire to, perhaps a lazy susan type spinning serving dish at a local home furnishing store or even in your home. Try to stop the spinning dish with a single finger by placing pressure at the outside edge of the spinning dish. Then retry the same experiment, but now try to stop the spinning dish by placing your finger pressure on the center part of the spinning object. It will take much more force to stop the spinning object when placing your finger pressure at the middle of the spinning object versus the perimeter of it. That’s because in placing your finger pressure on the middle of the spinning dish you have substantially reduced your lever length and substantially reduced your mechanical advantage to stop the dish from spinning. Same exact principle applies to disc brakes versus rim brakes. There is simply no mechanical way a disc brake system brakes “easier” or with less effort, or modulate better than a comparable properly set up rim brake system. Very basic laws of mechanics and physics say it isn’t so. And again, those laws do not simply take holidays or days off to pacify the urban legends created by disc brake riders.

      If you want to use disc brakes because you ride in loads of mud or snow that makes total sense because using your disc you will be braking most likely on a cleaner surface than the rim. If you want to ride them because you are on carbon rim wheels again it makes total sense, no argument here. But the silly claims that in dry or even moderately wet conditions they magically brake better, modulate better, stop better with less effort, etc is all urban legend nonsense! It is simply not true!

      And that doesn’t even get into the multiple practical disadvantages of them on a road bike – more weight, less aero, pads wear out significantly faster, harder to set up, harder to maintain non rubbing set up, discs wear out faster than rims given the same braking use if we’re talking alloy rims because they have much less braking surface to spread the braking forces out over, etc.. Basically paying more money for added weight, decreased aerodynamics, more maintenance issues, a smaller disc, and a more inefficient brake lever. Wow, what a marvelous deal indeed for a road bike? Not! :-)

      1. You keep noting the advantages of rim brakes and then saying the phrase “all other things being equal…” Well, no duh, if rim brakes have those advantages and “all other things are equal”, then of course they will seem better. You keep talking about that there is nothing in the mechanism of disk brakes that makes them better and you keep referring to how rim brakes have a larger lever to act on. While some of the things you say are true, you are mixing things up as well. For example, it is not true that both work in the exact same way: disk brakes, while not having as large of a lever to brake on, have something that rim brakes can never have…an unlimited amount of force that they can apply to the rotor. Disk brakes are only squeezing a slab of metal between two ceramic pads, and it makes absolutely no difference whether the force you squeeze that metal with is 1 psi or 1 Mpsi, the upper limit is only limited basically by the elastic modulus of the metal rotor. However, this is clearly not true for rim brakes, they DO have an upper limit for how much force they can apply to the rim, because if they exceed that, then the rim will crush. Hence, scientifically, disk brakes DO have more modulation possible because they have an extended range of upper pressures not accessible to rim brakes. Maybe not all disk brakes are designed to reach these higher values, but if you want to talk science, then there’s your science for just 1 reason why disk brakes CAN theoretically stop faster. Then of course you have the real-world tests where good disk brakes, in every comparison I’ve seen, DO stop faster than an equivalent bike with rim brakes.
        Also, the mentioned disadvantages of disks being less aerodynamic and heavier are basically 3rd or 4th order perturbations (basically they are negligible worse) to other things. For example, before you argue that the quite small cross sectional area of a disk brake adds too much to wind resistance, I’ll ask you first how is your posture while you’re riding? Are you ALWAYS in the most aerodynamic position possible? If not, I’ll eagerly point out that even you just sitting up in your saddle will add more air resistance to your ride than a minuscule brake system. Same goes for weight, if you think disk brakes are too heavy, I’ll tell you to go take a dump before your ride and you’ll more than makeup the difference.
        In the end, I personally love disk brakes, I have bikes with both disk and rim brakes, and I definitely think they are the dominant future of all bicycles.

  36. Wow! All of these passionate comments about disc and rim brakes. I’m in the market for a new bike. I’ve had a Focus Cayo for the past 5 years and have ridden 6000 enjoyable miles. Although not unhappy with rim brakes, if I’m going to buy a new bike, I want to consider what’s available (at least not popular) that was not 5 years ago, ie. electronic shifters and disc brakes. Sooooo, just trying to get some thoughts on what to have on the new bike. Looking to spend 5K or less on the new bike. Any thoughts???

    1. Two questions, do you regularly plan on riding carbon rims and do you regularly plan on riding your new road bike in muddy or snow/slush type conditions? If you answered yes to either disc brakes may be something for you to consider. If you answered no to both questions the choice is pretty simple, quality rim brakes and leave the maintenance, inferior lever, additional weight, and reduced aero quality to some other guy that has to have discs on his sunny day riding road bike. :-)

    2. Yes, listen to the marketing crowd and buy electronic shifting system, but don’t go crying if your battery dies on a ride and you can’t shift, or the computer hiccups and can’t shift, or the sending unit fails and can’t shift, or a servo motor dies and can’t shift, pay more money to have your bike worked on because like the car industry the bike mechanic will soon be called a technician and they’ll charge you more for the labor, all of this should be no concern for you. And get disc brakes because in the long run the disc pads and rotors will cost a lot more than rim brake pads, but if you do a lot of riding in wet weather there is a definite advantage to disc brakes in that circumstance and that circumstance only.

  37. Attempting to change one’s opinion is for the most part futile at best. I think that we can all agree on one thing…Joe and Jack are never going to purchase a bike with disc brakes. Ever! Now with that in mind, can we please just close this discussion for good?

  38. While I am happy with my rim brakes it is certainly a good idea to be open to new technologies and the advantages and disadvantages they bring to the table.
    As more and more riders are using carbon rims the need for disk brakes becomes a growing plus factor. While current carbon rims have solved some of the earlier issues of heat causing the carbon to delaminate at the brake track the sheer stopping power is still behind a good aluminum rim and way behind a disk setup. Unless one has no interest in a carbon rim the need for developing disk brakes moving forward will also help carbon rim technology progress.
    If you haven’t ridden a hydraulic disk brake equipped bike then do yourself a favor and take one for a test ride. The soft touch of applying brake force that is easier to do than any mechanical brake setup and truly a pleasure to experience.
    I’m not jumping on the disk brake bandwagon just yet but sometime in the future I’m pretty sure I will be. As for the Gravel Bikes, it is pretty much a given. Only the super light cross bikes are still using cantilever brakes and even cross bikes are changing to disks in most cases.
    Disks are here to stay.

    1. Soft touch force applied brakes? I’ve never had a problem using mechanical brakes, I’ve always been strong enough to apply brakes even when I was 12 years old on a Schwinn racer! I heard this same crap about riders couldn’t squeeze a Polar bottle, it was too stiff. My god, I thought riding a bike would have at least some sort of resemblance of a physically fit and able person on top of a bike!

      1. It’s the feel and modulation about how much pressure to apply and not the simple ‘on’ or ‘off’ mode you get on the mechanicals. Guess you also never had a problem using downtube shifters and triple rings with 6 cogs at the back either. No problems about the mechanicals and expect that they will be phased out whether you like it or not, at least on the high end spectrum of bikes anyway.

      2. Modulation? Really? I’ve never had any modulation troubles in over 30 years of riding road, cross, mtb, or even touring. Yup, I broke in using downtube shifters and don’t have any issues using those either, I have several types of shifters, downtube, barend, and briftors, thumb/finger, twist, you name any mechanical shifter and I’ve used it. I don’t see your point. They all work fine, people, including pros raced on that stuff for years, there isn’t a pile of dead pro racers at the bottom of mountains from using rim brakes, pro races were able to climb mountains steeper than you and I can imagine without problems. I started racing on 7 cogs and that included racing on mountains (never used triples while racing only my mountain bikes and my touring bikes have triples), like the rest of us we never had a problem. NOW that’s not to say there is an advantage when racing in mountains to have the ability to have more gears to maintain a certain level or RPM better, also due to CF wheels disk brakes with those wheels are necessary especially riding in mountains due to the excessive heat build up that CF wheels can’t dissipate like AL rims can which the heat can lead to tire blow outs and delamination of the CF wheels.

        Mechanicals are not being phased out, both Campy, Shimano, and SRAM offer mechanicals in their entire line of offerings from low end to high end. Even IF they do phase out parts will always be plentiful on the internet for many years to come.

      3. The point is pretty simple, if you said you have ridden all those vintage bikes through so many years of technological advancement on bikes, what are you riding now? Why make the change from downtube shifters and groupsets? Why not stick with the tech that you never found to have problems with.

      4. I ride all my bikes which are about 10 that range from the early 80’s to 2013. Obviously the change was due to being forced to buy whatever is available at the time of purchase. I couldn’t find a 2013 titanium bike with downtube shifter bosses, besides I can live with briftors which are nothing more than the old SIS system that use to operate by downtube. I have friction, SIS, and STI, and I can tell from experience that SIS on the downtubes actually shift faster and is more accurate than STI, and why is that you scream? because of more cable turns and longer cable lengths vs downtube. So while technology may have moved the ability to shift up to the brake levers and in doing so they went a bit backwards in the speed and accuracy of the shift. Like I said, over the years I got use to all those types of shifting, and really friction is the most reliable system ever designed but it had it’s faults that some people didn’t like but with years of practice it doesn’t bother me; so SIS was introduced and SIS is the best vs STI or Ergo due to the reliability and the accuracy and quickness of the shifting, but people wanted something where the shifting was at their fingertips on the hoods; now electronic shifting has come about which I do not own nor never will unless they can make it bulletproof.

        Reason I won’t embrace electronic shifting even though I’m ok with all the others is due to battery issues, computer malfunctions, servo motor failures, and sending unit failure, all that complication makes the bike less reliable, and if you have a breakdown on the road you stand a good chance you’re not going to be able to repair it on the side of the road. But it does offer real fast highly accurate shifting which since I’m not racing anymore I could care less about having that sort of thing just so I can live with the hassles, I’d rather have a system that I can repair on the side of the road if need be, and especially not be dependant upon batteries just to ride my bike. Those Nimh batteries don’t last as long as the old NiCd batteries did, the NiMh you might get 3 years of constant use out of them and then you have to get a new battery, but what happens if technology changes designs and you can’t find your battery anymore? Yeah, you would have to buy a whole new system, peachy, just peachy.

      5. the parts he mentioned would not even have a enough difference in weight to show 3 pounds of lost, not even the wheels. The stock wheels were 28h Equation R, Doublewall Rims weighed 2160 grams, the lightest alloy HED rims weigh 1380 grams, this means the difference is 780 grams which is only 1.7 pounds difference, but that’s assuming he put the best HED alloy wheels on that cost $1,300 for the set which cost $500 more than the bike did, so did he buy those or some other lower cost wheels? We have the answer to that and then we have a closer idea to his possible weight savings.

  39. This change is different than most others as it will require change to almost all other parts. Disc brakes require a different frame, fork, and will allow advancement in wheel design and other areas. For these reasons, I’m confident the rim brake will go the way of the 8-track tape.

  40. If disc were so great, why didn’t the road bike industry switch 15 yrs ago when they were all over the MTB market? Here’s the real reason……

    ….the carbon wheel makers are bleeding money, trying to find resins that resist high temps, while NOT becoming more brittle. It just doesn’t work! Why keep spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, chasing your tail, when the cheaper and easier solution is to switch to disc brakes? You think going from an effective 29 inch rotor (700c rim), all the way down to a 140-160mm rim (six inches) is a smart idea? Larger rotors dissipates more heat than small ones. That’s the reason why you didn’t see disc brakes being a hot topic in road cycling way back over the years, carbon fibre wheels weren’t being used as much and the heat issues weren’t known back then…..now it’s common knowledge.

    Unless you intentionally go riding in wet weather, you don’t Need disc brakes. The cycling industry Needs you to keep buying more stuff to keep them afloat! Its simple. If consumers don’t consume, the industry goes belly up. Lets face it, bikes are pretty durable products. You’re not buying them every other day. The most you will replace on a fairly regular pace are: chains, tires, brake pads, cables, lube etc. Certainly, not enough to keep this massive industry working the way it does.

    1. This is exactly correct, the CF wheel manufactures were having issues with their wheels experiencing brake fade, delaminating, and failing when they heated up, something of which was costing them lots of money on warranty returns in addition to R & D; plus a lot a manufacturer’s found themselves lying to customers about the cause of the delamination and failures and placing the blame on other reasons so that they wouldn’t have to pay any warranty adjustments which in turn makes the companies doing so look bad.

      Even if you intentionally ride in wet weather there are brake pads for rim style brakes that can stop you better than other pads. What most people don’t realize, or believe, is that once the rotor is wet brake efficiency is reduced until the rotor has been squeegied by the pad…this is also true with rim brakes; most of you who have driven a car through deep water and got the brakes wet felt a momentary reduction in braking efficiency until the rotors dried, which is why it’s recommended that once you go through some deep water is to gently ride your brakes for a minute till the rotors have been dried, this is also true with bike disk brakes, why would they be any different? It’s only different with bicycle disk brake marketing propaganda, but not in real life.

  41. Roadies probably don’t need disc brakes, especially if you ride in dry weather.

    But if you commute in a congested rainy city – me: Seattle – and really need the stopping power.

    I’m a big guy – 250lbs (112kg) – so stopping takes force. Wet roads + road from coat rims in just a few blocks. Disc brakes are 12in (30cm) off the tarmac so they don’t get as dirty.

    I converted just the front of my Surly LHT to disc (still rim brakes in the back) a d feel very confident in crappy weather.

    Not trying to convince disc haters (I don’t care what you don’t need.) But disc brakes aren’t a gimmick for big guys on crowded streets in wet weather.

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