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Why do I want disc brakes?

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Why do I want disc brakes?

Old 07-10-20, 09:44 PM
  #26  
elcruxio
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As it happens I have a bike which has a disc brake up front (avid BB7) and a cantilever brake at the rear (Avid Shorty Ultimate with Kool Stop dual compounds). Housings are compressionless and the cantilever is setup for maximum braking power. I prefer to use the disc up front because it just performs better. The cantilever at the back is somehow 'laggy' and it takes a fair amount of lever pressure to get proper results. The mechanical disc brake achieves more with less effort. It's not even a front brake rear brake difference kind of thing because I've had full rim brake bikes with cantilevers/others and they performed just as poorly up front. The end result is that turning left sucks because I have to signal with my left hand and brake with my right, which controls the rim brake. Yes, I could go back to full cantilever so I'd have the same amount of brakes at both hands but then turning both ways would suck. It's surprisingly unstable to ride one handed when you have to really squeeze the lever with effort.

Then I have another bike which has hydraulic discs front and back.

The difference of hydraulic disc brakes when comparing to rim brakes is like comparing the brakes of an 80's Camaro and a modern Volvo. Both get the job done (kinda) but with one getting the ABS to rattle is achieved accurately and effortlessly with one toe while with the other you need to merge with the seat to lock up one wheel on wet tarmac.
First of all the hydros are more powerful by far as in stopping with them is easier. I know the physics and once your rear wheel is off the ground that's it. But what I mean is that braking is easier in that it takes less effort to achieve full braking power but the brake is still more accurate than other brakes of the same braking power (full length vee brakes get fairly close). So to get my rear wheel to rise I don't have to have visible abs on my palm. The end result is that I can feather at the limit of braking more easily than I can with any rim brake or with mechanical disc brakes. It's weird that the feel and security I get from the hydro's with 160mm rotors is better than I got from a mechanical disc brake with a 203mm rotor.

With the hydro bike I don't have to consider which way I signal because I get the same performance from both brakes. Safer, easier and braking doesn't make me as unstable as braking with a cantilever will.

Now I'm not sure if modulation is the correct term but it might be. Hydraulic disc brakes have plenty of it. Cantilevers or other rim brakes not so much in my experience. The more strength one has to use the more one loses accurate motor control. That in turn makes braking less accurate. Every rim brake I've ever used has required more effort to achieve the same braking power than disc brakes.
Modulation is probably also a bit misunderstood as a term. But in the end it really comes down to how accurately one can control one's brakes. Lever travel has nothing to do with it. One could have zero lever travel and have great modulation whereas one could also have a full range of lever travel and and have poor modulation. As an example, highest end racing cars which do not use brake assists (Formula one) have almost immovable brake pedals, yet the brakes are accurate enough for pretty high lever racing.

For me rim brakes are an inconvenience I'd rather not deal with anymore. And I do feel safer with disc brakes.

Whether one should adhere to the N+1 rule? Yes. Yes one should.
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Old 07-11-20, 06:35 AM
  #27  
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It’s always tough to adopt new technology, but disc brakes are far from new. They’re only relatively new on bikes where they are just starting to get a foothold, but Discs will eventually dominate. They work better, are not affected by wet weather and will not wear out the rims on your wheels. When disc brakes first became available on cars, the car industry introduced them slowly by first installing discs on the front wheels (where, by the way, most stopping power occurs) and keeping brake shoes in the rear wheels to keep the purists happy. Over time, as it will with bikes, you cannot now find a car today, other than old collectibles, that does not have disc brakes. Better technology, better performance and safer overall.
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Old 07-11-20, 06:41 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
"Why do I want disc brakes?" hahaha! to ensure the service department at your lbs stays busy! This week I have bled 5 hydro brakes, replaced 6 sets of pads, and replaced 4 brake sets due to the OEM being pieces of crap from the start. I hate them and love them at the same time as I make more money working on them, but they take a whole lot more time to work on than good ol' rim brakes.

Me? Had disc brakes once, no more.
That's the reason why I run BB7s....It's a lot easier to change a brake cable than it is to rebuild leaking calipers.
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Old 07-11-20, 06:47 AM
  #29  
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"They are more expensive, more finicky to adjust and maintain, and in my case at least, I chew through pads and rotors fairly frequently, and the cost adds up."

Oh yea.. and the bike sits waiting for parts. Disc's are 'bike store' components.. future revenue flow.. their main reason for being mainstreamed today.
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Old 07-11-20, 06:51 AM
  #30  
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Here's a GCN video that might be instructive. Also, discs will allow wider tires if that matters to you. I have rim brakes on 3 road bikes and disc in my cross bike. IMO discs are clearly just better. Are you at a great disadvantage with rim brakes? I don't think so.

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Old 07-11-20, 06:52 AM
  #31  
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Old 07-11-20, 07:03 AM
  #32  
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Recent posters cite their preference for rim brakes based on maintenance (ease, cost, parts sources, etc.) related issues. These are all reasonable concerns but I rarely, if ever, buy any vehicle (car, bike, motorcycle), appliance, PC or anything and use future maintenance issues as my primary concern. I buy products with features that I feel make the product better. In the case of bikes, I feel that dic brakes make bikes better, and safer, products. Your opinion may differ, but that's how I look at it.
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Old 07-11-20, 08:27 AM
  #33  
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Whenever the topic of disc brakes come up, there are lots of mentions of "better stopping power" and "better modulation"; it's almost like reading wives' tale from Harley riders about endo'ing if you use your front brake!

But here's a video of two VERY FAST and equally skilled riders descending on a VERY technical road with avg gradient almost 9%, so both are riding their brakes in the steeper part (later half of the video). The lead rider is on a disc bike, the trailing rider (the one filming) is on a rim brake bike. As you can see, there is litterally nothing between them. The squealing you hear later in the video is from the brakes of the lead rider. These guys got KOM (despite making a mistake) on this filming segment so they were railing all out. And in case anyone is wondering, the trailing rider's is on a non-aero bike. Granted this was in dry condition, and if in wet, then the advantage would be just slightly more for the disc guy, but let's be honest here if it was wet nobody would be riding like this.


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Old 07-11-20, 08:45 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by bmcer View Post
The more I see of them in use by "regular" riders in the neighborhood, the more intrigued I've become. A lot of people site a number of reasons for liking them, "more stopping power", "better modulation", better performance in the wet", etc. While that certainly piques my interest, I've got to ask, "Is the different in braking performance worth the cost of n+1?" As far as braking "power", I can lock up both wheels easily with my existing rim brakes and since I'm a fair weather pavement rider almost exclusively, performance in adverse conditions isn't much of a concern.

Mind you, it's been a looong time since I've bought a bike and the idea does excite me. So go ahead... Convince me
if you're fair weather rider, especially fair weather AND flatland rider, then there is absolutely zero reason to get a disc bike as an "n+1".
Now if you just want to buy a new toy, well that's nother whole different reason.
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Old 07-11-20, 08:46 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Pop N Wood View Post
Another advantage of disc brakes is being able to swap wheel sizes. ..r.
And one of the joys of rim brakes is the ease in swappiing wheels.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:02 AM
  #36  
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I have the SRAM Rival 1x Disc and honestly, I am not impressed. I get scruffing noises when it is dirty, I had to flatten the disc when I first bought it, in the wet, it squeals worse than a pig before slaughter and the modulation is just so-so. That said... I take delivery of my Roubaix with Ultegra Di2 Disc next weeks so I am looking forward to experience all the wonders of disc brakes that everyone is talking about. Rival being entry-level, I guess I should expect some below-par performance but what is true is on steep downhills, it is pretty powerful.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:08 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by oldwinger14 View Post
Recent posters cite their preference for rim brakes based on maintenance (ease, cost, parts sources, etc.) related issues. These are all reasonable concerns but I rarely, if ever, buy any vehicle (car, bike, motorcycle), appliance, PC or anything and use future maintenance issues as my primary concern. I buy products with features that I feel make the product better. In the case of bikes, I feel that disc brakes make bikes better, and safer, products. Your opinion may differ, but that's how I look at it.
Since I repair machines for a living, my least favorite thing to do is repair machines on my time off. Due to that, I'm the complete opposite and research products that have simple, infrequent maintenance and repair procedures.

This is pretty much why I'll never own a Subaru boxer engine with timing belts, but will always seek out a simple inline 4 with timing chain. Ease of service, maintenance, and parts costs. Too bad too as I really like the Subarus otherwise. Same goes for when I was looking into diesel Volkswagens, I certainly don't want the added cost of a turbo and having to buy DEF.

Regarding disc brakes, they are so much easier to work on than drum brakes (on cars, motorcycles, etc.) that you get no argument in that regard from me. For a bicycle, I think I'd want mechanical disc brakes since I hang my bikes upside down from the garage ceiling. I wouldn't want any air in the fluid reservoir to migrate into the caliper while the bikes aren't being ridden.

Last edited by FiftySix; 07-11-20 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:08 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
And one of the joys of rim brakes is the ease in swappiing wheels.
I don't see any difference with disc brakes. Changing wheels is just as easy.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:10 AM
  #39  
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My beast and I like its rim brakes.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:16 AM
  #40  
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I want disk brakes but no one sells them
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Old 07-11-20, 09:43 AM
  #41  
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Old 07-11-20, 10:07 AM
  #42  
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I would have been just fine with rim brakes on my Domane. Hell, I live in east central Illinois. Steep descents, what’s that? It came with discs as did everything else I was looking at. So, discs it is. Never had any issues with the rim brakes on my Roubaix.
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Old 07-11-20, 10:08 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by NMK View Post
I don't see any difference with disc brakes. Changing wheels is just as easy.
In general, wheel changing has gotten progressively more difficult since the 70s.

Moving from plain ol' forks, to lawyer lipped forks, to threaded thru axles.
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Old 07-11-20, 10:24 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by bmcer View Post
The more I see of them in use by "regular" riders in the neighborhood, the more intrigued I've become. A lot of people site a number of reasons for liking them, "more stopping power", "better modulation", better performance in the wet", etc. While that certainly piques my interest, I've got to ask, "Is the different in braking performance worth the cost of n+1?" As far as braking "power", I can lock up both wheels easily with my existing rim brakes and since I'm a fair weather pavement rider almost exclusively, performance in adverse conditions isn't much of a concern.

Mind you, it's been a looong time since I've bought a bike and the idea does excite me. So go ahead... Convince me

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Old 07-11-20, 10:54 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
In general, wheel changing has gotten progressively more difficult since the 70s.

Moving from plain ol' forks, to lawyer lipped forks, to threaded thru axles.

Ummm.... I remember biking in the 70's & 80's and changing wheels sucked, it took ages to get it on and aligned and if you didn't have quick release, then it sucked some more. I'll take my TTA any day.
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Old 07-11-20, 11:00 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
And one of the joys of rim brakes is the ease in swappiing wheels.
absolutely disagree with that. I find discs make it easier to swap wheels. Get a set of tires that are fatter than the rim and the tires will hang on the brakes. Usually I remember to release brake tension but sometimes forget and then have to pop the wheel back on to do so. discs just slide on and off. If the new wheels are slight wider, maybe taller, maybe not perfectly true than need to tweak cables or adjust pad angles on rim brakes. Discs don't have that problem. Sometimes a rotor might be slightly farther in or out but never by much

Guess I've just never owned cheap discs. I've had Spyres on the gravel bike for I think 3 years now. Almost no maintenance. The dual calipers make them absolutely trivial to center, just loosen mounting bolts, apply the brake than re torque.

I don't use bike shops for anything, maybe that is why some guys have such a bad experience.
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Old 07-11-20, 11:18 AM
  #47  
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Old 07-11-20, 11:34 AM
  #48  
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Again, thank you all for your input. Truth be told, there's more to my decision-making process than discs vs rims. I can't deny some of this is plain old "want a new toy" syndrome, but there are some real issues motivating me, most of them age related. For starters, I'm more comfort oriented/discomfort averse than I was 20 years ago. Chip seal pavement is a real pain in sensitive several places with my BMC's head and seat tube angles, short chain stays, and short trail. Secondly, my left knee took some serious damage in a motorcycle accident many years ago, and I've now got some post traumatic arthritic changes flaring up. So gearing that offers lower ratio than my current 34-29 bottom combo would be welcome. That's even more of a consideration now that we live in an area with more interesting topography.

At least those are the talking points I'm using with my better half to get her buy in. And they seem to be working So that's the story I'm sticking to even though I can't deny a certain fascination with new & shiny.

Last edited by bmcer; 07-11-20 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 07-11-20, 11:49 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by bmcer View Post
I can lock up both wheels easily with my existing rim brakes and since I'm a fair weather pavement rider almost exclusively, performance in adverse conditions isn't much of a concern.
Maybe not, given you don't ride when the weather is not nice..

I have 1 bike with hydraulic rim brakes *, a European make.. US gets most of its bikes from the Pacific Asian Rim.. Imported.
* 1 drum braked. 1 disc brake, 6 with rim brakes ..
Only 1 is a road bike..






...

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Old 07-11-20, 01:09 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by bmcer View Post
The more I see of them in use by "regular" riders in the neighborhood, the more intrigued I've become. A lot of people site a number of reasons for liking them, "more stopping power", "better modulation", better performance in the wet", etc. While that certainly piques my interest, I've got to ask, "Is the different in braking performance worth the cost of n+1?" As far as braking "power", I can lock up both wheels easily with my existing rim brakes and since I'm a fair weather pavement rider almost exclusively, performance in adverse conditions isn't much of a concern.

Mind you, it's been a looong time since I've bought a bike and the idea does excite me. So go ahead... Convince me
You want them because you live in the Pacific Northwest and are tired of replacing your rims annually due to wear from wet road grit.

Or you just want them. Buy a disc brake equipped bicycle if you have the money, own a home, are debt free apart from your mortgage, are on track to retire, and are on track to pay for your children's post secondary education.
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