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non-disc brake purchase options?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

non-disc brake purchase options?

Old 07-21-21, 10:00 PM
  #1  
gios 
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non-disc brake purchase options?

I'd like to try a gravel bike. Are there complete bike options without disc brakes? Why can't Shimano make a GRX with cantilever brakes?
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Old 07-21-21, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by gios View Post
Are there complete bike options without disc brakes?
The vast majority of cyclists either prefer disc brakes or don't care much either way, so manufacturers have largely ejected rim-brake bikes from their supply chains, except at low quality tiers. There are still a fairly wide variety of rim-brake components on the market, and even a few framesets (like the Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross), although low inventory means that a lot of stuff isn't really sourceable right now.

There are plenty of gravel-suitable used rim-brake bikes out there. Cyclocross bikes with cantilever posts, or old mountain bikes, or whatever. My gravel bike is a drop-bar conversion of an 80s Stumpy.



Why can't Shimano make a GRX with cantilever brakes?
Again, not a spicy enough market for it to be worth their while.

It's possible to use the GRX gears and cranks and derailleurs with non-GRX rim-brake shifters, however.
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Old 07-22-21, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by gios View Post
I'd like to try a gravel bike. Are there complete bike options without disc brakes?
Probably. But, as HTupolev said, there isn't much of a market for rim brakes anymore*. Based on the vast majority of bikes that are still being sold with that braking option, if you found one, expect the frame and wheel-set to be heavy and possibly a poor geometry for your intended use, and the components to be lower quality, and potentially the gearing to be 8- or 9-speed. To get a good quality bike (modern frame), optimized for gravel (proper frame geometry), with good components, you'd probably be best off to build it.

*Plenty of discussions with lots of uninformed and conspiratorial ideas about why this is in other threads.
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Old 07-22-21, 02:21 AM
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Not sure why you would not want disc brakes on a gravel bike?

After years of multiple “sketchy” off road experiences on my MTBs with cantliever and then v brakes (especially in the wet and muddy weather), moving to discs was a revelation!

wouldn’t want to go back now.
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Old 07-22-21, 02:34 AM
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Just get a CX bike with canti mounts and run mini-v brakes. There's still a few around. I like them more than discs.
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Old 07-22-21, 03:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Simonix View Post
Not sure why you would not want disc brakes on a gravel bike?
#1 and 6. Mainly #6.

8 reasons not to get disc brakes
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Old 07-22-21, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by gios View Post
#1 and 6. Mainly #6.
Fair enough.

I was also a little apprehensive about learning how to set them up and maintain them myself. It turns out they’re really not that difficult. And despite what I have read online, I find them relatively maintenance free once set up.

Also the weight is a strange one. I was also reading that a lot of modern disc brake specific rims can now be made lighter, as they do not need the extra material to construct a brake track.

Either way, each to their own. I am sure you will enjoy some Gravel riding no matter what setup you choose.
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Old 07-22-21, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by gios View Post

And, we're off....

#1 is absurd...you're looking to buy a gravel bike. These are not bikes that are competing to come in at the UCI road race minimums. Disc brakes on their face are indeed heavier than rim brakes when comparing those parts alone...I have a 2018 Spesh SL6 with direct mount rimmies, and a 2021 SL7 with discs, other than that both are similarly equipped, same drivetrain, same wheels...guess which one in total weighs less.

#6? C'mon man. Disc brake set up, once learned, is easier than rim brakes, and far less finnicky. When properly set up, they have been in my experience more reliable, requiring less intermediate maintenance (adjustment) than rim brakes.

In fact, reading that whole article, it makes me think it was written by a person who (a) possesses basic mechanical skills at best, (b) rides a townie, and (c) likes to yell at clouds. Do better research, that article is classic misinformation, a few grains of truth with lots of conspiracy.

That said, I don't care to convince anyone. Ride what you like. Just embrace that to use older technology, your options will be limited and building your own bikes may be the only feasible option.
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Old 07-22-21, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by gios View Post
I'd like to try a gravel bike. Are there complete bike options without disc brakes? Why can't Shimano make a GRX with cantilever brakes?
I am not aware of full build gravel bikes with rim brakes. Even All City retired the rim brake Space Horse 4 years ago. Surly has the Cross Check in flat bar as a rim brake bike still, but I would end up spending a good bit to convert that to how I want a bike to be spec'd for gravel riding.
As mentioned, Black Mountain still sells rim brake frames and you could pay to have Mike the owner build one into a full bike.

GRX with Canti makes 0 sense. A major part of GRX is hydraulic brakes. Just buy any regular mechanical rim brake Tiagra/105/Ultegra shifters with matching speed rear derailleur, a GRX crankset, and GRX front derailleur- that is now the setup you are looking for.
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Old 07-22-21, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Simonix View Post
Not sure why you would not want disc brakes on a gravel bike?

After years of multiple “sketchy” off road experiences on my MTBs with cantliever and then v brakes (especially in the wet and muddy weather), moving to discs was a revelation!

wouldn’t want to go back now.
Many people ride their gravel bikes on roads so sketchy off road experiences with rim brake MTBs have no bearing on how they ride.
I ride my gravel bike on gravel roads. They are roads that are just unpaved. Rim brakes stop me fine on these roads. To be clear, disc brakes also stop me fine on the same roads. I currently have hydraulic disc brakes but used rim brakes with 30 year old cantilever brakes for a long time which stopped me fine. Those cantilever brakes are still on that frame which is now set up for commuting and errands...and the brakes continue to stop me just fine.

I totally understand why you like hydraulic disc brakes for those sketchy MTB rides. Again though, recognize that MTB is different from gravel, even if some brands try to blur the lines. And its awesome to underbike and use your gravel bike on singletrack- I do it, but thats on relatively flat river bottom singletrack that is twisty so there are no sketchy incidents.

^None of this is me hating on disc brakes. I have them and they work fine. They havent been a revelation for gravel riding though.
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Old 07-22-21, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Many people ride their gravel bikes on roads so sketchy off road experiences with rim brake MTBs have no bearing on how they ride.
I ride my gravel bike on gravel roads. They are roads that are just unpaved. Rim brakes stop me fine on these roads. To be clear, disc brakes also stop me fine on the same roads. I currently have hydraulic disc brakes but used rim brakes with 30 year old cantilever brakes for a long time which stopped me fine. Those cantilever brakes are still on that frame which is now set up for commuting and errands...and the brakes continue to stop me just fine.

I totally understand why you like hydraulic disc brakes for those sketchy MTB rides. Again though, recognize that MTB is different from gravel, even if some brands try to blur the lines. And its awesome to underbike and use your gravel bike on singletrack- I do it, but thats on relatively flat river bottom singletrack that is twisty so there are no sketchy incidents.

^None of this is me hating on disc brakes. I have them and they work fine. They havent been a revelation for gravel riding though.
Yeah, I understand and I get that it’s all dependant on how and where people want to ride their bikes.

For me, I use my gravel bike everywhere I can. Including MTB trails. Of course, here in the UK, our gravel roads can quickly turn into sloppy muddy affairs, and having disc brakes suits those situations for me better.

Thats the beauty of course. Everyone can like what they like. Unfortunately for the OP, it seems that non disc brake gravel bikes are thin on the ground….

OP, As others have said, maybe look out for a cyclocross bike? But bear in mind the tyre clearance will probably be smaller and in most cases the frame geo will be more aggressive.
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Old 07-22-21, 07:23 AM
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I'm from Iowa. I now live in central Pennsylvania. I have ridden a decent amount of Iowa gravel and I probably wouldn't see the need for disc brakes in Iowa either. Unless the gravel I rode was near Dubuque. Some people ride on rail trails and call that gravel. But here in Central PA, I have seen people with cantis smoking their brakes down a mountain because they were afraid they couldn't stop and I was really glad I have discs. I was a little upset when the industry decided they were going to focus on disc brakes, but for gravel, I think the majority of riders are better off. And the people from the midwestern U.S. have to compete for the dwindling supply of used Poprads or just accept disc brakes.

The two companies people always cite as all road with cantis, Black Mountain Cycles and Crust have introduced disc models. They both still have cantilever models. It wouldn't surprise me if those canti models went away because the demand is too small.
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Old 07-22-21, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I'm from Iowa. I now live in central Pennsylvania. I have ridden a decent amount of Iowa gravel and I probably wouldn't see the need for disc brakes in Iowa either. Unless the gravel I rode was near Dubuque. Some people ride on rail trails and call that gravel. But here in Central PA, I have seen people with cantis smoking their brakes down a mountain because they were afraid they couldn't stop and I was really glad I have discs. I was a little upset when the industry decided they were going to focus on disc brakes, but for gravel, I think the majority of riders are better off. And the people from the midwestern U.S. have to compete for the dwindling supply of used Poprads or just accept disc brakes.

The two companies people always cite as all road with cantis, Black Mountain Cycles and Crust have introduced disc models. They both still have cantilever models. It wouldn't surprise me if those canti models went away because the demand is too small.
Where in Iowa are you from?

You described the reasoning well. Driftless region of Iowa?...sure I could see discs being more of a need.
Where I am, gravel rides are 40-60' of climb per mile(60'/mi is plenty for me!) and thats due to many short punchy hills vs one long climb and descent. There are plenty of 8 - 14% climbs that last half a mile, but nothing that is miles long to where brakes will smoke on the backside.
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Old 07-22-21, 08:16 AM
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I'm from Iowa city originally but most of the gravel riding I have done is south of Des Moines. Lots of hills where I would never worry about stopping and would try to take my momentum through so I don't have to work as hard going up the other side. The problem with the hills here isn't necessarily that they are long, although they are. But what happens is they are steeper at the top and letting the bike roll when there are sharp corners may not be that great of an idea if you only have a rim brake and are not confident in their stopping power.
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Old 07-22-21, 10:50 AM
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I found a used Surly Cross Check on craigslist a little over a year ago and have no regrets. I ride it probably 50/50 on road and off road. Off road for me means gravel MUPs, dirt roads, and single track trails that don't involve jumps or rock gardens or anything too gnarly. And it's dry where I live - mud is rare and I don't have to ride when it's raining. I see the OP is in Nevada, which is probably even drier than the Front Range in Colorado.

To be fair, if I were buying a brand new bike, I'd have gone with discs (and maybe 1x11 also). But, I know how to adjust cantilever brakes and don't mind doing it. I have no problems stopping quickly and safely on the Cross Check or my other bike which has cantis also.

My wife and daughter ride cantilever bikes too. But not my son - ever the rebel, he's sporting those fancy new V-brakes.
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Old 07-24-21, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by gios View Post
Just point on #6: You can go disc without going hydraulic disc. if you’ve ever set up/recabled rim brakes, you probably have all the tools you’d need to do the same for cable-actuated disc brakes.

The biggest complaints you’ll see about adjusting cable disc brakes involves centering the rotor in the caliper when you reattach a wheel (really only a problem with QR wheels) and adjusting the pads to avoid rub and get good braking (only a problem on older/low end calipers where one pad is fixed). And even both of these problems are essentially a non-issue if you’re willing to watch 5 minutes of YouTube.

Personally, I think rim brakes are fine…but there are some real advantages to going disc these days. For one, it allows many frames to accommodate both 700c and 650b wheels. Also, last I looked the selection of wheels with wider, tubeless-compatible rims is much better in the disc brake camp.
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Old 07-24-21, 12:15 PM
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My Black Mountain Monster Cross Canti is a great gravel bike, and I have zero regrets about not getting the disc version. I have disc brake bikes, too, but for this build I wanted Paul Neo Retro cantilevers. They work great.

Unfortunately, Mike probably won't have more frames in stock until early 2022.
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Old 07-25-21, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee View Post
The biggest complaints you’ll see about adjusting cable disc brakes involves centering the rotor in the caliper when you reattach a wheel (really only a problem with QR wheels) and adjusting the pads to avoid rub and get good braking (only a problem on older/low end calipers where one pad is fixed). And even both of these problems are essentially a non-issue if you’re willing to watch 5 minutes of YouTube.

Personally, I think rim brakes are fine…but there are some real advantages to going disc these days. For one, it allows many frames to accommodate both 700c and 650b wheels. Also, last I looked the selection of wheels with wider, tubeless-compatible rims is much better in the disc brake camp.
Thanks. I'd get a spacer.

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Old 07-26-21, 10:34 AM
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Does anyone sell a conversion kit to install rim brakes on disc frames? Probably not possible with cantilevers, but might be for road calipers.

Also, complaining that GRX isn't available with rim brakes is a bit like complaining that new computers don't have CD drives. There are plenty of workarounds and other options if you want to stick with rim brakes, but I wouldn't expect manufacturers to continue catering new products around them. I have SRAM Force 1x on an old canti CX bike right now. It works great (the drivetrain... not the brakes).
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Old 07-26-21, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
Does anyone sell a conversion kit to install rim brakes on disc frames? Probably not possible with cantilevers, but might be for road calipers.

Also, complaining that GRX isn't available with rim brakes is a bit like complaining that new computers don't have CD drives. There are plenty of workarounds and other options if you want to stick with rim brakes, but I wouldn't expect manufacturers to continue catering new products around them. I have SRAM Force 1x on an old canti CX bike right now. It works great (the drivetrain... not the brakes).
You could swap the fork for a rim brake fork and maybe install a rear caliper on the fender bridge if you trust it enough
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Old 07-26-21, 01:36 PM
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I was pondering this not too long ago but dithered around until the BMC Monstercross was sold out. I came upon a Bianchi Volpe that I think might work. It came with really nice Cane Creek cantis. They stop well and don't squeal. The negative is that I have to deflate the tires to remove, even if the cable is disengaged. I'm think of switching to bar end shifters so I can use some Cane Creek brake levers with an additional brake release. The brakes and headset were all I kept. I bought a GRX crank and the rest is from the parts hoard. Ultegra 10 speed shifters, Pacenti wheels and (the horror) mismatched GKs. I can fit 43 in the front but only 38 rear. Not sure if that will be enough tire for my minimal handling skills and timid nature. We'll see. It's an odd color, greenish but not Celeste.





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Old 07-26-21, 02:30 PM
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OMG, if I never have to touch another canti again, it’ll be too soon.

Any rim brake I’m happy to see go, if only because those ***** make a filthy mess, but cantis suck worst of all.
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Old 07-26-21, 03:49 PM
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Yeah, these seem to be the exception, for me anyway. I've had one other set of cantis and some mini Vs and didn't like either.
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Old 07-26-21, 07:28 PM
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I’m from back in the day when all there was were cantis, u-brakes, and center bolt calipers, so I got a bad case of BTDT and don’t want to do that again. Back then, I tried so many, from Shimano XT to SunTour XC Pro, to DiaComp 986 and Ritchey Logic; always wanted Avid Tri-Aligns, but never swung it. When Vs came out— OMG XTR!— was a major quality of life upgrade, and then when I got my first discs 16 years ago, that introduced me to the ne plus ultra of braking. **** cantis…the hard way.
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Old 07-27-21, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by gios View Post
Thanks. I'd get a spacer.
All calipers are sold with them, whether purchased as a component or already mounted to a bike. If a shop doesn't provide these at sale, ask for them.
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