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Old 03-10-14, 08:24 AM   #1
adlai
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Disc Brakes?

How many of you run disc brakes? Are they noticably better than rim brakes? I've always run rim brakes but they do seem to wear down a lot.

It also seems that they run into problems with the rear rack. I wonder if anyone has done something like disc brake in the front, rim brake in the back, since the front brake takes so much of the brunt of braking anyways.
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Old 03-10-14, 08:32 AM   #2
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Disc brake pads wear down too, you just don't see it if you dont take the effort to look.


It's all been done .. before by someone.


as far as the rear rack there are workarounds To fit a rack .

1st is having the caliper on top of the chainstay. thats the frame designer's choice.

others is just mount the rack leg wider , or further back..
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Old 03-10-14, 08:32 AM   #3
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Most of my bikes have disc brakes. I find way less maintenance needed for them, no nasty black stuff on the rims. There are work arounds for disc + racks, more so is the rear disc is mounted to the seat stay. I find the big advantage is in the rain, mud and snow. Also better braking in said foul weather. If you live in dryer warmer climates, maybe not much of an advantage.
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Old 03-10-14, 08:37 AM   #4
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Roller brakes look interesting. Kind of like a "lite" version of disc brakes. Probably less power, but looks easier to install, less protruding. Thoughts?
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Old 03-10-14, 08:46 AM   #5
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Thinking of getting a commuter bike? What kind of riding are you doing now?
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Old 03-10-14, 08:53 AM   #6
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If you're looking to simply accommodate your rear disc brakes, there are racks made specifically for this application.

I have a Topeak "Super Tourist DX Disc" rear rack that's been great so far managing ~35-40lb loads with aplomb and it is specifically designed for rims with disc brakes (though I have canti/rim brakes I wanted the extra distance from my wheel).

If your question is primarily about which brake system is "better" (disc or caliper/v/canti/rim), there are many threads dedicated to this and nearly countless differing opinions on the subject. Here is a thread that may be helpful for you:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...r+canti+brakes

The "Search" function is very helpful...
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Old 03-10-14, 09:03 AM   #7
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Thinking of getting a commuter bike? What kind of riding are you doing now?
I have a commuter bike already. It's basically a cyclocross bike with a rack+ fenders. Double up front, deore wide range in the back. Might convert it to an IGH or leave it as it is.

Been thinking about possibly building a NuVinci hub into a folder also.
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Old 03-10-14, 09:05 AM   #8
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One of the bullet points on my list when I bought my 2006 Trek Portland was disc brakes. I bought it NOS in 2007, and so this month completes my seventh winter with it.

The two benefits that attracted me were consistent foul-weather braking, and elimination of rim wear. My first commuter made foul-weather stops into shorts-staining moments, and wore my rims down concave in only one winter.

Seven years later, I still strongly prefer the Portland's disc brakes in foul weather. And yes, I run KoolStop salmons on my other bikes. They're much better than other pads in the wet, but they don't hold a candle to the discs.

Retrogrouches will remind us that in foul-weather braking--in all braking for that matter--is limited by tire traction. Where I like the discs is that they eliminate lubricated rims from the equation. I need only consider the tire/road interface when braking.

In the dry, I don't have a strong feeling either way. My commutes--even my "hilly" one, are fairly flat, so the benefits of discs on the descent aren't something I need.

Disc pads do wear, and different formulations wear at different rates and in different conditions. Organics run quieter when the rotor is wet, but wear faster. Semi-metallic last longer, but shriek when the rotor is wet. That said, I put about 2,000 miles a year on that bike and I run organics. I replace my front pads every spring and rear ones every other year. They're never worn-out at that point, but I replace them anyway.

The rear rack mounting issue comes down to the frame design. When the rear caliper is mounted on top of the seatstay, MTB-style, rack mounting can be a problem, but still, a solvable problem. If the frame is designed to place the caliper in front of the rotor between the seatstay and the chainstay (as it is on my Portland), then there is no rack mounting issue. Any old rack will work just fine. I use a standard Tubus Cosmo.
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Old 03-10-14, 09:28 AM   #9
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Roller brakes look interesting. Kind of like a "lite" version of disc brakes. Probably less power, but looks easier to install, less protruding. Thoughts?
I had a roller brake on the rear for one season and it is by far the easiest brake to set up and maintain that I've ever used. They work more like a drum brake, - kind of. The "disc" you see on the outside is really a cooling fin.

Pros:
Easy setup and maintenance as mentioned
consistent braking performance in all weather
quiet, - don't shriek when wet like disc brakes

Cons:
heavy
Not as much braking power
grease slows you down in cold weather
need special fork for front roller
need compatible hubs
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Old 03-10-14, 09:44 AM   #10
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i find disc brakes more reliable than rim brakes in sloppy winter/spring riding. the location of the disc further away from the road surface seems to pick-up less schmutz, and that results in more reliable braking in my experience.

others have different experiences with disc brakes, and that's ok too, but for me, disc brakes are a must-have for any foul-weather steed.
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Old 03-10-14, 10:11 AM   #11
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I had a roller brake on the rear for one season and it is by far the easiest brake to set up and maintain that I've ever used. They work more like a drum brake, - kind of. The "disc" you see on the outside is really a cooling fin.

Pros:
Easy setup and maintenance as mentioned
consistent braking performance in all weather
quiet, - don't shriek when wet like disc brakes

Cons:
heavy
Not as much braking power
grease slows you down in cold weather
need special fork for front roller
need compatible hubs
Sounds about right. Of course for commuting, weight doesn't matter as much since the rack ends up weighing so much.

What do you mean by "heavy"? Like, rim brakes are just a few ounces. A few ounces more won't end the world. Or are we talking like 2lb?

Also, you can just fit in spacers in the place of a roller brake hub and use rim brakes, right? Looking at it, the only difference is that the roller brake hub has a thread by the spline to mount the roller drum brake.
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Old 03-10-14, 10:34 AM   #12
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Thoughts?
Shimano roller brakes need a different hub mount, unique to them .

disc brakes shriek when disc is not kept clean and the pad surface is glazed ,

they are not maintenance free..

Much closer to that goal is S-A Drum Brake Hubs.

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-10-14 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 03-10-14, 10:34 AM   #13
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Noticeably better. I won't get another bike without them. Trickling down to road bikes finally.
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Old 03-10-14, 10:40 AM   #14
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Sounds about right. Of course for commuting, weight doesn't matter as much since the rack ends up weighing so much.

What do you mean by "heavy"? Like, rim brakes are just a few ounces. A few ounces more won't end the world. Or are we talking like 2lb?

Also, you can just fit in spacers in the place of a roller brake hub and use rim brakes, right? Looking at it, the only difference is that the roller brake hub has a thread by the spline to mount the roller drum brake.
By heavy I mean close to 1.5 lbs. for the model I had. They might trim some off the weight of the higher end models. There was definitely some heft to mine. You may or may not care about that but when deciding between discs and roller brakes, there's a significant difference.

I was using a Nexus 8-speed "Red Band" rear hub. I don't know if there are any non-Nexus hubs that will work with a Shimano roller brake. That's what I meant. You are correct in that you don't have to use a roller brake on that type of hub. The hub came with a plastic cover for the splines.

If you're thinking about roller brakes or mechanical disc brakes, compressionless cable housing (designed for brakes) makes them work much better in my opinion. Especially the rear brake.

If it weren't for the cold weather performance I probably would have kept the roller brake on the rear (I've always had a disc brake on the front of that bike). Part of the problem was the hub itself which also uses grease for lubrication. For the hub, I've since switched to oil and it helped. That's not an option for the brakes. The weather here can be extremely cold and and it's consistently colder than most of the rest of the country so it's probably not as big a deal for a lot of people.

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Old 03-10-14, 11:08 AM   #15
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before switching to disc brakes i would wear out a rim every other year or so. this expensive habit came to an abrupt stop when i first bought a commuter with disc brakes in (long gone -- broke the alu frame). and when i started the switch to hydraulics in '05 it was a bloody revelation. i now run xts with sintered pads on both commuters and feel that my braking performance is now essentially perfect.

i will never buy a rim or mechanical disc brake again!
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Old 03-10-14, 11:15 AM   #16
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before switching to disc brakes i would wear out a rim every other year or so. this expensive habit came to an abrupt stop when i first bought a commuter with disc brakes in (long gone -- broke the alu frame). and when i started the switch to hydraulics in '05 it was a bloody revelation. i now run xts with sintered pads on both commuters and feel that my braking performance is now essentially perfect.

i will never buy a rim or mechanical disc brake again!
what about hydraulic rim brakes?
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Old 03-10-14, 11:17 AM   #17
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I like the hydraulic discs on my MTB when I ride in the Alps.

I think they're a little overkill for commuting ... even in the German winters.

I have crap rim brakes on my SS and they're OK. I'm curious how much life I'll get out of a single set of pads ... looking to be around 2500km or so.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:36 AM   #18
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A cheap mechanical disc brake can be worse than rim brakes. At the very least cheap ones are a pain to keep working right. A good mechanical disc brake can be nice. With flat bars, the choice of discs is easy. Drop bars tend to amplify the problems with mechanical disc brakes. Avid BB7's are the standard recommendation, and they're pretty good.

I switched to TRP HY/RD's last year (cable actuated with hydraulics in the caliper). I've had a lot of problems keeping them at full performance, but I think there's a good chance that TRP has fixed whatever problems they had to begin with. When they're working right, they are head and shoulders above any mechanical disc brake I've tried. I was an early adopter and I got to experience the early kinks in the system. TRP has recently redesigned an internal gasket and I haven't had any problems since installed the new piece (all the gory details and more here: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...P-HY-RD-brakes).

I commuted for a couple of years on a CX bike with a front disc brake and rear cantilevers. That's a good setup. The braking performance is every bit what you'd hope for. I like having discs on both wheels, but mostly because I like things to match. Here's a pic of my mixed brake setup:



I eventually built a rear wheel with the same rim as the front. No, I'm not OCD at all.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:36 AM   #19
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what about hydraulic rim brakes?
acidfast7, rim wear would still be an issue since i bike year round in the rainy and gritty pnw.
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Old 03-10-14, 11:38 AM   #20
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what about hydraulic rim brakes?
Why bother?
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Old 03-10-14, 11:45 AM   #21
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How many of you run disc brakes? Are they noticably better than rim brakes? I've always run rim brakes but they do seem to wear down a lot.

It also seems that they run into problems with the rear rack. I wonder if anyone has done something like disc brake in the front, rim brake in the back, since the front brake takes so much of the brunt of braking anyways.
I don't feel that they are any different from a rim brake either in stopping ability, power or being better in foul weather. I do have a mountain bike equipped with a disc in the front (you can't find quality suspension forks with cantilever brake bosses) and a linear brake in the back. There is not difference in the modulation nor in the power of either brake. Considering that the bike that is so equipped is my main winter bike, I don't notice any difference in wet/cold/icy conditions either.

I've noticed that the disc has a similar lag when applying them that many complain about with rim brakes if the rotor is wet. But if you know how to brake properly, the lag isn't a problem on either brakes.

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before switching to disc brakes i would wear out a rim every other year or so. this expensive habit came to an abrupt stop when i first bought a commuter with disc brakes in (long gone -- broke the alu frame). and when i started the switch to hydraulics in '05 it was a bloody revelation. i now run xts with sintered pads on both commuters and feel that my braking performance is now essentially perfect.

i will never buy a rim or mechanical disc brake again!
I don't know what you people do to wear out rims. I've worn out (maybe) 3 rims in 70,000+ miles of road, mountain bike, touring and commuting riding in all seasons and all kinds of conditions. All three rims were on my mountain bikes but it took years to wear them out. I did a 1200 mile 4 week loaded tour in 2011 that had 86,000 feet of descending and I still have the same rubber pads on the bike...and those pads had done several tours before the last one. And that wasn't 4 weeks of dry weather. My year around commuter bike has 12,000 miles on the wheels and they aren't even close to wearing out. I don't know what you do to your rims but I certainly don't baby mine and they seem to last up much longer than 2 years.
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Old 03-10-14, 12:04 PM   #22
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acidfast7, rim wear would still be an issue since i bike year round in the rainy and gritty pnw.
What's your rim lifespan?
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Old 03-10-14, 12:05 PM   #23
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Why bother?
Cost ... maintenance ... ease of pad changing.
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Old 03-10-14, 12:16 PM   #24
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thanks for replies all.
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Old 03-10-14, 12:18 PM   #25
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I don't know what you people do to wear out rims. I've worn out (maybe) 3 rims in 70,000+ miles of road, mountain bike, touring and commuting riding in all seasons and all kinds of conditions. All three rims were on my mountain bikes but it took years to wear them out. I did a 1200 mile 4 week loaded tour in 2011 that had 86,000 feet of descending and I still have the same rubber pads on the bike...and those pads had done several tours before the last one. And that wasn't 4 weeks of dry weather. My year around commuter bike has 12,000 miles on the wheels and they aren't even close to wearing out. I don't know what you do to your rims but I certainly don't baby mine and they seem to last up much longer than 2 years.
a mtb rim is a completely different beast from the rims i routinely used (mostly open pros/sports).

i descend ~120-180 thousand feet each year often in wet and gritty conditions. the speed of my descents also likely contributed to accumulation of grit underneath pads. on drop bar road bikes (fair weather bikes) i typically get 5-8 years of rim wear.

i do agree that disc brake pads wear more rapidly than good quality rim brake pads. organic pads are particularly bad.

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