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  1. #1
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    Which brakes for a cyclist with a weak grip?

    Hi all,

    I am writing because I am getting ready to buy a new bicycle but I have some disabilities that I have to accomodate for.

    First, I have a bad back, so I will be purchasing a "Comfort Bike" with a more upright sitting position.
    Second, I have tendinitis in my wrists--in the past this has not been a problem because I ride so slow on my cruisier that it takes no effort to stop, but now I live on a hill in a town that rains a lot, and want to start driving less (thus biking more), so I need the most efficient brakes possible.

    The bike I am currently considering is a Specialized Crossroads Comp '04, which comes with Shimano Nexave 500 mechanical disc brakes. I guess my question is, how much a difference do disc brakes make? And within disc brakes, are hydraulic more desirable than mechanical? This bike is decently priced so I have money to spend on brake upgrades if it seems worth it. So what should I do? What have others done in this situation?

    Thanks a whole lot,
    Peter

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad cowan
    Hi all,

    I am writing because I am getting ready to buy a new bicycle but I have some disabilities that I have to accomodate for.

    First, I have a bad back, so I will be purchasing a "Comfort Bike" with a more upright sitting position.
    Second, I have tendinitis in my wrists--in the past this has not been a problem because I ride so slow on my cruisier that it takes no effort to stop, but now I live on a hill in a town that rains a lot, and want to start driving less (thus biking more), so I need the most efficient brakes possible.

    The bike I am currently considering is a Specialized Crossroads Comp '04, which comes with Shimano Nexave 500 mechanical disc brakes. I guess my question is, how much a difference do disc brakes make? And within disc brakes, are hydraulic more desirable than mechanical? This bike is decently priced so I have money to spend on brake upgrades if it seems worth it. So what should I do? What have others done in this situation?

    Thanks a whole lot,
    Peter
    Welcome to the forum first of all, and good choice on the bike. I can asure you that hydraulic disc brakes work. But so do all other brakes. A good set of "V" brakes will work as good as any other brake.- until a little bit of wear takes place, the blocks get dirty, or the cable gets tight. (Basically any brake will need maintenance but Hydraulic discs once set up have been a fit and forget for me) Mechanical disc brakes work fine, but I have never used them. I went from V brakes to Hydraulic and these are superb. Many manufacturers of Disc brakes, but one point to remember, if you have a hand problem. The larger the disc, the easier the braking will be. I ride one of the more extreme bikes aroung- an off road Tandem- and this needs all the braking possible. We went to 200 mm discs, but talk to your LBS and see if up- sizing the disc is a possibility. This may be a cheaper option initially, and will leave more money for the other accessories that may be required.

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    I don't know much about those specific disc brakes, but if it turns out that they don't work well enough for you, you might try a good aftermarket brake pad. I've swapped the stock pads (on canti and road brakes) for Matthausers or Kool Stops on several bikes over the years, and it's always been a big improvement. Good lubrication of the cables and pivot points will help, too.

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    I don't know much about those specific disc brakes, but if it turns out that they don't work well enough for you, you might try a good aftermarket brake pad. I've swapped the stock pads (on canti and road brakes) for Matthausers or Kool Stops on several bikes over the years, and it's always been a big improvement. Good lubrication of the cables and pivot points will help, too.

  5. #5
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad cowan
    ...how much a difference do disc brakes make? .. are hydraulic more desirable than mechanical? ..
    Hi Peter! Disc brakes make a night and day difference when the roads are wet or icy. In dry weather, not much difference.

    Unless you're decending mountains with the brakes on continuously, there's no significant difference between mechanical and hydraulic discs. The Shimano discs on that Specialized bike are excellent and don't need upgrading. The stock brake levers should provide your hands with plenty of mechanical advantage. If you have doubts, ask the dealer to let you ride the bike down your daily incline and see what you think.

    Good luck & happy shopping!

  6. #6
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    first of all, thanks everyone for the great informative replies. It sounds like mechanical disc brakes should be good enough for me. If it turns out that the stock brakes don't feel as good as I like, if I'm understanding correctly, I have the option to upgrade the size of the disc without having to get different wheels, and upgrade the breaking mechanism to hydraulic if necessary?

    thanks everyone.,
    happy riding!

  7. #7
    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    The disc size is set by the frame mounts. The same size rotor is used by both mechanical and hydraulic calipers. You can "upgrade" to hydraulic actuation if you want, but give the mechanical disc pads a chance to "wear in" before you decide. After 15 to 20 good hard stops, the pads should give consistent performance for a long time thereafter. If you judge the stopping power of the mechanical disc setup on the first few stops, you won't get a fair evaluation.

  8. #8
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    if you can find some shimano servo wave blae levers they take very little effort compared to most brake levers. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...Name=WDVW&rd=1
    I had some cheaper ones and I only needed one finger with them they were that powerful. that was on standard v brakes.

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    The disc size is set by the frame mounts. The same size rotor is used by both mechanical and hydraulic calipers. You can "upgrade" to hydraulic actuation if you want, but give the mechanical disc pads a chance to "wear in" before you decide. After 15 to 20 good hard stops, the pads should give consistent performance for a long time thereafter. If you judge the stopping power of the mechanical disc setup on the first few stops, you won't get a fair evaluation.
    An upgrade to larger discs is possible by buying an adaptor to space the caliper out. Far better is to decide right from the start that a larger disc is required, if that is the case, and then have it replaced by a larger disc with the correct caliper.
    I know that others will say that Mechanical discs are fine, but I have no experience of them, and the reports I did have, were that they were no better than "V" brakes, the advantage of Mechanicals over "V"'s though does mean that Mechanical discs are worth fitting as a preference.

  10. #10
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    thanks all. upgrading the brake levers themselves is a great idea which i had not even considered--could save me a couple hundred bucks. gonna go test ride today!

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