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Old 04-01-09, 09:40 AM   #1
Showtyme5
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Ignorant Newbie - To disc or not to disc

So, I'm new to mountain biking and haven't had a bike since I outgrew my Rockhopper many years ago. I'm looking into a new bike and am going to trail ride in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Having been out of the loop for so long, I'm a bit ignorant to the components and what I need/don't need on this bike. I'm not really looking to break the bank and won't go higher than $800 msrp (which I can get at least 10% off of). I was looking at the Gary Fisher Marlin GS which has v brakes, but after searching through dozens of threads here, I'm confused about whether or not getting disc brakes is worth it. The Marlin disc is only $90 more. Some say disc brakes are worth it (my co-worker just advised that they're a must have), while others say that on any bike under $2000 the disc brakes aren't going to be any good anyways. So, in seeing that most disc brake upgrades are about $100, for my purposes, would the additional cash be well spent on disc brakes or should I just stick with the v brakes? Thanks for any input.

Any thoughts on the GF Marlin would be appreciated as well.
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Old 04-01-09, 09:53 AM   #2
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In your situation, it's really six of one, half-dozen of the other. Usually I would say get the disc model, since upgrading to disc usually involves the added expense of changing hubs and/or wheelsets. HOWEVER, it looks like the v-brake-equipped Marlin has disc hubs already; so you would be free to upconvert for only the cost of a brakeset when/if the time came. The brakes that come on the disc model are the BB5s, which are fine brakes but really only about a $90 upgrade (or less even) any time if you shop online carefully.

So it's really just a matter of whether or not you want to justify having a very descent-but-not-spectacular set of mechanical discs right away.
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Old 04-01-09, 10:15 AM   #3
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I just picked up the '09 Rockhopper Comp Disc with one of my concerns being v-brakes v. disc. The stopping power of the brakes is fantastic, and I'm glad I made the choice of going disc.
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Old 04-01-09, 01:56 PM   #4
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I bought my first "real" bike last year (just under $600), and I absolutely love the disc brakes. I will never go back now. You should get the bike with discs, or if you want really nice brakes (and the hubs on the vbrake bike are already set up for discs), you can buy avid's juicy 7 hydraulic brake for ~$300. I've heard those are more than worth the price (though I haven't actually used them).

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Old 04-01-09, 02:51 PM   #5
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I bought my bike for 700 (AUD) with Shimano BR-M465 disc brakes, and they are pretty damn good.

Whoever told you disc brakes were crap on lower-end bikes doesn't know much.

On x-mart bikes and the likes, yeah, but if you know what you're looking for you can get a decent quality bike with decent disc brakes for your price range.
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Old 04-01-09, 03:45 PM   #6
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Since the marlin has disk ready hubs, I would hold out for a high end brake system. I am not that impressed with bb5"s, I have them on my rockhopper. When they get worn, I'm hunting up a good deal on something better. I would put the $90+ tax in a piggy bank, towards hydros or higher end mechs.

I have seen some awsome deals on juicy's for aroound $150, ebay & CL.

After you upgrade, if something brakes (), you have the v-brakes to get you back rollin ( or stoppin).

I't would be real nice to have a bike that had capabilities of both systems. Marlin with v-brakes does, I'm not sure but I don't think marlin with disk, has mounts on the fork and frame for "V's." If you bent a disk, or broke a caliper, you could slap a V' brake on. Think long term, when the warrenty is expired, doesn't cover the damage, don't want the bike sitting in the shop for 2 weeks waiting on a part.

Last edited by Lets_roll; 04-01-09 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 04-01-09, 08:45 PM   #7
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Thanks for the responses; this is a great board....

My LBS is bringing in a Marlin and I'm gonna go check it out on Saturday. I'll let you know how it goes.
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Old 04-01-09, 10:16 PM   #8
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Just to throw in my 2 cents, if you get a nice set of V's, they can be decent brakes. I have avid 7 "mech disc" on one bike and avid single digit V's on another. And while I cant say there is no difference, the disc is more responsive on major descents. When I am using the bike with the v-brakes, its not like i am thinking I wish I had discs on that one. It still stops me fine. But if your gona get disc brakes get nice ones. I myself wont go Hydro because with my luck Ill break a line 10 miles in the woods. I am parinoid about that. But most riders swear by them.
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Old 04-02-09, 12:19 AM   #9
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My thoughts ...

I love disc brakes, but they can be a pain to keep adjusted properly. The stopping power and feel of a good set of disc though...incredible.

For now, you might want to get the v-brake model like others have suggested and upgrade in the future if you'd like. FWIW, I just bought a set of Avid Juicy 5 on ebay for $114. It was a steal but those kinds of deals exist, so upgrading to something pretty nice won't be that tough.
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Old 04-02-09, 02:01 AM   #10
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My thoughts ...

I love disc brakes, but they can be a pain to keep adjusted properly. The stopping power and feel of a good set of disc though...incredible.

For now, you might want to get the v-brake model like others have suggested and upgrade in the future if you'd like. FWIW, I just bought a set of Avid Juicy 5 on ebay for $114. It was a steal but those kinds of deals exist, so upgrading to something pretty nice won't be that tough.
I've always had the opposite experience w/ disks. I ran Grimeca System 8s for years and only bled them once, and now have a set of Hayes and haven't had to do anything yet. Self adjusting pads rock.

I think the advantages of disk brakes have nothing to do with overall stopping power. I can stop my bike just as well (in most conditions) with rim brakes as my disk brakes. But in really nasty weather (like what we get 8 months a year in upstate NY), rim brakes can get sketchy. Also, with rim brakes you must keep your wheels very close to true. And if you ride hard, your wheels will always be out just enough to notice with rim brakes.
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Old 04-02-09, 02:22 AM   #11
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On a mountain bike, I think disc brakes are well worth the slight extra cost. Rim brakes can certainly be made to work Okay, but once you've used discs out in the muck, you don't want to go back. I'd make it a "must have".

- Mark
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Old 04-02-09, 06:08 PM   #12
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descent-but-not-spectacular
freudian slip?
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Old 04-02-09, 06:21 PM   #13
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Discs aren't a must have, but they're nice. I've got rim brakes, wish I had discs, but don't plan on upgrading. Bottom line: if you think you might want them now, get them, because upgrading can be more expensive if you don't have the right equipment already.
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Old 04-02-09, 06:36 PM   #14
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The disc model is 90 more than the v-brake model? To get a set of discs after the fact is only 100? Imho why not get the bike with v-brakes and then upgrade yourself. like the other guy said who wants to wait for the part to come in if your bike is broken. If it costs roughly the same either way, why not go the route that gets you more stuff.
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Old 04-02-09, 07:00 PM   #15
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I bought the v-brake marlin. I plan on eventually putting a disc on the front (I see no point for a rear disc) but I want it to be something good when I do get around to it.
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Old 04-02-09, 08:16 PM   #16
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Are you the guy who had the great pics? I saw those if that was you. How do you like your bike? Your pics are what made me look into getting this. I'm torn between the Marlin and the Red Trek 6000. Let me know what you think of it. Thanks.
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Old 04-02-09, 08:21 PM   #17
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That was you. I just looked it up. So, please enlighten me to the good/bad parts of the Marlin. I saw you had some Koolstops put on........how are those? Much better than stock? Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-02-09, 08:46 PM   #18
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Since the marlin has disk ready hubs, I would hold out for a high end brake system. I am not that impressed with bb5"s, I have them on my rockhopper. When they get worn, I'm hunting up a good deal on something better. I would put the $90+ tax in a piggy bank, towards hydros or higher end mechs.

I have seen some awsome deals on juicy's for aroound $150, ebay & CL.

After you upgrade, if something brakes (), you have the v-brakes to get you back rollin ( or stoppin).

I't would be real nice to have a bike that had capabilities of both systems. Marlin with v-brakes does, I'm not sure but I don't think marlin with disk, has mounts on the fork and frame for "V's." If you bent a disk, or broke a caliper, you could slap a V' brake on. Think long term, when the warrenty is expired, doesn't cover the damage, don't want the bike sitting in the shop for 2 weeks waiting on a part.
Bingo...ride the heck out of the bike with V brakes and if you ever have the need to go disc...they can be found at very reasonable prices. In fact, a buddy bought a complete set of Hayes mechanical disc brakes (front/rear) with rotors and levers for $60. new! They work fine. Ride safe and enjoy!
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Old 04-02-09, 09:03 PM   #19
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I'm know some serious riders who do well off-road on the v-brakes. I recently rented some bikes with hydro disc brakes and I liked it. When I ride alot my hands get tired on the v-brake. The discs required almost no hand power and my hands enjoyed it.
If you know that your hands are going to get sore or you are braking alot, you might consider the discs.
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Old 04-02-09, 10:43 PM   #20
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Old 04-02-09, 11:17 PM   #21
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That was you. I just looked it up. So, please enlighten me to the good/bad parts of the Marlin. I saw you had some Koolstops put on........how are those? Much better than stock? Thanks in advance.
I still have nothing really to complain about with the bike. After getting the koolstops my braking is under control. The only thing I could really fault it for is the shock but for this price range that's just what you get. If you like the looks of it then I say go for it because everything in this price range is going to have very similar performance characteristics.
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