Revisiting disc brakes
As some of you know from my past posts, I have Avid BB7 road discs on my tourer (Dawes Sardar). Last week I did a tour of the Yorkshire Dales in the UK, fully loaded with tent, mat, sleeping bag, etc.
However, because British Airways now only take bikes in a bag or hard case (and I didn't have the money to buy a hard case) I decided to take my backup tourer which is an old Specialized Hard Rock converted to a tourer with racks, Nashbar canti brakes, trekking bars and Schwalbe Marathons. Since my primary tourer is so hard to get over here in the States (Dawes Sardar) I just couldn't stand the thought of it getting dented (I should add that if I did more touring I would buy a hard case and the Sardar would have gone in a heartbeat).
Anyway, this tour has made me rethink my thoughts on disc brakes. Though I love my disc brakes, I've maintained they are only really nice things to have, but hardly that necessary and are low value given the quality of some canti/v-brakes and brake pads and the cost of discs. I'm now not so sure.
Given some of the hills I went down, I think on a very hilly tour with sharp grades and corners, I'd heartily recommend disc brakes. On quite a few descents I had to continually apply my brakes for prolonged times due to the grades and sharp corners -and this resulted quite often in my rims becoming very, very hot -certainly to the point where I couldn't touch them. It got to the stage where I stopped and let the rims cool off for fear of damaging the pads or blowing the tyre.
So I'm changing my stance on disc brakes a little -if you have a very hilly tour, go with discs, they are worth it! (though if you are on a relatively flat tour then traditional brake setups should be fine.)