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  1. #1
    genec genec's Avatar
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    so why no disk brakes on touring bikes?

    Just wondering. I have cantis on my very old touring bike... and I have looked at a couple new bikes like the Bruce Gordons and Trek and LHT, but I don't see disk brakes...

    Is it simply weight, or is there some other negative reason for the lack of disk brakes on touring bikes.

  2. #2
    It's true, man.
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    I can't wait to show you my disk-braked tourer, as soon as it's finished in a week or two.

  3. #3
    Bike touring webrarian
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    I tour on a Waterford Adventurecycle. It is a fabulous touring bike.
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    Does this look familiar?

    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  4. #4
    genec genec's Avatar
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    At least it isn't one of these...


  5. #5
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    I hope I'm not stepping into anything here...

    I test rode a Kona Sutra with STIs and Disc brakes. The braking was horrendous and the levers felt spongey. The bike was discounted to $700 because no one liked how it felt and the shop said they'd never stock them again. I have no idea if they just didn't set them up properly or if there was inherent weakness, but that bike simply didn't stop properly.

    On the other side, a friend from the forum built an awesome Soma with disc brakes and STIs and that stopped like a dream.

  6. #6
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    I hope I'm not stepping into anything here...

    I test rode a Kona Sutra with STIs and Disc brakes. The braking was horrendous and the levers felt spongey. The bike was discounted to $700 because no one liked how it felt and the shop said they'd never stock them again. I have no idea if they just didn't set them up properly or if there was inherent weakness, but that bike simply didn't stop properly.

    On the other side, a friend from the forum built an awesome Soma with disc brakes and STIs and that stopped like a dream.
    Well see, that's why I am wondering... I have discs on my Giant Trance 2 and they are pretty nice... and do a good job even wet. On the other hand a bit of dampness on my touring rims, when riding fully loaded, can mean not stopping soon enough, even with salmon Kool Stops. Now don't get me wrong, the Kool Stops are darn good...

    But here is a whole new technology... so why is it not found on touring bikes, typically.

    Of course one can build up a darn nice touring bike with any features you want. But that's a different story.

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    this is a stretch but what the hell

    http://salsacycles.com/bikes/fargo/

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    I would say it's partly tradition (i.e. cantilevers are viewed as simpler, easier to maintain, more "classic", etc.). More importantly, the calipers can also make mounting racks and fenders awkward, though I believe some frames now (e.g. Gunnar) are positioning the rear IS mount in such a way that it doesn't interfere as much.

    There are plenty of options for disc-compatible frames and brake levers/calipers these days though, especially if you don't mind running a disc in front and a canti/V-brake in back (then you can use any frame you want and just change out the fork). I don't know if anyone makes a true touring-specific disc fork (i.e. one with dual dropout eyelets and mid-fork rack eyelets, which might make the fork too weak for a disc), but there are plenty of cyclocross disc forks. I've been looking at the Salsa La Cruz fork for my new build. I like the forward-facing SS dropouts.

  9. #9
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    If I was going to use disc brakes I would only bother with the front. Nothing gained on the rear. I almost never use my rear brake as it is... Now on a mountain bike it's a whole different story.

    Canti's stop me fast enough and are cheap and easy to maintain. Good enough for me.
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    It's pretty simple, the touring market is miniscule compared to mtn. bikes, kid bikes and hybrids so there isn't much incentive to introducing a whole new line of wheels and forks and frames when all a manufacturer has to do is grab what's off the shelf and allocate high quality parts for where it matters. Custom and low production manufacturers offer discs. I suspect it'll become more common in the future but for the person who just wants to go on a trip the decision of rim or disc has no bearing on the trip happening whereas a companies ability to sell a bike for a profit hinges on offering the best value for the money.

  11. #11
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    I was under the impression that cyclocross bikes by definition didn't have disc brakes.

  12. #12
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    I was under the impression that cyclocross bikes by definition didn't have disc brakes.
    That's more a UCI rule than anything else. They don't allow them.
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    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    I hope I'm not stepping into anything here...

    I test rode a Kona Sutra with STIs and Disc brakes. The braking was horrendous and the levers felt spongey.
    I don't know what brakes are on the Sutra, but cheap disc brakes are not any better than cheap linear pull brakes, when it comes to stopping power. A good disc brake is better, especially in wet conditions.

    As for not being on a touring bike, there are some reasons. One would be the weaker wheels. Another reason has been mentioned above about rack and fender issues. As with anything, there are pros and cons for all options. I have not toured with disc brakes, but I don't think it would bother me at all. I actually like the idea for long mountain descents. I'm always nervous about overheating the rims and having a tire blow off when continuously braking.
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    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    I couldn't tell you what was on it. It had a fairly nice group from what I recall...105 stuff mostly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
    I don't know what brakes are on the Sutra, but cheap disc brakes are not any better than cheap linear pull brakes, when it comes to stopping power. A good disc brake is better, especially in wet conditions.
    I checked the specs and they're Avid BB7 Roads, which are what I use. I found them a bit tricky to dial in at first, especially since it was my first experience with discs. And, of course, no disc brake will stop very well until the pads are broken in, which can take a while.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Just wondering. I have cantis on my very old touring bike... and I have looked at a couple new bikes like the Bruce Gordons and Trek and LHT, but I don't see disk brakes...

    Is it simply weight, or is there some other negative reason for the lack of disk brakes on touring bikes.
    You need to do more research. There are plenty of touring bikes with disc brakes.

    Salsa Vaya, Co-Motion will put them on any of their tourers, Raleigh Sojourn, Jamis Aurora Elite (just added disc brakes this year), Kona Sutra, REI Novara Fargo, etc. etc.

  17. #17
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metaluna View Post
    I checked the specs and they're Avid BB7 Roads, which are what I use. I found them a bit tricky to dial in at first, especially since it was my first experience with discs. And, of course, no disc brake will stop very well until the pads are broken in, which can take a while.
    I certainly didn't know that, but it does make sense. When I inquired about the bike, even before test riding it, they told me it was discounted heavily because of the braking and that discs don't work well with STIs. I certainly didn't find that to be the case on my friend's Soma and wondered what was causing it.

    I have serious brand aversion towards Avid. I had their shorty 4s on my JTS cross bike and found them to be terrible...especially the stock pads. An old set of dia-compes far outperformed them.

  18. #18
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
    I don't know what brakes are on the Sutra, but cheap disc brakes are not any better than cheap linear pull brakes, when it comes to stopping power. A good disc brake is better, especially in wet conditions.

    As for not being on a touring bike, there are some reasons. One would be the weaker wheels. Another reason has been mentioned above about rack and fender issues. As with anything, there are pros and cons for all options. I have not toured with disc brakes, but I don't think it would bother me at all. I actually like the idea for long mountain descents. I'm always nervous about overheating the rims and having a tire blow off when continuously braking.
    The long mountain descents are what piqued my mind. I did a tour in Baja years ago and the climbs and descents were wicked... coupled with the winter season, there was a lot of rain... and at times my brakes were less than satisfactory.

    With regard to the whole tour bike industry... yeah, I can see the issues... my bike was in fact custom built at the time, so I wasn't really depending on the industry per se to deliver what I needed.

    I am however looking to get a new bike, and thought I would start with what is available now... I was rather disappointed to NOT see disc brakes as an option... considering my past experience with the mountains (bad) and my recent experience with my MTB (good). My bike back then (which I still have) was something of a hybrid between a road bike and a fat tire MTB, using MTB components for the drive train, but having a fairly upright and long road frame, but with fat tires. (a real mixed beast)

    I don't think the Trek 520 has changed in years... except for the components... the LHT doesn't seem to have options for discs either.

    Oh well, apparently going custom is the only route... so be it.

  19. #19
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    You need to do more research. There are plenty of touring bikes with disc brakes.

    Salsa Vaya, Co-Motion will put them on any of their tourers, Raleigh Sojourn, Jamis Aurora Elite (just added disc brakes this year), Kona Sutra, REI Novara Fargo, etc. etc.
    Thanks... interesting that the Jamis just added them. REI is close to me... so worth a look. I looked at the Konas a few years ago, they had discs but no braze-ons for racks... back then.

  20. #20
    Grateful Tread brawny's Avatar
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    I don't know much about disc brakes, as I've never had the opportunity to ride anything with them. My understanding is that they're much more effective than rim brakes, but potentially require more maintenance. Not sure if this is true or not - just what I've heard.

    Is it possible that they'd be avoided on an 'expedition ready' tourer for maintenance reasons? Mind you, from what I've heard disc brakes work on bent rims, so that might be an advantage in the middle of nowhere...
    TV Sucks. Ride Your Bike!

  21. #21
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    When I bought my Norco CCX a few years ago it came with bb7's and cheap SORA brifters, the braking is awesome. Strong and predictable in the dry or the wet. One of the best things is the ease of adjustment. Just passing 1000km on a new set of pads this week, getting a little too much travel on the levers now, so I just turned the adjustment dials in on the calipers a couple clicks. Fast and easy. Spare pads are tiny and light and easy to change.

    I ride with Axion Lasalle bags on the rear rack all the time, no interference with the rear caliper. Don't have a front rack so can't comment there. Anyway, I am a larger man, 6'4" and 230 pounds, and when I am coming down a long hill with lots of groceries or gear in the bags and then have to stop suddenly, I can easily modulate the braking to keep it right where I like it - just a fraction below wheel lock-up. The front rotor gets so hot it smokes and hisses in the rain, which I think is cool. No loss of performance on long downhills when its just me and the panniers. When I am towing the trailer and it is quite heavy, I do get some brake fade on longer hills, but that just means squeezing harder than normal and using the rear brake more than normal. I will always prefer a bike with discs now. I love them. Hold out for a touring bike with discs!

    -Ryan

    p.s. (due to cyclocross regs, Norco has gone back to cross bikes with no disc brakes again I think.)

  22. #22
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    I think one reason is that one doesn't stop so much on touring bikes. A lot of the time one is noodling along and hours go by with no really dramatic brake use. Compared to urban cycling or MTBs. Obviously your downhills may vary, and I have been on tours where a fair amount of my time was spent dreaming up more effective brake systems.

    That said, most manufacturers have price points in mind, and they may only allow one or two big buys, like a Brooks seat. So which do you want, the Brooks and the bar ends, or the BB7s? BB7s are actually a premium buy, in line with what I spent on my Paul Cantis, though more likely to be found on sale at Nashbar. Don't find many Pauls on medium priced touring bikes either.

  23. #23
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    I have a Marinoni Turismo Extreme with Avid bb7's and Ultegra brifters. It has far superior braking to my Jamis Nova, or my Specialized Tarmac. Have a Blackburn rack on the back, Axiom rack on the front, everything fit fine. Fully loaded, have had no problems on some of the 20+ km decents around here. I would heartily recommend discs to anyone.
    Cheers

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    I was under the impression that cyclocross bikes by definition didn't have disc brakes.
    Yeah, because of UCI rules. Cyclocross bikes are much better off with disks. The cantis on my 2009 Tricross Sport are by far my least favourite thing about it, but it's such an expensive upgrade: fork plus wheel plus brakes. And you can't really put hydraulics on it, because of the interrupter brakes. (Although I have contemplated the idea of having two sets of front brakes: hydraulics with normal mountain bike levers, and cantis connected to the drops. Probably a stupid idea though.)

    If I was ever building a touring bike from scratch, no question I'd put disk(s) on it.

  25. #25
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I have touring bikes with both discs and v-brakes...in my opinion...there is no slam dunk either way. Each system has pros and cons depending on the specifics of a situation both can come out on top.

    You can definitely tour just about anywhere with either system if you really want to.

    I will say that I have never felt that I was at any disadvantage on a tour with my v-brakes vs. discs.
    safe riding - Vik
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