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  1. #1
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    The value of disc brakes and IGH's

    My local bike shop has a Gary Fischer 3 speed internal geared hub and disc brakes. I could just put some fenders and studded tires on my Jamis but it has a regular gear cluster and rim brakes.

    Do the disc brakes and IGHs make that big a difference? Worth buying a whole new bike or not?

    Also the Gary Fischer has a rigid fork - what's the advantage of that? Better/safer handling or just one less thing to rust/rot out?

  2. #2
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    how bad is the snow and ice where you are? I have not had any issues with my regular drivetrain but I have had issues with rim brakes in extremely cold temps where there are puddles that have not frozen yet. The rims can ice up and take a few revolutions of the wheel for the brakes to knock it off and start working. Disc brakes also solve the issue of rim wear if your city puts down a lot of abrasive stuff when it snows.

    So basically I like both options but I would not deem either one a necessity. Having a back up commuter is always nice though, even for summer time. You can keep one bike ready for nasty weather with fenders on at all times and the other without them for a lighter bike that can be more of a play bike as well as a quicker commuter.

  3. #3
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    I'm in central Wisconsin so the snow and ice is abundant.

    So the rims icing up and/or the rim-brakes seizing is not a matter of "if" but "when"?

  4. #4
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    I live in Madison, and after 2 winters of rim brakes, decided that my life is worth another bike with discs. Last winter, I used my salsa fargo, but since I prefer not to subject it to that corrosive of forces, I am currently building up a ss (not fixed) 29er with discs. Discs are a safety issue where I live, imho. IGH, not so much.

  5. #5
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Jaque View Post
    I'm in central Wisconsin so the snow and ice is abundant.

    So the rims icing up and/or the rim-brakes seizing is not a matter of "if" but "when"?
    They have never seized on me but they do ice up. When the rims get warm from braking (melting any snow on the rims) and then cool back off quickly in very cold temps it can freeze. It just takes a few seconds of braking for them to clean off the ice generally so you do have to do a much better job anticipating a stop, dragging the brakes well before needing to stop is usually a good idea if it is very nasty out.

    You can get by without discs but like was mentioned they are much safer and solve a lot of the problems with rim brakes in extreme cold/snow. If you plan to commute year round and have it in the budget to get the bike I think you will be happy with your choice. If you are broke and buying the bike will keep you from attending to other matters that are pressing I would say put some good pads on your current bike and ride smart.

  6. #6
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    Not broke. Just sold a gas-hog. I'm considering year-round bicycling but with trepidation. I've tried it in college without studded tires and quickly realized the insanity of it. But since learning that there are numerous companies offering studded tire has caused me to reconsider.

    The problem is I don't want to drop the coin on a whole new bike only to learn that winter biking is only for those who do not value their life. The cold and chill I can handle, but pulling up to an intersection and finding that neither I nor the 4000 lb truck coming my way can stop would change my mind in a hurry.

    The Gary Fisher has hub brakes in the rear and a disc up front.

    Oh, and if I realize that I'd rather go back to something with 4 wheels I'd rather have had the $400 to put towards a small car.

  7. #7
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    I think that disc brakes on bikes are at the same level as disc brakes on cars were in the 60's - just coming into their own. I think they are superior but the absolute need for them is not as distinct as it was for cars, after all you are not stopping a multi ton vehicle, just your body weight and 20-40 pounds of gear.

    I think they are inevitable and hopefully we will see a good standard truly come into being so that it will be easier to select, maintain and replace pads.

    I would like them on my bike and all I ride is the MUPS.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rootman View Post
    I think that disc brakes on bikes are at the same level as disc brakes on cars were in the 60's - just coming into their own. I think they are superior but the absolute need for them is not as distinct as it was for cars, after all you are not stopping a multi ton vehicle, just your body weight and 20-40 pounds of gear.

    I think they are inevitable and hopefully we will see a good standard truly come into being so that it will be easier to select, maintain and replace pads.

    I would like them on my bike and all I ride is the MUPS.
    Disc brakes are rock solid. I cannot speak for snow but in the rain, they are 100% right on when I need them.
    Feel free to visit my blog www.chefonabicycle.com

  9. #9
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    I live in Madison and my winter bike (Salsa Mukluk 2) has disc brakes. I swear by them, winter or not, they're clearly a better braking system.

    I don't know if I'd trust a split (disc front & hub rear) braking system when on snow or ice, because the front brake will stop the wheel more effectively, and if the rear wheel doesn't, your bike will turn sideways and you'll plant your face in the ground in fairly short order. I don't know about anyone else, but when I brake in winter conditions I try to apply the same pressure to the front & rear brakes simultaneously, especially if trying to stop quickly. With two different braking systems, especially if there is a big difference between the stopping power of the two, you'll have to have a really good feel for how the two brakes operate in bad conditions if you want to keep the bike on two wheels.

  10. #10
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    When you say hub brakes, do you mean coaster brakes (the kind you pedal backwards to engage) or actual hub brakes controlled by a brake lever? If they are hub brakes they would also be pretty good, if they are coaster brakes they can be kind of hard to modulate if it is slick out.

    I think going with a bike that is set up all the time for nasty weather with studded tires and fenders is the best way to assure you will like the sport and stick with it. If you are constantly worried about your equipment you will be less likely to have a good time and not be able to get the most out of your investment into cycling. Having a second bike also lets you keep regular tires mounted at all times on another bike so you are not always forced into riding slow studded tires when dry out.

    Worst case you can re-sell the bike if it comes to it, quality bikes with disc brakes tend to keep a decent resale value.

  11. #11
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    I'm incorrect. I was investigating two bikes, a Gary Fisher 3-speed which has coaster brakes and a rim brake up front. The Schwinn 411 has two disc brakes and a 5-speed IGH.

    This would make bike number 3 for me. I have a Jamis Aragon hybrid. And a 1986 Schwinn Tempo road bike. So theoretically I could fit out the Jamis for winter and use the Tempo for pleasant whether.

  12. #12
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    I like discs but their advantage is highest in freeze/thaw cycles and in the rain. In very cold and dry conditions with good snow clearance, they are not so advantageous.
    IHG can freeze up in the cold. My Shimano Alfine stuck in whatever gear I left it below 10C. An oil dip reduced the sticking temperature to something we never experience here, it works fine now.
    Studded tyres are probably the best investment you can make.

  13. #13
    Senior Member jdswitters's Avatar
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    My 4 season commuter is a torker graduate, 5spd IGH and drum brakes with cross tires. Low maintenance in the winter and the brakes work no matter how deep the snow. I know a lot of fat bike people like the big flotation, and I have tried a few bikes with 2.1 in wide tires and didn't find much advantage until the snow was 4-inches or deeper. For snow less than 4-inches the 700c x32s I run cut down to the pavement without pushing all the snow of wider tires. Somewhere between 4-6 inches, espicially if the snow is wet/heavy, the tires never find the bottom and the drag on the tires gets bad and they start wandering side to side. This is when the wide tires start to make up for the amount of snow they push. I have a an old beach cruiser single speed with wide mud tires that is a blast in deep snow. Last year there were only 2 or 3 days when I wish I had studs. YMMV on climate.

    I was on my trekking bike last winter coming home from 10 miles away and left when the snow started. At about an inch of snow the rims got wet and the (granted, very old) pads gave up, which made the last mile or so very cautious. Fortunately it was also very flat and residential. My next trekking bike will have disk brakes.

    Cheers,
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  14. #14
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Drum brake hubs have been around for a long time and are lower maintenance than disc brakes. And you can be sure that weather won't affect their performance I'm not sure if the argument is compelling enough, though. Drum brake hubs are heavy.

    3-speed hubs are extremely reliable, but I don't expect IGH's with more speeds are as reliable. If reliability is at the top of your list, then a 3-speed is a good choice. 5-speed might be good, too.

    You can get a 3-speed hub with a drum brake, a disc brake, or a coaster brake.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  15. #15
    Gone Biking! Pridedog's Avatar
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    I have a SRAM I-9 IGH hub and disc brakes. This set up works extremely well in the snow and rain. No reliability problems with either. My only complaint is that the I-9 hub is heavy, so I only ride it in the winter when the conditions are bad. Otherwise I like the reduced rolling resistance of multi-speed hub.

  16. #16
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    The only issue I have with disc breaks is that they are tough to adjust. I am still learning though and currently have BB5s.
    Feel free to visit my blog www.chefonabicycle.com

  17. #17
    Senior Member curly666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    The only issue I have with disc breaks is that they are tough to adjust. I am still learning though and currently have BB5s.
    I have BB7s, both pads are adjustable, very easy and simple to adjust.

  18. #18
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    BB7s yes, BB5's suck. One fixed pad and the other adjustable. It is a nightmare.

    Wonder the cost of replacing the BB5s with BB7s,
    Feel free to visit my blog www.chefonabicycle.com

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    BB7s yes, BB5's suck. One fixed pad and the other adjustable. It is a nightmare.
    Wonder the cost of replacing the BB5s with BB7s,
    I have had both, and BB7's are definitely easier, but once set up, the BB5's seemed to work well for me on road, though their pad life was much shorter (smaller organic pad on BB5 vs sintered larger pad on BB7). As far as cost, cheapest BB7 right now (to my knowledge) is on Pricepoint.com for $40 (2011 model). I normally wouldn't run out to replace something that you already have, but I can't imagine that this price is going to stay around forever for the BB7 (though Jenson has had last year's model for $50 for about a year).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    BB7s yes, BB5's suck. One fixed pad and the other adjustable. It is a nightmare.

    Wonder the cost of replacing the BB5s with BB7s,
    I'm a new to adjusting disk brakes so I could be doing it wrong. But I have BB5 brakes and I've found both pads fairly easy to adjust. The inside pad has the knob adjuster and for the outside pad I use the barrel adjuster on the cable housing. I park the bike on a light colored surface and eyeball the gap until the wheel spins freely and the brake lever has a tight feel.
    Salsa Vaya2 Salsa Beargrease

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    Thanks for all the help. I think I will outfit my Jamis Aragon for the winter and see how it goes before buying a new bike. Already got my Nokian Hakkapelitta 240s. Waiting for some SKS fenders to arrive. And I'm trying to decide on panniers.

  22. #22
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest74 View Post
    I'm a new to adjusting disk brakes so I could be doing it wrong. But I have BB5 brakes and I've found both pads fairly easy to adjust. The inside pad has the knob adjuster and for the outside pad I use the barrel adjuster on the cable housing. I park the bike on a light colored surface and eyeball the gap until the wheel spins freely and the brake lever has a tight feel.
    They should not be too hard to set up, they are certainly not as nice as bb-7's but they can be set up to work really well. Here is an article I wrote for Crazyguyonabike about how to set up disc brakes. The brakes in the picture are Tektro's but you still want to set up Avid brakes the same.

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=11218&v=Y

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest74 View Post
    I'm a new to adjusting disk brakes so I could be doing it wrong. But I have BB5 brakes and I've found both pads fairly easy to adjust. The inside pad has the knob adjuster and for the outside pad I use the barrel adjuster on the cable housing. I park the bike on a light colored surface and eyeball the gap until the wheel spins freely and the brake lever has a tight feel.
    I bet you are doing it right. I really suck at it..... really suck.

    I used this method last time: http://www.ecovelo.info/2011/04/15/a...5-disc-brakes/
    Feel free to visit my blog www.chefonabicycle.com

  24. #24
    Mmm hm! agent pombero's Avatar
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    I had to adjust my BB7s for the first time about a month ago. Man!!! It was difficult because I had no idea how to do it. I found "BB7 adjustment" into Google was very helpful. A lot of blogs and websites with clear pictures can be found. Also, Youtube has great videos for BB7 adjustments and I think you should look there first.

    this was the video I followed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NasGJFtgq0A

  25. #25
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    Using an IGH instead of a derailer drive-system would not be my choice based on my year around riding experience in Montana (we get real winter up here). In-fact the thought of using an IGH in the winter on a regular basis makes me a little uncomfortable to say the least since I know the kind of internal wear that can take place hidden out of sight on an IGH if moisture gets inside. I would personally go with an old 5-speed rear spool and a chain tension-er run as a multi-speed single-speed that I had to pull over and manually lift the chain up and move it over to a different rear sprocket to change gear ratios before I used an IGH on a dedicated winter bike.

    Now disk brakes that is a huge issue to me in the winter-time. I've had rim brakes ice up so badly in freezing slush that absolutely nothing happened when I squeezed the brake levers since the brakes were frozen solid and would not move to tighten down on the rim and that is only the worse case scenario. The normal case scenario is like waiting for those worthless compact florescent bulbs to warm up only on something life threatening like getting your bike to stop where you have to hold you brake levers down and then wait for them to start working praying it will be in time. (Side Note: LED's rule, more efficient, instant on, less ecological impact in manufacture use and end game recycling or disposal). My first bike with disk brakes was actually purchased exactly for this reason. Namely the ability to safely and consistently stop in the winter time. Also, disk brakes make it much easier to use wheel chains since you don't have to make them to perfectly fit your tires and be perfectly tight and straight on the wheel in order to not conflict with rim brakes.

    The best mechanical disk brake calipers for winter use are the ones that free float on sliding pins just like car disk brake calipers with only one adjustment that just makes the "at rest" distance between the two pads open or close. You can recognize them almost instantly because they look at least twice as "bulky" as the other mechanical disk brake calipers with the caliper being a much boxier shape because of the extra components used and thickness of the caliper required to make them free float like that. The other calipers that don't look quite as bulky aren't free-floaters and the caliper is hard mounted to bracket that attaches to the mounts on your bike frame. The better ones of that type have two adjustments one for the out-board pad and one for the in-board pad and the cheaper ones have only a single adjustment usually on the inboard pad and the only way to adjust the outboard pad is to loosen the frame mounting assembly and adjust the position of the whole caliper provided your mounting set-up allows for that.
    Last edited by turbo1889; 11-03-12 at 10:24 PM.

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