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Brake rotors, really a difference?

Old 04-21-19, 08:20 AM
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u235
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Brake rotors, really a difference?

I have a few different rotors across my bikes and extra wheel sets. I don't really notice a difference in any of them. Some wear a little faster, some make a little more noise when wet, other than that... I'm leaning towards whatever is cheap and just replace as they wear. I don't do downhill enduro or extreme high speed road descents but I do ride in all conditions and even some occasional loaded touring in the hills and I am a close to clyde. In my experience, the pads make 99% of the braking experience, the rotors maybe 1%? At least in the 6 bolt realm, the RT66 seems like a great all around utility rotor and is about $15.

Last edited by u235; 04-21-19 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 04-21-19, 05:49 PM
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I'm with you 100% on the comment about pads making 99% of the difference. When I've had issues its always boiled down to using the right pad and the rotor has had little effect on the solution. Like you I rarely have to ride the brakes on long descents and my trail riding has never caused a braking problem. Weather is my biggest enemy and I've found that resin pads work wonders.
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Old 04-21-19, 06:48 PM
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I'll be a dissenting opinion. I recently removed a pair of Sram Centerline X rotors. They would get so hot on some of the long descents that I could splash water on them from my bottle and it would boil on contact. Not so much with my Shimano Ice tech rotors. I have the XTR MT900S rotors in one bike and the Dura Ace RT900 rotors on another. While these are certainly not cheap, a set of the Shimano RT 86 rotors will yield similar results without paying the extra for bling factor.

I have overheated solid stainless rotors before and suffered brake fade because of it. Its not fun when your brakes stop working while riding downhill. I've been an Ice Tech fan ever since.

But as you both said, the solid budget priced rotors certainly have their place for people who don't need the increased capability of the higher end rotors.
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Old 04-21-19, 08:12 PM
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I suffered through less than 1,000 miles on some Tektro stamped-steel rotors. Switched to IceTech and have never looked back. Yeah, they're expensive, but the shortest lived rotor lasted 17,000 miles. My current pair is at around 13.5k miles, and roughly half worn.

Longevity aside, they're quiet and they've never overheated. What's not to like?
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Old 04-21-19, 08:34 PM
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The bikes I have that are disc brake are Avid so I use Avid rotors with the 6 Allen style bolt pattern it’s different than an allen but I can’t remember what you call it, ( I have the correct tool ) Anyways so far so good the mechanical BB7 on my gravel grinder may squeak some when very dusty but that is about it. The hydraulic brakes on my MTB will face plant you i you are not careful plus you can make some serious skids with the rear brake. I’ve been advised not to use knock off cheap rotors yet it stinks to fork out 30 bucks per rotor but that is how it goes sometimes.
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Old 04-22-19, 01:27 PM
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Torx not Allen bolts

Avid Discs are cheap and good enough * . 6 bolt , I use an adapter onto a Center lock hub..

(especially the 4 bolt R'off , best price ... other sources they can cost $80)


* for me ..






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-22-19 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 04-23-19, 03:54 PM
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I absolutely loathed the SRAM brakes on my gravel/mtb bikes until I did 2 things:

1. Switched to Shimano rotors
2. Replaced the brake fluid in the system with Motul DOT5.1 vs sram stuff

The second one was very noticeable on rides where I am doing a lot of braking.

I found even the cheap Shimano RT66 rotors to be better than centerlines. FYI on Jenson a pair of 160mm RT86 ice-techs can be had for less than a single 2-piece centerline rotor.
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Old 04-23-19, 04:18 PM
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I have a mix of shimano icetech, sram centerlines, avids etc on like 5 wheelsets that get switched between 2 bikes with sram and shimano hydros and never have any issues. Aligned them all so that wheels can be swapped back and forth without needing adjustment and I just ride whichever set has the tires needed for a given day
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Old 04-23-19, 10:47 PM
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I've got the TRP one piece stamped rotors that came with the hy/rd brakes. The front one is a hair out of true. Ive been slowly trying to true it since Ive installed the rotor and its pretty darn close but still ever slightly touches the pad every rotation. Much more noticeable in the rain and dirt. Drives me nutz.

I just bought 2 generic "floating" (2 piece) rotors from Amazon for 24$ (12$ each) Ill have them in 2 days and curious to see if these cheap chinese rotors are going to suck.

I really just wanted rotors that are true. Ive got about 1300-1800 feet of climbing on my daily ride. Im sure that the rotors warm up a little on my rides but Ive never lasered them to check temps.

Im sure the floating rotors will stay just as cool as the stamped rotors. The big deal will be if these cheapos come in true. If so, Ill use them up and see if there is a noticeable difference. If they are not true, Ill send them back and spend more money.

-Sean

Last edited by Wilmingtech; 04-23-19 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 04-27-19, 01:00 PM
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The rotors came in. Unfortunately I have had barely enough time to get them installed, much less ride them. Also my wifey needed a seat slightly comfier than her stock seat on the diamondback so my Comfy Century ride cf1 was sacrificed and she is loving it. So Ill have to find another seat or swap my other one back before I can burn these in. (Anyone got a Sworks Power lying around?)

But I did take pics of the rotors and got them installed before I had to leave town for 2 weeks.



In the package


These brakes have a warning stating they cannot take the abuse that we dish out to our mountain bikes. Im assuming its because of the rivets that help with the "float" Should be fine for road and gravel... (as he goes down in a ball of flames)



Close up of said rivets


Side by side with the TRP discs that cane off the bike. The quality seems pretty decent. The new discs weigh a few grams lighter (117g for the TRP vs 110g)

Last edited by Wilmingtech; 04-28-19 at 06:22 AM.
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Old 04-27-19, 01:13 PM
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There is really not much color on my gravel bike so I got the red colored rotors to try and make the red pop a little on the bike. I was worried that the red would be a little cheesy looking if the color was more of a bright red. But it was slightly demure. The cheesometer is on the low end on this one.
Here is the front wheel with the old TRP rotors.


Here is the front wheel with the new rotors.


Rotors were pretty darn close to true. I did have to take out the pads and reset the calipers to install these but they will work.

My biggest concern is the quality of the rivets holding the 2 pieces together. I'll go beat them up a little when I get back from my trip. Hopefully Ill have a seat by then.

As soon as there is any play in the rivets these will be coming off. Im hoping they hold up for a season.

-Sean
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Old 04-27-19, 03:05 PM
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The red is a good accent to the black. I've never tried floating rotors. Keep us posted on how well they stand up. Thanks.

I forgot to ask, how do you keep your bike looking so pristine? After a couple of rides (without crashes) mine look like they've been hit by an IED. Nicks and chips all over them, especially the front forks.
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Old 04-27-19, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
I forgot to ask, how do you keep your bike looking so pristine? After a couple of rides (without crashes) mine look like they've been hit by an IED. Nicks and chips all over them, especially the front forks.
Its my first winter season on this bike. Ive only got about 800 miles on it. Also - Is your bike black? Is it carbon? Black covers a multitude of nicks and chips. Ive also noticed paint on metal chips a little easier than carbon.

In addition, Im also mostly on the road with this bike. The gravel surfaces I take on are usually pretty packed. I havent got any good mountain single track rides in yet. Im on the gravel about 20% of the time. This is my PNW winter bike for the beautiful winter weather we have up here. (Cold and wet 85% of the time between October and April)

Helicopter / ISC Surface tape also helps. If you look closely at my downtube, hard to notice but you'll see where the color changes where the tape starts. It helps greatly with chips and nicks. Pretty easy to put on. Easy to cut and shape to the bike.

Last - I wash my bike about every 100 - 150 miles. 2-3 times a month. That makes it look nicer than it should and keeps me from things I should be doing like mowing the lawn and fixing things around the house.

-Sean
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Old 04-27-19, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryan C. View Post
But as you both said, the solid budget priced rotors certainly have their place for people who don't need the increased capability of the higher end rotors.
+1

Those who don't notice a difference between high and low end rotors are probably not driving them to their limits.

If that's the case then less capable/expensive rotors make sense.


-Tim-
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Old 04-30-19, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilmingtech View Post
Helicopter / ISC Surface tape also helps. If you look closely at my downtube, hard to notice but you'll see where the color changes where the tape starts. It helps greatly with chips and nicks. Pretty easy to put on. Easy to cut and shape to the bike.
Sean - where does one get such stuff, and what do I look for?

The red does look good on that bike. I'm frustrated that my bike is so monochrome and dark.
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Old 04-30-19, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
+1

Those who don't notice a difference between high and low end rotors are probably not driving them to their limits.

If that's the case then less capable/expensive rotors make sense.


-Tim-
Define high and low end. At what level are people pushing their limits? Do pros count? Road/gravel/cyclocross?
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Old 04-30-19, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Sean - where does one get such stuff, and what do I look for?

The red does look good on that bike. I'm frustrated that my bike is so monochrome and dark.
Amazon ISC Racers Tape

Comes in different widths. Can be pricey but this stuff is nice and stretchy and has a nice tack that doesn't leave a residue or if it does its easy to wash right off. There is also a tape that is like the window cling where you wet it and place it and press the bubbles out.

You can find pinstriping to add a touch of color to your bike. Get creative just a little splash of color goes a long way and you can add little touches that accent the color.

-Sean
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Old 05-01-19, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Wilmingtech View Post

You can find pinstriping to add a touch of color to your bike. Get creative just a little splash of color goes a long way and you can add little touches that accent the color.
Thanks Sean.

How is this for creative splashes of color? I've taken my monochrome black/grey bike and stripped it:



Top of top tube
head tube spacers
fork ends
inside of fork fork and stays (reflective red)
Wheels (stripes next to valve stem)
seat tube
crank arms
rear of chainstays.


The blue handlebar tape did a lot. Maybe a blue Gravel King for the rear?

Most of the red and blue is 3M reflective tape, so the bike lights up when commuting or on night rides. There is also some pin-striping for some of the delicate work. At least the cockpit isn't all black any more...
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Old 05-05-19, 09:59 AM
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on the road, I use a heat dissipating rotor like Shimano RT800, but so far on gravel I've been perfectly fine with the stock rotors, whatever they are.
I put my money into good hubs and rims, knowing full well whatever I use is going to get the snot beat out of it, ridden hard & put up wet. On gravel I actually try to brake as little as possible on gravel as speed is so hard to come by. I probably brake way too much on twisty descents, but have friends who can barrel down the same road with hardly touching the levers. I tend to finish well behind them.
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Old 05-05-19, 07:36 PM
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I'm considering adding some Hope floating Rotors to add a bit of bling to my drab grey Topstone 105. Has anyone had any issues with fitting floating rotors and in particular with rubbing? I'm using 105 calipers obviously.
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Old 05-06-19, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Badstoob View Post
I'm considering adding some Hope floating Rotors to add a bit of bling to my drab grey Topstone 105. Has anyone had any issues with fitting floating rotors and in particular with rubbing? I'm using 105 calipers obviously.
It helps if you pull the pads and push the calipers back in then put the pads back before remounting the wheel with the new Rotor. This will center the calipers on the new rotor.
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Old 05-06-19, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
Define high and low end. At what level are people pushing their limits? Do pros count? Road/gravel/cyclocross?
Tim quoted my post so I'll reply to this

High end = expensive, with spiffy features designed to make them work better.

Pro riders do count, but define the pro. Would that be a sponsored rider that uses the gear their sponsor supplies? Or a self supported rider that pays out of pocket for their own parts? What type of bike they ride isn't really an issue. Sponsored riders use what they are given. Racing is expensive, so a self supported rider may use the lower end consumable parts to offset some of those costs.

As for pushing the limits. Have you ever overheated your brakes to the point they no longer work? Seems pretty self explanatory.


Believe it or not, some people actually prefer their brakes to work. Like ALL the time. If you ride hard then maybe you should invest the few extra bucks and buy the high end parts. Overkill? Sure, I'll go with that. But considering how expensive medical care is I would rather spend the extra money for the added safety margin the good stuff provides.

But back to my original statement, if you truly don't need the increased capability then don't pay the premium for the high end parts. Plain and simple.

Seems like the guys who buy the cheap parts are the ones who have a problem with the expensive stuff and the people that buy it. I will admit I'm spoiled and like some bling on my bike, but even I have my limits. I certainly don't have a problem with people who are budget conscious and prefer more cost effective parts. To each their own.
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Old 05-06-19, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryan C. View Post
Tim quoted my post so I'll reply to this

High end = expensive, with spiffy features designed to make them work better.

Pro riders do count, but define the pro. Would that be a sponsored rider that uses the gear their sponsor supplies? Or a self supported rider that pays out of pocket for their own parts? What type of bike they ride isn't really an issue. Sponsored riders use what they are given. Racing is expensive, so a self supported rider may use the lower end consumable parts to offset some of those costs.

As for pushing the limits. Have you ever overheated your brakes to the point they no longer work? Seems pretty self explanatory.


Believe it or not, some people actually prefer their brakes to work. Like ALL the time. If you ride hard then maybe you should invest the few extra bucks and buy the high end parts. Overkill? Sure, I'll go with that. But considering how expensive medical care is I would rather spend the extra money for the added safety margin the good stuff provides.

But back to my original statement, if you truly don't need the increased capability then don't pay the premium for the high end parts. Plain and simple.

Seems like the guys who buy the cheap parts are the ones who have a problem with the expensive stuff and the people that buy it. I will admit I'm spoiled and like some bling on my bike, but even I have my limits. I certainly don't have a problem with people who are budget conscious and prefer more cost effective parts. To each their own.
I've been using disc brakes a long time, long before shimano ice tech rotors ever came out, and I've never had a pad/rotor overheat to the point of failure. Everything from BB5/BB7/Spyres/HYRD/Red Hydro/Shimano RS685 with finned pads. I've used everything from original avid cleansweeps to icetech rotors and just about everything inbetween. For both road and mountain. I guess I find it weird that some here claim that its a noticeable performance difference with ice tech rotors and yet pros are running sram discs at pro levels without an overheating issue from gravel to cyclocross to road applications. Campy too at some conti levels. I like icetech rotors mostly because they seem to stay true a bit longer but I've never had a performance failure in the field from my rotors. Pads yes, organic pads in muddy cyclocross races barely last the entire 45 mins etc but never rotors.
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Old 05-06-19, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
I've been using disc brakes a long time, long before shimano ice tech rotors ever came out, and I've never had a pad/rotor overheat to the point of failure. Everything from BB5/BB7/Spyres/HYRD/Red Hydro/Shimano RS685 with finned pads. I've used everything from original avid cleansweeps to icetech rotors and just about everything inbetween. For both road and mountain. I guess I find it weird that some here claim that its a noticeable performance difference with ice tech rotors and yet pros are running sram discs at pro levels without an overheating issue from gravel to cyclocross to road applications. Campy too at some conti levels. I like icetech rotors mostly because they seem to stay true a bit longer but I've never had a performance failure in the field from my rotors. Pads yes, organic pads in muddy cyclocross races barely last the entire 45 mins etc but never rotors.
Ok, since it hasn't happened to you then you don't need the extra performance. End of discussion. Does that mean the issue does not exist? No. Did I imagine my brake lever pull all the way to the bars and still not slow me down? Push your limits and see how you and your gear holds up.

Back to the pro rider analogy, lol. What type of pro, sponsored or self supported? How many pro riders have you personally spoken with about brake rotor heat issues?

Do you think a pro rider is harder on the brakes than someone who obliviously rides the brakes down every hill they ride? What if they weigh over 200 lbs, far beyond what a pro weighs?

Too many variables here to make a definitive argument. We can speak of our own experiences but the rest is speculation and hearsay. Everyone has their own experience.

Last edited by Bryan C.; 05-06-19 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 05-06-19, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryan C. View Post
Did I imagine my brake lever pull all the way to the bars and still not slow me down? Push your limits and see how you and your gear holds up.
That is not caused by a pad/rotor overheating to point of failure. Even it you had burned through all of the braking material on the pads you will still generate some friction (very noisy) and the levers won't bottom out.

What you are describing is boiling the brake fluid, which turns it to gas and all of a sudden your levers go to the bar. Which is well near impossible to do with clean fluid on a bike. Even when that happens, the temporary solution, just like when driving a car on the track, is to pump the brakes until you get some clamping force back.
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