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Mechanical Disc vs Rim Brakes

Old 11-20-19, 12:01 PM
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smurfy
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Mechanical Disc vs Rim Brakes

I'm building up a new hybrid/comfort frame as a flat-bar "performance gravel" bike which will admittedly not see actual gravel (unless I travel to a far-away venue) but it's for the hilly area and bad roads here in SW Ohio. I have the frame and a few bits for it but that's it. As being "old-school" the purpose if this project is to educate myself in newer stuff like disc brakes, tubeless tires, etc.

Anyway I want to get a disc brake fork for it and run a front disc brake setup but my question is will a mechanical disc brake be good enough and still better than a rim brake? I'm looking at just getting an Avid mech. disc and I'm sure hydralic would be better but is that more expensive? I'm trying to work on a strict budget as not to raise the ire of my significant other. I'm also looking for simplicity and not getting things too complicated to install and maintain.

Sorry I know this is a dumb question and this subject has probably been beaten to death but I know nothing about bicycle disc brakes except what I briefly read about here on BF and other places (after a long absence from BF). My only experience with disc brakes is when I rode a high-end Litespeed in the parking lot back in the nineties when I was a shop rat and a Surly Karate Monkey in the early-2,000s but that was just around the block.
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Old 11-20-19, 12:20 PM
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MTB hydro brakes are dirt cheap nowdays so there is no need to go mech disc. Grab yourself a pair of old deore brakes.

https://www.jensonusa.com/Shimano-BR-MT201-Disc-Brake

$40 for some reliable bombproof shimano brakes.

Last edited by gus6464; 11-20-19 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 11-20-19, 12:56 PM
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FWIW..growing up with coaster and rim brakes causes me to be pleased with my mech brakes. Hydro is better but I don't need "better".
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Old 11-20-19, 01:48 PM
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For every day road use any rim brake can stop well enough.

Possibly the 2 best reasons for any disc would be 1) Wet roads and 2) Easier to use big tires.

Mechanical disc might be marginally easier to install compared to hydraulic if you've never dealt with fluids, bleeding, etc.... Hydraulic is easy enough once you've watched a few YouTubes and by the tools and kit.

Mechanical would be a better choice over V or canti brakes, if you desire tire clearance, as they are easier to get to work with a variety of shifting systems.
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Old 11-20-19, 02:35 PM
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Shimano brakes are the easiest to install. Can be done with simple tools and all you need is the dirt cheap funnel which is 3 bucks and some hydro juice. I've installed them and shortened the lines without needing a bleed after as well. SRAM is really the only one where a bleed is required when shortening the line.
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Old 11-20-19, 02:38 PM
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Hydraulic at least in this case is actually easier to install than mechanical. He is only doing the front and they come pre-bled so all he has to do is install them and live with the hose being a bit long.
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Old 11-20-19, 03:04 PM
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Does the frame have tabs for disc brakes in the rear? You make it sound like this would be a disc front and rim brake rear bike with the new fork allowing disc brakes on the front.
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Old 11-20-19, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by smurfy View Post
I'm trying to work on a strict budget as not to raise the ire of my significant other. I'm also looking for simplicity and not getting things too complicated to install and maintain.
Drop a looking to buy post on the facebook market page "Cincinnati Bike Market", someone might have an old hydraulic take off brake just sitting around.
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Old 11-20-19, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffreythree View Post
Does the frame have tabs for disc brakes in the rear? You make it sound like this would be a disc front and rim brake rear bike with the new fork allowing disc brakes on the front.
No the frame is new-old stock with no disc brake tabs. I actually don't have a fork for it yet.
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Old 11-20-19, 04:42 PM
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Actually... what is your height and budget? LOL
I might just sell you a 1991 schwinn crosscut that has totally been redone. XT 1x and It has hydraulic rim brakes.
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Old 11-20-19, 06:54 PM
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I think you've picked the wrong frame if you want to try modern technology. Besides mismatched brakes, you may have other constraints such as outdated hub spacing, QR, etc that will leave your build half-assed. Seems better to build it as intended (just fine, IMO) or start with a current spec frame.
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Old 11-20-19, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I think you've picked the wrong frame if you want to try modern technology. Besides mismatched brakes, you may have other constraints such as outdated hub spacing, QR, etc that will leave your build half-assed. Seems better to build it as intended (just fine, IMO) or start with a current spec frame.
Actually the rear hub spacing is 135mm and the frame was designed for a 1x drivetrain. Also a cycling mate of mine has a Litespeed touring bike (canti brakes) and fitted a new fork and disc brake on it and it doesn't look cobbled together.

Last edited by smurfy; 11-21-19 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 11-21-19, 10:21 AM
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And as I re-read the OP, I wouldn’t be putting disc on front with rim on the rear. Bad mismatch of stopping capabilities.
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Old 11-21-19, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
And as I re-read the OP, I wouldn’t be putting disc on front with rim on the rear. Bad mismatch of stopping capabilities.
I dont follow. Why is it a bad mismatch? Seems like it would match just fine- the front brake is needed for most of the braking power and the more powerful/better modulated/reliable in bad conditions brake would be placed there.
This is hardly an uncommon setup- its called a mullet. google around and see how its been used by many for a long time to update their bikes with new forks(carbon or suspension). Its done in MTB and CX.





side note- is 'bad mismatch' a double negative and would that phrase actually mean 'good'? Hmm...
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Old 11-21-19, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I dont follow. Why is it a bad mismatch? Seems like it would match just fine- the front brake is needed for most of the braking power and the more powerful/better modulated/reliable in bad conditions brake would be placed there.
This is hardly an uncommon setup- its called a mullet. google around and see how its been used by many for a long time to update their bikes with new forks(carbon or suspension). Its done in MTB and CX.

side note- is 'bad mismatch' a double negative and would that phrase actually mean 'good'? Hmm...
How's "A bad match made in heaven ?". Remind me in the next life to pay attention during English class.

As to the brakes, I' was vaguely aware that folks used other than disc on the rear, never knew the term, always read that it was typically a choice made to due the frame not accepting rear discs, not that it was a great idea, more the only choice, back when there were still many older frames that could not take a disc. I am of the opinion that it's still not a great idea as some skill is required to apply and not endo as well as the ability to remember the rear is not a disc. I would use a different frame or just install V brakes, given that this is a road application.
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Old 11-21-19, 06:05 PM
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As for OPs conundrum since he needs a fork honestly a modern disc gravel fork will probably cost more than what that frame is worth. It will also be within earshot of a complete steel frame.
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Old 11-21-19, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post
As for OPs conundrum since he needs a fork honestly a modern disc gravel fork will probably cost more than what that frame is worth. It will also be within earshot of a complete steel frame.
You can get 1” and 1-1/8” steerer, steel forks in 26” and 700C wheel sizes for about $80 or so. Threaded if you want. These accept canti/V only, no discs from what I’ve seen.
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Old 11-21-19, 07:14 PM
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Reminder when you shop for tubeless wheels you'll need to find some that accommodate your mismatch with TA front and QR 135 rear rather than current TA 142. Fulcrum and Hunt offer wheels with interchangeable end caps that might work.
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Old 11-21-19, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Reminder when you shop for tubeless wheels you'll need to find some that accommodate your mismatch with TA front and QR 135 rear rather than current TA 142. Fulcrum and Hunt offer wheels with interchangeable end caps that might work.
Thanks I 'm building my own wheelset for it as I already got the 135 rear hub and I would like to go tubeless rims/tires but I don't have those yet. I have built many dozens of wheels in the past 25 years so I know my way around that. I don't have a fork for it so at this point I don't even know for sure yet if I'm going disc brake or not. I'll have to cross that bridge when I get to it.
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Old 11-22-19, 06:09 AM
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This is a great looking fork if you don't need discs. https://blackmtncycles.com/shop/fram...er-cross-fork/
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Old 11-22-19, 10:33 AM
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Steel disc brake forks are easily available and cheap Soma is $100 Kona is $85 the one below has a couple of brand names $65 Check Ebay

Sunlite Threadless City Replacement Disc Fork

Black / IS Disc / 1-1/8-inch
$65.99
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Old 11-22-19, 11:38 AM
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Thanks for the replies, guys!

Actually I'm not looking to go super-cheap since I can easily buy a $500-something Whiskey or Ritchey fork (or even $2k+ for a complete gravel bike) with just the change I got laying around my house but my significant other would be quite displeased if she found out since I already have six other bikes and I'm already having a hard time justifying my purchases.

I'm trying to do this project somewhat "under the radar" if you know what I mean.

Last edited by smurfy; 11-22-19 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 11-22-19, 11:44 AM
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Oddly enough, my 2012 Ellsworth has both cantilever posts and disc brake tabs on the back, but cantilever posts only on the fork. I guess it was in that cross-over period where if you really wanted discs you could swap out the fork and go that way, or stick with cantilevers.
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Old 11-23-19, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by smurfy View Post
Anyway I want to get a disc brake fork for it and run a front disc brake setup but my question is will a mechanical disc brake be good enough and still better than a rim brake? I'm looking at just getting an Avid mech. disc and I'm sure hydralic would be better but is that more expensive? I'm trying to work on a strict budget as not to raise the ire of my significant other. I'm also looking for simplicity and not getting things too complicated to install and maintain.
Honestly, my Avid BB7's are probably my favorite disc calipers. I have the them with Jagwire cable disc specific cables with full-length cable housing and they feel every bit as good as hydraulics on my other disc bikes. They also let me adjust the pad clearance so that the brakes bite right where I want them to without the extra freeplay that my hydraulics have. There is a (tiny) bit more setup on a cable disc because only one pad moves, just follow the Avid instructions and you'll be fine.
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Old 11-27-19, 06:21 PM
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My new gravel frame was built up with TRP Spyres and the braking was horrible, I changed out the housing to compressionless and finally used organic Swiss Stop pads and got braking to be almost as good as my calipers. On long downhills the organic pads last one ride and then they need to be replaced. The heat on the rotors is so high it burns my long fingered gloves on contact.

I sold my bike and am getting a frame built with cant studs for V brakes. Why use a brake that is heavy, expensive, ugly and does not work as well as V Brakes or Calipers brakes? I have never had any trouble with calipers in rain or otherwise. Disc brakes for road bikes are a solution for a problem that does not exist.
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