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Issues with horizontal dropouts and disc brakes with gravel bike

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbround Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Issues with horizontal dropouts and disc brakes with gravel bike

Old 01-09-21, 02:44 PM
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jonathanf2
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Issues with horizontal dropouts and disc brakes with gravel bike

I'm currently running horizontal dropouts with mechanical disc brakes on a single speed gravel bike. The rear disc brake setup allows me to run wider tires in the back, but I find it a PITA with the horizontal dropouts to realign the disc rotor if I have to do a tire swap. My geared MTB with disc brakes, never has this issue with the fixed dropout position. I'm wondering if there's any tips on maintaining alignment with horizontal dropouts so I don't have to do constantly micro adjustments just to do a tire swap? It's such an annoyance that I'm considering running a V or wide caliper on the rear brakes and disc on the front. The front is a breeze to align, it's just with the rear that takes more time. Though I would need brakes that clear at least a 700 x 40c tire (the max width my bike can accommodate on the rear). Thanks for any advice!

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Old 01-09-21, 02:53 PM
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What frame was made for disc brakes with horizontal dropouts?
That seems like a very obvious design flaw.

Since it has horizontal dropouts, do the dropouts have holes for adjuster screws? Setting those up properly will help ensure the wheel is aligned with the rotor.
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Old 01-09-21, 03:05 PM
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Unfortunately no adjuster screws. Sometimes if I'm lucky I can align it up perfectly and it'll take me 5 minutes. Other times, it just doesn't want to line up and I have to realign the brakes themselves, align the brake pad and tweak the barrel adjusters! It's super annoying. I'm seriously thinking of just taking off the rear disc brakes, but I'm not sure what caliper brakes I should get if I do switch them, maybe MTB brakes?
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Old 01-09-21, 04:50 PM
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What frame is this on?

If you have a flat bar, then just use V brakes.
If you have drop bars, use Problem Solvers Travel Agents or one of the available knockoffs since Travel Agents are tough to source. These convert short pull road levers to long pull v brake arms.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Litepro-V-B....c101071.m2460
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Old 01-10-21, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
What frame was made for disc brakes with horizontal dropouts?
Lots actually. On my Surly I just jammed the wheel all the way forward every time so it wasn't really an issue but mine wasn't a single speed setup, no chain tension to worry about. Would a set of tugnuts help? What mechanical disk brakes do you have? My BB5s and now TRP spryes are super easy to adjust for wheel swaps which I do on my road/gravel bike, takes like 30 seconds a wheel.
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Old 01-10-21, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Canker View Post
Lots actually. On my Surly I just jammed the wheel all the way forward every time so it wasn't really an issue but mine wasn't a single speed setup, no chain tension to worry about. Would a set of tugnuts help? What mechanical disk brakes do you have? My BB5s and now TRP spryes are super easy to adjust for wheel swaps which I do on my road/gravel bike, takes like 30 seconds a wheel.
Interesting. I didnt take to disc until after thruaxles were well established, so I am clearly ignorant of how disc brakes design used to be.
Its surprising horixontal dropouts were usd since vertical had been well established for 2 decades before discs on drop bars really even began to be a thing.

Horizontal dropouts seem like a design flaw- having to get the wheel both centered and the proper distance for the disc caliper/rotor interface.
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Old 01-10-21, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Horizontal dropouts seem like a design flaw- having to get the wheel both centered and the proper distance for the disc caliper/rotor interface.
My guess is that they were used as a compromise for frames that were advertised as able to accept a variety of configurations including single speed. QRs and discs are bad enough. Add a horizontal drop out.... If I had OP's bike I would consider a center pull brake for the rear if there was a way to mount it.
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Old 01-10-21, 09:58 AM
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Origin8, SE Snap-it, Tuggnuts or whichever chain tensioner tickles your fancy. I'm using the BOX One tensioners on my dirt-cheap Motobecane Fantom Cross SS frame-up build (nothing OEM survived the build save for the frame and fork) and setting the rear takes no more than a minute.

IME, so long as the rear wheel is in straight, the caliper is never an issue.
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Old 01-10-21, 11:58 AM
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I forgot to mention it's a Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno Pro. I use it mainly for urban riding, but I wanted something more versatile that a typical single speed/fixed gear bike with skinnier tires. I actually like the steel frame and fork the most on this bike. I might look into the chain tensioners. I don't really plan on spending much money on this bike. I just want to keep it simple and solid, even though I wouldn't mind upgrading everything from the crankset to the wheels!
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Old 01-10-21, 01:55 PM
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my Karate Monkey is singlespeed and has horizontal dropouts. it takes me ten seconds to line up the axle, tension the chain, and centering the rotor is never an issue. the axle is not slammed forward, but 4-5mm back from the forward-most position. I use a Surly chain tensioner on the drive side. install the wheel, snug down the tensioner until the chain is where you want it, then push the tire to center it in the frame just before cinching the bolt on the axle down. I have the caliper in just the right spot, so if the rotor is not centered in the rotor caliper, i just tweak the hub in the frame a tiny bit. easy as pie and takes a few seconds.

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Old 01-11-21, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
my Karate Monkey is singlespeed and has horizontal dropouts. it takes me ten seconds to line up the axle, tension the chain, and centering the rotor is never an issue. the axle is not slammed forward, but 4-5mm back from the forward-most position. I use a Surly chain tensioner on the drive side. install the wheel, snug down the tensioner until the chain is where you want it, then push the tire to center it in the frame just before cinching the bolt on the axle down. I have the caliper in just the right spot, so if the rotor is not centered in the rotor, i just tweak the hub in the frame a tiny bit. easy as pie and takes a few seconds.
That sounds awful. I have going through scenarios in my head for my SS El Mar. The alternator dropouts are pretty great, no alignment needed, but I still wouldn't want to switch it around very often.
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Old 01-11-21, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
That sounds awful. I have going through scenarios in my head for my SS El Mar. The alternator dropouts are pretty great, no alignment needed, but I still wouldn't want to switch it around very often.
It's not. it takes exactly one extra brain cell to figure out and no noticeable additional amount of time. if I needed to remove my rear wheel often enough for it be a problem, I would be doing something very, very wrong. maybe it's because I rode BMX for 25 years that centering an axle in horizontal axle slots became second nature after doing it a few times. I mastered this technique when I was 12 years old. it's not hard but people act all helpless and butthurt when a bike doesn't just put itself together. the horizontal track end style dropouts and slotted caliper mounts are elegant and simple, no moving parts to swing, strip. come loose, bend, etc.

however, I spent a lot of time hunting down my current drop-bar gravel bike frame. I chose one with a PF30 BB so I could run an eccentric BB. that's also something that gives people such a huge headache for no reason and I don't get what the hangup is. it's nearly as dead-simple as track ends and works flawlessly if you have any mechanical aptitude and follow instructions.

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Old 01-11-21, 10:49 AM
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Thanks for all the help. I think chain tensioners will probably help ease alignment and minimize any issues.
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Old 01-11-21, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
It's not. it takes exactly one extra brain cell to figure out and no noticeable additional amount of time. if I needed to remove my rear wheel often enough for it be a problem, I would be doing something very, very wrong. maybe it's because I rode BMX for 25 years that centering an axle in horizontal axle slots became second nature after doing it a few times. I mastered this technique when I was 12 years old. it's not hard but people act all helpless and butthurt when a bike doesn't just put itself together. the horizontal track end style dropouts and slotted caliper mounts are elegant and simple, no moving parts to swing, strip. come loose, bend, etc.

however, I spent a lot of time hunting down my current drop-bar gravel bike frame. I chose one with a PF30 BB so I could run an eccentric BB. that's also something that gives people such a huge headache for no reason and I don't get what the hangup is. it's nearly as dead-simple as track ends and works flawlessly if you have any mechanical aptitude and follow instructions.
You are a couple weeks late- Festivus and The Airing of Grievances happened on Dec 23rd.
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Old 01-11-21, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
That sounds awful. I have going through scenarios in my head for my SS El Mar. The alternator dropouts are pretty great, no alignment needed, but I still wouldn't want to switch it around very often.
Yeah, looking at those alternator dropouts look much more easier to work with! The issue I find with horizontal/track style dropouts has more to do with the rear mechanical disc brake which only has a few millimeters of leeway.
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Old 01-11-21, 11:34 AM
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Old 01-11-21, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Yeah, looking at those alternator dropouts look much more easier to work with! The issue I find with horizontal/track style dropouts has more to do with the rear mechanical disc brake which only has a few millimeters of leeway.
I can see that. It's probably why Salsa came up with their new system that slides the dropout, axle, and disc all at the same time.
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Old 01-12-21, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Origin8, SE Snap-it, Tuggnuts or whichever chain tensioner tickles your fancy. I'm using the BOX One tensioners on my dirt-cheap Motobecane Fantom Cross SS frame-up build (nothing OEM survived the build save for the frame and fork) and setting the rear takes no more than a minute.

IME, so long as the rear wheel is in straight, the caliper is never an issue.
I'd be interested in seeing how your build turned out since i have the same model. There are couple things that annoyed me after getting the bike, like the 120mm rear hub and 26.0mm seat post. It somewhat limits available options. I'm not sure how much I want to spend on this bike though even though I could see several areas of improvement to make it a solid ride.
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Old 01-14-21, 11:58 AM
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I just wanted to follow-up. I added a chain tensioner to my bike and I feel it's a bit easier now to align the wheel to the disc brakes. Also because of the tensioner, I decided to add a smaller chainring for those times I'll be doing hill climbs. Right now I have to pull out the wrench to do the adjusting, so I'm trying to think a quick way to adjust the chain to the chainring when riding. Unfortunately my rear wheel doesn't come with a QR skewer, so my options are somewhat limited on bolt fastening. I was thinking of running some sort of derailleur setup, but I'm not sure I want to complicate things and keep my gearing straight forward.
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Old 01-15-21, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I just wanted to follow-up. I added a chain tensioner to my bike and I feel it's a bit easier now to align the wheel to the disc brakes. Also because of the tensioner, I decided to add a smaller chainring for those times I'll be doing hill climbs. Right now I have to pull out the wrench to do the adjusting, so I'm trying to think a quick way to adjust the chain to the chainring when riding. Unfortunately my rear wheel doesn't come with a QR skewer, so my options are somewhat limited on bolt fastening. I was thinking of running some sort of derailleur setup, but I'm not sure I want to complicate things and keep my gearing straight forward.
Sounds like you need gears at this point lol.
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Old 01-15-21, 09:53 PM
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I've got rear-facing track ends on my singlespeed klunker with hydro discs, and with a chain tensioner on the drive side, it's no trouble whatsoever. Yes, I have to swing the brake caliper up to pull the wheel out, but reinstallation takes all of 15 seconds. Shimano hydraulics are the easiest brakes in the world to deal with. Line up the rotor, squeeze the lever, tighten the bolts, ride.
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