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Disc brakes are great!

Old 02-13-24, 12:48 PM
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Disc brakes are great!

There's been a lot of argument about disc brakes lately, and it feels like both sides talk past each other a bit -- maybe one side more so than the other. After just reading yet another post with a blanket condemnation of disc brakes, I thought I would start this thread. Below are descriptions of my two disc brake bikes and the reasons why I choose discs.

1) One of the disc brake bikes is a dedicated gravel race rig, on which I normally run tires in the 40mm-44mm wide range. Disc brakes have the following advantages, IMO:
-- They don't limit tire width
-- They stop better than rim brakes (esp since they are hydraulic discs), which is kind of useful
-- They work far better than rim brakes with cf rims, which are stronger than alloy rims...That's useful for the type of riding I do on this bike
-- They allow one-finger braking, which I've found makes it much easier to pick my line while scrubbing off speed on steep, long, rough, rocky, potholed descents. (In the last 5-6 years, I've been in two gravel races in which riders have broken their necks - literally - on such descents. So I'm kind of interested in controlling my bike.)

2) The other disc brake bike is my "all road, all weather" bike which is equipped with fenders and 35mm wide tires. The advantages are:
-- Again, no issues with squeezing tires past rim brakes and additionally fitting fenders in there
-- They work better in rain and mud - which are part of the bike's use-case

Advantage for both bikes:
-- No worries about wearing out rims, which is useful since these are both high-mileage bikes which are ridden in wet and dirty conditions.

If any of you naysayers think my reasons for running disc brakes (on two of my five bikes) are stupid, ill-informed, whatever, let's hear it right here. I'm eager to process your logic.

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Old 02-13-24, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote

If any of you naysayers think my reasons for running disc brakes (on two of my five bikes) are stupid, ill-informed, whatever, let's hear it right here. I'm eager to process your logic.

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Old 02-13-24, 01:02 PM
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The other thread had a claim that Shimano 7000 rim brakes are "better" than discs.

I have both.

I ride both back to back, and often.

The disc brakes are flat out better. Better stopping in all conditions, better control and modulation - just flat better.

And I now have over 10k miles on the original pads and rotors - with plenty of life left.

My discs don't rub - never have.

My discs don't squeal 95% of the time. Only when it's wet or gritty out, then they will squeal some of the time.

Now lets continue on with 27 pages of useless arguments... ready, set, go!!!
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Old 02-13-24, 01:03 PM
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There's a weight penalty for disc brakes.

You need to pick hubs and spoke lacing patterns to handle additional stresses.

There's not the same "one pad fits most" feature that rim brakes enjoy.

That's all I have.
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Old 02-13-24, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
You need to pick hubs and spoke lacing patterns to handle additional stresses.
Yes, but that's not an issue for the vast majority of cyclists, because they just use the wheels that come with the bike.
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Old 02-13-24, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
There's a weight penalty for disc brakes.

You need to pick hubs and spoke lacing patterns to handle additional stresses.

There's not the same "one pad fits most" feature that rim brakes enjoy.

That's all I have.
I think that it has also been said on these forums that disc brakes (or is it breaks?) used with quick release hubs can cause life threatening situations.
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Old 02-13-24, 01:48 PM
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I have a few minutes spare so I'll chime in. Old bike (stolen, alas) had rim (v-) brakes. Highish-end setup: XTR cables, Avid adjustable levers, TRP CX-9 brakes. New bike (replacement) has highish-end disc brakes: XT 8100 flat-mount calipers/XT 8100 levers, ice-tech (?) rotors.

Rider profile: old man (now 72) w/arthritic hands (which are getting worse). I'm slow, and not 'competitive' in any sense, but have decent endurance. Always ride alone, now mainly on paved surfaces (used to mountain bike; not any more). Just 'like to ride' ... a lot, both 'out in the country' and in the city. Typical longer ride is 50 to 70 kms.

Brakes? Both perfectly adequate for the riding I do. Had no trouble at all 'maintaining' v-brakes; have no trouble at all 'maintaining' disc brakes. Changed the pads a few times on the v-brakes; changed the cables twice iirc. Cleaned the brake track on wheels periodically. I've changed (renewed) the disc brake pads once (no problem at all), and occasionally clean the calipers/rotors -- again, easy-peasy. Don't think I'd tackle a brake bleed if one became necessary, but that's because I'm mechanically inept.

V-brakes were fine in the rain (pads cleared the brake tracks pretty quickly); disc brakes maybe noticeably a bit better in the rain, but not much in it in my experience.

Biggest difference, for me (which is all that matters)? The disc brakes require less 'hand pressure.' Over time, and specifically e.g. on long descents, this adds up for an arthritic geezer; my hands don't get as sore.

That's about it. Would I still be riding Old Bike if it hadn't been stolen () ... probably. Hypothetically, would I have deliberately discarded Old Bike for New Bike because disc brakes? Don't think so. Am I happy with New Bike? Absolutely. Why did I buy one with disc brakes? Because at the 'level' I wanted that is the new normal, and I'm perfectly fine with that.

No idea how representative my experience is here on teh Biek Formz, but I would call myself a 'dedicated recreational cyclist.'
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Old 02-13-24, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
There's a weight penalty for disc brakes.
Not much, and not as important to me as my reasons for choosing discs on those bikes.

Originally Posted by terrymorse
You need to pick hubs and spoke lacing patterns to handle additional stresses.
ALL of the good mfrs make plenty of hubs (in various drillings, straight pull vs j-bend, etc) for disc brakes. You'd have to try hard to NOT find any sort of hubs you want. And my disc wheels use the same lacing patterns as my rim brake wheels.

Originally Posted by terrymorse
There's not the same "one pad fits most" feature that rim brakes enjoy.
I've not found that to be true of rim brakes, and I've also not found any problem in sourcing disc brake pads for two different brands.


Originally Posted by GeezyRider
I think that it has also been said on these forums that disc brakes (or is it breaks?) used with quick release hubs can cause life threatening situations.
Bike #2 has discs and QRs. Can confirm that this concern is nonsense.
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Old 02-13-24, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by GeezyRider
I think that it has also been said on these forums that disc brakes (or is it breaks?) used with quick release hubs can cause life threatening situations.
Hmm.

I assume the failure mode is an axle pulling down out of dropouts. Obviously not a problem for the front axle, held in the dropouts with safety tabs.

But the rear axle? It seems that the braking force from a caliper on the seat stay wants to push the axle upwards, holding it into the vertical dropout. I don't see how that force could make the axle want to move downwards and out of the dropout.
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Old 02-13-24, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Bike #2 has discs and QRs. Can confirm that this concern is nonsense.
Then you are correct. Disc brakes are great!
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Old 02-13-24, 02:30 PM
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You are correct, especially since you couch your arguments in the first person.
I have rim brakes on a bike wearing 50 mm tires
They stop me hard enough to do an endo, should I be too tetanic on the levers
The aluminum rims seem fine after 33 years.
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Old 02-13-24, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by GeezyRider
I think that it has also been said on these forums that disc brakes (or is it breaks?) used with quick release hubs can cause life threatening situations.
I have those on my 2014 custom bike, and the disc brakes have done far more to promote my safety than to threaten it. A fork with forward-facing drop-outs helps, and good internal cam QR skewers, or the DT Swiss skewers with handles that screw on, are the safest bet. I've thought about replacing the fork with a thru-axle, but then I would have to modify hubs on two wheel-sets, replace my (perfecty safe) post-mount brakes with flat-mount ones, and rob a 7/11 to pay for another Enve fork (so it won't be a downgrade/upgrade). I decided to just make sure the wheels are put on properly.

I wanted to get the disk brakes primarily because I was very paranoid after an unrelated ankle fracture. If I thought the above was a significant cause for concern, I would upgrade the fork.

Where I live, disc brakes are a vast improvement over rim brakes of any type. I do however wear through pads with an obscene frequency.
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Old 02-13-24, 03:01 PM
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Rim brakes are fantastic since choices abound these days.

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Old 02-13-24, 03:13 PM
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I understand OP's choices would not disagree with his choices at all

Here is a look at my decision on doing a custom with rim brakes

as a custom is likely a once in lifetime thing for me I looked at disc vs rim, electronic vs mechanical, pretty much all build choices

I choose rim brakes, after a lot of discussion with the builder. (It should be noted that builder was an early adopter of disc brakes and build a lot of disc frames)

Key points from the discussion were: what type of riding do I do (i.e lots of riding in hills with heavy loads) and what was a priority for me ride handling, etc)

the biggest point is that if I went disc brakes, the fork would have to be built heavier and ride and handling would not be as good a with lighter fork

I chose ride and handling and went with rims. other things that influenced the choice were a) I have really never had a problem with braking with good dual pivot brakes (check out the velo orange grand cru) and b) I don't see myself using carbon rims (aesthetic choice primarily)

My choice, not a right or wrong, but my thinking
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Old 02-13-24, 03:23 PM
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Okay, I’ll bite. I’ll preface this by saying that I have 9 bikes with various brake mechanisms. One bike has dual pivot road brakes. Three of my bikes have cantilever. One has disc front with a linear brake in the back. 4 have discs only. One of the cantilever brake equipped bikes gets loaded with silly weights of gear and gets ridden up and down all kinds roads in wet, dry, and “gravel”. The mullet (disc front/linear back) gets loaded with slightly less silly amounts of gear and gets ridden up and down rocky roads. That one also gets outfitted with studs in the winter and gets ridden on snowy/icy streets.

Not one of these bikes have brakes that perform vastly better than the others. The brakes stop me when I need to be stopped or slow me when I need to be slowed. I have never experienced an incidence with the brake systems I currently owned where I said to myself “I wish I had more brake!”. I haven’t experienced that problem since the bad old days of Diacomp center pulls or since I tried riding an Indian bike with rod brakes. The brakes just work.

Now on to the fun.

Originally Posted by Koyote
There's been a lot of argument about disc brakes lately, and it feels like both sides talk past each other a bit -- maybe one side more so than the other. After just reading yet another post with a blanket condemnation of disc brakes, I thought I would start this thread. Below are descriptions of my two disc brake bikes and the reasons why I choose discs.
That’s just bloody marvelous…for you. As I stated above, I have fin and disc and, honestly, can’t feel any difference. Both types work. As to the sides talking past each other, I can’t tell you the number of times that people have stared at me in open horror when they see my rim brake equipped bike I’ve been told by all kinds of people that I’m going to die while riding those “unsafe” rim brakes. Seems that they haven’t failed me in over 40 years of riding them.

1) One of the disc brake bikes is a dedicated gravel race rig, on which I normally run tires in the 40mm-44mm wide range. Disc brakes have the following advantages, IMO:
-- They don't limit tire width
That’s not been a limit that I’ve experienced with rim brakes. I’ve used cantilever and linear brakes to 55 to 60mm wide without having troubles.

-- They stop better than rim brakes (esp since they are hydraulic discs), which is kind of useful
Yada. Yada. Yada. I have never ridden into a wall, car, tree, or any other object because my brakes weren’t sufficient. I’ve gone over the bars with rim brakes which is the ultimate measure of bicycle brake power. (It’s physics). I know how to use all of my brakes to get the maximum out of them and, more importantly, how to get the minimum out of them. Powerful brakes and slick surfaces are not a great combination. The strength of the brake is not a measure of their stopping ability since the grip is limited by the tire. I’ve kissed pavement many times with those (supposedly) weak rim brakes as well as the more powerful disc due to ice. It hurts either way.

​​​​​​​-- They allow one-finger braking, which I've found makes it much easier to pick my line while scrubbing off speed on steep, long, rough, rocky, potholed descents. (In the last 5-6 years, I've been in two gravel races in which riders have broken their necks - literally - on such descents. So I'm kind of interested in controlling my bike.)
Well you kind of have to use one finger. They are a bit touchy.

As for the racers who have broken their necks, is that due to them not having sufficient brakes or for other reasons? Before I believe that they were injured because of the brakes, I’d need to hear from them as to what happened.

​​​​​​2) The other disc brake bike is my "all road, all weather" bike which is equipped with fenders and 35mm wide tires. The advantages are:
-- Again, no issues with squeezing tires past rim brakes and additionally fitting fenders in there
-- They work better in rain and mud - which are part of the bike's use-case
Fenders have never been much of a problem for me, although I have a bike that has cantilevers because linear brakes don’t work well with very wide (2.5”) fenders. And I’ve already addressed the tire size “issue”.

As for rain and mud, never had much of a problem with rim brakes.

​​​​​​​Advantage for both bikes:
-- No worries about wearing out rims, which is useful since these are both high-mileage bikes which are ridden in wet and dirty conditions.
The “wearing out rims” issue is way over blown. I’ve seen a lot of wheels during my 10 to 15 years of volunteering at my co-op and few of them are worn out. In my own personal wheels, the number of rims I’ve worn out on 40 bikes I’ve owned and far more than 80 wheels I’ve owned over the last 35 years of records (and an additional 11 years without records) can be counted on one hand. It happens but isn’t nearly the problem that people make it out to be. If you ride the brakes all the time, the rims will wear out faster. I can go years without even changing the pads.




Originally Posted by Koyote
Not much, and not as important to me as my reasons for choosing discs on those bikes.
Granted. Although, depending on the application, weight can be important. My wife’s hydraulic disc brake equipped bike is significantly heavier…about 4 lbs…than her rim brake equipped bike in a very similar size. I could lose about a pound by going to mechanicals disc. That may not seem like much but 4 lbs when you weigh around 110 lbs is a significant difference. I’d need 8 pounds more to experience the same difference and likely more because my muscle mass is greater.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​ALL of the good mfrs make plenty of hubs (in various drillings, straight pull vs j-bend, etc) for disc brakes. You'd have to try hard to NOT find any sort of hubs you want. And my disc wheels use the same lacing patterns as my rim brake wheels.
Mostly granted, although that depends on how much you want to spend. Shimano is so what limited on drillings. Boutique hubs have more flexibility.

​​​​​​​I've not found that to be true of rim brakes, and I've also not found any problem in sourcing disc brake pads for two different brands.
Now you are just flat out wrong. Although the pad configuration and rubber compound can vary, the actual attachment of the pad to the calipers is pretty universal. Some pad compounds are better than others but the same holds true for disc. Koolstop has a disc pad poster with a dizzying array of pad configurations. The poster doesn’t show all of them. Quality Bicycle Products lists 345 disc brake pads in their catalog. That’s a seriously stupid number of brake pads and different configurations. Prior to discs, you could walk into any shop and ask for pads and they would put them in your hand with a minimum of bother. Now they have to search data bases and need to know make and model of the brake. Disc brake pads may be the least standardized part of bicycling.


​​​​​​​Bike #2 has discs and QRs. Can confirm that this concern is nonsense.
I bet bike 2 has lawyer lips. Lawyer lips or through axle are required for the save use of quick release and disc brakes. Granted you won’t find too many bikes made after about 1995 that don’t have lawyer lips but some people shave them off.

​​​​​​​If any of you naysayers think my reasons for running disc brakes (on two of my five bikes) are stupid, ill-informed, whatever, let's hear it right here. I'm eager to process your logic.
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You have your reasons for using disc brakes. Whatever floats your boat. It’s not stupid nor ill-informed or “whatever”.

On the other hand, don’t go thinking that those of use who don’t think that disc brakes are the answer to all problems are “stupid, ill-informed, whatever”.
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Old 02-13-24, 03:40 PM
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OMG is this really an argument? What is wrong with cyclists? The only reason all my bikes don't have discs is because most of them are simply too old. I think my earliest disc model is from 2005. My 2017 Trek road racer has the ubiquitous dual pivot side-pulls because the discs on road race bikes (vs road bikes) thing still existed. In 2024 its all done and dusted, discs will be the OEM brake system of choice for bikes that anyone here will want to own.
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Old 02-13-24, 03:46 PM
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Old 02-13-24, 03:51 PM
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Ummm hello spoon brakes are better than everything. No silly pads no bleeding, no cables to tension. QR, Bolt on, Thru-axle, wide tires, narrow tires, carbon rims, aluminum rims, steel rims. it doesn't matter it will work. Heck you could probably make one from carbon fiber and make it super light and you won't need to ever adjust it either.

Everyone here is quite welcome, I have ended this debate for everyone forever and this topic will never need to be brought up again. Now onto the Middle East...LOL
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Old 02-13-24, 04:05 PM
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Caliper style brakes don't work as well but there is nothing "hidden" about when they are getting sketchy. You can look at them and know whether they are good or getting bad.

Disc brakes on the other hand "work really great until they don't."
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Old 02-13-24, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes
Ummm hello spoon brakes are better than everything.
Are fork mounted spoon brakes called spork brakes?
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Old 02-13-24, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
You have your reasons for using disc brakes. Whatever floats your boat. It’s not stupid nor ill-informed or “whatever”.

On the other hand, don’t go thinking that those of use who don’t think that disc brakes are the answer to all problems are “stupid, ill-informed, whatever”.
I've never seen anyone asserting any such thing here on bf, and I've certainly never asserted it - ever.

You missed the point of the thread, which might merely mean that you have missed some other recent threads about disc brakes -- and if so, consider yourself fortunate.
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Old 02-13-24, 04:16 PM
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Where is GamblerGORD53 with his 'lol defailures are a joke, you need igh and drum brakes' schtick?



Anyways, I'll take his place here and argue that coaster brakes are the best! They are so good at stopping that I used to skid thru a few tires a year when I was 10-12. None of that trash 1 finger braking needed!
Hydraulic disc brakes are a distant second to the supreme braking of a coaster brake.**
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Old 02-13-24, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
The other thread had a claim that Shimano 7000 rim brakes are "better" than discs.
Did someone really say that? You wouldn’t be deliberately misstating what someone wrote to support your own agenda, would you?
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Old 02-13-24, 05:10 PM
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As a service manager I loved disc brakes. Working on them required more time which in turn provided more labor charges. Trust me, it makes a difference on the bottom line.
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Old 02-13-24, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by GeezyRider
I think that it has also been said on these forums that disc brakes (or is it breaks?) used with quick release hubs can cause life threatening situations.
Originally Posted by terrymorse
Hmm.

I assume the failure mode is an axle pulling down out of dropouts. Obviously not a problem for the front axle, held in the dropouts with safety tabs.

But the rear axle? It seems that the braking force from a caliper on the seat stay wants to push the axle upwards, holding it into the vertical dropout. I don't see how that force could make the axle want to move downwards and out of the dropout.
Current bikes with discs and QRs have the front dropout angled so the force of braking the rotor would tend to push the axle further into the dropout rather than out. I have one of those (Salsa Journeyer). Works fine.
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