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entry level disc brakes?

Old 05-14-15, 09:35 AM
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entry level disc brakes?

I'm looking at entry level $1,000 and under road bikes...should I immediately eliminate any with disc brakes? That's my inclination, since I know nothing about them or how to service themAnand don't know about quality differences Between entry level and High end discs...are they any more or less likely to fail I cause accidents?

My attitude this far has been, "well that's nice, but it has disc brakes..."

Am I being unfair not giving them a chance?
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Old 05-14-15, 10:09 AM
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I've got no problem with the Promax Render R mechanical disc brakes on my Cannondale, but it wasn't an under $1k bike. It was on the more affordable side of hydraulic disc equipped bikes. I think from what I gather some are possibly more difficult to tune due to having an adjuster on only one side, etc. The pads don't seem to wear a lot for me and I've not had much issue with keeping mine adjusted.

I did spray my rear disc with WD40 by accident while cleaning my chain and that was an experience I would rather avoid in the future. New pads and rotor now and it seems to be working good as new. Possibly could have saved the old with rubbing alcohol, but found out too late that was an option.
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Old 05-14-15, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
I'm looking at entry level $1,000 and under road bikes...should I immediately eliminate any with disc brakes? That's my inclination, since I know nothing about them or how to service themAnand don't know about quality differences Between entry level and High end discs...are they any more or less likely to fail I cause accidents?

My attitude this far has been, "well that's nice, but it has disc brakes..."

Am I being unfair not giving them a chance?
There are pros and cons to disc brakes.

Pros: They stop better than rim brakes. Especially in wet conditions. A lot of bikes with disc brakes can take a wider variety of tire widths.
Cons: They cost more than rim brakes. They're heavier. They may not be as aero.

Disc brakes should not need any more maintenance than rim brakes. Some might argue that your bike may need less maintenance on the rims with disc brakes.

With most bikes, once you choose one type of brake, you can't switch. Because Disc brakes take special mounting points on the front fork and on the rear of the frame. Some bikes with disc brakes may be able to mount rim brakes if they have the mounting points.

I just got back into biking, and I was looking for an intro bike. I was in a bad bike accident in college, where more braking ability may have lessened my injuries, so I decided that disc brakes would be a plus on a new bike.

I was able to find a good intro bike with disc brakes for <$1000.

Fuji Sportif 1.3 C - 2014

It is an AL bike with a carbon fork. Tiagra level components (10-speed). Disc Brakes (ProMax Render-R mechanical disc for road, 160mm / 140mm rotors). I'm a clyde, so theh 28/32 spoke wheels is a plus for me. My cost was $800 (plus tax). Plus I was able to hit a sale at Peformance Bikes where they gave me 20% back to buy accessories (it's normally 10%) through Team Perfomance. And I joined the e-mail list before I bought, and got a coupon for 20% off up to $200 of accessories. I did have to order it, but I was able to road test another bike with the same frame, but a different component set. It took 1 week to get in.

Of course, my advice would be to road test as many different bikes as possible at different shops, and with different geometries. For example, with Fujis, the Sportif is the intro endurance geometry, and the Roubaix is the intro race geometry. See if you can find the following brands to road test, as they are all respected brands for intro bikes: Fuji, Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale, Raleigh, Jamis.

GH
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Old 05-14-15, 12:33 PM
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Thanks, I've test ridden Jamis, Masi, and 2 Cannondales...one with disc brakes...but the disc brakes were not tunes, and barely had any gripping power...so it was hard to know how they really feel.
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Old 05-14-15, 08:21 PM
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At that price point, if you go disc, you'll either get really crappy low-end discs (as you saw on your test ride); or everything else on the bike will be of sub-par quality, to compensate for the added cost of the discs.

I'm no advocate of discs (You just don't need them, unless you descend mountains a lot in the rain) but even disc advocates will tell you that mechanical discs REEK!

Discs on road bikes are the flavor of the month; something new and different to stimulate sales and make people want "the latest & greatest". Don't fall for that nonsense. Figure out what it is that you want/need ion a bike, and then find a bike that offers as many of those things as possible in your price range. You obviously don't need discs...so why pay for them? Especially at a price point where options are more critical?
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Old 05-14-15, 08:41 PM
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I don't think rim vs disc brakes should be much of a purchase decision factor, though given the choice the same model bike, I might lean towards rim brakes.

Even low end disc brakes work fine as far as I can tell, but may not be as easy (initially) to set up. My mtb has well-used mechanical BB-5, lowest of the low. They were never maintained in 4 years by the prev owner; the so-called pistons were froze. After rebuilding them and learning proper adjustment, they are working very well.

Upside: not much, but seem a little more positive when wet. Worked well on the singletrack braking lightly to maintain control and panic braking instead of using trees to stop. Adjustment for pad wear is easy, and pad replacement is simple.

Downside: need to understand how to initially adjust them correctly, rotors have to be very true, can get bent easily (crescent wrench or slotted tool to straighten again), use automotive brake cleaner on a paper towel to clean.
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Old 05-14-15, 10:14 PM
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i just built a couple brand new upper end bikes and disc brakes were never on the drawing board.

don't want em, don't need em, won't put em on a road bike.
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Old 05-14-15, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadTire View Post
I don't think rim vs disc brakes should be much of a purchase decision factor

it would be a very high decision factor on my list due to the potential for getting stuck with inferior disc brakes that the whole bike is built around and the inability to be retro fitted to traditional rim brakes could be a huge bummer.
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Old 05-14-15, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by bt View Post
it would be a very high decision factor on my list due to the potential for getting stuck with inferior disc brakes that the whole bike is built around and the inability to be retro fitted to traditional rim brakes could be a huge bummer.
I have inferior disc brakes, but can upgrade if I want, just like rim brakes. Maybe a better way of saying it would be, "I don't think the single factor of disc vs rim brakes but rather getting quality, reliable brakes would be a purchase factor. Avid BB-7 have a good reputation for an inexpensive disc brake, yet their internals are hardly different (from the diagrams anyway) from the BB -5. BB - 7 have 2 adjusters, one fixed side. BB-5 has 1 adjuster, one fixed side. Both are pretty low-cost brakes.

Now if I was depending on my life going down massive long descents, I may have a very different opinion. Also, being old-school and a little more traditional, I will have to suck it up myself in a few years, new road bike, and buy what is on the market. When I'm riding though, I don't even think about what kind of brakes I have.
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Old 05-14-15, 11:30 PM
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Low end disc brakes works great. But so do low end rim brakes.

If you ride a lot in the rain, go for discs.
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Old 05-14-15, 11:37 PM
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if you get hydraulics, either get them bled at the LBS or expect the same kind of mess and frustration, including paraphernalia like, rags, tubing, a couple of wrenches, three arms, and assorted syringes and of course brake fluid, you'd expect from bleeding a set motorcycle brakes. jeesh!
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Old 05-15-15, 05:09 AM
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Since you had to go and post how complicated disc brakes are to bleed and I had never bothered to look into doing it on a road bike

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMGl58-tMqg

yep pretty much as easy as they are on my mtn bike. Just gravity bleed although on my mtn bike I can get away without even using their special little funnel dohicky and I skip a lot of the other steps too.

Of coarse that is just shimano now sram's road brakes look like they are just as much of a PITA as their mtn bikes which does suck.
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Old 05-15-15, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by UnfilteredDregs View Post
Look! All the people who know nothing about discs but don't like them are here!

OP, no need to listen to the resident clown car brigade...

Bottom line is what is spec'd for the build. Find out what that is, do a little research and make a decision.
Haha, yeah! You go ride a $1000 bike with cruddy mechanical discs and let us know how you like it!
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Old 05-16-15, 08:01 PM
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I would never eliminate disc brakes just because they're disc brakes and I would lean towards them when given a choice. I think they stop the bike better. I just built up a touring bike and would not have considered anything but disc brakes for it. But, I have just begun a racing type road bike project and never considered putting discs on it. The switch to disc brakes on my tandem was life changing. Low end brakes are just that, whether they are rims or discs.
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Old 05-17-15, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
Thanks, I've test ridden Jamis, Masi, and 2 Cannondales...one with disc brakes...but the disc brakes were not tunes, and barely had any gripping power...so it was hard to know how they really feel.
were not tuned... you mean not yet bedded-in (=broken in) properly?

not just for weather reasons, but the dominance of disc on the high end in mtb proves theyre superior in performance. whether you need that kind of power is another issue. aero...i dont personally much care for. its the stupidest minimal amount of frontal area... whether i had a beer or not the previous night has a greater impact on my riding performance
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Old 05-17-15, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by redfooj View Post
were not tuned... you mean not yet bedded-in (=broken in) properly?

not just for weather reasons, but the dominance of disc on the high end in mtb proves theyre superior in performance. whether you need that kind of power is another issue. aero...i dont personally much care for. its the stupidest minimal amount of frontal area... whether i had a beer or not the previous night has a greater impact on my riding performance
I think what he meant by "not tuned" is that was the excuse the shop proffered to excuse the crappiness of mechanical discs.... Kinda like the backfiring, bucking car that "just needs a tune-up".
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Old 05-17-15, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by redfooj View Post
were not tuned... you mean not yet bedded-in (=broken in) properly?

not just for weather reasons, but the dominance of disc on the high end in mtb proves theyre superior in performance. whether you need that kind of power is another issue. aero...i dont personally much care for. its the stupidest minimal amount of frontal area... whether i had a beer or not the previous night has a greater impact on my riding performance
I didn't ride the bike that long, nor did I exam exam I.e why they were bad, I just know that the front brake worked about as well as a really loose, cheap rim brake when wet...and the back brake was way worse, such that I probably could have ridden the bike around while squeezing the rear brake as hard as I could...
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Old 05-17-15, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
I would never eliminate disc brakes just because they're disc brakes and I would lean towards them when given a choice. I think they stop the bike better. I just built up a touring bike and would not have considered anything but disc brakes for it. But, I have just begun a racing type road bike project and never considered putting discs on it. The switch to disc brakes on my tandem was life changing. Low end brakes are just that, whether they are rims or discs.
From what I've heard, yes, on tandems or mtn bikes the advantages are more...for a bike that is ridden on the road only, and usually avoids the rain, I don't see a need for them at this point...

Also, nearly any cheap brakes, even from Wal-Mart, can be given a set of replacement pads and made to be pperfectly functional and safe...and in fact would inspire more confidence than cheap disc brakes with a very thin disc.

Last edited by 12strings; 05-17-15 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 05-17-15, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
From what I've heard, yes, on tandems or my bikes the advantages are more...for a bike that is ridden on the road only, and usually avoids the rain, I don't see a need for them at this point...

Also, nearly any cheap brakes, even from Wal-Mart, can be given a set of replacement pads and made to be pperfectly functional and safe...and in fact would inspire more confidence than cheap disc brakes with a very thin disc.
I have not "heard" anything, I have 1000's of miles of experience with both types of brakes. The 10-12 sets of disc brakes I have ridden have all been superior in braking power in all conditions than the 30+ sets of rim brakes I have ridden. High quality, properly tuned rim brakes work very well but it is my experience that discs work better. My feeling, as far as brakes go, is to have good ones. Save money where you wish.
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Old 05-17-15, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
I have not "heard" anything, I have 1000's of miles of experience with both types of brakes. The 10-12 sets of disc brakes I have ridden have all been superior in braking power in all conditions than the 30+ sets of rim brakes I have ridden. High quality, properly tuned rim brakes work very well but it is my experience that discs work better. My feeling, as far as brakes go, is to have good ones. Save money where you wish.
I'll defer to your expertise...As I said, I have all of 5 minutes of time on a bike with disk brakes...probably less than a minute actually using the brakes...OTOH, I've never had any problems with rim brakes on any bike that some adjustment and new brake pads wouldn't fix.

On a perhaps different, but related note...what kinds of experiences does the advantage show itself? What I mean is, I don't think I ever squeeze my brakes to their full potential anyway. On descents, and in traffic, a controlled half-squeeze is generally sufficient. In emergency stopping, such as a car cutting me off turning right, I can already lock up the rear wheel and drag it, AND lock up the front wheel enough to lift the rear wheel off the ground and throw me over (Haven't done that yet, but I have had to stop quickly for cars such that i felt close).

IF I had better stopping power, what is the advantage? Is it more control, such that I would be able to apply lots of pressure SHORT OF actually stopping the wheel?

Just curious....
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Old 05-17-15, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
I'll defer to your expertise...As I said, I have all of 5 minutes of time on a bike with disk brakes...probably less than a minute actually using the brakes...OTOH, I've never had any problems with rim brakes on any bike that some adjustment and new brake pads wouldn't fix.

On a perhaps different, but related note...what kinds of experiences does the advantage show itself? What I mean is, I don't think I ever squeeze my brakes to their full potential anyway. On descents, and in traffic, a controlled half-squeeze is generally sufficient. In emergency stopping, such as a car cutting me off turning right, I can already lock up the rear wheel and drag it, AND lock up the front wheel enough to lift the rear wheel off the ground and throw me over (Haven't done that yet, but I have had to stop quickly for cars such that i felt close).

IF I had better stopping power, what is the advantage? Is it more control, such that I would be able to apply lots of pressure SHORT OF actually stopping the wheel?

Just curious....
My experience can help answer your question as to which type of brakes might be preferable. You ask the question of the forum, I didn't, as I know exactly where I stand on this issue. I assume you have not made your referenced evasive stops in the rain, taken long descents and faded your brakes to worthless, or blown a tire off the rim due to heat build up. You do have significant hills and thunder showers in the summer in southern Indiana. Disc brakes work better in wet conditions. I live and ride in the mountains so strong, reliable brakes are mandatory. Rim brakes wear out wheels which I have done, disc brakes wear out disc rotors which I have never done. I don't use discs exclusively but I'm partial to them. If I was shopping for a new bike I would absolutely consider disc brakes as an possible option.
If you're brakes are good enough that's great but I will always opt for better brakes, rim or disc, and I'm willing to pay for them.
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Old 05-17-15, 10:04 PM
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my colnago crosser has discs on them. straight from the vendor theyre not that strong yet... cant lift the rear wheel applying the front (which i can easily do with calipers) but its just a matter of bedding them in. manual says to run 10-15 hard stops to get them nicely seated which i havent done
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Old 05-18-15, 08:17 AM
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My mechanical disc brakes work very, very well btw. I'm amazed at the stopping power the front has particularly.
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Old 05-18-15, 08:23 AM
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The TRP Spyres on my cheap (~1k) Novara bike from REI are pretty solid! They were very well reviewed, and my own impression confirms it. So I don't know that I would automatically exclude anything with disc brakes. In fact, looking at the choice between the bike I got and an identical one except with (relatively low end) rim brakes, these disc brakes tipped me towards it.
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Old 05-25-15, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by rocdoc View Post
The TRP Spyres on my cheap (~1k) Novara bike from REI are pretty solid! They were very well reviewed, and my own impression confirms it. So I don't know that I would automatically exclude anything with disc brakes. In fact, looking at the choice between the bike I got and an identical one except with (relatively low end) rim brakes, these disc brakes tipped me towards it.
I just did a quick read of reviews and these look like really good mech brakes having both pads activated instead of one. The issues I could find are the pad adjustment screw seems to loosen for one reviewer, so just use barrel adjusters instead, and pretty normal issues of stock pad wear in wet muddy conditions. Buying the right aftermarket pads resolved the problem.

These look like a perfect upgrade for my bb-5's if I ever become dissatisfied.
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