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Caliper brakes vs. mechanical disc

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Caliper brakes vs. mechanical disc

Old 09-20-19, 03:42 PM
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am0n
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Caliper brakes vs. mechanical disc

I'm looking into used bikes. For what I am looking at, I tend to see my options as either mechanical disc brakes, i.e. TRP spyre C, or calipers. The calipers are usually Tektro brakes which I've heard aren't great, so a possible plan would be to replace them with 105s. However, in the age/price point I am looking at, I'm usually looking at Tiagra 4600, which I've read have a different pull strength than 5800 105s.

The short question is, how do mechanical TRP spyre C brakes compare to 5800 105 caliper brakes with Tiagra 4600 brifters?
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Old 09-20-19, 07:20 PM
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mstateglfr 
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Spyre brakes work just fine and will stop you.
5800 calipers with 4600 shifter work just fine and will stop you.

Yes there is a different pull ratio on the caliper brakes. No it wont cause any actual safety issues as the difference is quite minimal. If you are concerned though, just buy some matching brake calipers that are the same pull as your shifters- older Tiagra, 105, or Ultegra would work.

Also, the T in TRP stands for Tektro. TRP is a division of Tektro. Tektro brakes can be of low quality and can be quite nice since they sell a full line of options.
TRP caliper brakes can be quite nice- I chose them instead of Shimano for a recent build.

Tektro, promax, origin8, shimano, XLC - these can all work just fine or be crummy. It heavily depends on if you have good pads and if they are set up properly. Even cheap dual pivot brakes work fine with good pads and proper setup.

Buy the bike that fits best, then address the brakes if that's even needed.
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Old 09-20-19, 11:02 PM
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Kimmo
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Yeah, caliper tune can matter a lot... BITD, it was common to be able to make a lot of improvement by overhauling ye olde single pivots, until Shimano did the reversed spindle with beefier diameter, which pretty much made em set and forget, especially on 600 and Dura-Ace with the thrust bearing.

Every dual pivot uses that arrangement, but the nastiest ones can still be a bit too nasty to tune properly. I'd consider Tiagra quality to be minimum decent.
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Old 09-21-19, 04:59 AM
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I'd go with the disc brakes simply because that is where bikes are going. It will be easier to sell or upgrade the disc brake bike later on.
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Old 09-21-19, 05:20 AM
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Having used ultegra levers with Teckro and ultegra calipers, 105 levers with 105 and Teckro calipers and now 105 levers and BB7 mech brakes (which are not the best road mechs out there)..... I like the mech disc better than any of the rim brake combos Iíve used. But really all of the rim brakes worked fine (all dual pivot). I like the feel, responsiveness, and consistency of discs.

But as the upcoming multiple pages of arguing shall demonstrate, opinions vary.

What I would advise is that if you donít already have an opinion on it, donít worry about whether it is rim or disc.

Last edited by Kapusta; 09-21-19 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 09-21-19, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
I'd go with the disc brakes simply because that is where bikes are going. It will be easier to sell or upgrade the disc brake bike later on.
Ditto this. But I still use caliper because that's what I got on all my bikes. But, if I was new into cycling, go disc.
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Old 09-21-19, 11:15 AM
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Good pads and good setup make either good options. As noted, discs will have better resale value, but with proper setup and good pads they'll get the job done with excellent feel.

I have a mechanical up front (BB7SL) and rim caliper in back (Ultegra 6800 w/swiss stop) on my Ti because it's easy to retro fit a fork that has brake caliper mounts, but welding caliper mounts on a rear triangle of a 16 year old ti frame, not so much.

Both do the job they need to do. Mechanical disc up front has been great, but I need to install new pads. I have 105 hydraulics on my gravel bike and I haven't warmed up to them. If you go "by the book" on bleeding there is still WAY too much lever travel. As in they don't even start to bite until there isn't any travel left in the levers.
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Old 09-24-19, 09:58 AM
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I think mechanical discs have all the benefits of hydro discs but none of the setbacks. They're not quite as powerful as properly set up hydros, but have only 1/10th of the maintenance. They're easier to maintain than caliper brakes (I have both TRP Spyre C & Ultegra rim). For braking performance, I'd say on dry ground they're roughly equal, assuming you're using equal quality brake pads and on aluminum rims. When I upgraded to carbon rims my braking suffered a little bit, and I'd say that my discs brake better than my calipers now, even in the dry. But they work well enough. Buy the bike that fits the best, and if they're the same in every other regard, I'd get the mech discs just for the wet braking capabilities and as others have mentioned, the possibly increased future resale value.
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Old 09-24-19, 10:52 AM
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Old 09-24-19, 11:35 AM
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What I can provide is my experience with mechanical discs on my Colnago World Cup CX and rim brakes on my Guru Sidero (SRAM Red) and CAAD 12 (105). IMO the discs are superior. There is absolutely nothing wrong with rim brakes. But, I find the braking with discs to be more progressive and consistent.
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Old 09-24-19, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
I'd go with the disc brakes simply because that is where bikes are going. It will be easier to sell or upgrade the disc brake bike later on.
^^ this. It took a while for road bikes to evolve in that direction, but it's the way to go IMO! And please do not throw me that ''rim brakes are easier to maintain'' argument.
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Old 09-24-19, 01:41 PM
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Thanks for the responses. My question was to try and assess valuation. If a bike costs me (used) $100 more for mech disc, is that worth the cost over buying a cheaper bike and having to replace the rim brakes with 105 rim brakes.

Sounds like both are fine, even 105 5800 rim brakes on a tiagra 4600 brifters.
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Old 09-24-19, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
Thanks for the responses. My question was to try and assess valuation. If a bike costs me (used) $100 more for mech disc, is that worth the cost over buying a cheaper bike and having to replace the rim brakes with 105 rim brakes.

Sounds like both are fine, even 105 5800 rim brakes on a tiagra 4600 brifters.
Honestly, I do not even notice much difference between any of the calipers Iíve used other than short reach feels a little better than long reach. I found pads and cable/housing makes a much bigger difference than Tektro vs 105 vs Ultegra calipers. Maybe I just never had the really crappy Tektros.

Last edited by Kapusta; 09-24-19 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 09-24-19, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Psychocycles View Post
I think mechanical discs have all the benefits of hydro discs but none of the setbacks.
Oh?

Originally Posted by Psychocycles View Post
They're not quite as powerful as properly set up hydros,
If they're not as powerful, do they really have all of the benefits? You're also omitting lever feel.

Originally Posted by Psychocycles View Post
... but have only 1/10th of the maintenance.
Oh? Maybe you could outline how hydros are 10x more work to maintain?
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Old 09-24-19, 02:07 PM
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Kapusta
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Oh?



If they're not as powerful, do they really have all of the benefits? You're also omitting lever feel.



Oh? Maybe you could outline how hydros are 10x more work to maintain?
Now this thread can finally take off and reach its full potential.
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Old 09-24-19, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Now this thread can finally take off and reach its full potential.
I takes my pulls at the front.
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Old 09-24-19, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I takes my pulls at the front.
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Old 09-24-19, 06:42 PM
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Hm, bleeding a brake could be regarded as ten times as much hassle as replacing an inner cable, but then that's ignoring the frequent adjustments for pad wear with mechanical disc. If the assertion specified a hybrid caliper, maybe...

But yeah, the best cable in the world isn't going to allow modulation as fine as a hydraulic hose. Always wanted to try those road hydro rim brakes Magura did... tried the MTB version, it was pretty impressive.
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Old 09-25-19, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Psychocycles View Post
I think mechanical discs have all the benefits of hydro discs but none of the setbacks. They're not quite as powerful as properly set up hydros, but have only 1/10th of the maintenance.
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Old 09-25-19, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Psychocycles View Post
I think mechanical discs have all the benefits of hydro discs but none of the setbacks. They're not quite as powerful as properly set up hydros, but have only 1/10th of the maintenance. They're easier to maintain than caliper brakes (I have both TRP Spyre C & Ultegra rim). For braking performance, I'd say on dry ground they're roughly equal, assuming you're using equal quality brake pads and on aluminum rims. When I upgraded to carbon rims my braking suffered a little bit, and I'd say that my discs brake better than my calipers now, even in the dry. But they work well enough. Buy the bike that fits the best, and if they're the same in every other regard, I'd get the mech discs just for the wet braking capabilities and as others have mentioned, the possibly increased future resale value.
I run hydro disc brakes and completely disagree about the "1/10th of the maintenance" statement. First, they auto adjust, so as the pad wears, it will automatically adjust itself closer to the rotor, mechanical disc does not do this. Second, people often state you have to constantly bleed hydraulic brakes, replace fluid, etc. this simply isn't true. If you're not accidentally opening up the fluid lines or something else strange it will often be years before you have to bleed or otherwise adjust the fluid.

So, in summary, hydro brakes offer superior force modulation over mechanical, they auto adjust to wear, and need almost no maintenance.
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Old 09-25-19, 06:42 AM
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fwiw - I don't use my brakes much on my road bike. last year got a MTB w mech. disks & I like the better grip. very useful cuz the older rim brakes on other bikes weren't strong enough for steep, slow, descents. I see no need for that kind of stopping power on a road bike. not for me anyway
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Old 09-25-19, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
Thanks for the responses. My question was to try and assess valuation. If a bike costs me (used) $100 more for mech disc, is that worth the cost over buying a cheaper bike and having to replace the rim brakes with 105 rim brakes.

Sounds like both are fine, even 105 5800 rim brakes on a tiagra 4600 brifters.
I would say yes.

While both are fine, the fact is that the industry has decided that rim brakes are basically outdated, so if you want to upgrade or sell in the future, you are going to have an easier time doing so if you buy disc brakes now.
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Old 09-25-19, 07:01 AM
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My 18 years of experience with hydro and mech discs on mtbs has left me with the conclusion that overall, the relative amount of maintenance is a wash.

Mech does require more on-going tweaks with the pads (find this takes about a minute) On my road bike that means once every 10 - 20 rides. On the mtb it could be ever 5 rides or even after one particularly harsh ride.

i have found hydros to be much less maintenance....... until they are not. You may go several years between bleeds (or any maintenance other than changing the pads), or you may do many in the course of a few weeks trying to track down a stubborn air bubble or troubleshoot a problem.

So, if I look at it strictly in term of how many minutes per year on average I spend maintain brakes, mechs take longer. However, nothing is all that hard, it is predictable, and troubleshooting is dead easy. Also, Iíve never encountered an issue on the trail or road I could not take care of mid-ride.

Let me put this another way. I have missed several days of mountain biking over the years due to problems with my hydraulic brakes. I have also finished two rides with only a single functioning brake. Neither of these things has ever happened to me with mechs, even though I run them more often on more bikes.

I have never owned road hydraulics. Perhaps they are inherently more simple and reliable. But I doubt it.

What I have noticed is that the performance difference between road mechs and hydro is greater than it is on mtb mechs and hydro. Yet, I care less about the difference on the road.
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Old 09-25-19, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
I have never owned road hydraulics. Perhaps they are inherently more simple and reliable. But I doubt it.
I am not an engineer but one has to be designed to withstand the jarring impacts mountain biking can impart, have the ability to flex with suspension system, and keep functioning through whatever debris, muck, or dust that can be kicked up off the path. The other (road) has to deal with smooth roads and maybe an occasional pothole, I'd suggest that road hydraulics are a tad more reliable due to the more forgiving terrain and conditions generally encountered.
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Old 09-25-19, 07:33 AM
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Kapusta
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Originally Posted by firebird854 View Post
, I'd suggest that road hydraulics are a tad more reliable due to the more forgiving terrain and conditions generally encountered.
Thatís a good point. Pretty much every other comparable part on my mountain bikes wears out more quickly or breaks more often than on my road bike.

Last edited by Kapusta; 09-25-19 at 07:39 AM.
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