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Mechanical Disc Brakes on Touring Bike ... ?!

Old 04-24-16, 09:30 AM
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str
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Mechanical Disc Brakes on Touring Bike ... ?!

I am will build a new touring bike, and want to mount mechanical disc brakes. maybe mechanical disc brake riders can help me with some information.
I have no idea about disc ... only reading and reading the last weeks. why mechanical, i guess the chance to fix them yourself when out alone is higher than with hydro disc .... ?

- is it true that mechanical discs are not much better than rim brakes?

- the other day I read this, is it true?

""""The problem with mechanical discs and dropouts is that any time I take the wheels off to clean the bike or go through enough rough stuff to misalign the axles by a half millimeter, the brakes start to whine and squeal until I get it on a workbench and dialed in again.""""


thanks very much. S.
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Old 04-24-16, 09:37 AM
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Go with hydraulic. You won't regret it, and won't experience all the issues with mechanicals.
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Old 04-24-16, 10:25 AM
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I like MY Hydraulic Rim Brakes . Magura, Made in Germany.. and My Avid Mechanical Disc Brake. [MTB BB7]
What Issues? Mechanical competence will always help,,
Math, Science and mechanics are not an American strong point amongst the Young it seems .

Broken Hydro hose is rare . but getting Air Bubbles in the line is Not.

For reliability, on the road Touring , where you have to Pack Your Bike at either end of the Ride

The Hydro presents challenges : Like touching the brake lever when the wheel is Out and not being able to get it back In.

(auto pad wear compensator of Hydro discs is not that all seeing.. all knowing)


I did 90% of my touring with cantilever rim brakes .. I have bought the the disc Brake bike **recently its super when It's Pouring down rain.

You like touring Rainy Places, even in the summer?

** Bike Friday, Rohloff, Pocket Llama .. center lock front disc hub so It comes off easily to pack the bike down small , to Fly.

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-24-16 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 04-24-16, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by str View Post
I am will build a new touring bike, and want to mount mechanical disc brakes. maybe mechanical disc brake riders can help me with some information.
I have no idea about disc ... only reading and reading the last weeks. why mechanical, i guess the chance to fix them yourself when out alone is higher than with hydro disc .... ?

- is it true that mechanical discs are not much better than rim brakes?

- the other day I read this, is it true?

""""The problem with mechanical discs and dropouts is that any time I take the wheels off to clean the bike or go through enough rough stuff to misalign the axles by a half millimeter, the brakes start to whine and squeal until I get it on a workbench and dialed in again.""""


thanks very much. S.
It depends on the brakes you have. Avid BB7's are almost flawless, but there are better systems in principle, like the TRP spyre SLC, which is a dual sided mechanical disc brake that is almost as good as a well functioning hydro brake, at least in theory. Haven't tried them so can't really say. If I compare the power in my BB7's and hydro brakes the BB7's are at least as powerful, but are a tiny bit lacking in brake feel. Compressionless housings have a bit to do with this, but those don't work on drop bars.

About the squeal problem. It's not purely a mechanical disc issue, hydros get that too but with mechanicals at least it takes a few clicks to completely solve the rubbing issue. With hydros however you'll either have to reclamp the wheel so many times that you'll eliminate rub. Squealing is more an issue of contaminated disc than misaligned disc.

It's true if you haven't gotten a feel for cranking down your quick release you might experience misaligned discs. After you start being consistent with clamping down the quick release the issue disappears... almost. But what really makes it truly disappear is ditching the quick release and getting a hex skewer. That way assuming you keep the skewer clean you'll get the exact same tension for it every time and your caliper will always be in the same spot. And a hex skewer gives a bit of protection against bike thieves. The best solution for a touring bike would be to get a pitlock (which I use) or some other security skewer system system but a hex skewer will work too.
The way you use them is that you tighten the skewer to your preferred tightness (I go finger tight and then 1 and 1/4 turns with the key). Then set up your disc brake so that it aligns perfectly. Now if you ever take the wheel off you can just set the tension you used the last time and the disc will be aligned enough for perfect function.

The reasons why a mech disc brake is superior for touring in my opinion is that hydro's tend to have these annoying little issues that can either be merely inconvenient or can mean you'll either need to stop the tour or get a new brake system. Hydro's are awesome when you have a home base where you can do maintenance, but I would not want to deal with them on tour.
And if you get a hose failure of any kind, big or small, you're SOL.
With mechs you snap a cable you'll just put a new one in. Or if you split a housing you McGyver a tension solution until you get to a bike shop that sells housing (hint, all of them sell housing, not all of them have the bleed capability or tools for the specific hydro brake you might have). Or you ditch one of your brakes and get a good housing from one brake to another. With mechs the solutions are endless. With hydro's? There are no solutions.

Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Go with hydraulic. You won't regret it, and won't experience all the issues with mechanicals.
Which are?
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Old 04-24-16, 11:07 AM
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good start, thank you guys!

elcruxio, thanks. very interesting.
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Old 04-24-16, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by str View Post
I am will build a new touring bike, and want to mount mechanical disc brakes. maybe mechanical disc brake riders can help me with some information.
I have no idea about disc ... only reading and reading the last weeks. why mechanical, i guess the chance to fix them yourself when out alone is higher than with hydro disc .... ?
Mech disc are a bit simpler (and lighter) than hydraulic as it substitutes a std brake lever, std brake cable/housing and mech disc caliper for a master cylinder, hydraulic fluid and line, and slave cylinder/brake caliper. Mech disc can't leak, never require bleeding nor specialized brake fluid. With mech disc 2/3s of the brake system are std bike components.

Originally Posted by str View Post
- is it true that mechanical discs are not much better than rim brakes?
This is true if you never bicycle in wet weather. Disc brakes' (mech or hydraulic) advantage comes into play only when wheel rims are constantly wetted by rain, in which case rim brake performance declines significantly. Disc brakes work much better in rain than rim brakes. Also disc brakes don't wear out rims, but on touring bikes rims don't usually fail from brake wall wear.

Research brake component weight, you'll find that the lightest mech disc brake weighs twice as much as rim brake, and this doesn't include frame and fork modification necessary for disc braking, which usually adds 1/2 pound or more to frameset. Disc brakes add cost, weight and complexity to a bike for the benefit of better wet weather braking. Also disc brakes may interfere with rack and fender fitment.

Originally Posted by str View Post
- the other day I read this, is it true?

""""The problem with mechanical discs and dropouts is that any time I take the wheels off to clean the bike or go through enough rough stuff to misalign the axles by a half millimeter, the brakes start to whine and squeal until I get it on a workbench and dialed in again.""""
thanks very much. S.
The main hassle with mech disc brakes is that rotors can be easily bent from handling, transport, or something bumping into the disc when bike is parked. A small bend in the rotor causes the rotor to drag on brake pads, which force you to either true the rotor or back off the brake pads to the point where they don't rub, which is also the point where they don't brake well.

With hydraulic disks you not only have to contend with bent rotors, but also the added complexity of the specialized hydraulic parts and system.

Rim vs disc and mech vs hydraulic are generally contentious issues on forums, the only way you'll ever know for sure is to try it yourself. I suggest you try disc brakes in increments for cost reason. Easiest/cheapest thing to do is to swap a disc brake capable fork into your bike and add a decent brake caliper. Make sure you pick a caliper compatible with your lever (road bike lever need short-pull caliper, MTB levers work with long-pull caliper). Alternately you can change levers/bar, which is more costly, laborious and complicated.

If you like disc brake after trying a front conversion, you can take the next more expensive step, which is to get a new frame, frameset or bike with rear brake capability (you can't retrofit rear disc brakes on most bikes). Be aware that rear brakes do a minority of the total braking under the best conditions, perhaps only 1/3, so that switching from rear rim brake to rear disc brake is not as significant an improvement in braking as the front brake conversion, and at much greater cost.
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Old 04-24-16, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by str View Post

- is it true that mechanical discs are not much better than rim brakes?
If you're unloaded, on roads and riding while dry yes, I would agree that they're not much better. If it's wet and muddy, and you're hauling a lot of extra weight, I'd be a little more confident with discs.

Originally Posted by str View Post

""""The problem with mechanical discs and dropouts is that any time I take the wheels off to clean the bike or go through enough rough stuff to misalign the axles by a half millimeter, the brakes start to whine and squeal until I get it on a workbench and dialed in again.""""


thanks very much. S.

They're not that complicated. if it starts squealing you might have scorched the pads, but the tolerances on those things aren't *that* tight, and you can adjust the brake pad gaps. If you manage to bend the rotor, it's entirely possible to take a crescent wrench to it and straighten the things well enough to finish your ride. If you're going to be transporting your bike via plane or something, I would advise you to pull the rotors off and store them where they can't get bent though.



I killed the old fork on my bike and switched to BB7 mechanical disc brakes on the front, and kept the old caliper brakes on the back. Never had any problems, and they seem to work a lot better in the mud and rain compared to my old front brakes.
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Old 04-24-16, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Go with hydraulic. You won't regret it, and won't experience all the issues with mechanicals.
+1, Get a good one, not a cheap one, had mine for 16 years, 37,000Km, never adjusted, never fixed, never failed me, the consistency wet or dry, the modulation wet or dry still impresses me every time I use it...
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Old 04-24-16, 12:08 PM
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I decided to try disk brakes on my touring bike for the following reasons:
1. Wet weather performance
2. Messed up wheel braking

I am not sue #2 is much to worry about, but if you bend a rim a disk is independent of that.

I have been very happy with my mechanical disks on my 2014 Surly Disk Trucker. My thoughts are that future bikes will be set up the same way.

I find it interesting that others have had less favorable results/experiences with mechanical disks. They serve me very well. If you are mechanically inclined then everything works better, though. Fully loaded the braking power is a bit limited, but that is to be expected. I am more than happy with how mine are set up, tuned, and perform.
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Old 04-24-16, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
+1, Get a good one, not a cheap one, had mine for 16 years, 37,000Km, never adjusted, never fixed, never failed me, the consistency wet or dry, the modulation wet or dry still impresses me every time I use it...
The problem with this statement is that what system is really a good one?
I've had issues with three different manufacturers, one of the brakes was a flagship model and is still one of the best disc brakes ever made. Still leaked.
Like I said, if you have a home base where to do maintenance and repairs hydro's are a good choice, but at least for me there have been too many issues, most of which were home serviceable but could have potentially ended a tour.
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Old 04-24-16, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
The problem with this statement is that what system is really a good one?
I've had issues with three different manufacturers, one of the brakes was a flagship model and is still one of the best disc brakes ever made. Still leaked.
Like I said, if you have a home base where to do maintenance and repairs hydro's are a good choice, but at least for me there have been too many issues, most of which were home serviceable but could have potentially ended a tour.
I have all Shimano hydros (SLX, XT and road). Maybe if you are touring in Backfrickenstan you would want regular brakes, but I wouldn't hesitate to tour with them anywhere else.
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Old 04-24-16, 01:23 PM
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How many times have you knocked your bike down, put it in a carton & flew some where

and then Put it together in a foreign country airport , or even one on the opposite side of this Country?

That is a Part of reasonable expectations for someone actually Touring ..
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Old 04-24-16, 03:05 PM
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thank you everybody, very good input!

since my touring happens most of the time far from civilisation in "Backfrickenstan" ;) hydros are not an option. with mechanical there is a chance that you can fix your problem on the road, if not bad luck. i was worried about the second part of my entry post.

thanks again.
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Old 04-24-16, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
How many times have you knocked your bike down, put it in a carton & flew some where

and then Put it together in a foreign country airport , or even one on the opposite side of this Country?

That is a Part of reasonable expectations for someone actually Touring ..
Haven't done it yet, but have a trip planned for May and another in July, so we'll see how it goes. I'll be packing my S&S coupled bike with hydraulic disc brakes in a case, so unless the TSA rips it apart, don't see what could wrong. If my trips are be ruined due to brake problems, I'll figure something out for the next trip. Not too worried about it, really.
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Old 04-24-16, 03:56 PM
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I use bb7 brakes. They work great. I don't know what to do about squealing because I've never had to learn.
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Old 04-24-16, 03:58 PM
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Probably have to take the rear brake off either the frame or the bars since the hose has to remain Intact..
to use the S&S coupler..

Bene Sugg: best bring the Bleed Kit (for air leaks under the expansion tank Bladder when lever not vertical..
which packed in a box it cannot be..

and The Keepers to stuff in the calipers when ever the wheel is Out.

[Un needed with a cable brake of course. ]

though discs in packed bikes get bent

advantage centerlock, to remove them and pack separately to stay flat.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-11-16 at 08:26 AM.
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Old 04-24-16, 05:11 PM
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Hydro brakes don't need to be kept upright. But, for sure you have to take the lever or caliper off when packing. Might just remove the brakes entirely and carry on in my bag, depending on space available when packed and the likelihood of damage. Couple screws and zip ties is all it takes to remove and reinstall. The brakes come with little inserts to keep the pads apart when there is no rotor, so those will go in.
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Old 04-24-16, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
The problem with this statement is that what system is really a good one?
I've had issues with three different manufacturers, one of the brakes was a flagship model and is still one of the best disc brakes ever made. Still leaked.
Like I said, if you have a home base where to do maintenance and repairs hydro's are a good choice, but at least for me there have been too many issues, most of which were home serviceable but could have potentially ended a tour.
Point taken, but, usually quality does rise to the top, Usually ways, and is worth it, usually... JMO
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Old 04-24-16, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
I use bb7 brakes. They work great. I don't know what to do about squealing because I've never had to learn.
I get some squeal in the rain. Perhaps contaminated pads. Anyway some folks say they're hard to adjust but for me was fairly straightforward. But if I built up the bike now I'd probably try hydros for the easier braking effort.
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Old 04-24-16, 09:31 PM
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i've got disc rear (BB7 upgraded from BB5) and v's (deore) front
on my touring bike.

haven't noticed a great difference in performance between disc and V,
but that might be 'cause the V on the front does most of the braking.

advantage of disc: broken spoke/warped rim won't affect braking.

if you get squealing, either the rotor is bent (can try to unbend with crescent
wrench) or the caliper housing is misaligned. the business card trick works!

How To: Properly Setup and Adjusting Avid BB5 Brakes | Bike Shop Girl

i leave the rear wheel on the bike for air travel, so never a problem. front
disc might be more damage prone. either remove disc or make a foam sleeve.

carry your little torx wrench to remove/install discs (unless you switch to standard
hex bolts), and to adjust the pads. sometimes the red adjusto-knobs get tight.

i'm doing most of my touring in 'backfrickenstan" (china/laos/cambodia/thighland)

don't expect to find replacement parts for your particular system. can almost
always find v-brake pads, but disc brake pads? too many styles....and the
knockoff bb5/bb7 caliper pads don't quite fit the genuine calipers.
best to carry a spare set.

in an emergency (most anywhere in china, larger cities in cambo, laos, myanmar),
you can buy a crappy mechanical disc brake caliper complete with pads for
under $5. these are for the $100 (or less) complete MTB's that are becoming
more common. poor quality junk, but if they fit your adapter mounts, they'll
work with your levers and cables, and will stop your bike.
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Old 04-24-16, 10:42 PM
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If I had a disc bike, I'd get a fork like this...



And mount a back-up V-brake in case the disc gave me problems. If your disc fails, just remove the brake cable, cut, and attack to the V... ride to shop
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Old 04-24-16, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Pukeskywalker View Post
If I had a disc bike, I'd get a fork like this...



And mount a back-up V-brake in case the disc gave me problems. If your disc fails, just remove the brake cable, cut, and attack to the V... ride to shop
I actually had two functioning front brakes on my bike like that. I found that I used the rim brakes a grand total of maybe 5 times and ended up taking them off. They're on my neighbors frankenbike now.
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Old 04-25-16, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Pukeskywalker View Post
If I had a disc bike, I'd get a fork like this...



And mount a back-up V-brake in case the disc gave me problems. If your disc fails, just remove the brake cable, cut, and attack to the V... ride to shop
yes, and a replacement fork in case the fork breaks. ;)
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Old 04-25-16, 12:10 AM
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str
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
i've got disc rear (BB7 upgraded from BB5) and v's (deore) front
on my touring bike.


i'm doing most of my touring in 'backfrickenstan" (china/laos/cambodia/thighland)

don't expect to find replacement parts for your particular system. can almost
always find v-brake pads, but disc brake pads? too many styles....and the
knockoff bb5/bb7 caliper pads don't quite fit the genuine calipers.
best to carry a spare set.
in east EU its even difficult to find v-brake pads, imagine disc parts;)
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Old 04-25-16, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by str View Post
yes, and a replacement fork in case the fork breaks.
A man after my own heart
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