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Are disc brakes worth the extra money on a touring bike?

Old 10-11-13, 12:32 PM
  #51  
fietsbob
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Are disc brakes worth the extra money on a touring bike?

If you park the touring bike, and only use it in the Summer , on tours . maybe Not..

But then you may want disc brakes on your Rain, Ice And Snow bike for the rest of the Year.


My, Pocket Llama , Bike Friday, here, has disc brakes ..

my older , now relegated to sitting in the ready for Black Ice days MTB has Drum brakes..
with studded tires on the wheels..

are they worth it to you ? IDK,

what is your favorite color?

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-12-13 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 10-11-13, 01:22 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by ShartRate View Post
It's my ambition to get a touring bike one of these days. For one I like the idea of going on a self-supported tour someday plus I figure touring bikes are bit more heavy duty for my 260-pound frame. I'd mainly be using it for my 10 mile round-trip commute, plus maybe some longer rides in the range of 15-20 miles after work.

A local store has a Long Haul Trucker in my size that's been sitting on their rack for awhile (it's a 2012 I think?) and they've marked it down to $1000 (I'm assuming it's still there). I took it for a test ride and it rode nice, at least as well as my hybrid, but the main thing for me is that I thought the canti brakes were really weak. When I told the salesman that he said they were just loose and needed to wear in a little but I still was not very impressed.

Another local shop has a Disc Trucker in the same size but that's a $1400 bike. Without the discount on the old-stock LHT (which could have been sold by now for all I know) the difference isn't as great but it got me thinking.

Is it worth the extra $$$ to get disc brakes (especially if you are girthy like me) or can the canti brakes be adjusted to a point where they are sufficient?
Canti brakes are meant to be engaged from the drops where you have the most leverage. If you are engaging them from the hoods (where most people do), they will feel weak cause you have the least amount leverage on them due to the distance of the levers to your hands. The reason why V-brakes and Discs are more effective, because you only need less leverage to actuate those brakes. On steep descent, canti brakes can cause wrist pain as well as tendonitist cause you need to be gripping harder on the hoods to stop. If you don't brake on the drops all the time on steep descent, then go for V-brakes or Disc. I love hydraulic discs myself and is on my 29er MTB touring bike. Compared to canti brakes, I can use a slight 1 finger pull with the least effort and I can stop on the dime. On the steel road touring bike, I have to use all 4 fingers and grip as hard as I could to stop the same effective distance as my Hydro brakes on the 29er! And I'm already using Salmon koolstop pads.

Get disc if you are touring on the hoods most of the time.
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Old 10-11-13, 01:31 PM
  #53  
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HTFU you woosses just don't want to squeeze the lever hard enough.

Braking my Touring bike from the hoods , I can stop the thing on a descent.
(and they are not even Aero levers, which have more MA than the cable out the top [Modolo's] I used.)



though maybe the setup is not so great, I cannot supervise your workmanship on the task.
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Old 10-11-13, 01:36 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by ShartRate View Post
Thought I should post an update here for anybody who finds this thread in a search. As mentioned above, I did buy the canti-equipped LHT, and after some serious futzing I finally got it to where I liked it.

Mods to the bike itself:
1) Kool Stop Salmon curved "MTN" pads. Honestly not sure how much of an impact these made in the end, but they were better than the stock pads which I think were getting a little hard. Also, I should note that I had to put some pretty serious toe-in on the front pads to stop the squealing. I'll bet it was 2mm in the end.
2) Lowered the straddle cable over what it had been initially. Now I have it sitting about equal with the fork crown, before it was a little higher.
3) Big one for me was switching to a fork crown-mounted cable stop, sold by Tektro (I think the poster just previous to me mentions this). Previously, presumably because of my weight, I'd get some serious chatter in the brakes/fork on anything more than mild application. The new cable stop effectively cured this problem, so now I can get on the brakes without that nasty ABS-like effect.

With this set-up, I'm finally getting pretty workable braking power from the hoods. But, that also brings up the last mod, which was to me:

Learning how to brake from the drops. Braking from the drops gave me more leverage, and from this position the braking is more than adequate. I usually reserve this for when I know I'm doing to going down a steep hill with a corner at the bottom. From this position, I actually have to be cautious about locking the rear wheel, something which is never a problem when braking from the hoods!

At this point, I've got more time invested in fiddling with the brakes than I actually have in money upgrading them. I'm fine with that. Honestly, I kinda figure that even if I switched to V-brakes and kept the drop bar levers that braking from the hoods would still feel a little underpowered.
The key to more braking power on drops is to get the right kind of Brifters (shifter and brake lever combined) or the right kind of brake lever! Too many people concentrate on trying to modify the brake system, when in fact you need more leverage on the hoods which is lacking because of how the brake levers are designed. They seemed to be designed for extremely large hands, so for me with smaller hands, the bigger Shimano brifters are a nuisance for me. Not planning to change it, so I usually brake on the drops. Besides, I ride on the drops most of the time anyhow. If you want access to the drops, raise your handle bar so it is easier for you to be on the drops for flat and downhill and on the hoods for hill climbing.
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Old 10-11-13, 01:41 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
HTFU you woosses just don't want to squeeze the lever hard enough.

Braking my Touring bike from the hoods , I can stop the thing on a descent.
(and they are not even Aero levers, which have more MA than the cable out the top [Modolo's] I used.)

though maybe the setup is not so great, I cannot supervise your workmanship on the task.
Sorry but I have smaller hands. Why do you all assume we have the same size hands!?!

I have to use a lady version of the Shimano brifters with shims attached to give me the leverage point of my carbon bike and I can brake heck a lot better than the manly version on my Masi bike. Yet sometimes I get some manly person with an attitude who comes along and they call me a wuss for having those levers on my carbon bike.

It's called custom fitting. Perhaps I can call people who ride Marinoni, Bruce Gordon wusses? Riding a custom bike because they can't fit a manly version of the LHT? LOL
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Old 10-11-13, 01:55 PM
  #56  
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Dia Compe has long made a specific brake lever for smaller hands . more lever recurve .
for the shopping as a solution types ..

and, NB: from the hoods its not a baseball bat grip , its pushing the lever back
with your wrist rotation as your fingers stay straight.

But, I cannot see your setup, so Really cannot Coach technique, from this keyboard.
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Old 10-11-13, 02:49 PM
  #57  
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I know the OP already made his choice, here's what I've told people about disc brakes: On a bicycle disc brakes are totally unnecessary, good quality rim brakes can generate more than enough stopping power for perhaps 99% of cyclists for 99% of the time. Rim brakes are proven, simple and inexpensive. The added cost and weight for discs are in reality not worth it.

Having said that I have to admit that my Giant Roam 2 I have hydraulic disc brakes. And DAYUM! are they nice! I would probably NOT go back to rim brakes again. They are so much easier, sensitive and powerful than rim brakes. I don't ride in rain or snow or mud just plain old asphalt and concrete. For the extra $180 difference in price between my bike and the same model with cable disc brakes and one less gear. I think it was worth it. The margin increases to like $250 for something of similar size and shape to my bike only with rim brakes. I would STILL get the hydraulic discs. They are that nice. I've blown far more money and gotten far less enjoyment out of other things I've bought. I highly recommend them unless budget or weight is absolutely critical.
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Old 10-11-13, 03:03 PM
  #58  
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here's what I've told people about disc brakes: On a bicycle disc brakes are totally unnecessary,
and who is your reference that you are relying on? can you name those?

now If, as I said you park the tour bike other than touring , then rim wear becomes a non issue.

using the thing year around in Higher latitude winters the braking distance includes
drying the rims before the braking friction can be created.

of course Drum brakes preceded, the disc brake in bicycles by decades..

But, the weight of disc parts total less than drum brake hubs..
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Old 10-11-13, 05:39 PM
  #59  
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I'm late to this party and I see that the op long ago bought his LHT and not a DT, nevertheless, for posterity and anyone who may search a thread like this here are my thoughts.

I own a disc trucker. I bought it frame only and did the entire build myself. I knew I was going to be participating in a charity tour from NYC to joplin, MO so I knew I would be going through serious mountains and I knew I would be fully loaded. I am 250lbs to begin with, the bike is close to 35 with racks and fenders, and I had about 50lbs of gear. Thats a lot of weight to stop and I knew that if it was a rainy day in the mountains, rim brakes wouldn't be ideal so I made a conscious decision to go with disc brakes. I am not a touring enthusiast, it's something I certainly would do again but to date, that is the only tour I've done. I've used my panniers to go shopping and stuff but that is just a couple miles of riding .

I love my disc trucker but if I were faced with the LHT for $1000 and the disc trucker for $1400 I would take the LHT all day. For simple commuting and not loaded touring, get those canti's adjusted properly and they should be fine. Then if you decide you are going to do a loaded tour, swap out your front fork and go with a disc brake in the front only. A BB7 caliper and rotor can be found for $30-$50 and a fork can probably be found for $50. IT's a pretty easy swap to do. front brakes do the bulk of the work.
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Old 10-11-13, 09:07 PM
  #60  
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To distill the points so many others have made:

If you will be riding regularly in inclement conditions, then yes; if you'll be riding primarily in dry conditions, then no.

IMO, touring bikes should be as reliable/simple as possible. While mechanical discs aren't all that complicated, always remember Murphy's Law. If the disc is bent/damaged badly enough the bike might be unridable. With rim brakes, even if the wheel goes out of true, this is usually just a minor annoyance.
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Old 10-11-13, 10:13 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
and who is your reference that you are relying on? can you name those?
The reference is ME, it's what I tell people about disc brakes. As I clearly stated rim brakes are MORE than adequate and that disc brakes are absolutely wonderful. People have been using rim brakes for decades in all sorts of riding and conditions they work, and work well. not as good as discs in many instances but still can get you stopped.

I clearly admit that I have them on my current bike and LOVE them, and will probably buy them on any future bike. They cost more but like I said I've blown a whole hell of a lot more money and gotten a lot less enjoyment and satisfaction out of other more expensive things. I highly recommend them. But they are NOT a cure all and they do NOT perform miracles.
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Old 10-12-13, 04:03 AM
  #62  
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I had an interesting conversation with a frame builder this week and the major issue with disc brakes on the front is still going to be the fork design. And it has a lot to do with how the bottom of the forks twist out of true because of the forces applied when the brake come on. To overcome this deformation, the forks have to be built to a much heavier specification -- as in heavier physically, and so they don't have the same "feel" on the road as non-disc forks.

Take it for what it's worth.
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Old 10-12-13, 08:27 AM
  #63  
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Kool Stops

I didn't read through all the comments, but I do own a LHT without disc brakes. I thought the stock brakes were a little weak...nothing serious but because my trip included a very steep and crooked descent I replaced the pads with some Kool Stops. They solved any weakness in braking.
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Old 10-12-13, 08:50 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I had an interesting conversation with a frame builder this week and the major issue with disc brakes on the front is still going to be the fork design. And it has a lot to do with how the bottom of the forks twist out of true because of the forces applied when the brake come on. To overcome this deformation, the forks have to be built to a much heavier specification -- as in heavier physically, and so they don't have the same "feel" on the road as non-disc forks.

Take it for what it's worth.
This is true and there's some similar history with fork evolution as disk brakes on motorcycles became more common and more powerful. Just one of several reasons that motorcycle forks are larger in diameter than they used to be. The twisting of a bicycle's fork isn't too disconcerting as long as the hub stays connected to the drop outs. Disk brake compatible suspension forks used on mountain bikes often have a retention system more encompassing than "lawyer's lips" just for this reason.

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Old 10-12-13, 09:24 AM
  #65  
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When I build a disc fork, I'm a lot less worried about them twisting and a lot more worried about them buckling. Ask Salsa about that, they have a recall out on some forks as does Surly on their fatbike forks. Disc-specific steel fork blades are heavy, probably heavier than you would otherwise want.
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Old 10-12-13, 11:18 AM
  #66  
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German Tout Terrain's adaptation, of oversizing just the left fork blade for the added stresses, of the disc brakes
is interesting..
.. one thinks , without seeing it, in person,

the tube-wall thickness is about the same on both sides , just the Diameter increases..


FWIW, my Custom Touring bike has heavier materials used throughout,

and because the tube wall thickness of the 4130 tube used for the seat stays , and the
fork blades are both beefy, the cantilever brakes even work better ,
because the braking forces dont torque the fork blades .


Thorn Bikes wont build a tapered & bent blade with a disc mount,
straight non tapered blades are their choice.

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-12-13 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 10-12-13, 02:49 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
the forks have to be built to a much heavier specification -- as in heavier physically, and so they don't have the same "feel" on the road as non-disc forks.
I have two virtually identical touring forks and the disc version is 3 pounds, one ounce, about 7 ounces heavier than the non-disc. More importantly the tubing in the disc is 25% larger in diameter, which is going to come out around twice as stiff, and about 60% stronger, if all else were equal (I am guessing the fat tubes are a little thinner, though). Quite a different fork for sure.

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Old 10-12-13, 07:35 PM
  #68  
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I'm pretty old and I have been riding for a long time. I have used dragging my feet, coaster brakes, calipers. cantilevers, v-brakes, hydraulic rim brakes, hydraulic and cable actuated disc brakes. IMHO I will always choose disc brakes over rim brakes. Why not choose the brakes that have the most stopping power?
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Old 10-13-13, 08:02 PM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
IMHO I will always choose disc brakes over rim brakes. Why not choose the brakes that have the most stopping power?
The thing is, I remember stopping bikes and freezing wheels in the old days, I don't know how you do better than that in raw stopping power. Back in the day when cantis were all we had there were all kinds of different types. Today we just have two geometries and cool stop blocks, neither of which work with everything. In the old days we had designs so abrupt that they were taken off the market. But matched with sintered blocks they didn't grab and worked well in all weather.

Of course Discs will take over in time given the existing installed base, but if you just want an upgrade, or don't want the weight penalty, etc... You can make cantis do what you want.
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