/ Disc or rim brakes for new bike?

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I am choosing a new road bike (well frame for now actually) and have been asked if I would like disc or calliper version. 

Part of me thinks I should go for disc as it seems the way things are heading. But this will be a weekend warrior bike and I do 90% of my cycling in Hertfordshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk with the occasional foray to Lakes/Scotland and potentially the odd trip to the mountains of Europe if i'm lucky.

Basically I don't spend much time descending long hills at a high speed.

Also, my current bike is not disc, so there is potential to swap wheels if I stick to the same.

What would you guys do? Any advice?

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stevevans5 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

If it is a nice ish bike that you won't take out in the rain very often it won't make that much difference

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In reply to stevevans5:

that's exactly what it will be. Looking at a Trek Madone SLR frame

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cb294 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Disc.

Brake performance in the rain does not seem to matter for you, but disc rims are so much better in terms of stiffness or aerodynamics, as they can be designed without the braking surface.

Take the jump now.....

CB

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felt 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I've an Emonda SLR rim brake bike, and it's tremendous with the speed stop pro direct mount brakes, much more stopping power in the rain than the regular single-mount brakes I've used inc. the most recent Ultegra 8000 ones. I'm guessing you might be thinking of these with the Madone if you go for rim brakes, and although they look a bit industrial and not at all as aesthetic as the single-mounts, I'd go with rim brakes every time, for ease of use, removing wheels to put in cars etc, as well as not looking as hideous as discs. Having said that, we do tend to recommend what we already have, and I dare say if I had a disc bike I'd say go for that. I've not had the benefit of owning both. Have you gone for a custom paint job Project One thing?

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GrahamD 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

From a maintenance point of view, I'm glad I opted for the considerably less expensive rim brakes with standard quick release skewers on my last bike. Can make pretty much any tweaks roadside if need be.

Plus, I think the aesthetics are cleaner on a road bike.

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In reply to felt:

"Have you gone for a custom paint job Project One thing"

No, I have to order through Evans to use a cycle to work scheme. 

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nniff 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I have a selection of bikes with rim and disc brakes.  The rim brakes are Dura-ace and are very, very good and better than 105 hydraulic discs in the dry.  In the wet, I hate that sound of grinding rim though.  The disc brakes are better in the wet but howl like a banshee, but dura-ace with the right pads are not far off in terms of performance (that is to say, not Shimano pads).  Carbon rim-brake wheels in the UK seem mad to me.

If you're going to put a smart group set on it, I'd say rim brakes.  For the UK, with carbon wheels and all year round riding - disc.

If a mid-range groupset, say 105/Ultegra, then disc.

Hydraulic, not cable actuated because the latter are a pain and need to be adjusted on a fairly regular basis.

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stevevans5 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I have a bike with discs I commute on and then my nicer road bike has rim brakes. The discs are no trouble when doing roadside puncture repairs etc. The only annoyance I have is when I have snapped a spoke and have to take the disc off.

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it624 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I moved to discs recently, and they are great, but my commute does involve a 1.5km 10% hill, so obviously if you're not doing that regularly it's less of an issue. Disc pads certainly seem to last better than rim blocks though

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LastBoyScout 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

There's still a part of me that thinks the only good reason for disk brakes on a road bike is that they don't wear your Sunday best rims out*, but even that's not cut and dried, as if the rim hasn't worn out, the hubs probably have, unless it's cartridge bearings.

My old year-round commute bike is on older 105 rim brakes with Kool Stop pads and I've never thought that was under-braked, including when I've taken it on some big alpine descents - ditto my Sunday Best bike on Chorus rim brakes. In fact, I'm generally of the opinion that you'll run out of grip before you run out of braking power.

My newer commute bike is a CX bike with disks and that's been equally fine on road.

You can argue all you like about set-up and maintenance, but there really isn't that much in it either way.

Sounds like you'll be fine on rim brakes - see what's the best deal in the end.

* I'll accept full carbon rims as another good reason.

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Dave B 12 Nov 2019
In reply to stevevans5:

My previous best bike from 1992 never wore out a set of brake pads.

My previous commute bike got through then real quick. 

Now rim on the best bike, disk on the commute bike. 

It does mean wheels can't be swapped. 

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Siward 12 Nov 2019
In reply to LastBoyScout:

My 2p worth is that my nice road bike, saved for sunny rides out mostly, does me fine with full carbon (mavic) wheels and the recommended yellow pads. The pads are quite soft but stop me fine and the rims aren't showing any signs of wear after a year. I'd not hesitate to choose the same again. 

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webbo 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

If you know how to descend the rim brakes will be fine. If on the other hand, then discs.

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richlan 12 Nov 2019
In reply to stevevans5:

it makes a massive difference, the wet has nothing to do with it.

I was a traditionalist non disc type naysayer, now I have been riding one now for a year and there is no way I would go back, I jumped on my winter bike with calipers last week and the difference is so noticeable.

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richlan 12 Nov 2019
In reply to webbo:

> If you know how to descend the rim brakes will be fine. If on the other hand, then discs.

Erm what ? I think you might find it’s the other way round, so much more power and modulation, I have ridden normal rim brakes for 30 years on every terrain imaginable and I wouldn’t go near a rim braked bike now, well if somebody wanted to gift me a Colnago C64 rim version with lightweights and super record I “might” consider it ;-)

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JimR 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Siward:

> My 2p worth is that my nice road bike, saved for sunny rides out mostly, does me fine with full carbon (mavic) wheels and the recommended yellow pads. The pads are quite soft but stop me fine and the rims aren't showing any signs of wear after a year. I'd not hesitate to choose the same again. 

Ditto! I’ve done about 20,000 miles on my full carbon mavics with yellow Swiss stop and no issues with wear or stopping. I do clean my wheels after each ride, though

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stevevans5 13 Nov 2019
In reply to richlan:

I guess you must have better disc brakes on your bike than I have on mine, my commute bike is on discs and in the dry they are worse than the rim brakes on my road bike. In the wet though, the discs are just as good as the dry but the rim brakes are way worse. 

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GrahamD 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Technical stuff aside, disc brakes on a sleek road bike make it look clumsy IMO.  The aesthetics of rims are so much neater (or maybe its just more traditional - I like bikes to look like bikes rather than, say, a stealth weapon)

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lewmul 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

if you are getting a nice bike, don't ruin it with ugly disc brakes.

Leave them for the winter bike. 

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felt 13 Nov 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

> a stealth weapon

But you're already semi F-35 with the Madone.

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Graham Briffett 13 Nov 2019
In reply to cb294:

I think the argument for a more aerodynamic rim is a red herring. You might be able to make the rim more aerodynamic without having to consider the braking surface for a rim brake, but disc rotors and calipers are significantly less aerodynamic than a rim caliper located at the top of the forks. So on balance a rim brake will still come out top for aerodynamic performance.

For my money, given what the OP has said about what the bike will be used for (rather than what it might be used for), I would go for rim brakes. Ultegra, or even 105 calipers, with swiss stop pads will be every bit as powerful as discs in the dry, just as good modulation, a lot cheaper and in many ways easier to maintain. Even in the wet, especially on the terrain they're describing, there won't be anything in it.

I have bikes with both. Road bike used for commuting and light touring has rims. CX bike has discs. I wouldn't swap either.

Post edited at 12:35
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richlan 13 Nov 2019
In reply to stevevans5:

Sounds like it, new bike has Ultegra Hydraulic, i wouldn't use anything else on a road bike now, all this waffle about spoiling the look of a bike and rims being just as good in the dry is just nonsense, go and ride a bike with Ultegra Hydraulics and then Ultegra rim back to back and then decide, that's what i did, it was a no brainer.

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In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I made the swap to disk brakes, the only drawback of disks vs rims is the noise but in every other aspect they are superior.

I reckon disk's will become the norm in future with rim brakes being more of a niche product, might as well embrace it!

*though i do live in hilly Cumbria where reliable stopping power regardless of conditions are an absolute must!

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GrahamD 13 Nov 2019
In reply to richlan:

Aesthetics are a personal thing.

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richlan 13 Nov 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

Indeed, i forgot to add each to their own at the end, i think Disc bikes look just fine, in fact some look better than their calipered cousins.

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Guy 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Rims will be fine for 90+% of the time. The only time I wished I'd had discs was in the wet in the alps on a tour where the grease off the road meant my rim brakes were next to useless and flipping terrifying in the dark descending to Chatel!

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JLS 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

If you get rim brakes, what might cause you regret?

I'm a K.I.S.S. type of guy.

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In reply to Everyone:

Thx for all the replies. Needless to say I am still none the wiser. But was just told the new madone sl and slr frames are disc only now.

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Guy 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

They look great as a disc bike imo!  

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GerM 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Nobody seems to have mentioned the issue of heat dissipation. Is this problem solved with the latest disk brakes, or is it just a case of specifying big enough rotors?

I have ridden rim brakes for years, don't do much milage at the moment, but have ridden a disk braked fast tourer for a couple of years. Performance seems good, but not massively better in the dry than decent dual pivot calipers, but way better in the wet. I have noticed the disk brakes can get very hot if you have to shed any decent amount of speed on steeper decents, even when not particularly long. Makes sense from a physics perspective I guess, a smaller mass absorbing same energy, with a lower relative speed for cooling. I would certainly be a bit concerned on a big alpine decent, anyone have experience of this?

Not a problem if you're decending smoothly and efficiently I guess, but it's nice to know your brakes are happy enough to slow you right down or stop you without issue if required.

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gethin_allen 13 Nov 2019
In reply to GerM:

> Nobody seems to have mentioned the issue of heat dissipation. Is this problem solved with the latest disk brakes, or is it just a case of specifying big enough rotors?

. I would certainly be a bit concerned on a big alpine decent, anyone have experience of this?

The issue is not so much with the rotors but the heat boiling the hydraulic fluid and certain types of pad material failing.

The new Shimano rotors are laminated with heatsink fins to cool them and the pads also have heatsink fins.

> Not a problem if you're decending smoothly and efficiently I guess, but it's nice to know your brakes are happy enough to slow you right down or stop you without issue if required.

Issues are worse if you drag the brakes over a long time as you glaze the surface of the pad. The advice is to brake harder in short bursts. A bit counter intuitive I guess.

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In reply to gethin_allen:

So I have had a complete re think on potential new bike, mainly due to getting frustrated trying to use the bike to work system to obtain a bike worth more than the benefit (yes, I am fully aware this is the perfect definition of a first world problem )

Unknown to me earlier this week when I started this thread, my company scheme has changed and we no longer use Evans cycles scheme and now adopt cycle2work which is run by Halfords. This scheme can be used at over 800 independent shops as well as Halfords/Cycle Republic and Tredz online. 

Having spoken to quite a few decent bike shops in and around London, they all have different rules to what they will accept. Some examples being "has to be a whole new bike" "if a sale item we add 15% back on" "you cannot top up with your own cash" "you cannot buy just components" etc. Unsurprisingly it's Cycle Republic (Halfords shop) that puts up the least barriers. For example, they would sell me Ultegra di2 group set and a pair of Mavic cosmic pro (price matched to wiggle) under the scheme. But even with the 45% saving off those. it's still the same price as buying a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX off the shelf with the same components (whole bike £3899...frame alone £2349. difference £1,550 = groupset plus wheels plus bike build after 45% off)

I can see why there are so many Canyons parked up outside the local cafes.

Anyone got one? it's gone to the top of the list... (unfortunately they do not accept Halfords cycle2work scheme as they have their own - Green Commute Initiative)

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felt 15 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

My wife's got one, likes it. NB it has integrated handlebars and stem, may not suit, but not sure if they all do.

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vscott 15 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I've a canyon CF SL - nice all round ride - not jarringly stiff but doesn't feel stodgy either,  and overall very good value inc decent wheels as standard. Only thing to beware is they use some pretty bespoke components (e.g. acros headset - mine seemed to wear out pretty fast but maybe just bad roads and weather taking toll, possibly also seat post sizing) which can be a bit off a faff and expensive to replace - your LBS unlikely to have replacement bearing on the shelf so to speak so need to plan servicing.  That said more and more brands going down the bespoke route it seems so not an issue unique to Canyon. Mixed experience with after sales service - seems to depend on who you get on the end of the phone.  

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John2 15 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I would suggest that you have a look at the Cannondale CAAD13 bikes. Possibly the best aluminium frame ever made, with an astonishingly good ride quality and very cheap compared with carbon fibre.

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Dave B 15 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I too have cf sl. It was challenging to get details of when it was going to arrive and it was about 3-4 weeks after it was 'due', but it was the busiest time of the year.

My only issues once it arrived were

1) they had forgotten the torque wrench.. I had my own luckily

2) it didn't come with the advertised handlebars. So no tri bars could be fitted. 

Would I buy again.. Probably yes. My main reasons are

1) they scan their cf to check for dodgyness

2) it's been shown to be mid pack for  build accuracy. It's no look, but it's better than some, comparable to giant that was my other choice

3) good quality kit on it. E.g. Full groupset, not a rear derailleur and then a load of other downgrade kit (e. G. 105 cassette rather than ultegra) you get the full caboodle. Comfy saddle, good wheelset, nice tyres...

4) my friends have them and they ride nicely. 

5) my friend from school who is a mechanic preferred the ride of them to the giant, but he did say that was personal preference.

6) looks nicer than the giant. IMHO. 

7) good value for money

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Kimono 16 Nov 2019
In reply to felt:

> My wife's got one, likes it. NB it has integrated handlebars and stem, may not suit, but not sure if they all do.

They don't.
I have a cf slx and love it....superb for climbing and pretty tasty on the flat as well.
Currently being ridden all winter here in the north of thailand

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Dave B 16 Nov 2019
In reply to Kimono:

New ultimates all have integrated bar/stem. My friends from a few years ago don't. 

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Tony Jones 19 Nov 2019
In reply to John2:

Or even check out a discontinued Caad12? With sale prices, you'll get a better groupset for the same price as a Caad13. I've just splashed out quite a bit of cash on a new 'summer' bike and it's yet to win my heart in the same way as my cheapo 105-equiped Caad12 has. I'm going to upgrade the groupset when I can bear to take ithe Caad off the road and it'll probably become my best bike again. PS I went for rim brakes on my new bike as I didn't think I would be riding it in the wet too much and I was astonished how good the brakes were in the wet even with the Roval carbon rims that came with it.

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Timmd 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Discs all the way, the braking effect on the discs won't be altered by the rain, and the rims won't eventually wear out thanks to brake pads rubbing on them, and road/track grit and bits and pieces won't wear them away from getting stuck in the pads too. 

On my first MTB which I bought second hand which had rim brakes, I can remember my pads wearing through to the metal, and them wearing a groove into the rims, and then at some point down the line the grooves which had been worn into them vanishing, at which point I figured it was time for new wheels.  

Better braking consistency, reliability, wheel lifespan, and not needing to pay money for new wheels at some point are all reasons for disc brakes. You won't need to keep an eye on rim wear too, once the rims get too worn, the wheels can simply collapse without warning. 

Discs discs discs disc discs disc discs....

Post edited at 17:55
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felt 29 Nov 2019
In reply to Timmd:

> You won't need to keep an eye on rim wear too, once the rims get too worn, the wheels can simply collapse without warning. 

Do you know of anyone to whom this has happened?

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Climbing Pieman 29 Nov 2019
In reply to felt:

Happened to me, no warning! The way the rim broke meant I had to walk the bike holding the front wheel off the ground - 11 miles! 

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webbo 29 Nov 2019
In reply to Timmd:

From someone who doesn’t ride clipless pedals yet. I suppose you might need to put your feet down quickly when you’ve boiled your brakes.

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GerM 29 Nov 2019
In reply to felt:

I've had rims wear thin. Run decent pressures on the road roundabout 100psi, rim gives up the ghost as it's too thin, properly goes BANG! Something like you'd imagine a gunshot to be. Goes where rim is thinnest in the middle, a portion of the outer rim separates from the inside. You start keeping a closer eye on wear on the rim afterwards, and start swapping out rims before they go too far.

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elsewhere 29 Nov 2019
In reply to felt:

> Do you know of anyone to whom this has happened?

I had one front rim that wore out in 2000-3000 miles, didn't collapse because I noticed a 2-3cm split in the heavily worn braking surface (1mm wear?).

Other rims have been much better though.

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Timmd 30 Nov 2019
In reply to felt:

> Do you know of anyone to whom this has happened?

I've read an account of it happening, and it's the reason they use in Cycling Plus as the reason to keep an eye on rim wall wear.  If you use a bit of wire coat hanger (or spoke) bent into a U shape, and some vernier calipers, you can measure the width of the 'arms' of the U, then put one arm either side of the rim wall, then you measure the width of the rim wall and the two arms combined and subtract the width of the arms from the total width to find the rim wall width. The minimum recommended is 1mm wide. 

Post edited at 12:02
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Timmd 30 Nov 2019
In reply to webbo:

> From someone who doesn’t ride clipless pedals yet. I suppose you might need to put your feet down quickly when you’ve boiled your brakes.

I think most modern discs brakes are pretty decent, but I use Avid BB7 cable disc brakes, and larger front rotors and low friction cable runs. You can buy metal double ended brake cable ferrules and cut lengths of steel tubing in place of the bendy cable outers, and it's like the Full Metal Jacket low friction kits which Avid sold for a while. The Rockshox cable guide for their dropper posts can be attached to the top of the left fork to guide the front cable run.  I was lucky enough to buy one of the Avid kits before they discontinued them, my braking was as good as on my bro's bike with hydraulic discs.

I'm still on mtb flat pedals, clipless pedals almost seem like a good way to spoil my knees, have had issues in the past.

Post edited at 12:25
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