19 July, 2017

The Great Brake Debate

By Scott

Brakes are something that we all have on our bikes. The kind of brake you have is something that has dramatically changed in the last decade or so. The controversy between disc and canti brakes was at it's cusp about 5 years back, but we've had a flow of emails recently asking about disc brakes due to the continued testing of the Polyvalent (with disc brakes for 2018).

A curious side note to these emails is the the preference of brakes varying by location. We've found that folks in the Pacific Northwest are asking for disc brakes and paradoxically, our Thai market reports that the majority of their customers prefer rim/cantilever brakes on their frames. I thought we might look into the world of brakes and see what the pros and con's are for the two major brake types that we at VO use on our frames - disc brakes and cantilever brakes.

To frame this comparison, I'd like to say that I have used both styles of brakes. I've used BB7s on the Polyvalent prototype and liked them. My standard ride for many years is a touring bike with the Tektro CR710 brakes installed.

One of the first things that people talk about with disc brakes is the stopping power. As disc brakes started with MTB's, it makes sense. You want to stop on a dime before you go over that cliff face. It is probably the most obvious advantage to a disc brake bike, the increase in braking performance vs a cantilever brake. It certainly inspires confidence when you are coming down a steep col/pass/gap and need to scrub off speed when sheep start to cross the road in front of you.

When I installed the CR710's on my bike, they were dead easy to set up. They are similar to the Zeste brakes in that each side has a set screw to adjust the spring tension. Tighten or loosen as needed and then tighten the set screws on the straddle hanger when the pads are even and you are good to go. Now I'm not the greatest mechanic at times (ask my wife, she'll tell you. On second thought, don't ask. It brings up old issues that I don't need to be reminded of), but setting up disc brakes was a bit of a pain in the butt. Maybe this is a case of not doing it enough, but they seemed fiddly in comparison to the cantilever brakes, which were so simple to adjust.

One edge for cantilever brakes is that they are lighter than disc brakes. If you look at the weight of two canti brakes (one wheel's worth) you are looking at about 146 gr. If we compare that to the weight of a BB7 brake set up- rotors (160 mm for reference), caliper and mounting hardware- that weighs 351 gr.  So about half the weight, even if you take into account some extra bits like cable stops and straddle hangers.

Another aspect that bears considering with disc brakes is the replacement of the braking surface. When I lived in Vancouver and commuted daily on a bike with cantilevers through out the year, I would wear out a front wheel once a year or so. The constant moisture in the air combined with the grit that the pads pick up and impart on the rim would wear down the rim faster then I have seen anywhere else. The first time I saw a disc brake randonneur set up, I asked my friend how he liked it and he said it was great. You only have to replace the rotor every year, not the whole rim. Wow, mind blown.

Is the style of brake on a bike something that is important to you? Does one or the other make you come to a screeching halt when looking at a new frame? Weigh in below with your comments.


VOFanSoCal said...

Brake choice matters more to me the more I ride is varying weather. And I'm sick of fighting front brake squeal. I hope to move to a less-arid climate this year. It rains there seasonally (not just at the end of a 7-year drought) and I plan to commute a longer distance by bike daily. I ride a non-VO steel-frame touring bike with cantilever brakes. Recently, I invested in a custom dynamo wheel and chose a disc hub and a milled rim because I was unsure if the next bike I plan to buy would use disc or rim brakes. I'm leaning more toward the disc brake as a result because of the issue with rim brakes you mention at the end of the post-- water+grit+rim brakes = $$$. I would rather replace rotors than rims.

Anonymous said...

Cantilever brake is good for city bike. And for smooth result. And looks good! :-)
Disk brake is for functionality. And strong result.

Bruce Hubbell said...

Water! Disc brakes are more responsive in wet conditions. I'm guessing that is why the folks in the NWest like them. Canti or side pull are hampered by the build up H2O, chain oil and road detritus on the rim surface, which can take a revolution of the wheel to off when you first brake.

Anonymous said...

Coming from Mountain Biking, the hardest part for me was the lack of disc brakes when transitioning to other types of riding. Additionally, being from Erie, PA/Buffalo, NY, the rain/snow/slush makes for a strong argument for any bike to have disc brakes. To me, they're the only option and I'd only consider a new frame that supports them.

Anonymous said...

There's another issue for tourists. A failure of a disc brake in Portland is no big deal, but on a long tour in areas with limited supplies of bike shops that may be a very big deal indeed. Same as touring on 650B's.

Unknown said...

"Brake power" is meaningless, as long as the brakes can make the wheels skid. Pretty much any non-crap brake will do that, unless you + your bike + your gear weigh a lot.

Anonymous said...

Educated riders know their stuff and they choose. Just like you, writing about brakes and their pros and cons... It really goes down for personal preference.
99% of cyclist are not educated riders, they just do balance and pedal strokes. If you give those kind of riders more stopping power they'll just skid more...
Disc brakes are and advanced type of brake. Just give them to advanced riders. They are harder to setup and their maintenance is more expensive for basic riders. A brake pad is a simple an inexpensive part to replace. Everyone is familiar with that. Disc rotors and disc brake pads wear are a whole new game that regular people don't know because they don't care. Just balance and pedal strokes.

Richard L. Wagner said...

WHAT? I grew up with cantilever/rim brakes. I never had to change the rims out once a year. I have to change the brake pads maybe once a year, but not the whole darn wheel.

billyhacker said...

For disc brakes the fork needs to be stronger and heavier too. On long fast downhills disks don't get rid of heat that well unless they are too big. Disks are also really sharp on people and on other objects. After a bike life mainly of calipers, I switched to cantilevers about four years ago (and ride daily year around) and have been underwhelmed with them - both Tecktro and the impressive VO cantis. I'm about to switch back to long VO calipers for my daily rider because I just love the control around feathering speed. Basically it's the brake lever travel to pinching force ratio and sensation that I can only really get right (and quite easily) with calipers. I have no problem locking both wheels with any of the three styles, so actual breaking power is irrelevant to me.

Richard Wagner said...

WHAT? I grew up with cantilever/rim brakes. I never had to change the rims out once a year. I have to change the brake pads maybe once a year, but not the whole darn wheel.

IronMac said...

Polyvalent for 2018? Nooooo.......

Caleb Evenson said...

Here in South Dakota, I prefer both rim and disc brakes. When the snow and slush cover the ground, I prefer my discs - like Bruce Hubbell said, the disc brakes generally take less time to clear whatever may be on the discs. When snow and slush are absent, I much prefer the cantilever brakes, not only for their light weight, but also for the frame and fork's lighter weight and flex characteristics.

That said, were I limited to just one bike, I would likely take one with cantilever brakes, figuring I can just ride slower if adverse conditions require as much for safety. After all, a large part of why I love bicycles is how much they keep my life relatively slow, thereby making more time for reflection and appreciation...or at least that's what I've long told myself.

Anonymous said...

For my city and gravel bikes I prefer discs. My tour bike has canti brakes Paul's and they work great unless they are wet but that's a given. I am not buying any new bikes that are not disc.

Tony Hunt said...

I dunno...for what it's worth I live in Minnesnowta and ride all four seasons in mostly urban conditions (so, bad conditions is what I mean). I've never had a disc bike. If I took up mountain biking I might give it a shot but I've done all my commuting, touring, etc on rim brakes and it's never really been an issue. Given the trade-offs, then, disc bikes don't appeal to me. But if I had a bike company it sure does seem like disc is the future so I think you're being smart in phasing out non-disc bikes

Anonymous said...

While I have never had this issue on a single bike, I have had rim brakes on my tandem heat my rims so hot that the tire exploded. Twice. Luckily the rear both times.

Eamon Nordquist said...

Yeah. Total nonsense, and I've been riding year round in the Pacific Northwest since 1983. Clean your brake surface every once in a while, if it's that bad.

Disk brakes setup well work well. Rim brakes setup well work well.
Disk brakes makes swapping different wheel sizes an easy thing. That's the only giant advantage to me.

Big Woods Biker said...

Disc brakes make mounting fenders and racks a real pain and disc calipers can rub holes in your panniers. I wish frame designers would take these things into consideration. That said, I have bikes with both and see no need for discs on paved roads unless you are using carbon rims, which I would never do.

Erik said...

For road and gravel, rim brakes have always provided plenty of performance for me, wet or dry. With a few different roadie's in my stable, I would not choose a new bike that was dedicated to discs. I like to be able to swap out wheel sets. Specialization vs. flexibility. This mindset is in play for ignoring many "modern upgrades" All of my wheelsets are 9-spd, which is plenty good enough for my needs.

bsimon said...

I prefer discs for 2 of the reasons mentioned; performance in the wet & brake surface wear. Riding in inclement weather used to mean grinding grit into one's rims while braking. With discs, that's not a factor. I've never had discs freeze up in winter riding, either; but have caked enough road slop / ice onto caliper brakes to render them useless.

Andy Squirrel said...

It's this simple: If you don't love drop bar hydro disc brakes you are probably wrong because its the best thing to happen in the entire history of bicycles.

Ralph said...

We have a tandem. It is big and we are heavy. Love the newer disk brakes. Got rid of the drag brake we had. Don't worry abut water. Disk edges have been machined to round them off much safer. Plenty of racks available for disc brake bikes. Spare disc pads are very small and light. Won't go back to the rim brakes.

Anonymous said...

@caleb evenson

"...After all, a large part of why I love bicycles is how much they keep my life
relatively slow, thereby making more time for reflection and appreciation...or at
least that's what I've long told myself. "

I totally agree with your assessment and I would like to offer the following proof
based upon the fundamentals of physics to demonstrate the truth of what you stated.

The Speed of Life (and what kind of breaks really matter)

Given (from Newton and Einstein) famous equation one (EQ1) and famous equation
two (EQ2):

F=m*a (EQ1) and E=m*c^2 (EQ2)

...we will rearrange to get:

m=F/a (EQ3) and m=E/c^2 (EQ3)

...since m=m, set EQ3=EQ4 and isolate the 'c' term:

F/a=E/c^2 ==> c^2=a*E/F (EQ5)

...since we are humans living on earth, we will let a=g (the acceleration of
gravity here on our planet) and will use more universal SI (aka 'metric') units
to get the following:

g = 9.81 m/s^2

E = 1*Joule = 1*kg*m^2/s^2

F = 1*Newton = 1*kg*m/s^2

Substitute these terms into EQ5 to get:


...which simplifies to:


Solving for 'c', the speed of life, yields:

c=SQRT(9.81*m^2/s^2) ==> c=3.132 m/s

The result, 3.132 m/s, is equal to about 7.0 mi/hr which happens to be the speed of
a leisurely bike ride. Therefore, at this this speed, it really does not matter what kind of breaks you have as long as they work and look good on your bike build. The question remains, do you wear a helmet or just let the breeze blow through
your hair?

--GS in OR

Nikita said...

Changing the rim that often is not that uncommon. Here is an example: few years ago I built my Rawland Stag with the new wheelset and new V-brakes. The rims were Pacenti PL23 and the brake pads were Kool Stop Dura2 triple compound, both brand new. After aprox. two years of commute in London, the rim wear indicator and the pads on the front wheel looked like this:



You can still see the indicator but I'd say 95% of the original wear indicator depth is gone. So, roughly speaking, one bullet - one kill or one set of pads - one rim.

I have to mention that I consider cleaning braking surfaces on my bike to be too much maintenance. Same applies to all other parts including the drivetrain. Surprisingly, out of all parts on my bike, the front wheel is the first in line for rebuild.

Recently I sold my Stag and went back to my old Voodoo Wazoo. The latter is now equipped with TRP Spyre disc brakes. I abandoned V-brakes for two reasons. I don't want to change rims on my wheels anytime soon and I don't want my bike to be covered in brake dust (and I don't want to clean it regularly either).

Unknown said...

I started riding only 8 years ago. On a charity ride it started with drizzling rain towards a check point. As I crested a rise in the road I was suddenly faced with a mass of cyclists across the road with a motor vehicle in the middle of it. I grabbed a big hand full of brakes with no effect on braking for the first second or so. Frightened me immensely until the brakes took effect. I wondered how things would be if motor vehicles had brakes like this.

Unknown said...

I commute in Seattle and had just way too many "oh s**t" moments in the rain with rim brakes. Steep hills plus wet rims plus traffic equals bad. Since switching to disc brakes I've never had a single instance of my brakes not engaging. Much safer for my ride. They are heavier and sometimes squeaky though.

Andy said...

I've been living with BB7s on my Jamis touring bike (my main commuter) for three years now, and on my Surly Pugsley (mostly winter commuter) for about two. On the Pugsley, it's a really sensible option. I often have rims caked in ice, but the bike stops just fine. On the Jamis, I don't feel like they're worth it. I'm constantly having to adjust them so they don't rub (as much) and go through pads about every 3000 miles. They are really hard to get to where they're not squealing, especially in the wet. I don't think the real stopping power is any better than rim brakes I've used in the past, with Kool Stop salmon pads. Sure, the lever force required is much higher with rim brakes, but I'm strong enough to stop as hard as I want. And yes, I ride in the wet and live where there are some steep hills.

My next non-fat bike will ideally have ceramic coated rims and quality cantilever/vee brakes.

drew said...

Reading through all of this with great interest just makes me more convinced my next frame will have brazed-on center pulls. If I lived somewhere wetter or colder I might consider discs, and I understand why the industry is largely going with discs, but I'm not convinced that they should be the only option.

John Frey said...

Dan Towle of R+E Cycles in Seattle wrote an excellent disc-ussion of which brakes are best -- see www.rodbikes.com. I rode 13,000 miles over six years commuting to/from work just north of Seattle in all weather conditions. I replaced the rims on my stock REI Novara Randonee at the end of that time, and REI did the work for a very reasonable price. I shot the rims and brake pads with the garden hose after each wet ride to get rid of the grit. 90 seconds' effort. Shimano Deore cantis. -- All that said, I want a Campeur for Christmas, and at age 62 I fully agree with VO's "speed of life" philosophy. I loved that comment!!

editorque said...

I have a touring bike with discs and a city bike with cantis. I would wager that there is a weight of combined rider and bike below which disc brakes are unnecessary. I happen to weigh 215 and live among hills and have had scary moments with cantis, usually in wet conditions. My BB7s are easy enough to adjust, certainly better than the stock Hayes they replaced. But the cantis on my relaxed-riding bike are S I L E N T, thanks in part to VO replacement pads, and silent brakes are a beautiful thing. A little rim love with an alcohol swab now and then keep them just fine. The modulation is about the same, but the discs have a grinding sound in use with the stock pads. It being a touring bike, the fork would be overbuilt anyway. But to me, the truly magical thing about discs is how they have paralleled the acceptance of 650b and overall wider tires, introducing a kind of versatility never before seen. So I'd say that in terms of braking alone, discs are not the be-all and end-all, but by freeing up wheel and tire options, they introduce an element of fun that tilts things their way, particularly in terms of tire volume. For those who ride 35mm-wide tires and below and who weigh below 150, it is a moot point.

Anonymous said...

v-brakes continue to rule the worlds of stopping power (stronger than disc), ease of setup (as easy as a sidepull), and weight (get the XT version).

they get zero points for street cred, but are really the best choice for any thing smaller than plus tires.

Mark Holm said...

My Rivendell Samuel Hillborne came with Deore V-brakes with stock Shimano pads. The rims are Velocity aluminum. In the first year or two, there was a lot of rim wear. I saw pieces of aluminum torn out of the rims and embedded in the pads! After a couple of poor wet braking experiences, I installed KoolStop salmon pads. Several years later, still with the salmon pads, rim wear has dropped way down. Dry braking is fine and wet braking is better than with the Shimano pads. Dry, going downhill, I have to be careful not to squeeze too hard, for fear of flipping on my head. I think that's sufficient brake power. Wet braking could still be a bit better, but it's a big improvement over the Shimano pad situation.

With KoolStop Supra 2 style pads, I have not had much squealing. Currently I have the KoolStop Mountain style, salmon pads in front and they do squeal, even with generous toe-in.

gary jacobson said...

I'm the guy that writes reviews for movies they've never seen. I have about two minutes of experience with good disc brakes and a few more with poor ones. I have 50 years experience with rim brakes of all kinds. I ride in all kinds of conditions with all kinds of brakes. I love the VO side pull, and I have braze on centerpulls on two bikes, and some bikes with VO and some with Mafac canti's. I do not long for the complexity and weight of disc brakes. However, I think that if I had them on a bike I'd like them. But I am not compelled to go that way nor covet my neighbor's disc brakes.

Ability to change wheels sizes is the most attractive aspect of disc brakes. Second is the potential for the need for less hand strength. As my hands grow weaker and more painful that may emerge as a driving force if indeed disc brakes would help in that area.

I dislike frames that have unused accomodations for disc brakes.

I look forward to the inevitable re-introduction of the coaster brake. (Tongue in cheek, but as things go it wouldn't surprise me. Braze on centerpulls are now "direct mount".)

John Frey said...

Oh, yeah, by the way, I USED a helmet before they were fashionable, so I don't leave home without one.

John said...

I can't stand disc brakes on a road bike. The rotor rubbing noise drives me crazy. SCRAPE... SCRAPE... SCRAPE... SCRAPE...

I won't buy a road bike that has disc tabs.

Unknown said...

This was a debate 5 years ago. Discs have improved and options increased to a point where I will never buy another non-disc bike. I certainly won't rush to replace my canti-brake touring bike but when the day comes it's replacement will be disc.
Also, anyone getting excited about not having to clean their rims, keep in mind there is still brake residue but now it's hanging around your LH hub seals.
And thanks guys for going with a dropout that puts the caliper in between the stays so that racks and fenders are easier to mount.

Anonymous said...

I scorch fire roads in Marin County with my VO Campeur--dry, steep, rocky stuff where most folks ride with dual-suspended 29ers. Brake setup is an Avid SD7 V-brake front and Tektro cr720 rear, power + modulation is everything I could ask for. The mtbs certainly descend faster than I can, but what amazes me is how often I hear loud, annoying brake rub from their disc brakes, usually when I pass them going uphill.


Beau said...

Ah, the eternal brake debate. I will preface this by saying it really does boil down to personal preference. They all stop bikes pretty well these days. I also did fully loaded touring on an old pair of single pivot calipers from the 80's just a couple of years ago. Ideal? no, but it was fine. I think climate counts for a lot. The constant rain and grit of the Northwest is hard on rims and drivetrains. I've seen daily commuters wear out a rim in less than a year because they combined that grit with poor maintenance habits and a tendency to ride the rear brake down hills. Discs are kind of ideal for people like that. Except they're not, because those people will also never check the condition of a disc pad and wear down past the metal and destroy their rotor and maybe the caliper itself. I've seen that happen a few times as well. Conscientious riders that take care of their machines won't have these issues and can use whatever brake they want because they know what they're doing and understand how to get the most out of a brake setup.

That said, discs on road bikes that never see rain baffle me. A standard dual pivot caliper brake will stop as well or better than any disc without the weight penalty of a disc bike. They're also a lot more attractive aesthetically.

Anonymous said...

Something Grant Peterson pointed out: A disc fork needs to be more beefy, thus removing the flex that gives such a lovely ride in a quality frame made of steel. Likewise, the rear triangle/dropouts must be more heavily built.

Of course all this goes right out the window when squish comes into play. And there is the issue of braking in the wet.

Personally, all my bikes save my (v-brake front/fixed hub rear) Monocog are rim brake only. I like them all just fine and have never felt deprived in any way when riding them. Still, if I were to spec my dream bad weather bike, it would have disc brakes, a Rohloff hub and fenders. Big honking wide shiny fenders.

agmetal said...

I'd like to put in a vote for drum brakes! Compatible with pretty much any bike built for caliper brakes, and even more impervious to wet weather than discs, as well as some built-in theft-resistance.

derek z said...

Tektro silver mini V-brakes (Tektro BX3X) with the logos polished off and Kool-Stop Salmon Thinline brake pads all the way. Easier to set up and maintain on my touring bike than any canti's. Cheaper, lighter and less fiddly than discs or canti's. More stopping power than any canti I have ever tried - and I tried a lot before switching to the mini V's. An additional bonus is that the V's have eliminated all canti brake squeal. They aren't as elegant as the best looking canti's but I definitely prefer them aesthetically over discs. Clean your rims and break pads semi-regularly and rim wear isn't that big of an issue.

Anonymous said...

I mostly use rim brakes, some bikes are cantilever and some use V brakes with a Travel Agent. (Travel Agent allows a mountain bike brake to be used with road levers, it converts the short cable pull to long.)

On one bike I use Ryde CSS rims which I bought from the UK. These rims do not wear at all and should last forever, but they take special brake pads. Love them. But, like all rim brakes their performance in the wet is not ideal.

My most recent bike build was with a frame that is disc only, but I used a rim brake fork, this was my first disc bike. This is on a touring bike and with a camping load of gear it provides adequate braking. I am using on the rear a TRP Spyre with original rotor and pads and compression-less cable housing for most of the cable run. On the front am using Tektro V brakes with Travel Agent and Koolstop Salmon pads. In wet weather, the disc out-performs the rim brake. I find that in the dry, the rim brake is about the same for slowing the bike but for hard braking the rim brake actually out-performs the disc. This was a surprise to me, as there is a very very steep downhill I occasionally ride and the rear (disc) brake alone is insufficient to slow me down, but the rim brake alone is adequate. I was not skidding, it was strictly capability of the brake.

Bottom line - in the dry I like rim brakes better. And I like the Ryde CSS rims the best since they have exceptional wear. In the wet, the disc has clear advantages. But I was surprised that the discs did not work as well as the marketing led me to believe. I might switch to a softer disc pad to see if it improves the rear braking.

This being a Velo Orange blog, I should comment that my Pass Hunter has Tektro CR720 cantilevers, I find they are adequate in dry weather. I rarely ride this bike in wet weather, so have minimal experience with wet braking on this bike.

electrocio said...

I love my solution to this question. Get a mullet! what is a mullet you ask? It's that a hair style? you say. Well it's a bike set up with a disc brake in the front and a rim brake in the back.

I had luck and found a 1" steerer disc fork for sale. it's fit great on my vintage steel frame commuter/tour er. I've used for about 2 years now and love the stopping power in the rain, mud, and everywhere else. Having the rim brake in back (center pull) works well for gentle stopping and slowing me down but when loaded or in wet weather the disc front really helps stop reliably and quickly.

The rim brake in back also soothes my anxiety about not finding brake parts when on travel in a foreign county, I will always be able to find parts for the rear brake. I feel much safer crossing an intersection in wet weather with a front brake that just works. While the disc fork is heavy (hi-ten mountain bike fork) it works great. Now I only need to find a CrMo one to save weight and still have my best of both words setup.

electrocio said...

@ Anonymous the reason that your front rim brake out performs the disc in dry weather is because it is the front brake not the type of brake. A front brake should have more stopping power based on physics. The applicable difference between the stopping power of a disc and rim brake in dry weather conditions is negligible. Having had Disc, Caliper, Center pull, cantilever, and V brake set up in front on various bikes It is my experience that under dry conditions and properly adjusted and maintained they all have adequate stopping power. The differences are only obvious in wet weather and/or under heavy loads.

christopheru said...

For me it is a no brainer. I live in Southern Ontario, ride all year round, and have discovered that Avid cable disc brakes are the best thing to put on the bicycles. Regardless of conditions, the bike stops. I also get years out of a set of pads and rotors. I just set up the bike and forget about them.
It took five winters to more or less wear out an Avid BB5 rear calliper (the rear takes a beating in winter riding). The pads easily lasted that long. Some people burn out pads much faster than I do, but I seem to have good luck with them lasting ages.
When I used rim brakes, I was replacing pads in the winter every couple of months, and sometimes after one ride (if the rims iced up - I had a serious oh crap moment when I put on the brakes and nothing happened - I ground the pads to metal on metal in one stop). Not a big fan in those conditions of rim brakes.
So for me, doing what I do, discs are the only way to go.

Unknown said...

I've seriously though about swapping out forks for one with disc mounts, then building up a new front wheel to match. The basic physics of discs, however, means that QR skewers tend to loosen during normal use. I'd only run discs in combination with a through-axle fork. Otherwise, the benefits (long descents, rim wear, better stopping power, tolerance of out-of-true wheels) are obvious.

I've also got a fairly substantial investment in symmetrically-dished front wheels, and I like the fact that I can switch front wheels between my derailer bike (cantis) and my fixed-gear bike (calipers). If one wheel gets damaged and I have to ride the next day, it's a simple swap-over. I'd like to keep that perk. Should I come into about $700 for new forks, calipers, and wheels (perhaps my existing rims would be reusable) on each bike.... Also, my fixed-gear bike's an old road frame: how many 1" through-axle forks are out there? ;-)

electrocio said...

@john miller, I found that modern QR skewers have the problem of loosening over time. I did find that there are two solutions to this problem. One solution is to over tighten the skewer, this add the extra force to keep the wheel for loosening up. The other solution and best option is to use skewers made from a vintage design (or vintage skewers). The VO skewers would be a good example of vintage design skewers.

I took me about 2 years to find a 1" disc fork on ebay and it is hi-ten so heavier than i wanted. I'm really hoping that VO will produce extra 1" disc forks to sell to all of use who love our rides but would like to add the stopping power of disc brakes to our bikes. I'd probably want 2 commuter/touring + fixed; basically same as you john.

p.s. the fork I got was for a 26" mountain bike. It's a threadless 1" steerer 26"MTB disc fork. The size is bout the same as my 1" vintage ('72) road fork. I have the same clearance with 700x32 wheels on the the disc fork as I did with he original fork.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 4 season commuter and recreational rider in Vancouver. So wet and steep. I have mechanical discs on my winter commuter / gravel bike and dual pivot, cantilever, or v-brakes on my other bikes. I find braking power is about equal between discs and rim brakes in dry conditions. I do find that the discs are a bit more reliable in the wet, but it did take some fussing with. Yes, my one attempt as using hydro discs found them to be very powerful and with some brands modulation was good. I do my own maintenance and hated working on hydros.

That said I really like the feel and modulation of rim brakes over mechanical discs so I'm a bit disappointed to see them becoming less common. I watched a video on the Path Less Pedaled recently and Ultraromance had some interesting comments about disc vs rim based on his riding experience. I've been wondering if a switch to compressionless brake housing on my rim brakes might make a big difference in performance.

Oh, and I've only twice had to replace a rim due to wear here - once was a terrible OE rim that lasted a year of mountain biking before wearing through and the other was a very well used set of mountain bike / commuter wheels. Not really an issue for me.

electrocio said...

" The basic physics of discs, however, means that QR skewers tend to loosen during normal use. I'd only run discs in combination with a through-axle fork. "
just use a piston type QR or a vintage one they will not loosen, VO sells some as does shimano. It solved the issue for me. This ame problem happen with horizontal dropouts and I found using vintage QR or modern piston type just work.

" That said I really like the feel and modulation of rim brakes over mechanical discs.... I've been wondering if a switch to compressionless brake housing on my rim brakes might make a big difference in performance."

while I can't comment on "feel" as that is a personal preference I can comment on modulation with mechanical disc. In similar fashion to your thinking a zero compression housng to help rim brakes I would say cheap housing (softer, more compression susceptible) housing can help the modulation of mechanical disc brakes. I tend to use newer better quality cables for every thing but my front disc fork. For my fork I use cheaper (BMX) housing. I find the modulation and feel to be great with this combination. The stoping power of the disc brake in wet weather is aided by the small venting holes of the rotor allowing more places for water to move to vs rim brakes smother surface. Better rim brake pads do help but I'd stay with disc brakes for the performance in wet weather.

My commuter bike is Disc in the front and center pull rear.
My road"racer" is dual pivot front rear
My All weather fixed gear/2x (Sheldon Brown style) is drum front center pull rear.