By the use of concluding my tedious autopsy on my Jones-themed trip, I really feel it’s recumbent upon me to deal with the controversial topic of disc brakes–or, as Craigslist sellers name them, “dick breaks:”
Yeah, yeah, I notice that claims “Disk breaks” however the vendor clearly made a typo.
Whereas disc brakes have solely lately develop into ubiquitous on efficiency bicycles, the actual fact is that they’ve been in use since at the very least 400 BC, as evidenced by this historical sculpture of a unadorned man about to put in a rotor:
The traditional Greeks all the time carried out bicycle upkeep within the nude because the seen flexing of their muscular tissues and tendons was a dependable indicator of torque, which is why the human physique is also known as “nature’s torque wrench,” and in addition why “Zinn and the Artwork of Highway Bike Upkeep” is just not appropriate for kids.
We’re residing in a digital world, and as we step by step rework ourselves into social media avatars who suppose solely in binary it’s essential that we not solely take a agency stance on each challenge but in addition dismiss anybody who disagrees with us as an existential risk to humanity. Disc brakes are not any exception, and in Web World there are solely two methods to really feel about them:
- They’re silly and pointless
- They’re the one viable approach to cease a bicycle, and something much less may as properly be a spoon brake
I ought to be aware that the latter view is quickly subsuming the previous.
Being hopelessly old style, regardless of the challenge, I attempt to remind myself to not suppose in binary and to contemplate that totally different stuff works for various individuals. With regard to disc brakes on bicycles, so far as I’m involved, that shakes out as follows:
- Excessive-performance street racing bicycles with wheels comprised of cutting-edge supplies and design–positive, transfer the braking floor from the rim to a rotor, is sensible
- Highway bikes as ridden by the typical schmuck–no matter you favor, I’m not significantly fascinated with street bikes with disc brakes myself however can see why different individuals may be
- Mountain bikes–actually a superb use of disc brakes, although you might also be well-served by rim brakes relying on what you’re doing, regardless that the retractable seatpost set will insist both you’re a delusional retrogrouch or a wuss who doesn’t trip onerous sufficient
- Gravel bikes–see the primary three bullet factors
- Cyclocross racing bikes–why do these even have brakes in any respect?
- Monitor bikes–these don’t have brakes in any respect
- Cargo bikes–glorious use of disc brakes, not just for stopping energy, however extra importantly as a result of you may run lengthy hydraulic strains each which approach with out compromising it (see: cars)
- Each different form of bike–who offers a shit?
There’s much more nuance in the case of disc brakes, since there are additionally totally different sorts of disc brakes. For instance, as a non-extreme rider with non-extreme opinions, I’m an enormous fan of mechanical disc brakes, which provide many benefits of each disc and rim brake techniques:
That is the fashion of brake that got here on my Jones:
Now, I’d embody the type of driving I did over the previous two weeks as the kind that doesn’t essentially require disc brakes, muddy patches however. Little doubt I’d have fared simply as properly on a Gus Boots Willsen with 2.8 tires and v-brakes:
On the similar time, the Jones goes slightly additional than the Gus by way of tire clearance, mounting factors, and so forth., and the disc brakes are one facet of the design that make this attainable. I could not push the Jones to its limits by way of what it might do, however others will, and to that finish discs make complete sense.
With regard to my tweet above, I dounderstand why one may contemplate hydraulic brakes superior to mechanical ones, together with however not restricted to the next causes:
- Nicer really feel (individuals often name this “higher modulation,” however as a rule I think they only imply they really feel nicer)
- Much less lever effort (which one may argue additionally goes in opposition to the “higher modulation” factor, since a brake that requires little or no effort could also be simply as undesirable as a brake that requires a variety of effort, relying on what you’re utilizing it for)
- Low upkeep**
- Far more flexibility in cable routing, as talked about earlier
As for the *asterisks, these are qualifiers, as follows:
*[Self-adjusting is good, though the periodic pad adjustment mechanicals require can also be good, since it keeps you on top of your pad wear–unlike rim brakes you’re not looking at your disc brake pads while you ride, and being super thin the pad wear isn’t always obvious]
**[They’re low maintenance until they’re not, and for some riders occasional cable replacement may be preferable to occasional bleeding and brake line replacement.]
A maybe too-simple approach of summarizing all that is that mechanical disc brakes are the easy choice and hydraulic disc brakes are the efficiency choice. That’s to not say mechanical brakes can’t carry out or that hydraulic brakes can’t be easy, however in sure situations it’s attainable you may discover one missing these attributes greater than the opposite.
As a fan of mechanical disc brakes, and of cheap parts, I do suppose mechanical brakes have a foul repute not as a result of their inherent qualities however fairly as a result of they have a tendency to come back on cheaper bikes and are subsequently not thought of worthy of consideration. Any on-line question alongside the strains of, “Why don’t my mechanical disc brakes work properly?” appears to elicit replies of, “As a result of they’re crap, that’s why! Do away with them instantly.” And sure, they might certainly be crap–or, they might simply want some tweaking. In yesterday’s publish, a commenter talked about he was getting poor efficiency out of the Tektro mechanicals on his Jones–and I used to be too, till I noticed (after an embarrassingly lengthy period of time) that the brake cable was merely within the unsuitable place on the lever:
Mainly, the cable’s purported to be within the “V” place and never the “C” one, however they should have been arrange unsuitable on the level of meeting. (A brake lever that works with cantis and v-brakes in addition to mechanical discs is fairly cool, by the way in which, and one other neat factor about cable-actuated techniques.) As soon as I modified that the brakes labored completely, and it sounds just like the commenter can also be having fun with the identical outcomes. And whereas I’m actually not accusing the commenter of this, I do suppose there’s a notion on the market that Tektro brakes suck, and that this preempts individuals from taking the time to carry out correct set-up. In actual fact, Tektro make a shitload of brakes (together with the high-end TRP stuff, which I think loads of individuals don’t notice is Tektro), and I’d think about at this level they know their approach round a brake in the identical approach Shimano is aware of easy methods to crank out reliable derailleurs.
Brakes apart, a variety of us bike dorks are on a hair set off simply on the lookout for an excuse to improve stuff. The unhealthy information is that right this moment’s bike stuff works fairly rattling properly, although you may must carve out slightly time with a purpose to perceive the way it works. So in case you’re like me and your time is as restricted as your mind energy, contemplate becoming a member of Workforce Easy. No fluids, no electronics…simply cables and levers. (Okay, perhaps some tire sealant, however that’s one other dialog.)