Living with Discs - Feedback and Opinions

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
RyanH
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by RyanH

First, I don't want this to devolve into a disc vs rim debate!

For those that are on disc bikes, is the grass greener on the other side?

What are some of the "headaches" that come with disc? Brake squeal, pad rub, maintenance issues, etc...?

If you've gone disc for road, would you consider going back to rim brake?
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AJS914
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by AJS914

I've had multiple issues on most disc brake bikes I've had: squealing brake pads, vibrating brake pads, trouble centering the brake pads/rubbing, trouble getting pistons to retract...

I think part of it is the learning curve. Once you tackle all these kinds of issues and learn to bleed your system you will probably mostly be fine. It's just not as simple as rim brakes, that's for sure, and I haven't embraced all this maintenance.

I'm at the point that I have to embrace it this winter. Both on my MTB and my gravel bike, one brake has gone flat over the summer so I have to do a bleed. I'll probably need some new pads as well.

I wouldn't trade discs for rim brakes especially for the MTB or gravel bike.

by Weenie


TobinHatesYou
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by TobinHatesYou

Brake squeal is generally not an issue. Sometimes the front caliper/rotor will collect grime from motor traffic, but I just clean the rotor with disposable shop rags and alcohol if a slight squeal develops. Any deposits on the pad itself usually just burn off on my next hard descent.

Brake rub is the biggest audible annoyance. I have to align the caliper perfectly to prevent rub when out of the saddle. I never get rub in the saddle.

Maintenance is pretty much nil. With semi-metallic SwissStops, I get 2500mi out of the front and probably >7000mi out of the rear. I do a lot of climbing/descending. Bleeding is super easy, takes 20min for a SRAM system with its two syringes. You can get away with bleeding every couple of years, though you may as well do it once a year.

Another annoyance is switching wheelsets. Since tolerances are so tight and not every hub/rotor interface is perfect, you might need to realign your caliper or at least reset your pistons for a wheel swap.

None of these issues are showstoppers and I will never buy another rim-brake bike.

AJS914
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by AJS914

TobinHatesYou wrote: Another annoyance is switching wheelsets. Since tolerances are so tight and not every hub/rotor interface is perfect, you might need to realign your caliper or at least reset your pistons for a wheel swap.
Another option is using shims to get all of your wheelsets the same so you can simply switch wheels.

Mr.Gib
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by Mr.Gib

Love mine on my winter bike. I wouldn't think of using rim brakes on wet roads while I have a disc bike available. However, on any dry day I always grab one of my light rim brake bikes. If I was buying another high end road bike I would again go rim brake - just don't want to add an extra pound to a good weather bike, (although I might consider an Emonda SLR disc, but only because it lands at a weight I could live with).

Initial set up and getting disc brakes right with newly installed pads can be tricky but you won't do this too often.
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

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DOUG
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by DOUG

As mentioned above, not all hubs are identical so a slight amount of pad rub from a misaligned caliper when changing wheel sets is the only issue I've had with disc brakes. This is obviously a quick and simple fix, has never happened to me mid ride either, only ever due to a wheel set change. There is of course a small weight penalty but this can easily be accounted for and if its a daily driver an extra 3-400g is not really of any concern to me if it means increased functionality and better durability.

Anyway this is just my experience and YMMV but I wouldn't buy another rim braked bike from this point forward.

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ergott
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by ergott

I use Shimano centerlock rotors and don't get any brake rub (thru axle). The only real annoyance is they are loud when it's full on wet out. They howl unless you brake enough to really dry them off. On flat terrain (coming to a stop light etc) they don't get a chance to heat up.

Love them otherwise.

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slippy
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by slippy

I've got two bikes with discs and two different impressions.

On the one bike I've had no problems at all. Yes they howl when wet and need to be realigned when swapping wheels but that's not at problem for me.

On the other bike I've had a thru axle that couldn't hold the wheel in place so constant rub. Rotors getting bent and hours of trying to true them. Leaking caliper with hours of trying to figure out what is wrong. Boiling oil that left me without a front brake on a descent.

For my next bike, something aero and reasonably light, I've almost decided for rim brakes. In the dry the only upside with discs is, to me, that they "feel" better due to the modulation. However, I don't spend a lot of time braking, I'd rather save 400g and a few hundred $.

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Conza
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by Conza

slippy wrote:Boiling oil that left me without a front brake on a descent.
:shock: . What. Like it was 40C and so they were real hot and stopped working? :o
It's all about the adventure :o .

jlok
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by jlok

I went through a few disc brake road bikes over a few years and there's definitely some learning I had done.

I learned the below and probably more... but the reward is tremendous I think. love the DB all-weather performance (at least for my sub-tropical climate and hilly terrain).

-disc alignment on QR bikes is not as difficult to center as people said. You will learn the required skills pretty soon to center it with more than 90% confidence.
-how to bleed a Shimano system (which is easy if you try a few times with patience and review)
-cheap rotor doesn't mean bad braking. They are heavy for sure but works. e.g. RT99 vs Tourney something (i forgot, strange looking stuff...)
-brake squeal / noise not always coming from contamination. if the caliper is not centered properly there might be noises as if it's caused by contamination.
-it's not that straight forward to use a 6-bolt iso rotor on CL hub. I used a KCNC adaptor with SRAM centerline x 6-bolt and had to sand the adaptor maybe 0.2mm or 0.3 so it has enough clerance (brake caliper already pushed to the outward max)
-not all brake mount is perfectly flat and it causes uneven pad wear as the caliper is not mounted properly (on my TCR Adv SL rear flat mount)
-to appreciate mechanics work. they charge you for a reason. they do bleeding consistently and work 100% so you don't need to practise a lot to get it work 80% of the time. I spent time and money to learn and still not able to do it as good as pro mechanics. keep your LBS alive!
-some pads wear out faster (organic ones), bring spares on your bike trip (even if you used sintered or swissstop e series)
-can't go back to rim brake... for the consitency and predictable brake performance, peace of mind... (borrowed a P5 with Cosmic Ultimate front wheel... the brake pulsing scared me... and difficult to dance around the lock/unlock limit)
-maintenance? can't remember it apart from swapping pads... even with SRAM system just bring it to the LBS once per year... no big deal... Shimano? could be even more lazy. u just make sure to have the pad / piston spacers handy to push them apart during pad swap, and in case when u need to go travel u need to use spacers. could be credit card or anything rigid. original spacers make life a bit easier.
-better learn bleeding the brakes so you understand how the brake system work. it is good for troubleshooting. you can also discover potential issue sooner with the knowledge and bring it to service before anything bad happen.

cyclenutnz
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by cyclenutnz

Have a disk bike but prefer to ride the rim bike.
Haven't had any mechanical problems with the discs (because campag) but the squeal in the wet or any time I ride through a decent puddle is annoying. Having to use water bottle to hose grit out after puddles also annoying.
They feel lacking in power to me, I had thought I'd be taking on our local technical descents with renewed vigour but after a couple of aborted high speed corners I'm struggling to find the courage to try the interesting descents.

I have to keep a disk bike for testing wheels, but won't be my primary bike. I think my ideal training bike (because I really need one for my current 150km on a good week) would be the new R2.
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TiCass
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by TiCass

Conza wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:40 am
slippy wrote:Boiling oil that left me without a front brake on a descent.
:shock: . What. Like it was 40C and so they were real hot and stopped working? :o
Yeah people naively assume that disc brakes are simply without issue with the heat.

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ergott
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by ergott

TiCass wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:58 pm
Conza wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:40 am
slippy wrote:Boiling oil that left me without a front brake on a descent.
:shock: . What. Like it was 40C and so they were real hot and stopped working? :o
Yeah people naively assume that disc brakes are simply without issue with the heat.
I'd like to know more about the conditions in which this happened.

slippy
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by slippy

Conza wrote:
slippy wrote:Boiling oil that left me without a front brake on a descent.
:shock: . What. Like it was 40C and so they were real hot and stopped working? :o
I was riding on a very rocky forest trail and I was braking a lot, this is on a gravel bike so rather unstable and I as a rider didn't feel very confident. Eventually I saw smoke coming from the piston and the brake lever touched the bar with no braking. Heat must've made a seal pop and the oil leaked I guess.

To conclude, it happened due to bad braking technique in terrain the bike wasn't made for, but still...

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Edit:
Weather was sunny and around 20degrees celcius, so that's a non factor

moyboy
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by moyboy

Biggest thing i can think of is just making sure before a ride the rotors are true. Nothing more annoying than hearing that noise during a ride.

by Weenie


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