Late to the Disc Brake party

Here we go… 😂 Yes, I’m a little behind jumping on the disc brake bandwagon. Disc brakes on road bikes have been around for a number of years now and have “matured” a lot in that time. Almost every single team in the Professional Peloton is 100% on discs and many manufacturers are no longer producing rim braked bikes.

Even the new Shimano 105 Di2 electronic groupset is disc brake only! Rim brakes on high end road bikes are dying and there’s no two ways about it. From a purely aesthetic point of view, rim brakes look SO much better on road bikes. There’s no real arguing with that. Rim brakes are also incredibly simple to install, set up, and maintain.

Above: How many cyclists does it take to change a disc brake wheel?

But when it comes to actual braking performance, especially for us mere mortals who ride on open roads, mixing with traffic and varying weather, hydraulic disc brakes are king.

In the dry, I’m fairly happy with my rim brakes, even on carbon wheels. I can pull up in time and the modulation is good enough. It’s not ground breaking performance, but it does the job. Throw in a rain shower though, and braking goes right out the window! Anyone who’s ridden carbon rim brakes in the wet will attest to their wet-weather performance being far from ideal.

The added braking confidence of hydraulic discs (over carbon rim brakes) even in the dry is not to be sneered at. It’s not all about outright stopping power. The modulation and lever feel of a pair of well set up hydraulic disc brakes are just a whole other level above rim brakes, that’s a direct comparison of Shimano Dura Ace level rim and disc brakes.

Above: New vs Old. Carl’s disc brake Di2 Giant vs my rim brake all-cable Kinesis!

Having ridden road disc brakes now, I have firmly upped and moved into the disc brake camp. That additional braking confidence and feel can arguably make you faster. I won’t be selling my rim braked bikes, but I certainly wouldn’t buy a new bike with rim brakes (not that there’ll be a choice soon). Do I regret buying my rim-braked Aeroad? No. Are disc brakes necessary? No. Are they aero? Probably not.

Are they a worthy evolution to road bike technology? Absolutely!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Dave Dove says:

    Two other ‘cons’ are they’re heavier and wheel changes take slightly longer. Neither is an issue for me but presumably they were factors in Team Ineos also being late to the Disc Brake party.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah for sure, wheel changes are slower, especially if you forget the 6mm hex key! 😂The added weight (and cost) is partly why I went rim brake for my Canyon. In the pro fields though there are a handful of disc brake bikes hitting the UCI weight limit now!


  2. I’ll be riding my old cable operated rim brakes until I can no longer get replacement parts; rims, pads, cables and housing. I don’t think I want another pair of hydro lever systems to fight what with the KTM 990R, but if I eventually am forced into the modern world thanks to wearing out the Roubaix, I’ll be fine. My main concern was I’d have to buy a new work stand for a new bike with a carbon seat pin. If I do buy a new bicycle it will be a Pinarello Dogma F or whatever they’ve got up to by then. That’s what I keep telling my old self as I nudge my three score and ten.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will definitely be riding my rim braked bikes until I’m no longer able to, hopefully aftermarket rim brake parts will be around for many, many years to come (although at the higher end, I’m fearful they might not).


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