Should I use disc brakes or rim brakes?

Posted at: Nov. 29, 2021

Disc brakes are coming of age, and conventional rim brakes such as caliper brakes and V-brakes. This article summarizes the differences between them and which is better.

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The difference between disc brakes and rim brakes

Both have the same “pinching and braking” mechanism.

The mechanism of both disc and rim brakes is pinching.

Disc brakes and rim brakes seem to have a big difference, but in fact the mechanism is the same: braking by pinching.

While conventional rim brakes, such as caliper brakes and V-brakes, brake by pinching the wheel rim, disc brakes brake by pinching the rotor attached to the wheel. However, the mechanism of braking by pinching is the same for both.

Difference in Braking Force

It is often said that disc brakes have more stopping power than rim brakes, but the correct answer is that hydraulic disc brakes can provide finer stopping power than rim brakes.

In terms of stopping power, V-brakes are quite powerful, and caliper brakes also have enough stopping power for higher grades.

However, the difference comes into play when the brakes are first applied. With hydraulic disc brakes, the braking action is effective right from the start, whereas with V-brakes and caliper brakes, the braking action is effective only when the lever is pulled about 60 to 80%.

This difference is the reason why people say that disc brakes work better than caliper brakes. This is partly due to the performance of disc brakes, but it also depends on the hydraulic pressure.

Incidentally, it is said that mechanical disc brakes, which are not good at fine adjustments, have less braking power than higher grade rim brakes.

The advantage of disc brakes is their resistance to water.

Bicycles are sometimes ridden in the rain.

The strength of disc brakes is their resistance to water. Rim brakes lose their braking power when the rim is wet in the rain. Some people even feel that they are almost ineffective, especially if the surface of the rim that rubs against the shoe is a carbon wheel.

As a matter of course, road bikes are all-weather vehicles, so you may ride even on a rainy day. Especially for professionals, you can’t just say, “It’s raining today, so let’s miss the race,” so it’s only natural to choose disc brakes that won’t lose braking power even in the rain.

The trend of the times is toward “hydraulic discs

In the past, the mainstream of road bikes was “narrow rims and light weight”, but now, with the evolution of carbon processing descriptions, it is possible to reduce weight even with deep rim (high rim height) wheels with high aerodynamic performance.

Then, professionals for whom speed is important will wear carbon deep rim wheels, but the problem is braking power in wet weather. Hydraulic disc brakes are the answer to this problem.

Thus, the era of the hydraulic disc road has come to an end, and now all major road bike manufacturers’ top models are hydraulic disc roads.

Is the end of the rim brake in sight?

Rim brakes are not the end of the road yet. There are still many entry to middle class road bikes under 200,000 yen with rim brakes, and they will coexist with disc brake models for the next few years.

Also, in terms of the used market, users who have switched to disc brakes will start to release their rim brake assets (wheels, components, etc.), so the used rim brake market may have plenty of inventory for the next few years.

Given this, there will be no problem with rim brakes being the mainstream for the next five years or so. In the meantime, the prices of disc-brake complete cars and parts should become more reasonable, so there is no problem in switching to disc-brakes after that.

However, new rim-brake products are not expected to be released very often in the future, so new stock in the market is expected to decrease. If you want a rim brake component or wheel in good condition, it is better to get it in a year or two.

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