Brake On By To The Different Aspect – Bike Snob NYC


By means of concluding my tedious autopsy on my Jones-themed trip, I really feel it’s recumbent upon me to handle the controversial topic of disc brakes–or, as Craigslist sellers name them, “dick breaks:”

Yeah, yeah, I understand that claims “Disk breaks” however the vendor clearly made a typo.

Whereas disc brakes have solely lately develop into ubiquitous on efficiency bicycles, the very fact is that they’ve been in use since at the very least 400 BC, as evidenced by this historic sculpture of a unadorned man about to put in a rotor:

The traditional Greeks at all times 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 sometimes called “nature’s torque wrench,” and likewise why “Zinn and the Artwork of Street Bike Upkeep” isn’t appropriate for kids.

We’re dwelling in a digital world, and as we regularly rework ourselves into social media avatars who assume solely in binary it’s essential that we not solely take a agency stance on each difficulty but in addition dismiss anybody who disagrees with us as an existential menace 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 strategy to cease a bicycle, and something much less would possibly as effectively be a spoon brake

I ought to be aware that the latter view is quickly subsuming the previous.

Being hopelessly old school, regardless of the difficulty, I attempt to remind myself to not assume in binary and to think about that completely 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 constructed from cutting-edge supplies and design–positive, transfer the braking floor from the rim to a rotor, is sensible
  • Street bikes as ridden by the common schmuck–no matter you like, I’m not significantly excited by street bikes with disc brakes myself however can see why different individuals is likely to be
  • Mountain bikes–actually a wonderful use of disc brakes, although you may additionally be well-served by rim brakes relying on what you’re doing, though the retractable seatpost set will insist both you’re a delusional retrogrouch or a wuss who doesn’t experience laborious 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 possibly can run lengthy hydraulic traces each which means with out compromising it (see: cars)
  • Each different form of bike–who offers a shit?

There’s much more nuance with regards to disc brakes, since there are additionally completely different varieties of disc brakes. For instance, as a non-extreme rider with non-extreme opinions, I’m a giant fan of mechanical disc brakes, which supply many benefits of each disc and rim brake methods:

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 type that doesn’t essentially require disc brakes, muddy patches however. Little question I’d have fared simply as effectively on a Gus Boots Willsen with 2.8 tires and v-brakes:

[Photo: Rivendell]

On the similar time, the Jones goes a bit additional than the Gus by way of tire clearance, mounting factors, and so on., and the disc brakes are one side of the design that make this potential. I’ll not push the Jones to its limits by way of what it may well do, however others will, and to that finish discs make complete sense.

With regard to my tweet above, I dounderstand why one would possibly take into account 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 most of the time 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 loads of effort, relying on what you’re utilizing it for)
  • Self-adjusting*
  • Low upkeep**
  • Way 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 means of summarizing all that is that mechanical disc brakes are the easy possibility and hydraulic disc brakes are the efficiency possibility. That’s to not say mechanical brakes can’t carry out or that hydraulic brakes can’t be easy, however in sure eventualities it’s potential you would possibly discover one missing these attributes greater than the opposite.

As a fan of mechanical disc brakes, and of cheap elements, I do assume mechanical brakes have a foul status not as a result of their inherent qualities however moderately as a result of they have an inclination to come back on cheaper bikes and are due to this fact not thought of worthy of consideration. Any on-line question alongside the traces of, “Why don’t my mechanical disc brakes work effectively?” 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 submit, 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 flawed 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 flawed 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 methods.) 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 assume 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 truth, Tektro make a shitload of brakes (together with the high-end TRP stuff, which I think loads of individuals don’t understand is Tektro), and I’d think about at this level they know their means round a brake in the identical means Shimano is aware of find out how to crank out reliable derailleurs.

Brakes apart, loads of us bike dorks are on a hair set off simply on the lookout for an excuse to improve stuff. The dangerous information is that in the present day’s bike stuff works fairly rattling effectively, although you would possibly have to carve out a bit time so as to perceive the way it works. So in the event you’re like me and your time is as restricted as your mind energy, take into account becoming a member of Crew Easy. No fluids, no electronics…simply cables and levers. (Okay, possibly some tire sealant, however that’s one other dialog.)

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