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I'm trying to buy a front wheel which will work with both disc and rim brakes so that I can use it on my cross bike (with rim brakes) and my mountain bike (with disc brakes) with a dynamo hub to power lights for night riding.

Can I use a disc rim with rim brakes (cantilever or caliper) or will I need to buy a wheel that does not have a disc specific rim?

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The rim needs to have a surface that's relatively vertical, wide enough for the brake pad, and sufficiently thick/stiff/wear-resistant to withstand the pressure/abrasion of the brake pads. Generally this will imply a rim designed for for rim brakes. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 25 '12 at 16:07
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Some disc-brake specific wheels use rims that are not designed for rim brakes. To accomplish what you want you need a wheel with a a disc-brake hub and a rim-brake rim.

With that setup, assuming the fork widths are the same, you should be able to switch wheels between bikes without problems. The only drawback is the slight increase in rotating mass from having extra material in both the hub and the rim.

An example would be this wheel from Mavic available at Nasbar, but your LBS should be able to easily build up wheels for you if they don't have something specific in stock.

To use your dynamo I think you are forced to have custom built wheels, but it should still work fine.

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I found a velocity dyad rim laced to a dynamo hub which should work out well for both bikes. It even matches the dyad wheelset already on my cross bike.… – Benzo Sep 25 '12 at 15:19

Short answer: no. Disc brake rims generally don't have a brake track designed for rim brakes, and you will damage the rim quickly. Secondly, your MTB and cross bike may have different wheel sizes to begin with, so the whole plan may be suspect.

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I have done this but the wheel does not sit central in the forks therefore the brake block shimms need to be adjusted to suit

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Shouldn't a properly dished wheel have the rim perfectly centered? Why would it not sit centrally? – Benzo Aug 5 '14 at 13:01
We really need more information for this to be a complete answer. As others have mentioned, it depends heavily on the type of rim. And as @Benzo points out, the rim of a properly dished wheel would still be centered within the forks. – jimirings Aug 5 '14 at 13:24

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