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Are disc brakes better, more durable etc. than the more traditional Cantilever / V type brakes?

I have been considering choosing a new bike with disc brakes, but I have seen mixed reviews on whether or not they are really better or are just something that looks cool?

Thanks

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closed as too broad by Batman, freiheit Mar 19 at 22:26

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Depends on the quality of the brakes. Good quality cantilever/V brakes will be better than low quality disc brakes. Good quality rim brakes provide enough power to skid the wheels, so it's not really a question of whether or not the brakes are good enough. The big advantage of disc brakes is that their performance is less affected by mud and water. Whether or not that matters depends on your riding conditions. –  Kibbee Dec 31 '13 at 16:24
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Its not just quality of brakes - its brake adjustment (and pad selection, which I guess can be lumped into brake quality) and rider skill. Just because you have massive discs doesn't mean they'll be of any use if you don't know how to brake properly (or they won't come into play, such as for most commuters who don't ride in snow or decent rain). More stopping power is also not necessarily better (since you may not be able to modulate it as well). The brake selection should be tested as part of the test rides of the potential bikes. –  Batman Dec 31 '13 at 21:47
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I'll also add that disc brakes (~80 dollars / wheel for Avid BB7's) are generally much more expensive than decent rim brakes (~30 dollars / wheel for Avid Single Digit 7's) and do incur a weight penality. So, if you're looking at bikes at the same price, something else has to be cut in order to meet the necessary profit margin. To add to commuters in the last comment, this also holds for most road riders as well. Almost all modern mountain bikes use discs as well, but if you're buying one for the road, you're (typically) better off with a hybrid or a road bike. –  Batman Dec 31 '13 at 21:52
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Your question is too vague, you need to provide more information on your intended use case. Each brake may be optimal under different use situations. I don't think there is a one single 'correct' answer to the question as it is currently asked. –  Rider_X Jan 29 at 20:08

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Whether disc brakes are better or not, depends on what application you plan on using them for. Road bike? Mountain bike?

For mountain bike use and possibly even a commuter bike, yes, disc brakes will be much better. They can provide more power, better control and they can usually be easily modulated. They will almost always be better in rain and wet weather, which I think it one of the main advantages of using disc brakes.

On the other side of the coin, if this is your first time switching to a disc brake setup, then you will have something new to learn in terms of maintenance and brake adjustments. Of course, anything can be learned... Disc brakes will also weigh a bit more than traditional rim brakes.

Personally, I will always go with a bike with discs. Reason being, is that I know they will always work, no matter the conditions. They are reliable and provide the confidence that I need when I am riding a bike, whether on the road or on the trail.

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Pros of disk brakes:

  • Modulation
  • Not affected by dirt and water
  • long lasting brake pads

Cons of disk brakes:

  • Weight
  • Complexity
  • Cost of brake pads
  • Lower maintainability (in case of hydraulic brake system)

Pros of rim brakes:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to maintain
  • Cheaper brake pads

Cons of rim brakes:

  • A bit lower power
  • A bit lower modulation
  • Poor operation in hard weather conditions

After that, rim brakes is preferable for commuting, road racing and the disk ones - for long descents, heavy loaded bikes and dirty roads/trails. Good rim brake (no matter, V-brake or cantilever, or road brakes) are enough to stop in almost all situations.

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I don't find that disc brake pads are THAT much more than rims. Maybe my LBS buys in bulk or something. –  dsalo Mar 19 at 15:43

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