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I am looking at cross bikes to keep me cycling through the winter.

http://www.nicholsons-cycles.co.uk/product/focus-bikes-mares-cx-3-0-disc-105/49669

I like this but am worried about the brakes - I do plan to go over the local hills off the beaten path and down my local (fairly mellow) MTB track.

Do I need disk brakes? Are the brakes on the bike above called 'mini V' and a step up from regular road cantilever brakes? Would they be alright for off road?

Any help would be appreciated.

  • Need is subjective. But for that kind of money for a winter bike I would look for disc brakes. – paparazzo Sep 8 '14 at 13:15
  • One of the big differences between disc brakes and rim brakes is that disk brakes are less likely to get crudded up by debris e.g. mud. You need to decide how applicable this is to you, and shop accordingly. Personally (I live in southern England) I have no qualms about cycling in the winter, on a road bike with rim brakes and 25mm tyres, but there again I only cycle on road (albeit often wet and muddy road). – PeteH Sep 8 '14 at 16:38
  • Another difference between disk and rim brakes is that disk brakes are a PITA if you take your wheel off. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 9 '14 at 11:54
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That bike is equipped with Avid Shorty 4's according to the description (contrary to the URL). Avid Shorty 4's are just regular cantilever brakes, which are standard on most cross bikes. A cantilever brake looks like this: canti

Mini V brakes are a type of V-brake with short pull so they can be used with road levers. A mini-V brake looks like this: miniv

Note that its essentially just a small V brake with road-style pads.

Disc brakes are nice in that their stopping power is more independent of the rim condition than rim brakes, but people have been riding in winter with rim brakes for decades, so its not essential (but its something you may like to have for messy riding). My answer in this question gives some pointers to disc brake need.

A general note is that the bike you've selected is quite nice, and in places where you actually have to plan for winter, winter does some quite nasty things to a bike ridden often in winter -- you may want to go for something cheaper or depending on conditions switch to a cheap MTB. So, if you describe where you are, this may help someone give a better answer.

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No, you don't need discs. You SHOULD fit decent wet weather brake pads - eg Kool Stop Pinks - and learn how to maintain cantis correctly (because most LBS's can't.) See eg http://sheldonbrown.com/cantilever-geometry.html

Also make sure that you are riding tyres with good wet weather grip - it varies a lot. (Schwalbe give honest ratings for their tyres.)

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