I ride a Marin comfort bike, about 99% on pavement. That should mean that I don't need disc brakes, but I'm really sick of these weak, shuddering, howling, screeching, whistling, locking caliper brakes. I've taken them in for service and they work normally for 2 days, then back to their ridiculous behavior.

Should I try to convert to disc brakes, or look for a new comfort bike that already has them? Are there some better pads or calipers or some kind of rim attachment that I could use? I'm at the midpoint on price, the bike was around $500, and I'm at the low end on mechanical ability. I don't want to bend way over or have a rougher ride (in fact the Marin is already kind of a harsh ride with the tires inflated to 65, and the tires won't stay at 65 more than a day or two).

  • Are you sure they're caliper brakes? I don't see any Marin comfort bikes spec'd with caliper brakes currently (they all seem to be V-brakes).
    – Batman
    Dec 11, 2014 at 16:21
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    It sounds like the shop doesn't know how to adjust the brakes. First off, different pads may be required, and then they must be "toed in". But bear in mind that most bike brakes squeak under some circumstances, and, based on what I've read here, disk brakes are probably worse. Dec 11, 2014 at 16:25
  • I road with disc brakes. I also would not put disc on a Marin or any bike not built for disc.
    – paparazzo
    Dec 11, 2014 at 16:26
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    Daniel R. Hicks, it sounds like I need a new bike shop. These guys fix my derailleur problems by squirting oil around, and the bike still doesn't want to go into high on the front sprocket, and downshifts 2-3 gears at a time suddenly on the back sprocket. It took them 3 tries to adjust the handlebars to point forward, and they lost the dust cap in the process. Is this bike a lemon? Is that what my issue is? Dec 11, 2014 at 16:58
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    $500 bikes are rarely lemons. They occasionally have a improperly manufactured component, but they are often put together and adjusted "not well". Most cars require professional attention (oil change) several times a year, no one considers this a bad feature. All mechanical devices require maintenance/care in some manner or will break down eventually. Cars and bikes are different in that cars come assembled/tuned from the factory and require no intervention on the shops part before sale. Bikes are not so. Dec 11, 2014 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


Putting disc brakes on a bike that wasn't designed for them (which a comfort bike most likely is not) would be quite expensive and quite difficult. First, your frame has to have the mounting brackets for disc brakes. For the front you can get a new fork. For the back you'd have to have one welded on, and even in that case it might not be a good solution as the frame wasn't designed to have one there. Then you have to have wheels with hubs that are compatible with a disc rotor. By the time you get around to getting all this done, you've probably spent close to as much as your bike is worth, if not more.

As far as fixing your current situation, what might help is getting higher quality caliper brakes. I would think that the brakes on a $500 bike might be a little sub par. New/better brakes should not be that expensive and should be able to be fit on the bike quite easily, at minimal cost to you. Good quality caliper brakes do not exhibit any of the problems you describe and should stay tuned for quite few miles.

Also, you should expect that your tires deflate a little after a few days. This is normal. Get a good pump and get in the habit of topping them up every few days. As long as they aren't leaking extremely fast, such as down to almost nothing in a couple days, you're ok. Dropping 5-10 psi in a few days isn't out of the ordinary.


Looks like the brakes spec'd for the Marin Stinson are entry-level aluminum linear-pull type. Replacing the whole brake assembly on both wheels might help, but since inexpensive pads are one place manufacturers tend to cut costs, you might try a new set of pads first. I've had good luck with Kool Stop and would go with the salmon compound or dual compound if you ride in the rain any more than once in a great while. The pads should run around $15/wheel and a shop should give you a price on installation before they do the work. Expect maybe $50 total before tax.

Because your current shop has not been able to remedy this problem, you might try another if possible.

  • For 15 dollars a wheel, you can buy Avid Single Digit 5 brakes, which I've found to help tremendously over most cheap V-brakes.
    – Batman
    Dec 11, 2014 at 18:32
  • Please note that MSRP on the Avid Single Digit 5 is $22 per wheel, which is more likely what a shop would charge. Batman correctly cites a common online/mail order per-wheel price. I'm not saying either way is right or wrong, but merely the difference between having a shop do the work or doing it yourself. Dec 11, 2014 at 18:48

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