I've read that the calipers end up "eating" the rim. How many km in the city or touring (with a normal use of the brakes) does it take to destroy a rim? Is it something to worry about?

Considering that I already have calipers and I'm planning to change the wheels in the future in the range of 500€ (both)... If I change to disc brakes I would have to change the fork, buy the front disc, probably add weight...

I want to have a bike reliable with really low maintenance both in money and time which can do a lot of kms, would changing to a front disc brake save me money and time in the long term?

  • 3
    If everything is in working order, you'll wear out and replace the rim brake pads many times before you notice anything significant on the rim itself. May 5, 2018 at 23:00
  • 1
    The main reason for having disk brakes is that they're "in" right now. They're heavier, more complicated, and more difficult to maintain. Changing a bike with front rim brake to front disk would be silly (and expensive). If you feel you must have disk brakes wait until you're ready to get a new bike. May 6, 2018 at 0:10
  • Ballpark I'd expect a rim to last about as long as a rotor, assuming no catastrophic damage that would be 20,000 km to 50,000 km.
    – Criggie
    May 6, 2018 at 1:43

3 Answers 3


It will heavily depend on the conditions, but it's not something you really have to worry about.

At a rough estimate I have 25,000 km on my hybrid, with v brakes (there shouldn't be a huge amount of difference between rim brake types). I ride in all weathers, and much of the distance is commuting with some longer road rides and dirt tracks. There's plenty of wear left in the front rim, going by the groove that's there to indicate that, and most of my braking is at the front. This is an aluminium rim, and one built more for strength the lightness.


Hydraulic Disks should be less maintenance than rims. They are self adjusting, all you need to do is replace pads when worn. They may need the occasional bleed, which is a more involved task than rim brake maintenance. Beyond that, if they have problems, its usually easier to replace the brake than repair it

Cable disk brakes have the same adjustment requirements as rim brakes, easier pad replacement than rim brakes and in all probably about the same level of maintenance.

Rim brakes are simple, light and reliable. All you need is the occasional adjustment and new pads. They are fiddly to replace and adjust compared to modern disc brakes, but its not a big job.

In terms of rim wearing out, its not something I would factor into a decision. Wear is something that happens on a bike, if you want reliable long life, avoid super lightweight racing components and go for quality components designed for reliability. For instance, put on a 32 spoke touring wheel rather than a 16 spoke racing wheel.


Maybe 25 000km with relatively thin road bike rims. If you are riding a lot and have expensive wheels it’s indeed something to take into consideration and an advantage of disk brakes.

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