- Discover the Advantages -
by Liam Todd
Disc brakes for road bikes have stormed onto the scene in the last few years, and it couldn’t come soon enough. Those of us who also ride mountain bikes have long understood the benefits of disc brakes and questioned why the options for road were so limited. The prayers have been answered and disc brakes are now available on most current road bike models. But what exactly are the benefits of disc brakes and why do they make so much sense for Marin?
For those who don’t know, a disc brace utilizes a disc mounted to the hub as the braking surface, as opposed to the rim itself in rim brake systems. While both systems rely on brake pads creating friction to slow you down, disc brakes have many advantages over their rim-system counterparts.
The most-apparent advantages of disc brakes is the increase in power and modulation. With a dedicated braking surface (the disc) and larger calipers, disc brakes achieve a larger overall braking surface, and thus more braking power, than rim brakes. That added power is a great thing to have in the tank for Marin’s numerous steep descents. The greater power also allows you to pull on the lever less for the same stopping power. If you ever suffer from “arm pump,” when your forearms become sore from continuous braking on long descents, disc brakes could be your solution.
Disc brakes truly stand apart from rim brakes with their superior modulation. Brakes are most effective just before the point of locking up the wheel, something that is not hard to do with a rim brake. However, the greater modulation of disc brakes will allow you to confidently use more than the bottom end of your braking power without unsafely approaching the point of locking up your wheels.
Disc brakes are much more reliable than rim brakes in inclement weather. Whereas a rim brake becomes unpredictable as soon as the braking surface is wet, disc brake performance is virtually identical between wet and dry conditions, although wet discs are prone to making noise. If we are facing a winter anything like last year, you’ll want a braking system that will allow you to keep riding your road bike through the rainy season.
The advantages continue in dry, hot weather. The discs and brake pads are bigger in disc brakes so the entire braking surface is larger than a rim brake set up. Larger surface area means that less heat is produced for the same amount of stopping force. Disc brakes will keep you safer on long descents in hot weather, perfect for summer trips to Tahoe or other Sierra Nevada destinations.
Disc brakes also allow for more fine tuning to your individual needs. Whereas all rim brakes have a braking surface the size of the wheel, discs come in various sizes so you can best balance your needs for stopping power and weight consciousness.
While disc brakes are arguably less aerodynamic and certainly a little heavier than rim brakes, the pros far outweigh the cons, especially in Marin’s steep topography over microclimates of variable weather. The ability to trust the power, modulation, and consistency of your disc brakes will greatly improve your confidence and enjoyment of descents.
Interested in making the move to disc brakes? Swing by the shop or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d love to get the conversation started.