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13 Pros and Cons of Bicycle Disc Brakes

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Cycling is a pastime enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you are new to cycling or have been doing it for your whole life, you will still want to know how to get the most out of your bicycle. One of the critical questions you will face when improving your bicycle is, do you need disc brakes for your bike?

Bicycle disc brakes offer more stopping power and put less wear and tear on your wheels than rim brakes. Disc brakes also work consistently and allow for faster rides and laps. However, disc brakes are costly, pose safety hazards, and add weight to your bicycle.

The braking you need for your bicycle depends on several factors, including personal preference, what kind of bicycle you have and what type of cycling you plan on doing. Keep reading to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of disc brakes when cycling so you can make an informed decision on which type of braking will benefit you most. 

The Pros of Bicycle Disc Brakes

There are several great benefits to choosing disc brakes for your bicycle, including: 

  • They provide your bike with far greater stopping power 
  • They reduce the wear and tear of your wheels
  • They provide you with enhanced stopping even in wet conditions
  • They work even when wheels are out-of-line
  • They allow for faster rides, trials, or laps
  • They allow for wider tires to be fit

Let’s take a look at these advantages in more detail.

Disc Brakes Have More Stopping Power

The main advantage that disc brakes have over other forms of brakes is when it comes to stopping power. Disc brakes provide you with a significant boost to the braking force.

When you have improved braking power on your bicycle, you can cycle quicker and stop later as your brakes do not require much space to bring you to a stop. 

Another benefit to improved stopping power is the fact that less force is required to pull the brakes. Using less energy over a long period will significantly reduce muscle fatigue in your hands, especially in long downhill cycles. Your bicycle will be less strenuous for you to use when less work is required to activate the brakes. 

Disc Brakes Put Less Wear and Tear on Your Wheels

Disc brakes do not wear down wheel rims, unlike caliper or v shape brakes. Disc brakes only grip on a disc that is attached to the axle of the wheel, whereas traditional bicycle brakes clamp down on the wheel rim. 

Over an extended period, traditional bicycle brakes will wear away at the wheel. When the wheel has become worn, it can lead to the need for expensive repairs and replacements. As a result, disc brakes will put less strain on the wheels of your bike. You will save a lot of money on wheel maintenance with disc brakes as a result. 

Disc Brakes Are Reliable in Wet Conditions

Every cyclist knows the feeling of skidding when the roads are wet. Skidding during damp weather is a result of your bicycle tire losing friction with the road. Your bike can lose friction if you don’t have the right tires fitted or if you have inadequate braking.

Disc brakes function excellently in wet conditions when compared to traditional braking options. Standard brakes such as a v brake will provide you with a slow response in wet conditions. This slow response is due to the fact that the brakes are gripping a damp surface.

Disc brakes do not come into contact with the road, so they do not get as wet. As a result, disc brakes remain responsive and effective even in the rain.

Disc brakes also work effectively in muck, dirt, and even when starting to rust. As a result, disc brakes are popular with off-road cyclists and mountain bikers. 

Disc Brakes Allow for Faster Rides and Laps

If you are cycling competitively, you will know how invaluable it is to cut down your lap times wherever possible. One way to ensure that you can improve your lap times is by improving braking. 

Improving the braking on your bicycle allows for later braking before turns and corners. When you brake later before a corner, you are continuing at speed for a more extended period before slowing down. Over the course of a race, this can lead to significant improvements to your racing results. 

Throughout a trial or lap, later breaking will result in a faster time. Choosing disc brakes may provide you with the competitive advantage that you need to help you get ahead in your cycling races. 

Disc Brakes Offer Consistent Braking

Disc brakes are known to brake consistently, especially if the disc brakes are a hydraulic system. This means that the same force applied to your brake lever will result in the same brake force every time. 

Standard brakes do not offer the same consistency as you may have to apply different amounts of force to apply the brakes. When your bike has disc brakes, this will not be the case. 

Disc brakes will require the same amount of force to apply the brakes as long as the braking system is maintained correctly. 

When cyclist’s brakes are consistent, they can avoid braking abruptly. Braking abruptly without intention can lead to skidding or an accident. 

Disc Brakes Still Work When Wheels Are Out of Line

When you are cycling, things can go wrong. One of the most common issues that cyclists face is wheels that are out of line. Traditional braking systems do not operate effectively when wheels are not in sequence. 

Rim brakes will squeak and slip, and standard brakes may even stop working entirely when a wheel is out of line.

However, with disc brakes, your braking system will still operate with out-of-line wheels. Disc brakes grip a small disc that is attached to the axle of the wheel. As a result, disc brakes are usually unaffected by out-of-line wheels. Disc brakes are more reliable for cyclists who often damage their wheels as a result. 

Disc Brakes Allow for Wider Tires To Be Fit

One significant advantage to adding disc brakes to a bike is the fact that disc brakes allow for easy installation of wider tires. Wide tires are difficult to install when you have rim brakes, but with disc brakes, wide tires are no longer an issue.

Wide tires provide you with more grip on the road when you are cycling and a smoother ride. Wider tires also work well on uneven or off-road terrain. As a result, you will often find disc brakes on mountain bikes. 

Wider tires allow for improved braking and traction when riding your bike. These improvements will enhance your cycling experience as you will have a more responsive and smooth cycle on your bike. 

The Cons of Bicycle Disc Brakes

While there are numerous advantages to disc brakes, there are some disadvantages that need to be addressed, including:

  • They’re heavier than standard braking choices 
  • They’re more expensive to install and maintain 
  • They’re difficult to maintain on your own
  • They’re less aerodynamic
  • They require specific wheels
  • Some cyclists have even raised safety concerns regarding disc brakes

Keep reading to learn more about the downside of disc brakes and if they are worth the investment for your bicycle.

Disc Brakes Add Weight

The weight of your bicycle is a crucial aspect of the bike’s performance. This is why bikes are built using lightweight materials such as aluminum or carbon fiber. 

If you are conscious of adding additional weight to your bike, you should not choose a disc braking system. Disc brakes require more parts to function, and this adds up to extra weight for your bike. 

The extra weight added by disc brakes can slow you down while you cycle. The excess weight may also harm your chances if you cycle competitively. 

The weight added by a disc brake system will not make a massive difference if you are cycling leisurely. However, it could make a big difference in a race. 

The Cost of Installation and Maintenance

The biggest downside to disc brakes for a bicycle is the added cost. Disc brake systems are more expensive to purchase than standard braking systems.

Disc brakes also require special skills to install, especially if they are a hydraulic disc braking system. Special skills need special pay rates, which means that you will have to pay a lot more for your maintenance and installation. 

If you are not willing to spend a lot of money on your bike or are new to cycling and avoid paying a lot for minor improvements, disc brakes are not the best choice for you.

The Potential Safety Hazards

Disc brakes have received safety concerns voiced by seasoned cyclists.

Experienced riders have complained that disc brakes can result in crashes when a group of cyclists is close by while riding. If some of the cycling group has standard braking systems, the difference in braking can result in a crash. 

As a result, some cyclists have reservations about disc brakes due to the potential safety issues that may arise when cycling in a group.

Disc Brakes Are Difficult To Mend and Maintain Yourself

Many cyclists enjoy maintaining and repairing their bikes. Bicycles are often simple in design and usually easy to work on as a DIY project.

However, disc brakes can be tricky, even for experienced bike mechanics. Disc brakes contain multiple intricate parts that require expertise to mend and maintain.

Hydraulic disc brakes also require braking fluid to be pumped into tubes. If you don’t have experience with brake fluid in the past, this job will be challenging and potentially expensive as you will likely need to buy tools and equipment.

Disc Brakes Are Less Aerodynamic

Aerodynamics is a vital component of competitive cycling. All professional cycling equipment has been designed with aerodynamics in mind. This is why many cyclists do not value disc brakes

Disc brakes do not glide through the air as freely as standard brakes. This can create more resistance in the air when you are cycling. More air resistance will slow you down while cycling or more effort will be required to reach the same speed. 

Poor aerodynamics can hurt your chances when you are in a race, and poor aerodynamics will also cause you to use more effort to get where you are going. As a result, disc brakes can make life more difficult when cycling as they may slow you down and require more effort to get where you are going. 

Disc Brakes Require Specific Wheels To Be Installed

If you decide to have disc brakes installed on your bike, you will likely have to purchase new wheels before you can do so. 

Most standard wheel hubs do not have the right fittings to add disc brakes. If you would like to have disc brakes installed on your bike, you will have to pay out for new wheels, which can be very expensive.

Even if you do not need new wheels to add disc brakes to your bike, you will likely require new hubs to enable you to install new disc brakes. 

The Difference Between Disc Brakes and Rim Brakes

Before choosing disc brakes for your bicycle, it’s important to understand the difference between disc brakes and standard brakes, or rim brakes, as they’re also known.

Disc brakes are mounted onto a disc that is attached to the axle of each wheel on the bike; when the brakes close on the disc, the disc stops, which in turn will stop the axle from rotating. Disc brakes provide a responsive and sharp response to pulling the brake lever.

Rim brakes, however, are fit for applying braking force to the rim of the wheel. This leads to the wheel coming to a stop. Rim brakes provide you with an unpredictable amount of braking power when you pull the brake lever. 

Are Disc Brakes Better for Bikes?

Disc brakes are better for bikes that run as quickly as possible with excellent and consistent braking. If you are serious about cycling and you have space in your budget for improvements to your bike, disc brakes are a fantastic way to enhance the performance and reliability of your bicycle. 

Disc brakes are becoming a popular choice with competitive cyclists, and they have even featured on successful tour de France bikes in recent years.

However, if you want a bicycle that runs around town or a bike that you can enjoy leisurely cycling, you don’t need disc brakes.

Disc brakes are expensive and are usually not worth the investment unless you are serious about cycling. 

If you think that disc brakes are the right brakes for you, check out these excellent products available on Amazon. 

JGbike Shimano MT200 MTB Hydraulic Disc Brake Set

The JGbike Shimano Hydraulic Disc Brake Set is an exceptional braking system. This hydraulic disc braking system is adaptable to a wide variety of bicycles including, BMX, mountain bikes, road bikes, and e-bikes. The JGbike, however, does come at a cost. Prices for this braking system range from $150-$200. 

RUJOI Bike Disc Brake Kit

If you want to get disc brakes for your bicycle without breaking the bank, you should check out the RUJOI Bike Disc Brake Kit. This disc braking system comes at an affordable price. Usually, you can expect to pay less than $50 for the RUJOI Bike Disc Brake Kit. As a result, you can have all of the benefits of disc brakes without the hefty costs.\

Final Thoughts

There are many fantastic benefits to adding disc brakes to your bike. Depending on your needs, wants, and budget, disc brakes may be a great addition to your bicycle. The pros of disc brakes are significant, yet there are some drawbacks to disc brakes that you should first consider before you modify your ride.

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