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  1. #1
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    V-brakes are good

    I'm not trying to start a v-brakes vs. disc brakes thread, but I just wanted to share my own experience for anyone who's looking into the matter.

    Last year I moved to another country and bought a hybrid bike which used disc brakes (Shimano M415 mechanicals). The guy I bought it from told me that disc brakes were more powerful and that I should be careful. I had heard that before, believed it, and I still read it occasionally. When I rode it home I was actually surprised because it wasn't as powerful as my MTB with cheap Promax v-brakes and KoolStop pads. I was actually always a little disappointed with the braking power of the new bike.

    I assumed it was because the M415s were low-end. I eventually upgraded the brakes to SLX hydraulics and the braking performance was substantially better. I was finally happy with the performance but wondered how they compared to my brakes back home.

    I've now returned back home, brought back my bike, and have been able to directly compare these disc brakes to v-brakes. I also did a lot of work on my wife's bike which included upgrading her v-brakes to Shimano Acera (low end, but better than what was stock).

    My verdict? Yes, the SLX hydraulics have a far better feel, much much better, worth the cost, but the dry braking performance of the v-brakes is quite good. The performance of v-brakes when wet is of course what lets them down.

    It makes me wonder how the expensive XT v-brakes perform...or possibly even the LX series. In any case, although I prefer disc brakes, my view of v-brakes has improved substantially. Obviously some styles of riding absolutely need the benefits of disc brakes, though.

  2. #2
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    I'm still using v-brakes and I love them. I don't ride on wet, muddy trails and we don't have any huge descents around here so v-brakes are perfect for me. I've tried all of Avids discs except for XX and some cheap Shimanos and have been unimpressed. Also, every group ride that I've ever been on someone has problems with their discs or they're howling constantly and driving me nuts.
    My frame and fork can use v's or discs so I'm good either way but I won't switch to discs until I have to or I buy a new complete bike.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsilva View Post
    my view of v-brakes has improved substantially
    Me too, I've been enjoying my beater rigid SS despite those supposedly terrible v-brakes. They are definitely a long way off from the BB7s on the main bike and the hydros I've used in the past, but they've work well enough for the slower, less aggressive riding I do with this bike. We haven't hit any wet weather here yet though, so we'll see how much my opinion changes once the rain comes back

    The one negative that has stood out to me so far is dealing with large tires. I had forgotten about the annoyances of trying to use high volume tires with v-brakes

  4. #4
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    v brakes are awesome. i converted my bike from discs to v brakes and couldn't be happier.

    discs are definitely better in extreme conditions like rain and mud, but i think my v brakes are better on long descents. no fade, no weird noises when they get hot.
    something about the west coast...it makes me wanna ride

  5. #5
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    I use V-brakes on my vintage bikes.

    Going down long and technical descents, the force needed to reduce speed has me death gripping the bars. No way around it. If you need to put a good amount of force with two fingers, you need to squeeze at the bars too.

    My arms gets tired that way. Have rest in te middle of some descents.

    Hydraulic brakes, one finger braking, light hands, mo bettah!
    Last edited by bing!; 09-16-2011 at 09:27 PM.

  6. #6
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    mechanical discs rools..

  7. #7
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    V brakes - cheap, light, effective, easy to adjust, and quiet. For many people, that's all you need.

  8. #8
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    Just to add to my initial post...

    I've been using my wife's bike a bit more for casual riding - a Trek Navigator using Shimano M422 v-brakes, M590 levers and Jagwire cables. I have to say that I am really liking the brakes. Easy to pull, smooth, decent modulation, quiet and they have enough power to do a stoppie without too much effort. My MTB is using Shimano EF29 combo levers with Promax v-brakes, and though they have great power they don't feel nearly as nice.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dange55 View Post
    mechanical discs drools..
    ...

  10. #10
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    Technically, there isn't much difference between disk and V brakes. They both involve pads squeezing a spinning disk to slow the bike down.

    IMO, the difference is more in how it feels at the lever especially after a long downhill. I get sore hands with V's and mechanical disks, but not with hydros.

    V brakes are still a perfectly acceptable brake system. My sons have them on their bikes and they are plenty powerful.

  11. #11
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    In some ways I think I would rather have a good set of v brakes (or U brakes like on a bmx) rather than a crappy set of disc brakes.

    Actually I know the rims would wear out quicker but I wonder if they developed a similar brake pad to work with v brakes against the rim surface such as the brake pad compounds that disc brakes use against the disc surface, would the rim brakes then have almost as good stopping power as discs do in the wet??? I'm thinking probably not as the rim is still exposed to more mud and stuff compared to the rotor and there are probably different leverage ratios or whatever in play. But just curious.

  12. #12
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    You could say that v-brakes on 26" wheels use 650mm rotors. Not sure what it would take to use disc brake pads on rotors that big, good question.

  13. #13
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    Anyone who bad mouths v-brakes, and there are a lot of people, have never used a good set. V-brakes are plenty powerful, and a good set is more powerful than most 160mm rotor discs. However discs have the edge in wet and muddy conditions because the rotors stay cleaner than your rims. And in general discs tend to have better modulation.
    2012 On One Whippet 650b
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  14. #14
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    I didn't read all of the comments, but there is a good point.

    shitty V-brake pads are not better than shitty disc pads. If you put full-metal disc pads, don't expect big result. Use "organic" disc pads and it's all an other story.

    well, organic last less longer but has so much grip! I can't imagine to ride without.

  15. #15
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    In the dry V's rock. The choice of rims does get limiting if you want to go wide and/or tubeless....

  16. #16
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    Back in the mid-90's, Mavic made rims with ceramic coating on the brake surfaces. They were awesome in the dry with XT V brakes but squealed like stuck pig as soon as you went through a puddle.

  17. #17
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    I currently both have disc and v-brake bikes. I like the disc better, but the replacement parts are more expensive.

  18. #18
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    Went riding on a friends bike about a year ago, he said I should watch out when braking because he had very powerful v-brakes. I was like "Yeah.. sure, whatever!". First time I hitted the brakes it braked so hard I felt of the bike lol

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by R+P+K View Post
    Back in the mid-90's, Mavic made rims with ceramic coating on the brake surfaces. They were awesome in the dry with XT V brakes but squealed like stuck pig as soon as you went through a puddle.
    I remember those XT V-brakes, the 2nd generation ones with the beefed up the arms and linkages were notorious for squealing. It was fine on the rear of my bike since the steel frame had enough give to soak up the vibrations, but on the front, holy hell, it squealed like a stuck pig in the dry and when they got wet I was left wishing for earplugs to block out the horrible noise. It was bad enough that I had to go back to a standard non-coated rim on the front.

  20. #20
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    V-brakes is good. Avid Ultimate V's is much gooder!

    Put em on my Fat Chance rebuild with a set of sealed brake cables. Hella much gooder!
    Amolan

  21. #21
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    What do u guys think about combining within 1 bike for both v brake and disc brake each ? Which one get v or disc ? Front disc and rear v ? Or the other way around ? I am currently using both v brakes but kinda wondering since i couldnt install a disc on my rear due to unsupported frame,....

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by j33p79 View Post
    What do u guys think about combining within 1 bike for both v brake and disc brake each ? Which one get v or disc ? Front disc and rear v ? Or the other way around ? I am currently using both v brakes but kinda wondering since i couldnt install a disc on my rear due to unsupported frame,....
    The front brake has more potential stopping power so that'd be the better place. You'd have two different feeling brake levers, if that matters to you.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by j33p79 View Post
    What do u guys think about combining within 1 bike for both v brake and disc brake each ? Which one get v or disc ? Front disc and rear v ? Or the other way around ? I am currently using both v brakes but kinda wondering since i couldnt install a disc on my rear due to unsupported frame,....
    That's an interesting question. My first thought is front brake because that's where most of the brake power goes, but the rear brake is usually used more and gets hotter on downhills, so I could see the advantage of disc rear, V in front, also. A V in front can be plenty strong enough to send you over the bars on a downhill, so maybe that would be the best combo?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    That's an interesting question. My first thought is front brake because that's where most of the brake power goes, but the rear brake is usually used more and gets hotter on downhills, so I could see the advantage of disc rear, V in front, also. A V in front can be plenty strong enough to send you over the bars on a downhill, so maybe that would be the best combo?
    I know we're just getting into personal preference here, that's definitely not how I use my brakes. On downhills I'm braking front only or both front and rear, and if I'm using both then the front is automatically doing much more work because of weight transfer.

  25. #25
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    i actually prefer my xt v brakes just from a weekend-warrior-non-dh-rider-home-mechanic perspective. the issue has been the narrowing product offerings for rim brakes in quality forks and non-custom wheels. the oem market has shifted the v brakes to entry level bikes and so it has sadly been relegated to that status in the aftermarket it seems. nothing wrong with disc brakes i guess, but there wasn't anything wrong with v brakes either......... for most of us anyway.

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