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  1. #1
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    V-brakes vs Disc brakes

    Is there any advantage of having a disc brake over V-brakes? I don't see how disc brake will stop the bike better than a V since the tires will still slide on top of the surface. And the hydraulic for the disc seems like more maintenance. I've never rode a bike with disc brakes, so I don't know if there is an advantage over it. I'm looking into buying a disc brake, but I want make sure it worth the upgrade.
    Last edited by Panther Creek.; 04-22-2010 at 05:38 PM.

  2. #2
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    Try it and you will know.
    It's kinda like sex. We can explain how great it is but if all you've ever done is masturbate, then you will never know the true feeling.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by the-one1
    Try it and you will know.
    It's kinda like sex. We can explain how great it is but if all you've ever done is masturbate, then you will never know the true feeling.
    Touche.

  4. #4
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    Huge advantage and huge difference.

    Not even in the same league IMO.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panther Creek.
    And the hydraulic for the disc seems like more maintenance.
    Not all disc brakes are hydraulic, some are mechanical.

  6. #6
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    Actually hydraulic brakes have less maintenance than a mechanical brake or V-brake over the life of the brake set. Disc will stop you better in the wet. I'm not sure of the physics involved by somehow disc brakes are more powerful than V brakes.
    My Bike: '03 Specialized HardRock FrankenBike
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  7. #7
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    A well setup set of v brakes will be able to stop you equally as well as the best disc brakes, until you introduce wet conditions into the equation. This is because the tire to ground contact patch is what will give, not the brake pad to surface. Also, brake modulation is much more easy on a disc setup, even more so on hydraulics. Same goes for finger fatigue. A disc setup also does not get affected when the rim is tweaked or dented, but a v brake will be compromised. The only benefit left for v brakes is weight.
    All this said I still run v brakes due to the cost of switching to a disc setup.

  8. #8
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    The only benefit left for v brakes is weight.
    Actually there are a few sets of disc brakes that weigh less then a set of V Brakes if I recall correctly. Formula makes some lightweight stuff.
    My Bike: '03 Specialized HardRock FrankenBike
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  9. #9
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    Generally speaking of course.

  10. #10
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by quikflip27
    A well setup set of v brakes will be able to stop you equally as well as the best disc brakes, until you introduce wet conditions into the equation.
    I've gone for discs mainly because the conditions sometimes get wet or dirty, here. I also like the feel of hydraulics: modulation/precision/power with little lever movement.

  11. #11
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    sidewall wear

    i'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet. But sidewall wear in muddy conditions seriously weakens the wheel. I remember guys on rides having their sidewalls actually blow out they were so thin. And i almost never have to true my wheels anymore and rims last forever.
    just another benefit to add to the many listed above.
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  12. #12
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    As quickflip27 noted, a quality set of V-brakes properly set up will stop you every bit as well as the best disc brake going. But add wet conditions, very dusty conditions, or a long downhill run and the Vs start to show their weakness. Wet performace is less than stellar, heavy dust or dirt on the braking surface can compromise performance, and V's are much more prone to heat fade under heavy use.

    As far as maintenance goes, I've found that no one brake, V, mechanical disc, or hydraulic disc, is anymore maintenance intensive than the other. Each is simply different. The one area that usually (not always, depends on a couple of factors) where disc brakes will likely need less maintenance is brake pads. Most folks find they get about twice the life out of a set of disc brake pads as they do rim brake pads. But it does depend on riding style, conditions (wet etc.), and the pad material. As an example, in my case I can usually get a bit more than a full season out of my disc pads, compared to changing pads in my rim bakes at least once a season.

    As the others have said, you really won't know the advantages unless you try em. More power, not really, but better all condition performance, yes. As you noted the power really does end when the wheels lock up. This of course assumes a quality set of brakes. There are "disc brakes" out there that perform worse than even cheap V-brakes.

    Discs really are better, but you have to use em to see it.

    Good Dirt
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  13. #13
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    Discs are easier to setup, IMHO, and not nearly as annoying if your rim is slightly out of true. Add in better wet/muddy performance and I don't see how you could go wrong.

  14. #14
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    I came across this question about rim vs. disc brakes in mbaction's Q&A section. Here is what Richard Cunningham, editor-n-chief and bike designer, had to say. Although it pertained to a 29er, it should be crystal clear to you.

    Q. While researching 29er's recently I came upon an article discussing disc brakes on 29er's. This article suggested that rim brakes on 29er's are preferable due to the increased braking surface as well as the force being applied to the outermost rotating mass. Until this article I had never put to much thought into the disc on the hub having to transfer, or absorb if you will, the energy from the outer rim through the spokes and all the connecting hardware. It seems to me that with rim brakes it's the same principle but in reverse. All I do know for sure is that disc on 26 inches is a completely different world than "V" or rim brakes. Is there any validity to these types of claims?

    John

    A. RC: Essentially, rim brakes are disc brakes and in a perfect world, rim brakes would be a better solution to conventional discs. They are a better use of materials, because the rim surface is already there, and the caliper requires far less clamping force to produce equal stopping power, so the mechanism can be lighter weight.

    The reason that rim brakes don't work out in the real world, is that a slightly out of true rim, or a bent one will defeat the brake, or cause it to function poorly. Because the larger rim (700C) of a 29er is not as well supported by the hub and spokes, it is more susceptible to lateral runout. In addition, rim flange bends due to rock hits and such are simply a fact of life for mountain bikers. Also, because the clamping force of a rim brake is much less than that of a hydraulic disc type, wet weather stopping is compromised to a much greater degree.

    Conventional disc brakes operate independently of the rim, so you can bend up the wheel and still remain in control. Clamping forces are much higher, so they grip as well in the wet as they do in dry conditions, and they self-adjust. Hydraulic disc brakes are completely sealed and a kinked hose won't affect their operation. Furthermore, you don't have to disarm the brake to remove a wheel.

    By now, you probably get the point: I would recommend hydraulic disc brakes over rim brakes for any serious mountain bike--26er or 29er. Rim brakes have outlived their usefulness for mountain bikes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cunningham
    The reason that rim brakes don't work out in the real world.....
    Well, I'll probably sound like a complete pompous moron for calling the great Richard Cunningham full of sh*t, but Richard Cunningham is full of sh*t.

    Rim brakes do work out in the real world and have for years. In fact, prior to around 2000, almost all the mountain bikes out there had rim brakes, and people were mountain biking everywhere just like today.

    hydro discs have advantages, for sure. I have them myself. But the question is, are they advantages that you need? In most cases no. V Brake power, modulation, durability, adjustability etc, is more than sufficient for most riders in most conditions.

    Before you tell me about how limited V brakes are, watch some old youtube videos of Greg Herbold (and others) doing crazy stuff most of you could never do, and doing it with cantilevers (and a rigid fork or 2 inches of suspension in some cases).

    V Brakes are easier to fix if broken out on the trail. V brakes are easier to set up to run SILENTLY, without that annoying squealing and groaning that so many disc owners complain about.
    V brakes can be lighter in almost all cases.

    On the other hand, discs do have that power and modulation thing going for them, less hand fatigue, no problem with bent rims etc.

    I recognize the benefits of discs, but do not buy the arguments about V brakes being made obsolete by discs. I think V brakes are a great choice for a lot of people.

  16. #16
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    easier to replace a rotor than a rim

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    I recognize the benefits of discs, but do not buy the arguments about V brakes being made obsolete by discs. I think V brakes are a great choice for a lot of people.
    Word.
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    I am a poser. But forums.poser.com doesn't seem to exist, so I come here instead.

  18. #18
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWright
    easier to replace a rotor than a rim
    I've never managed to wreck a rim.

    (maybe I don't ride hard enough )

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squash
    As quickflip27 noted, a quality set of V-brakes properly set up will stop you every bit as well as the best disc brake going. But add wet conditions, very dusty conditions, or a long downhill run and the Vs start to show their weakness.
    Absolutely not. Not even close. The hydraulic system uses a small cross-sectional area volume change in the master cylinder, and a large cross-sectional area volume change in caliper.

    Pressure = Force/Area

    In a hydraulic line such as a bike brake or car break the pressure applied at the master cylinder is = to the pressure at the caliper.

    Therefore we can see that,

    Force = Pressure*Area

    Since pressure is constant we can see that as the cross sectional area of the reservoir at the caliber gets larger we get significantly more force.

    A cable brake gets only the amount of force you put into it with your hand, there is no force multiplication.

    Now you have to factor in the moment arm and that you can generate more torque further away from the hub,

    T=F*d

    but that is more than accounted for by the increased force generated by a hydraulic system.

    Hydraulic disc brakes give you more stopping power, and less hand fatigue. This allows you to use one finger braking and lets you use more fingers wrapped around the bar holding on for dear life when doing a rough descents.

    If the argument is that you can lock up brakes with either braking system so they must be the same, I ask you to learn a little about body position and how weight distribution affects braking friction between the tire and the ground.

    The bottom line, you will stop faster with hydraulic discs. No question. But the real kicker is that because you know you can stop faster it actually allows you to ride that much faster because you know you can stop quicker when you need to.

    Last couple times I used rim brakes I was riding so much slower than normal because I was literally scared I wouldn't be able to stop if there was an obstacle around a blind corner.

    If you can't tell the difference, than you aren't riding fast enough downhill, or you don't quite understand how to use braking techniques in your riding. (which is totally ok, it takes years and years of riding to learn good braking techniques)
    -elake

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve

    Before you tell me about how limited V brakes are, watch some old youtube videos of Greg Herbold (and others) doing crazy stuff most of you could never do, and doing it with cantilevers (and a rigid fork or 2 inches of suspension in some cases).
    Good argument, however, riding technique and braking technique are more important than anything else.

    Remember the old Nike ads "Be Like Mike", I knew damn well that if i bought Air Jordans I wouldn't be able to dunk from the foul line. That doesn't mean that Converse Chuck Taylers are as good footwear because other folks can dunk with them on.

    A professional downhill mountain biker could ride stuff on a cross bike that would make most riders cringe, because they have freakish levels of technique.
    -elake

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    -elake

  21. #21
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by elake
    But the real kicker is that because you know you can stop faster it actually allows you to ride that much faster because you know you can stop quicker when you need to.
    So, if I don't care about racing and/or my hills are small, I'd be OK with V brakes. Except, I'd be limited to the days when conditions are dry and clean.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    So, if I don't care about racing and/or my hills are small, I'd be OK with V brakes. Except, I'd be limited to the days when conditions are dry and clean.
    No you wouldn't be limited. Brake performance degrades in wet condtions, but that doesn't mean you can't brake, or that you can't ride. You just have to take it into account.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by elake
    Absolutely not. Not even close. The hydraulic system uses a small cross-sectional area volume change in the master cylinder, and a large cross-sectional area volume change in caliper.

    Pressure = Force/Area

    In a hydraulic line such as a bike brake or car break the pressure applied at the master cylinder is = to the pressure at the caliper.

    Therefore we can see that,

    Force = Pressure*Area

    Since pressure is constant we can see that as the cross sectional area of the reservoir at the caliber gets larger we get significantly more force.

    A cable brake gets only the amount of force you put into it with your hand, there is no force multiplication.

    Now you have to factor in the moment arm and that you can generate more torque further away from the hub,

    T=F*d

    but that is more than accounted for by the increased force generated by a hydraulic system.

    Hydraulic disc brakes give you more stopping power, and less hand fatigue. This allows you to use one finger braking and lets you use more fingers wrapped around the bar holding on for dear life when doing a rough descents.

    If the argument is that you can lock up brakes with either braking system so they must be the same, I ask you to learn a little about body position and how weight distribution affects braking friction between the tire and the ground.

    The bottom line, you will stop faster with hydraulic discs. No question. But the real kicker is that because you know you can stop faster it actually allows you to ride that much faster because you know you can stop quicker when you need to.

    Last couple times I used rim brakes I was riding so much slower than normal because I was literally scared I wouldn't be able to stop if there was an obstacle around a blind corner.

    If you can't tell the difference, than you aren't riding fast enough downhill, or you don't quite understand how to use braking techniques in your riding. (which is totally ok, it takes years and years of riding to learn good braking techniques)
    I agree with you that hydraulic disc generate more force, but don't disregard the fact that they NEED to generate more force to stop the wheel, because the disc radius is so much smaller than the wheel radius.

    Sometimes rim brakes can feel really weak, but a good V brake set up correctly with good pads can be plenty strong.
    In general, discs can be stronger, but that doesn't mean V brakes can't be strong enough. For some people in some conditions, the difference could be enough to cause a significant downgrade in riding performance, and for others, it doesn't matter.

    When I switched to discs, I noticed all the stuff that you disc lovers talk about, ie, that I could sometimes go faster and not worry about it because of the increased brake power and ability to slow down faster etc. But for most of my riding, it is basically no change over the riding I did with V brakes.

  24. #24
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    No you wouldn't be limited. Brake performance degrades in wet condtions, but that doesn't mean you can't brake, or that you can't ride. You just have to take it into account.
    I have used Vs in wet, muddy and snowy conditions. I could ride. But the degradation was more than I really wanted to cope with, even with Koolstop pads..

  25. #25
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    If you have to bike in mud and wet often, get discs. You're probably going to go slower because of the wet, so in some ways the slower braking doesn't matter as much, but the grinding and the needed clearing of mud to keep the v-brakes working well made the switch to discs easy.

    When it dries out, I always think about switching back to v-brakes...

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