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  1. #1
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    New question here. What are "powerful" brakes?

    I have read that disc brakes are more powerful than rim brakes. I have a pair of Juicy 5s, and also some rim brakes on two different mountain bikes. I do not see any difference in power. What exactly is meant by this? Once you can make the tire skid, you cant apply anymore power. On a trail, this tends to happen pretty quickly and does not require any extreme squeeze.

    I do find I love having disc on the front since I can apply them more gently and thus, I feel more comfortable applying the front brake. But I am lost on why people say disc have more "power"!?

    Forgot to add, I'm 165lbs if that matters.

  2. #2
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    Ride just discs for awhile then go back to rimmies, then you'll understand.

  3. #3
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    I got rim brakes on one bike and 160mm disks on another and 185mm's on my trail bike.

    I dont get the "more power" talk either, I can lock a wheel or launch myself skyward whenever I feel like it on all 3 bikes.

    The rim brakes get weaker when wet

    The larger 185mm disks do let me stop with an easy one finger pull vs. 2 fingers

    The hydro disks brakes have needed no tweaking in 9 months, my BB7's and rim grabbers need a few minutes from time to time.

    I completely understand modulation or feel in important and worth the big bucks

    I can see where big brakes like Avid Codes would stay more powerful by dissipating heat better and could require very very little finger strength to stop you

    I can max my traction or launch myself over the bars in an instant even with my old BB-5's, I think by more powerful they mean that it takes much less finger strength to bring yourself to a stop than other brakes.

    Ray


    Quote Originally Posted by dnoyeb
    I have read that disc brakes are more powerful than rim brakes. I have a pair of Juicy 5s, and also some rim brakes on two different mountain bikes. I do not see any difference in power. What exactly is meant by this? Once you can make the tire skid, you cant apply anymore power. On a trail, this tends to happen pretty quickly and does not require any extreme squeeze.

    I do find I love having disc on the front since I can apply them more gently and thus, I feel more comfortable applying the front brake. But I am lost on why people say disc have more "power"!?

    Forgot to add, I'm 165lbs if that matters.

  4. #4
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    Hey it's bad enough around here when you intimate that a mechanical disc brake can work as well as a hydraulic one! I have a few bikes that use rim brakes and they stop just fine, too, and the ones with ceramic coated rims work better. Wet weather the discs work better by a lot, in dry weather they also work better but not by tons. As long as they slow and stop you as you need, your brakes are powerful enough...many have much too much brake, and not enough skills using them; you can tell by how badly they use them (see braking bumps all over the place now).
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  5. #5
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    I agree on the two finger braking. That is a definite advantage and worth the cost in my book. I had not thought of that. My cousin also experienced a lot of sand getting into his mechanical brake cables since we rode a lot in the mud. His brakes would stick. So thats one advantage of hydraulics.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dnoyeb
    I agree on the two finger braking. That is a definite advantage and worth the cost in my book. I had not thought of that. My cousin also experienced a lot of sand getting into his mechanical brake cables since we rode a lot in the mud. His brakes would stick. So thats one advantage of hydraulics.
    I've used two fingers to brake for a long time, started with rim brakes; while I could brake with one finger with the BB7s I still tend to use two. I take it your cousin isn't using full runs of housing for his brakes? I do and contaminants aren't a problem...
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  7. #7
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    Heck I've ridden discs with less power than Vs. The rim brakes have way more leverage on the wheel despite the wimpy mechnicals.

    Good discs offer more modulation, no rim wear, excellent wet/mud performance and possibly lighter weight (for chi-chi hydros). But more power is not one of the upgrades. At least not by default anyways...

  8. #8
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    Maybe define "power"

    I don't know Deme...not sure I agree with that assessment. Maybe we need to define the term "power" somewhat in how it applies to the whole braking process. Power is nothing if it can't be sustained. Let me share my most vivid experience of the V-brake vs. hydro discs.

    When Moab used to have that lift over by the Colorado river on the Moab Rim trail, some of us rode Moab Rim on our XC/trail bikes with V-brakes. Anyone who's ridden Moab Rim downhill knows how steep and heinous it can be. Mere mortals...especially on XC/trail bikes...will be riding the brakes down those switchbacks...almost solid rock with supreme traction. Riding my 5" trail bike with excellent XT V-brakes...those powerful little buggers that had the little power multiplying linkage...I was almost out of braking force at the end of every switchback. If some of those runs from turn-to-turn were a little longer, I would have had to bail or tumble down to the river. This thing is freakin' steep. I expected to see blobs of melted rubber where my pads used to be. At the bottom, the pads were obviously intact but noticeably scrubbed...as was the rim.

    Forward to next year. I'm riding a '99 Bullit with 6" Hayes hydros...heavier but more competent bike. About halfway down the brakes start squealing like a pig, and they faded some power, but they never quit working. I never felt like the bike wouldn't stop like I did with the V's. At the bottom, the rotors had a nice blue tint that went away during the next ride.

    The moral? If we can't agree that hydro discs are more powerful than V's...which I believe they are...I can't see one arguing that hydro discs won't maintain their power over a wider degree of use. IMO power that cannot be sustained for any aggressive use isn't true power.

    Now, in the real world does a guy in say, Iowa, need hydro discs by virtue of power?...probably not, though other condition factors can make their use logical. Not dissin' Iowa BTW...just trying to give a more "flatland" example.

    Power as it pertains to braking, can be more than just what you get when you squeeze the lever in a millisecond. V-brakes don't have the staying power of hydro discs in my experience...at the very least...which also translates into less effort and fatigue while trying to strangle the lever of V-brake system in more aggressive conditions.

  9. #9
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    Maybe a more appropriate term would be "power curve". You can debate which is more powerful but I doubt you would agree (nor anyone else) that Vbrakes have the same power curve as disc (i've only been on hydraulics). There's no way a Vbrake can provide the same stopping power per output than a hydraulic brake. Power from a hydraulic brake comes on instantaneously whereas there is a "lag" from a vbrake. I would think that this is what most people refer to as "more power"......it has more power per unit of output.

    Here's a good way to explain it....I've ridden other disc brakes that have a different power curve.....different brands have different power curves. To me, it feels weaker because I must apply more "power" with my fingers. I ride Juicy 7's and the power curve is pretty much full on immediately....most people don't like this because it offers less modulation. But I'm used to it so when I use a brake that doesn't have the same "feel" at the lever, I see that as less powerful

  10. #10
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    I didn't notice much power between V-brakes (SD-3's) and BB5's (which is why I initially saved the extra $100 and went rim). I noticed a huge difference from these brakes to Juicy 5's. We had a bad ice storm this winter, which sprawled limbs across our trails. I went riding a couple weeks after the storm and found myself creeping down steeper inclines (technically I guess it'd be a decline) to miss branches and obstacles that couldn't really be ridden at high speeds. I could have never dreamed of doing this on my V-brakes because they simply would not have held.

  11. #11
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    Here is my break down (no pun intended)...

    V-brakes: Lightest you can go, great in dry weather, not so good in wet / icy weather. Very little maintenance. Overall simple design that works.

    Mechanical Disc: (BB5/7 not crappy mx2 or something). Entry to this new braking style with a modulation. Good in all weather, but since they are mechanical expect some cable stretch and some maintenance (pads / adjustments / cleaning). Heavier and usually sold as only calipers so you need to buy levers.

    Hydraulic Brakes: The newer thing in the braking world, so everyone is on that bandwagon. Almost a completly sealed system so no external factors can affect it. Lighter than mechanical, and have a smooth modulation (as its not a cable being pulled). A lot more maintenance, for those who say they have never touch their hydros... you cant talk until you bleed a set or 20....

    Power issue...

    Skidding is something we did as kids with our bmx and 1 gear mountain bikes. The ability for your bike to lock up its wheels is not really what i would consider power in this case. When i say hydros have more power what i mean is it takes me less effort to bring the bike to whatever speed i am trying to with out losing control or skidding in the dirt.... Hydro i guess you can say give you a little more feel as to how close you are to locking up the rear or flyin over the front....

    In the end it comes down to your riding style.... i have a friend who is a heavy back braker and i sometimes wanna just take it off and put a vbrake on it so he can learn to use his front brake a lot more.... anytways ....
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  12. #12
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    Try the generic cable discs found on any cheepie bike. They actually brake with less vigor than a decent setup pair of Vs. Vee brakes with sticky pads can lock up either wheel with one finger. No joke.

    What they can't do is work a damn when wet. And not chew up your rims in mud. And the modulation is zero. ON-OFF. Discs precisely because they have less leverage on the wheel have a lot more settings between 0-100% braking.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by PimpinD

    Power issue...

    Skidding is something we did as kids with our bmx and 1 gear mountain bikes. The ability for your bike to lock up its wheels is not really what i would consider power in this case. When i say hydros have more power what i mean is it takes me less effort to bring the bike to whatever speed i am trying to with out losing control or skidding in the dirt.... Hydro i guess you can say give you a little more feel as to how close you are to locking up the rear or flyin over the front....
    I half agree w/ this. You can't consider locking wheel not a measurement - If you ever had a pair of caliper brakes on an old walmart bike you'll know what I'm talking about - it can't even lock rear wheel full power.

    Now I would agree that you can't say that once you can lock up the front wheel that's as much power as you need. If you ever watch car reviews - even the same car w/ better brakes will stop faster. If lockup was the standard then once you need ABS, wouldn't that mean that you don't need anymore power? That's the argument why discs are more powerful

  14. #14
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    I think "POWER" is the least amount of squeeze on the brake lever for the same amount of
    stopping.


    You would notice power more if you were heavier. I'm at 300# and been riding for years.

    I started out with true canti's that stuck straight out and would catch your shoe if you weren't careful
    Good power.
    Then came side pulls. More room.
    More power

    My first ride with dics had hays mecs with 6" rotors.
    No power. I could not stop myself at the bottom of a good down hill.
    So I put an 8" rotor in the front. It helped, but not a lot.

    Recently I've been riding avid BB7's 8" f and 7" r rotors.
    The most power. Very little effort to slow down.
    next time

    [QUOTE=spazzy] Might as well sell your bikes, E-riding is much more productive.

  15. #15
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    I agree that "power" can be effectively expressed as inversely related to the amount of force required by the user to control their speed. With enough grip strength, there are very few bikes that cannot be skidded. I'd say that modulation, fade resistance and tires are just as important.

    Modulation is essential for precise control. ON/OFF sucks, especially when you need to roll and not slide. Brake fade sucks too. Having your brakes just "go away" on a long descent, not being able to slow yourself down no matter how hard you squeeze the lever - so uncool. Finally, tires are overlooked way too often as being a part of the braking system. You can have the best brake in the world, but if your connection to the ground isn't good, you won't stop. Short braking distances on any vehicle come from having maximum contact with the ground. On cars, this means wide smooth tires, on mtn bikes, the tires have to be appropriate for the terrain - bigger is usually better.

  16. #16
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    I know they are not any more powerful than well designed rim brakes. I have XTR v-brakes, and the steel frame flexes when a handful of stay put is grabbed. Each has their place, but many are just getting disc brakes b/c it's a fad, AND because rim brakes have yet to make any advancements in a decade. Pad material is peaked also if you ask me.

  17. #17
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    Because it's just a fad???

    Haha, okay...... if you say so...

    While V-brakes can easily lock up the wheels, and some even have the staying power for really long braking sections like the example of the switchbacks earlier, what I think is the most important thing for "power" is not if they can lock up the wheels but how close they can get to locking up the wheels without actually locking them. That point is the point where you have the most stopping ability.

    With hydraulic discs, you can get MUCH closer to that line then with mechanical discs.
    And with mechanical discs you can get MUCH closer to that line then with v-brakes. No question, I can stop faster on a pair of XTR discs then XTR v-brakes.

    Not even to mention 1 finger braking, more modulation throughout the whole lever pull, massive improvements in performance in wet/muddy conditions... there is a reason that discs have become the standard.

  18. #18
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    When warm rim my brakes stop me just fine, but coming down a massive hill riding the brakes the whole time makes rim brakes feel like jello and stop like a car with boiled brake fluid.

  19. #19
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    I have gotten my rim brakes so hot on a steep descent, that the valve stem on the inner tube melted off, and that is no fun.
    Also the fact that if you bend your wheel in the middle of a long ride, you can still safely ride out if you have discs. If you have rim brakes you need to disconnect the brake completely to allow the wheel to spin. I've done that too.
    Also the fact that if you get the rims wet or muddy, you may as well walk the bike down steep stuff. Good luck stopping.
    Add these few things to the long list of reasons why disc brakes are far superior to rim brakes.
    The main reasons I like discs, is 1 finger braking, and being able to modulate right up to the edge of almost locking the wheels up, but not, as Monk mentioned.

  20. #20
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    plus they look cooler...
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