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  1. #1
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    What's the big deal about disc brakes?

    I am new to disc brakes, but have ridden enough this season to compare vs v-brakes. I know discs have been around a LONG time, but I don't see the benefit. Let me elaborate;

    I have been riding xtr v-brakes forever. They have never let me down in 12+ years or xc hardtail riding. It's the singletrack riding that I love to do. Maintenance wise they are pretty easy to dial in while riding, or before/after. Weight wise and cost wise, a lot cheaper.

    Now I bought a new ride this year and finally bit the disc-brake bullet. Reason being? Well, nobody really sells v-brake bikes anymore. So I did, and a big fat MEH.

    I don't buy that they are less maintenance. Have been back to LBS 2x so far for tuning. Perhaps the mechanic is stupid.

    Very fidgety and tricky if you dare take your tire off and squeeze the lever.

    The one-finger breaking? Doesn't matter to me. I have 5 fingers, four of which I can use to break.

    Added weight.

    So, I ask - what's the deal?

  2. #2
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    I pretty much had the same point of view as you until I had a decent wet ride. I always thought my V's were pretty consistent until then. They really let me down that day. I am running hydro disc now and have never looked back. Especially since the trail run on now has a wet section. Now, If only I can get them to stop squealing like a turkey (running Avid Juicy 5's).

    Granted, I don't have experience with XTR v-brakes so I don't know how they fair in wet conditions....just my 2 cents

  3. #3
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    Stop trolling, ride more, you'll figure it out.

  4. #4
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    Less maintenance - No way..
    One finger braking - Maybe .. But why when you can easily spare 2 fingers for braking?

    Do under no circumstance press the lever while the wheel is off. Some brakes are not at all cooperative when it comes to pressing the pistons back in.

    But I would never use another V-brake. I'm in love with my Hope Tech M4's

    Which brakes did you buy? I've had a lot of bad experience with Avids. Never got them to stop squealing and had quite a few problems with reliability. I've used Juicy 3's, Juicy 5's, Juicy 7's, Elixir CR's and Elixir 5's.
    Why are my shins so scarred..?

  5. #5
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    If you ride dry trails and HT and like the way things are with v brakes there's no need to change. There are pros and cons for both type. I have both but I'd prefer disc it's easier to maintain and set up to me than v brakes. I took some time to learn to bleed each brake system I have. Setting up Vs are not as simple to me to get the right engagement and feel.

  6. #6
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    Added weight.
    If memory serves, Magura makes a set that is lighter than a V-Brake setup. I believe Formula does as well.
    My Bike: '96 Gary Fisher Aquila
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  7. #7
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    One finger braking allows you to keep 3 other fingers on the grip which can be important at certain times...

    Disks are more efficient but the trade off is weight and more maintenance/adjustments. I've recently switched out my rear rotor to a 140mm from 160mm... For basic single track, that is plenty of braking at the rear as it just initiates the breaking... I would change the rear to a V-brake, but the frame does not allow it...
    "Don't ride faster than your guardian angel can fly"

  8. #8
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    So, you are comparing your 12 years riding v-brakes with one ride on disc brakes and cant figure out what the big deal is? lol.

    Fix the Spade has the correct response. Ride until you figure it out. I think you will find that properly dialed in disc brakes outperform v-brakes in almost every scenario.
    Grit, spit, and a whole lot of duct tape!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortgagejake View Post
    I am new to disc brakes, but have ridden enough this season to compare vs v-brakes. I know discs have been around a LONG time, but I don't see the benefit. Let me elaborate;

    I have been riding xtr v-brakes forever. They have never let me down in 12+ years or xc hardtail riding. It's the singletrack riding that I love to do. Maintenance wise they are pretty easy to dial in while riding, or before/after. Weight wise and cost wise, a lot cheaper.

    Now I bought a new ride this year and finally bit the disc-brake bullet. Reason being? Well, nobody really sells v-brake bikes anymore. So I did, and a big fat MEH.

    I don't buy that they are less maintenance. Have been back to LBS 2x so far for tuning. Perhaps the mechanic is stupid.

    Very fidgety and tricky if you dare take your tire off and squeeze the lever.

    The one-finger breaking? Doesn't matter to me. I have 5 fingers, four of which I can use to break.

    Added weight.

    So, I ask - what's the deal?
    1. Reduced hand effort. A big deal on long descents and long days in the mountains.

    2. Consistent and strong braking in wet and muddy conditions.

    Servicing of the brakes themselves is a draw, but I use to replace rims once a year with rim brakes. Not an issue with discs"
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  10. #10
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    I am not a believer of disc brakes either. My main ride which is equipped with Formula r1's has recently been sidelined while waiting for parts so I have been riding my back up ride recently. I honestly can't tell much of a difference in performance. True, the disc brakes require less effort which gives more confidence to brake harder later but that is about it. I am sure my V's still weigh less when you consider the weight of the wheelsets (both wheelsets are Mavic Crossmax ST which are brake specific). I live in the desert so mud isn't an issue but the one time that I have ridden in the rain was on my V-brake equipped bike and a loss of brake performance was noticeable but mostly limited by traction. V-brakes are set them and leave them much like hydros, however, the brake fluid in the hydros should be changed every two years which is one more thing to do (not really THAT big of a deal). I believe the main reason to have disc brakes are for those who ride lower quality wheels. You dont have to worry about truing your rims as often with disc brakes...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fix the Spade View Post
    Stop trolling, ride more, you'll figure it out.
    Yup

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    1. Reduced hand effort. A big deal on long descents and long days in the mountains.

    2. Consistent and strong braking in wet and muddy conditions.

    Servicing of the brakes themselves is a draw, but I use to replace rims once a year with rim brakes. Not an issue with discs"
    That is a big one, if you ride in wet, muddy, and abrasive soil conditions...replacing rims was a annual ritual. I went three years on the same wheelset in Vegas and the Sierra then returned to the Pacific NW and wore the rims out in three months.

    Plus, if you put a minor dent or flat spot in the rim you don't need to replace it with disc brakes.

  13. #13
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    You will only be able to tell the difference if you graduate to more advanced trails (steeper, rockier, more dangerous, etc.) Also the kind of bike you have makes a difference.....longer trave forks/full suspension & slack geometry will simply let you rip down faster hence the need for more stopping power for control.

    Only when you are pushing your comfort level for speed and technical descents especially on an aggressive (AM) full suspension bike will you be able to compare & appreciate the difference.....for XC on a hardtail V brakes are sufficient but that's too slow for me : )

    If you have never had hand fatigue with V-brakes while descending a technical mountain trail you either have Popeye forearms or you are not going fast enough.
    Last edited by osmarandsara; 06-09-2011 at 02:31 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortgagejake View Post
    I am new to disc brakes, but have ridden enough this season to compare vs v-brakes. I know discs have been around a LONG time, but I don't see the benefit. Let me elaborate;

    I have been riding xtr v-brakes forever. They have never let me down in 12+ years or xc hardtail riding. It's the singletrack riding that I love to do. Maintenance wise they are pretty easy to dial in while riding, or before/after. Weight wise and cost wise, a lot cheaper.

    Now I bought a new ride this year and finally bit the disc-brake bullet. Reason being? Well, nobody really sells v-brake bikes anymore. So I did, and a big fat MEH.

    I don't buy that they are less maintenance. Have been back to LBS 2x so far for tuning. Perhaps the mechanic is stupid.

    Very fidgety and tricky if you dare take your tire off and squeeze the lever.

    The one-finger breaking? Doesn't matter to me. I have 5 fingers, four of which I can use to break.

    Added weight.

    So, I ask - what's the deal?
    What type of disc brakes do you have, currently? If they are POS, then a decent V-brake setup will probably be a lot better. Don't pass judgement on an item, any item, unless you've had experience with a quality example.

    Also, if all you're doing is XC, then you're not going to notice much improvement with discs. How frequently are you even on the brakes when riding your local trails?

    You obviously like your V's, so keep using them. I have my doubts that you started this thread with a genuine interest to become more informed. And do a search, this has been hashed out multiple times in threads that go on for pages and pages.

  15. #15
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    My winter beater bike has some SD5s on it with Salmon pads and as soon as the fresh powder starts to build those brakes are next to useless. My MTB and Road bike both have discs brakes, neither have done full on winter riding but have been in plenty of rain to see the differences between a rim brake and a disc brake (all my brakes are mechanical, no hydro).
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  16. #16
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    one big difference i noticed when switching is I didn't have to keep my rims prefectly true. That was a big difference for me. The added braking helped with the disc brakes. Didn't notice it too much until I was switching bikes each week (between a v brake and disc brake bike). If you switch every week you really notice a difference. I had XTR v-brakes on one bike and hayes hydro on the other. The XTR stopped good enough and I was able to do the same trails but my hands would hurt more with the v-brake. Something I wouldn't have noticed by not switch bikes each week. But the v-brakes were still good enough.

  17. #17
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    I was in the same position up until a little over a year ago. The most attractive feature of discs is the power.

    Plenty of pros and cons for both types of brakes:

    *disc brakes are waaaaay more powerful and can stop you faster, with less effort

    *v-brakes are waaaay easier to maintain, no fuss, no nonesense

    *disc brakes work when wet and/or stay clear of getting wet in shallow crossings

    *v-brakes are definately capable of lighter weights

    go figure...
    ...and proud member of the anti-sock puppet desolation

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by osmarandsara View Post
    or you are not going fast enough.
    Not to jump the thread but I have never ridden AM... What kind of speeds do you get up to? 24mph is pretty much the max for what I ride.

  19. #19
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    I'm guessing you've never knocked a wheel out of true, or worn down a V-brake rim to the point where the rim wall is concave. Discs eliminate both these problems. Plus they work way better in super wet, muddy conditions, which occur now and then.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLikeIYA View Post
    Not to jump the thread but I have never ridden AM... What kind of speeds do you get up to? 24mph is pretty much the max for what I ride.
    Ha, good point. It's not loosing the top speed but how fast you can scrub speed with disc. I'm talking about 15-20mph to 3-4 mph in a second or less, Vs can not do that, I tried with the ceramic set up it still fade after a few times.

    Light weight Vs suffer from power but not so much on disc. A light disc set is under 300g per side it would out performed the Vs anytime.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    Ha, good point. It's not loosing the top speed but how fast you can scrub speed with disc. I'm talking about 15-20mph to 3-4 mph in a second or less, Vs can not do that, I tried with the ceramic set up it still fade after a few times.

    Light weight Vs suffer from power but not so much on disc. A light disc set is under 300g per side it would out performed the Vs anytime.

    yes....exactly.....on tight, technical, rocky, steep single-track you need to scrub off speed real quick to avoid disaster....

  22. #22
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    Keep in mind that some disc brakes are stronger than others. I run a Hope X2 with a 183mm disc on my rear wheel, and the stopping power is barely adequate to lock it up. I'm sure you could set up V-brakes to grab harder.

    On the other end of the bike and the other end of the spectrum, I have a Hope V2 with a 203mm rotor - it will lock up the front wheel without trouble. I never had v-brakes work this well and I really doubt that's even possible, especially on wet trails.

  23. #23
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    I really like v-brakes and went through some extreme lengths to run them on my Anthem X. Low maintenance and great dry weather performance. BUT, the wettest year in about a century meant that I wore through the sidewalls of an expensive set of Red Metal Zero wheels in 6mths riding and all the while had SFA braking power. I ran special wet weather compound pads and got some braking power back but then had no modulation. The linkages on my XTR v-brakes flogged out and the pivots needed continuous maintenance.

    In these conditions the v-brakes were much more expensive to run and much more maintenance than disc brakes.

    For flat land riding in a desert you can't go past v-brakes. For everywhere else, a good set of hydraulic discs is the only way to go. You can get more than enough power out of v-brakes in the dry, but it is almost impossible to get the power and modulation you get with a good set of disc brakes. Crappy disc brakes are worse than v-brakes though.

  24. #24
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    No need to feed the troll guys,
    Low post count and OP drops out of the conversation after the initial post.

  25. #25
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    The general consensus is that disc brakes are more powerful and they require less effort but my main gripe is cost versus weight. Here is my particular situation, I am trying to get my wife into mountain biking and her 33lb bike is too much for her. I have decided to build her a new bike and I have a goal of 22lb for $1K. If I go with disc there is no possible way I could ever reach that. This is what I am looking at to put it into perspective:

    Mavic Crossmax ST
    Rim Brake version $329.98 weight 1570g
    Disc Brake version $774.88 weight 1615g


    Brakes
    Avid SL $79.96/set weight 330g/set
    Avid BB7 $141.96/set weight 768g/set

    Total cost difference: $507
    Total weight difference: 483g

    *Note: prices taken from Pricepoint.com

    So basically I would have to pay $507 more for over a pound of extra weight?? I have estimated that it will cost another $250 just to buy lighter parts to make up for the additional weight! Basically, what it would cost to run disc brakes is almost the cost of what the total bike will be with rim brakes. I could go heavier but in my opinion it's not worth it just to have disc brakes... Now if she was a fat girl I would probably go with discs but I think if someone is decent weight then discs should be considered a luxury item for XC riding. Unfortunately, everyone seems to want disc brakes which has caused a sharp decline in selection of frames and wheels.
    Last edited by FireLikeIYA; 06-10-2011 at 02:25 PM.

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