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  1. #1
    Retro Grouch
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    Rear Brakes; Where Less is More

    I think Campagnolo got it right; they have a double pivot brake up front and a single pivot brake at the rear. Why? Because you just don't need that much braking power at the rear wheel. Recently, I built up a SASS with a disc brake up front and a side pull cantilever at the rear, to use a fixed/free flip/flop rear hub. Yesterday was the first time I used the freewheel side and I found myself not wanting any more rear braking power than the cheap old BMX brake I was using. OTOH, I have an old Bontrager, surgically converted to SS, with the original Suntour 3 finger brake levers and DiaComp cantilever brakes. Keith Bontrager once said that V Brakes were not necessary, except for dual suspension, as a properly set up cantilever brake has the same stopping power; to this I say BS. I have been riding mountain bikes for over 20 years, and I know how to set up canti's, and I will tell you they are not simply not as powerful as V brakes; there is a reason why canti brake levers have room for 3-4 fingers and V Brakes have room for only 2. However, after saying all that, even a canti is enough for a rear brake.

    Finally, I have a another single speed (I know, I know) with disc brakes front and back. The original setup was 160 rotors front and back, and I noticed I had to feather the rear brake to stop it from locking up. I then switched the front to a 180 and the rear calmed down considerably. I amazes me therefore when I see some down hill bike with 108-200+ rotors on the back wheel; what were they thinking?
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    I amazes me therefore when I see some down hill bike with 108-200+ rotors on the back wheel; what were they thinking?
    Much more traction from their huge tires with huge knobs, lots of suspension that keeps the wheel planted (skipping make the tire more likely to lock up) and much higher speeds. Oh, and also head and seat angle that are a lot slacker than out XC bikes, which biases the weight towards the rear wheel more. I have no reason to doubt some of them put more braking force into their rear wheel than I do on my front wheel

    I recently made the same upgrade with my disc rotors. The extra power up front is very welcome and therefore requires less of my rear brake for hard braking, so I have noticed the same thing. However, I would not be opposed to a 180mm rotor; I'm sure there are some situations where I would appreciate it.

  3. #3
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    I bent the rear rotor on my bike a few weeks ago, and have been riding it with no rear brake since then. Truthfully I don't really notice/miss it that much. Now I'm working on a front disc, rear V with a flip-flop free/fixed setup.

  4. #4
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    I prefer using my back brake. Its easier to scrub off speed while maintaining control DH. I only use my front brake it I really need to cut some speed real quick...but cutting speed quick isn't fun.

    To each his own.

  5. #5
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    I have a disc up front and a V brake in the rear. This set up feels very balanced to me in all situations. I do use one finger for the front and 2 for the rear. I never have to think about how the bike will behave when braking.

  6. #6
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    Damn, if your back brake requires feathering in order to keep it from locking up then you need to loosen it up for more play (Well if you ride mtn). The way I ride I need both brakes to be disc and while my front is 185 my rear is 160, don't need much more for xc. I agree with the guy saying its nice using the rear for putting off a little speed, I use it for that and cornering around tight corners, plus it feels awesome to powerslide sideways between trees and stuff.

  7. #7
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    I think there is a noticeable difference between riding with and then without the rear brake. It supplies a fair percent of stopping power (20-30%?) and it comes in handy. Over the summer I went to linear brakes all around because it was the only bike I had that wasn't a 29er. The performance was actually good.

    But summer will draw to a close soon, so I'm looking for a frame that can do disc brakes front and rear, because mud sucks.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by hu-man
    I have a disc up front and a V brake in the rear. This set up feels very balanced to me in all situations. I do use one finger for the front and 2 for the rear. I never have to think about how the bike will behave when braking.
    to each their own, I suppose. I rode disc front/V rear for a while, and it was more than enough to drive me to purchase a new frame. long, technical, wet, winter time descents proved to me the benefit of a rear disc brake. I went from eagle claw three finger braking to relaxed one finger braking and never looked back.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth

    But summer will draw to a close soon
    You honestly almost made me cry.

  10. #10
    Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reid Hollister
    Damn, if your back brake requires feathering in order to keep it from locking up then you need to loosen it up for more play (Well if you ride mtn). The way I ride I need both brakes to be disc and while my front is 185 my rear is 160, don't need much more for xc. I agree with the guy saying its nice using the rear for putting off a little speed, I use it for that and cornering around tight corners, plus it feels awesome to powerslide sideways between trees and stuff.
    I'm not sure what you mean by "loosening up" up my disc brakes as a disc brakes power is pretty much set by design. As far as my meaning of feathering the brake, I pretty much squeeze the levers until the rear starts to lock up and then I let off the front until it stops. I also figure I need both brakes, but my post was that the rear brake doesn't need much power to do it's job. I also don't powerslide much and generally teach it as an anti-personnel maneuver.
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

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