Commuter bike brake dilemma.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Commuter bike brake dilemma.

    Tonight I avoided a near disaster coming home from school. On a down hill stretch of roadway going 30 mph my front rim peeled away and blew out my tire instantly. I have had this happen two other times due to V-brake pad wear on the rim. Here is the question. Do I buy the new wheel and just be more vigilant in replacing it when the rim begins to show wear (about $50)? Or do I upgrade to disc brakes and avoid this problem all together . If so, mechanical or hydraulic? I live in MN and commute all year round on a Trek 4300. Interested in hearing what you all think. Thanks,

  2. #2
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    I would first try purchasing used rim wheelset with ceramic brake surfaces before going disc. Ceramic wheelsets could be had for around $100 used and I'm referring to top-of-the-line wheelsets of 5-7 years ago. You are going to end up spending $100 with a new rim when you factor in labor costs.

    I purchased a brand new Rolf Dolomite ceramic wheelset for $100 last winter (these were $800 new). Going on 4 years now with Ceramic on my mtn bike. I got increased braking power, and no brake track wear what so ever.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=STRK:MEWAX:IT

    Having said that, I abandoned rim brakes for my commuter and have since purchased a Trek Portland with disc brakes. I love it. It simplifies fender and rack installation because you don't have a rim brake to work around. Braking power in wet is incredible, and even in dry gives me confidence. Don't have to inspect rims, and pads are simple to replace. Tires are also spared of the road grime/stain that rim brakes kick up, and in turn I suspect tire walls are lasting longer.

    I've started racing CX with my Trek Portland, the brakes cut through the mud like butter. Amazing. Here in Portland, most new commuters I see are disc equipped and I can see why.

    For a commuter, go mechanical disc, for mtn rides, go hydros.
    Last edited by nony; 09-17-2009 at 09:38 AM.

  3. #3
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Personally, I don`t like discs, just because. That said, I live in a desert where I rarely have to deal with rain and the snow/sand/salt season only lasts a few months. If I were in MN, with a lot of abrasive crap for several months a year along with chances for rain year round, I`d probably swallow my pride and go with disc brakes.

    You aren`t going to buy a whole new wheel, are you? It isn`t too hard to replace a rim as long as you can still get the same model (then you know the old spokes will fit). As far as ceramic rims go, I have a relatively cheap wheelset with Mavic ceramic rims and I don`t care for the ceramic coating. They`re alright now, but when I first got them, they howled like banshees no matter what I did with different pads and different toe (tow?). Seems like they took forever to mellow out. That might not be normal for ceramics, but one out of one ceramic wheelsets I`ve used were enough to put me almost to the point of sanding that crap off. Just sayin...

  4. #4
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    That's nuts man, I've heard of it happening to someone once, but three times? You've got to inspect your rims frequently, at least once a month for wear, grooves, etc... also take your brake pads off or remove the wheel so you can inspect the pads. Make sure the pads are clean and free of debris. Take some sandpaper and scuff up the contact surface of the pad to clean it. If there are any embedded metal bits in the pad, use the corner of a razor blade to pick them out. If the pads are really full of crap and hard to clean, just replace them. New pads are a lot cheaper than a new rim and a replacing them is a lot more convenient than a trip to the emergency room.
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  5. #5
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    I run discs on my commuter...

    and love them. Started out with disc brakes on my off road bike only. But I got to thinking that they were such a great thing on the MTB, then why not on the commuter. I'll never go back to rimmies! I live in Northern Iowa so I know what you are talking about when it comes to slopy winter conditions. When the weather gets cold and wet there's nothing that can compare to a good set of disc brakes. I've got a 30mph downhill run on the way home from work and I've avoided a couple of accidents, that I know I wouldn't have been able to miss with rim brakes, because I was able to stop! Nuff said.

    I use Avid BB7s on the commuter because they are so bloody simple to set up and maintain. The only real draw back with them is if you get enough moisutre and slop on the cables they can freeze up if it's cold enough. But then if it's cold enough (which it usually is) brake fluid or mineral oil, depending on the brake, can become overly thick and make for sluggish operation and very slow pad retraction with hydro brakes. But I've only had the BBs freeze up once, and that was in conditions that I really shouldn't have been riding in, freezing rain. I was one big bikecicle when I got home!

    I am the oposite of ryr. I love disc brakes, and not "just because". I like them because they perform better in any conditions, wet, dry, or freezing cold. They're not abosolutely perfect, but they are a far cry from rim brakes especially when the weather gets foul.

    Your choice of course. But I'd recommend discs if you can afford the conversion.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  6. #6
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    I prefer fixed for my commuters. Even less brake wear but rarely having to use them. Discs are great in the winter. They actually work. Go with mechanical. Lower cost and less issues in sub-zero temperatures. Just put a disc on the front. You may have to swap out the fork but that's not too bad. Plenty of inexpensive disc forks. If you do stick with the v-brake get a rim with a wear groove and don't exceed that.

  7. #7
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    Reputation: JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Hey, try to keep a better eye on the state of your bike. We don't want to lose you.

    FWIW, I happily run discs on my both my winter and summer bikes. I'm in northern Michigan, btw, and probably get as much snow and cold as you do over there in MN.

    Squash is right about mechanical brakes sometimes freezing up. But don't worry too much about that. Both times it happened to me, I just squeezed harder and the ice gave way. In both cases, it was because I'd ridden in slop the night before, water got into the cable housings, then I stored the bike overnight on a cold porch, and the temperature dropped. Winter always seems to have one curve ball or another to throw at you.

    It's cool you commute all winter, btw. Respect!

  8. #8
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    You can generally tell when a rim is getting thin on the sidewalls - either the sidewall will begin to bend outwards which you can check for every once in a while by running your finger along it or you will start to feel a thump in the brakes (usually this means it's really close to failing though).
    Some rims do come with a wear indicator channel in the sidewall.

  9. #9
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    I agree with Gary, that sounds really weird for you to have so many rim problems.

  10. #10
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    One thing - if you are using narrow slicks for commuting the pressure rating on the tires might exceed what the rims are rated for.

  11. #11
    PCC
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    Are you getting grains of sand embedded into the brake pads? Are you using semi-metallic pads? I'd suggest Kool Stop salmon pads and clean them weekly of any grains of sand that might embed themselves into them.

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