Podcast episode 4 disc brakes
  • Paul Christopher

    Imagine crashing with 100+ meat slicers whirring around you? If the UCI allow this, they and national federations will be rightly bankrupted by civil lawsuits for gross recklessness and negligence.

    • Wily_Quixote

      Why would you be racing in in an abattoir?

      • Laurens

        Currently they are racing in sawmills then, with ‘100+ circular saws whirring around you’…

  • StevieTopSiders

    Could we get these on Soundcloud, too?

  • Staminist

    Could you post these podcasts to Soundcloud too? It would make embedding a podcast player in my blog a lot easier.
    Is this the same CyclingTips? https://soundcloud.com/cyclingtips

  • Neil

    Enjoyed this one.
    A question for James – sure discs perform better at braking, I don’t think anyone would argue that. But where do they sit as part of a package? If you’re going to use carbon wheels or are going to race in a mountainous area, how does the weight/aero penalty sit in relation to the braking advantage? To me, if someone wants to just go and enjoy a ride in these areas, go disc. But if you are a top level racer and you’re looking for the most advantageous package (aero/weight/braking), what is the better option?

    • James Huang

      That’s an excellent question, and I honestly don’t know where the tipping point is. Many studies have already discounted the negative effects of additional mass but the aerodynamic effects of discs isn’t so certain yet. For the very unique situation that is professional road racing, the pros and cons maybe aren’t so clear cut.

      Either way, as I’ve tried to make clear in the podcast, the appeal of discs to most amateurs is easier to explain.

  • velocite

    It’s remarkable that the UCI aborted its trial because a rider blamed a disk on an injury, but it seems it’s irrelevant that the injury was not caused by a disk. I think that if a regulatory body is thinking of imposing a restricition – which the UCI is doing while they oppose disks – they should have a good reason for doing it, but they seem not to.

    On the matter of the change over for teams, there seems to be the assumption that teams will be forced to change, and that all riders in a team will be forced to change. AFAIK riders get to choose whether they want to move from cable to electronic gears. Why not the same for disks? If it’s a matter of balancing the potential delays due to a slower wheel change against the advantages of better braking, especially in the wet, this should be a judgement call by the rider in conjunction with his team. And it would put pressure on the manufacturers to work on facilitating quick wheel changes.

  • Mike Williams

    I like the option discs provide for running a 650b trail/cx/gravel setup in addition to 700c road wheels/tires. I even have a set of 26×1.9 studded tires laying around that could be mounted for winter rides.

  • alexvalentine

    For most road situations disc braking gives the rider no competitive advantage, and its actually a disadvantage because of weight, which is why there is a lot of resistance.

    • Andy B

      Agree to disagree :)

    • Eat More Lard

      Given that you don’t need even remotely deep pockets to build a 6.5kg caliper brake bike, the weight argument is pretty much dead. What’s an additional 1kg (and that differential will come down)? Carry less water… There are many reasons you might not want a disc equipped bike but weight is not one. I think these disc bikes will become the bikes for most of us as a general riding machine – better braking, wider tyres, most stable for the all day ride and any road ride. I expect racing bikes to pretty much become the domain of the aero road bike with caliper brakes. Choose the bike that makes sense for you and how you want to ride.

  • brucegr

    I’ve got a cx bike with mechanical discs. Within 250km of riding on the flats, the disc brakes were not working effectively. They were absolute rubbish. In fact they were dangerously ineffective. I took the bike back to the LBS and they said they disc pads were suffering from ‘contamination’, and replaced them. That immediately revealed the industry hype and self interest of disc brakes to my mind. No matter what the industry says, disc brakes are being pushed by the industry because of the additional servicing and higher initial and maintenance costs. Keep it simple, keep it rim, unless you live in the Alps. As acknowledged in the podcast, tire road friction is the determining factor of braking power. As for feathering fine control, that’s something every cyclists learns with time.

    • Disc brake pad contamination is usually due to hydraulic leak, you have a mechanical set up . Unless you’re mistakenly adding some sort of lube to your caliper or riding through giant puddles of oil, I don’t quite understand your mechanic’s diagnosis.

      The industry is pushing disc because of consumer demand, they simply work better. It’s definitely not some grand conspiracy to boost the service side. You’re not the first person to claim that just so you know you’re not alone. Heard very similar statements in the late 90’s when disc came to mtb.

      • brucegr

        He replaced the front pads only. The rear was still performing reasonably, but has since similarly worsened. I have been overseas with work so haven’t been riding that bike for months. However, the experience left me cold on disc brakes, at least mechanical. I considered swapping them over for hydraulics, which was recommended by the shop (6 weeks after I bought the thing new). But I decided I’ve never suffered from a lack of stopping power on rim, just rim heat on several longer steep descents (25-35%) that I am less likely to travel as I age. Like I said, unless one lives in and rides alp like hills regularly, I don’t see the need for them. At my age, my aim isn’t to get down a hill 5% quicker. I’ve seen enough smashed bones in my job.

        • I’ve been setting up disc equipped bikes mtb, cx, and road for over 20 years and this is the first I’ve heard of a mechanical set up fail like yours. Only possible explanation is that your bike somehow fell through the cracks during assembly and the rotors weren’t properly broken in before the bike hit the sales floor. The sequence of events alone should make you look for a different shop. I don’t buy the contamination excuse, nor them pressing you to go hydro with a brand new bike. Sounds shady to say the least.

          I still take exception that you’re using this platform to somehow promote a blanket statement that disc brakes are some sort of grand conspiracy because your sample group of one (you) had a bad experience, which more than likely was the shops fault. Not the part.

          • brucegr

            The brakes are Tektro Spyre on the 2016 Giant TCX SLR1.
            I’ve heard this disc brake panned by at least a dozen guys.
            I did take it to a second shop. They machined the discs and replaced the cables saying the LBS I bought it from didn’t know how to run cables. This only helped slightly.
            I think your attitude shows a lack of objectivity and a prevailing mechanic attitude that customers are luddites.
            The brakes are crap. I have to sqeeze harder than with my ultegra rim brakes. So much for better modulation.

            • You could teach a monkey how to set up Spyres correctly. Your story doesn’t add up.

              • brucegr

                What it adds up to is a set of disc brakes with performance worse than every set of rim brakes I’ve had since the early 1980s. And that’s after 2 LBSs did their best. I pass on buying into technology that makes me more dependent on LBSs.

                • In the past week since your opening post I’ve set up a few Spyers, nothing to report what your shops can’t figure out. Even had one of the sales people say “are these hydro?” until they looked down to see they were just lowly mechanical brakes.

                  Thankfully for you rim brakes will be supported for a long time. However, consider the fact that you’re in an extremely small minority of people that can’t get disc brakes to work by their mechanic or DIY, and claim that it’s some sort of collusion by the industry to lighten your wallet. Like I said before, it’s the late 90’s all over again. A carbon copy in fact. Sad thing is you’re on the losing end because your story makes it sound like you’re surrounded by horribly incompetent shops and mechanics.

          • brucegr

            What you take exception to is no concern of mine. I’ve ridden a few mtb’s with hydraulic discs, and this one mechanical disc Giant TCX. I am relaying genuine experiences with no vested interest. I’ve had over a dozen road bikes with calipers or center pulls, and non of these have been as crap as the spyre. I’ve had Brisbane’s top independent mechanic deal with the brakes, and the original shop (For The Riders in Brisbane). They both failed to make these brakes better than any of my recent roadie brakes. So my position stands. Mechanical discs are highly overrated by an industry that is putting self interest ahead of consumer interest.

            • 3 months later and you’re still crying wolf. Apparently cycling doesn’t take up as much time as it should for you. Go find another hobby if you can’t get over this.

    • Wily_Quixote

      a poor craftsman blames his tools.

      • brucegr

        As a newb to disc brakes, I took the advice of the LBS that sold me the bicycle. The bike was less than 3 weeks old when disc performance went downhill steeply. I’ve been using rim brakes for 35 years, so don’t think it’s a matter of poor craftsman. If there’s a poor craftsman involved, it’s the design and manufacturer of the mechanical disc brakes on the Giant CX bike I bought. As for contamination, I had only ridden on dry and wet pavement and roads, and dry dirt/grass track. Both pads were replaced by the LBS, which is a large specialist off road bicycle store which I presume knows disc brakes inside out. If mechanics think the pads needed replacing (for free) by a gun mechanic, then who am to challenge him?

    • Andy B

      plenty of information online about cleaning pads yourself :)


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October 22, 2016
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