Who's still commuting on rim brakes?

prawny
prawny Posts: 5,439
edited July 2018 in Commuting chat
And has any one gone back from discs?

In my long term search for a better commuter I seem to be chasing the sort of effortless speed I had from my old carbon bike. I don't carry much with me, so I'm considering looking at something racier, but I've been on discs for so long now I can't remember how much worse rim brakes really are.

Thoughts?
Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
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Comments

  • timothyw
    timothyw Posts: 2,482
    In the dry/light rain and warm conditions there's pretty much no difference. I reserve the disks for wet weather/winter.

    Also helps that I like building wheels so considerations around rim wear are pretty non existent.
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    I only have a 29er on discs - the rest are rim.
    This time of year, rim are absolutely fine - the only time I really want discs is when I'm doing a lot of braking in the wet - usually winter - and that's because I hate the grinding sound of the pads on the rims.
    last couple of commutes have been on my best carbon road bike (it's not a city commute and i get to keep my bike indoors). Right now, I'd love to get a new bike - but it would be a gravel/adventure/cx bike and have hydro disc brakes - it wouldn't replace the best bike but would be used for inclement weather as well as light trails.... but I'm not about to get it, so I'll carry on dreaming and using my rim brakes for the commute all year round ...
  • tgotb
    tgotb Posts: 4,714
    In my experience, decent calipers are just as good as disk brakes, even in the wet.

    My commuting bike has hydraulic disk brakes purely to avoid rim wear. That's the right decision for me, but I don't think they give me any better stopping performance. I also seem to get occasional mysterious issues where the pads lose their friction even though there's plenty of material remaining; not sure whether it's contamination or polishing, but it's specific to the commuter (as opposed to the CX bikes with identical braking systems). Never had that issue with rim brakes.
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • milemuncher1
    milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    TGOTB wrote:
    In my experience, decent calipers are just as good as disk brakes, even in the wet.

    My commuting bike has hydraulic disk brakes purely to avoid rim wear. That's the right decision for me, but I don't think they give me any better stopping performance. I also seem to get occasional mysterious issues where the pads lose their friction even though there's plenty of material remaining; not sure whether it's contamination or polishing, but it's specific to the commuter (as opposed to the CX bikes with identical braking systems). Never had that issue with rim brakes.

    I’d agree with ^^^^ this. The issue with the brakes you mention sounds like like a fade issue, just because your likely using the brakes differently ( frequency and duration ) of braking on the commuter.
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,499
    TGOTB wrote:
    I also seem to get occasional mysterious issues where the pads lose their friction even though there's plenty of material remaining; not sure whether it's contamination or polishing, but it's specific to the commuter (as opposed to the CX bikes with identical braking systems).
    I think it's glazing the pads from not using them hard enough. I tended to do that to my rear brake every now and then, could get is back with a few hard applications. I now make a conscious effort to brake harder every now and then to keep thee working at their best.
  • shamrock134
    shamrock134 Posts: 714
    I find my commuter's Shimano BR-R451 calipers are truly awful in the wet. Is that just characteristic of long reach calipers in general? I want discs but haven't saved up enough to upgrade the commuter to something with hydro discs yet.
  • tgotb
    tgotb Posts: 4,714
    Veronese68 wrote:
    TGOTB wrote:
    I also seem to get occasional mysterious issues where the pads lose their friction even though there's plenty of material remaining; not sure whether it's contamination or polishing, but it's specific to the commuter (as opposed to the CX bikes with identical braking systems).
    I think it's glazing the pads from not using them hard enough. I tended to do that to my rear brake every now and then, could get is back with a few hard applications. I now make a conscious effort to brake harder every now and then to keep thee working at their best.
    Could be - I don't tend to use my brakes much, when I do it tends to be quite gentle, and the issue is more common on the back. Problem is that by the time I notice it the back brake isn't capable of being applied hard because it can't actually generate enough friction. I should probably try to do a bit of hard braking on a regular basis...
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • kingdav
    kingdav Posts: 417
    I commute on rim brakes but don't like it when it's properly pouring with rain, they lose a lot of their effectiveness. It does have to be properly sopping wet for that to happen though. The calipers are 2010 tiagra, nothing special or particularly bad. I've been running koolstop salmon brake pads, but that's not made a massive difference to the super-wet performance.

    By coincidence, I just started a thread on a new commuter build today which will be my first with discs. I found a cannondale 2017 caadx with Apex 1x gears and hydraulic calipers on ebay being sold without wheels, I'll sort some wheels out etc. in due course and give discs a go.
  • joey54321
    joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    I wanna swap my commuter to discs :(

    In the rain with panniers and traffic is a great way to get the heart rate up, but for the wrong reasons.
  • prawny
    prawny Posts: 5,439
    Hmmmm. Maybe I won't rush into anything. I can't say I've been overly impressed with disc brakes, but at the same time, I've never had any doubt that they'd stop me when I want them too.

    That BMC Roadmachine is looking more and more tempting, if £1000 too expensive.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
  • mtb-idle
    mtb-idle Posts: 2,179
    I am. As above, nae problem this time of the year but it gets pretty grim in the winter due to:

    - poor braking performance in the rain
    - I can run through a set of pads in one wet commute
    - all that worn brake pad goes onto the rim/tyres in a grainy, grey paste. Very mucky if you also have a flat and need to change the tube as it gets all over your hands/anywhere it touches

    I have nothing against discs. In fact I love them and have run them on various MTB's since 2002, I just never got around to buying a disc braked commuter.

    I'm happy with my current 'best' road bike with rim brakes (used on weekends, high days and holidays only).

    I'm happy with my full suss disc-braked MTB (used rarely in the UK now but does me for a week's DH in Morzine every July)

    N+1 will be a commuter with discs although it's in the planning stages only at the moment.
    FCN = 4
  • mrfpb
    mrfpb Posts: 4,569
    How many days a year can you commute in confidence that it won't rain, though. I wouldn't go back to rim brakes now that I've used my old hybrid with v's side by side with my cx with mech discs for four years. Rim wear and stopping power both favour discs for mixed terrain commutes with lots of braking. My hybrid has died and gone to recycling bike bits heaven, I'm hoping my next bike will be a light endurance model with hydro discs to use as a "best" bike. Its probably not going to be this year though.
  • smokey_bacon
    smokey_bacon Posts: 1,639
    I went back to rim brakes after using Promax discs on the Synapse I had. The Promax units I had were awful and the budget I had for a new bike wouldnt allow for hydro's. As others have said I'm happy with rim brakes, ive got Shimano 105's on and in anything but the wettest of wet days they are fine for me.
  • kingdav
    kingdav Posts: 417
    oxoman wrote:
    I find you have to very light on disc brakes in the wet and remain seated to aid grip.
    Could you tell us more about this? Are you saying you lock up the wheels easily on discs when it's wet?
  • N0bodyOfTheGoat
    N0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 5,898
    I wouldn't go back out of choice, not after the rim brake failure I had ~4.5 years ago, which meant spending Xmas just days after my 40th in Southampton General.

    Given the ~20 miles(?) you travel each way prawny, normally throughout the year, I'd take the ~900g hit for winter and wet stopping power.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • voodooman
    voodooman Posts: 183
    Not me

    The sludge in the New Forest is full of clay and tiny flint pieces that grind down rims like corundum. I used to feel that the rims were disintegrating before my eyes. Since getting the CAADX and putting Spyres on it's been fantastic - coming up on 8K in two years. And still on the original wheels (I know they're heavy but they've been bombproof) as well.
  • rhodrich
    rhodrich Posts: 867
    Nothing wrong with rim brakes, which have worked fine for over 150 years. One of my bikes has rod brakes which don't work that well in the wet owing to the chrome rims, but caliper brakes on aluminium rims are fine. My rims cost under £20 to replace, so rim wear isn't a problem.
    1938 Hobbs Tandem
    1956 Carlton Flyer Path/Track
    1960 Mercian Superlight Track
    1974 Pete Luxton Path/Track*
    1980 Harry Hall
    1986 Dawes Galaxy
    1988 Jack Taylor Tourer
    1988 Pearson
    1989 Condor
    1993 Dawes Hybrid
    2016 Ridley Helium SL
    *Currently on this
  • timothyw
    timothyw Posts: 2,482
    I wouldn't go back out of choice, not after the rim brake failure I had ~4.5 years ago, which meant spending Xmas just days after my 40th in Southampton General.

    Given the ~20 miles(?) you travel each way prawny, normally throughout the year, I'd take the ~900g hit for winter and wet stopping power.
    When you say failure, what happened?
  • N0bodyOfTheGoat
    N0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 5,898
    TimothyW wrote:
    I wouldn't go back out of choice, not after the rim brake failure I had ~4.5 years ago, which meant spending Xmas just days after my 40th in Southampton General.

    Given the ~20 miles(?) you travel each way prawny, normally throughout the year, I'd take the ~900g hit for winter and wet stopping power.
    When you say failure, what happened?

    I attempted to brake to a standstill from ~20mph on my old Tricross Singlecross, when I came around a sweeping bend and realised the rubbish collection lorry ~10-15 metres ahead of me was stationary. It was wet (day of the "big storm" 23/12/2013), I was knocked old cold for a while, waking up with an organic jigsaw around my jaw and right hand. The most annoying thing is I've never seen a collection lorry anywhere near there at ~0645 before or since, well besides my rim brakes not saving me on that day! :lol:
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • wolfsbane2k
    wolfsbane2k Posts: 3,056
    I'm still on rim brakes, out of sheer inability to buy a suitably sized disc braked commuter for me.

    I love the hydraulic brakes on my MTB , which I use in really atrocious weather /snow, but it's too heavy for the other days.
    Intent on Cycling Commuting on a budget, but keep on breaking/crashing/finding nice stuff to buy.
    Bike 1 (Broken) - Bike 2(Borked) - Bike 3(broken spokes) - Bike 4( Needs Work) - Bike 5 (in bits) - Bike 6* ...
  • awavey
    awavey Posts: 2,368
    I'm still on rim brakes for the commute, disc for the fun road bike, I'd quite happily swap to disc just because I can't quite seem to fettle the rim brakes so that im happy with them, even when they seem to be getting there,then every so often they go grindy and you have to clean blocks & the rims.

    Which is just annoying because I have had rim brakes that were superb,just as good as mechanical disc brakes in stopping power, just can't ever quite find the right setup with them on my commuter
  • prawny
    prawny Posts: 5,439
    It's a tricky one, my commute is quite open A roads so there's huge chunks of it where I do zero braking, but then the last 5 miles is in rush hour city traffic. There's a couple of hills where I'd happily take the 900g saving, but then I like the discs in the city in the wet.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Rim brakes for nice weather, discs in winter/wet days, wouldn't go back, and when the 'nice' bike gets replaced it'll have discs. If I spend a lot of time on the disc bike it's horrible getting on the rim braked bike!
  • elbowloh
    elbowloh Posts: 7,078
    I only commute on rim brakes. The only bike i have with discs is my rarely-ridden mtb (about 12 years old, with magura julies). I've never had any issues that I can remember, even in the wet. I guess i just adjust my riding according to conditions. Ride with a bit more caution, leave more of a gap with whatever is in front, slow down earlier for corners etc.

    I would love to get a disc road bike, but its because I want one, not because i need one.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame
    Tall....
    www.seewildlife.co.uk
  • craker
    craker Posts: 1,739
    ^ as above, rim brakes only year in year out.

    Had to grab a handful of brake last night, I only managed to reach the front and it lifted the back wheel slightly. Afterwards I mused upon the effects of too grabby brakes, or brakes that grabbed suddenly after the water had been scrubbed from them, would I have been over the handlebars?

    The hydros on my MTB have put me off wanting disk brakes on any other bike. Noisy as a stuck pig, need alot of fettling and I just never noticed any improvement in braking over rims.
  • porlyworly
    porlyworly Posts: 441
    Still on rim brakes the vast majority of the year.

    Very occasionally bring out the disc brakes cx when it's icy (for the studded tyres more than the disc brakes if I'm honest).

    Find disc brakes too much of a ballache to keep calibrated, nightmare to adjust the cheap ones that came with my Forme :(
    First love - Genesis Equilibrium 20
    Dirty - Forme Calver CX Sport
    Quickie - Scott CR1 SL HMX
    Notable ex's - Kinesis Crosslight, Specialized Tricross
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,499
    PorlyWorly wrote:
    Find disc brakes too much of a ballache to keep calibrated, nightmare to adjust the cheap ones that came with my Forme :(
    That's the fault of those brakes, not all discs though. Cable discs will need adjusting to compensate for wear, had to keep doing it when I had BB7s. Hydraulics auto adjust. Since fitting a Parabox hydraulic convertor I have to remind myself to check that pads for wear on occasion as I don't have to adjust the brakes any more.
  • prawny
    prawny Posts: 5,439
    My HyRds have been faultless so far to be honest, If I could afford a nice racey light bike with discs I wouldn't hesitate. But it seems that disc brake bikes under a grand are either heavy, or relaxed adventure types which hasn't worked out as well as I'd hoped. I really like the Redhook Crit Edition Allez, but not sure I want to give Spesh any money.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
  • milemuncher1
    milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    craker wrote:
    ^ as above, rim brakes only year in year out.

    Had to grab a handful of brake last night, I only managed to reach the front and it lifted the back wheel slightly. Afterwards I mused upon the effects of too grabby brakes, or brakes that grabbed suddenly after the water had been scrubbed from them, would I have been over the handlebars?

    The hydros on my MTB have put me off wanting disk brakes on any other bike. Noisy as a stuck pig, need alot of fettling and I just never noticed any improvement in braking over rims.

    Yep, that’s pretty much my experience as well, by and large.
  • graeme_s-2
    graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    I used to commute on rim brakes (and a fixie for a good while) and now have a Planet X London Road with hydro brakes, 38C tyres and full guards. A while back I did a 20 mile each way commute (Polesworth to South of Coventry) with ~1200 feet of climbing for 3 months in the autumn/winter. I did it on an already ageing aluminium road bike. Before I started I replaced the chain and all cables (outers and inners). Not long after I started, the bottom bracket went and I replaced that. By the time I finished, the chain rings, cassette, chain, rims, wheel hubs and headset were all stuffed.

    I was riding on grimy country lanes and the bike didn't take full guards, which I think really didn't help.

    If I were to do it again I'd take the PX London Road in a heart beat. I guess my perfect bike would be a little lighter, but I'd want full guards, hydro discs and at least 28mm tyres.