A rim brake confession

A confession: I think I prefer rim brakes.

Ok, I know this topic tends to start a bad-tempered argument on bike forums, but let’s see if this can be different…

I’ve recently taken delivery of a disc brake bike (not my first, to be clear). Now, to be fair, the stopping power is great and I like being able to run carbon rims without worrying about wear or wet braking. But this is after having spent almost a fortnight getting the mounts faced and then the brakes bled. I still get the annoying tings in the wet, and they squeal like pigs in the wet, too. I finished my first ride a bit irritated with the whole process and couldn’t help thinking ‘so this is progress?’

More to the point, I don’t recall ever having a problem stopping on alloy rims (in any weather) with good quality brake pads. I’ve never had any issues on carbon ones in the dry, either. Even in the wet, the better ones are manageable with adjustments, and on really grotty days, you just put the alloy wheels on. Admittedly, I’m 70kg, so not that heavy, a fairly confident descender, and I live in the south of the UK; we have a lot of short, steep hills, but nothing remotely resembling a genuine mountain.

And rim brakes were/are just so simple to set up and maintain. They were/are light, basically didn’t/don’t go wrong, didn’t/don’t squeal (at least, not much) and do what they are supposed to do perfectly well enough. In short, for my use case at least, I’m just not convinced the trade offs are worth it.

I’ll clarify that I can totally see the appeal to heavier riders or those who do have proper, 10 min plus descents on their doorsteps. I wouldn’t want rim brakes on a gravel or CX bike. I’m also absolutely not saying ‘rim brakes are better’, ‘the industry is forcing discs on us’, or ‘no one needs discs’. I just think that, for me, given my own riding circumstances, I’ve come to a decision that I like rim brakes better.

Does anyone else agree, or am I just becoming a retrogrouch? Bonus points if you think 10 speed Record was the high point of Western civilisation the cycling industry :rofl:


I’ll bite :smile:

That’s the only plus for me when it comes to disc brakes. Not saying disc is bad, but it’s not the miraculous thing many make it out to be on road bikes. Stopping power is not an issue w/rim brakes. Maintenance is definitely easier w/rim brakes.


Nope. Early mech discs on CX bike sucked, but one ride on GRX and I was sold. My rim brake bike now terrifies me. :joy:


When I got my custom Ti road bike a few years ago I spec’d it with rim brakes most for those very reasons. (I’m circa 60kg btw). My gravel bike has discs and thankfully they’ve never been squeaky. Lol I think I’ll leave the maintenance of them to an expert though. I can’t see myself wanting to change to discs on the road bike, if I replace its pads etc I want to be on the road almost straight away.

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Braking forces on bicycles are largely limited by rider weight + moment arm to the front wheel contact point vs braking moment on the front wheel. This makes “more braking power” a pretty thin argument, since it takes little to exceed that limit (and pitch the rider over the bars). This leaves other factors to select ‘the best brakes’. Any use that can expose the rims to contaminants (CX, MTB, …) benefits from the clean brake interface provided by discs. Any prolonged brake use that exposes rims to overheating also benefits. So yes, there are positives. But there are negatives as well: the more complex adjustment; the need for frames capable of transmitting the higher forces generated by a shorter moment arm from the small disc diameter compared to rims; the need for (front) wheels to be built stronger to carry the braking moment; and those wonderful buzzsaw blades spinning merrily around, waiting for a crash to slice and dice.


My rim brakes never rub. When transporting the bike in the car (e.g. races) I can quickly slot the wheel back in and get no rubbing. I bought a MTB (edit: disc) and I get rubbing often - sometimes after an impact, sometimes after more innocuous things. If I need to drive the MTB to the forest and put it in the car, when the wheel goes back in it rubs without fail, and needs readjusting.

I live in the flatlands Norfolk, UK and the biggest hill here (Beacon Hill) is like a 2.5-3 minute climb, so really there’s no need for discs unless one rode in truly foul conditions and needed to do an emergency stop at 40mph.


I think the key point here is that no one is saying that there was a “problem” stopping on alloy rims, it is simply that discs have superior braking performance. Doesn’t mean the former was bad, just that the latter is better.

Personally, I’m past the whole debate….I don’t need to convince anyone to ride discs. If you prefer rim brakes, fantastic. Lighter weight, less complexity, etc. Persoanlly, I prefer discs and I live in pan-flat Chicago and weigh less than 70kg (race weight, not now :triumph:)

Ride your bike, be happy…however you decide to slow yourself down!! :sunglasses:


Totally agree. Someone can stop themselves with the boot on the rear tyre method if they like (though I’d rather not ride with them…)

I was more wondering if I’m going mad/getting old/becoming deliberately luddite (select or delete as appropriate).

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Meh, we are all getting old. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: We all (I think) reach the point where “new” becomes less appealing….I still dig new bike stuff, but couldn’t care less about the latest iPhone iteration, new software update, 8k TV, whatever. I’m sure I’ll eventually reach that point with bike stuff, too.

Rim brakes are wonderfully simple and effective….in most circumstances. Personally, it is the feel and modulation of hydraulics that appeal to me, not the braking mechanism (i.e. the actual disc). If they work for you, great!

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I’ve had more problems with my disc brakes then I ever did with callipers, and I’ve only been on disc’s approx 4 years.

I’ve just put in another warranty claim on the RS505 shifters, this is the 3rd time in 4 years I’ve had the gear cable cut into the shifter. The current trashed shifter is only 4 months old.

I received 105 7020 as a warranty replacement in Nov 21, but it’s taken till now to source the callipers and hoses thanks to parts shortages in the UK. Hopefully these don’t have the same problems as the RS505…

I need to rely on the LBS whenever I have a problem too, whereas with callipers I’d happily do all of the work myself.

I will say though, in the wet they are a godsend. Callipers will work in the wet, but there is always that seed of doubt in the back of your head whenever you REALLY need them. I wouldn’t commute in the wet on anything else.

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I can’t think of a single thing I like better about rim vs disc. Nothing.

I love my rim brake bike, and I know I have a LOT of miles still left on it (currently at 30,000 miles), but I will never buy a rim brake bike again.


Not the weight? Not the ease of maintenance? Not the price?

Discs stop better and don’t ruin my rims - everything else is fine on rim brakes.

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I’ve had good luck with everything disc so far but, it’s a little frustrating watching the industry move away from a simple machine easy to work on to a fairly complex machine needing dedicated mechanics to help set up/fix. Disc brakes/all things hydraulic, tubeless, internal cabling, while awesome when they work are more than frustrating when they don’t. The one advancement I have zero complaints about is electric shifting and specifically wireless. That shit is brilliant.


I prefer disc (mechanical), but hydraulic is just dumb technology IMO. There really isn’t a case where it matters expect maybe DH MTB?

I have mech disc on my CX and hydraulic disc on my MTB

Don’t care about the weight.

Maintenance? Try changing glow plugs on a Powerstroke diesel. You will never complain about bicycle maintenance again.

Price? Doing a quick search I see a $300 price difference on Ultegra. A one time $300 cost. Pretty small amount.

“fine” yes

But if I am spending THOUSANDS on a bicycle, I don’t want “fine”.

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Love my rim brakes and on recent new bike purchase had choice of rim or disc and went rim. Lighter (minor point), stop fine for me (only ever ride in decent weather, if commuting totally different), no squeeking, rubbing and ease of maintenance (main reason), plus can still use my existing nice rim brake race wheels.


The one thing I really like about disc brakes is how many very good rim-brake wheels they make available on the used parts market.


Swapping wheels is easier on disc. I’ve got my triathlon bike and road bike, so when I race crits I can use my TT/tri wheels as a backup set in the wheel pit with no adjustment needed :grinning:

What was it, 2014 maybe where discs weren’t quite common yet, just on CX and maybe some road models had those terrible early mech disc options. At that point in time I was a hold out, and would argue rim>disc but since modern groups I don’t understand the problem. I guess it’s perspective, as a mountain biker I’m used to the maintenance, the weight is pretty minimal.

In total fairness I’m running eebrakes in my road bike and they’re a far cry from the Shimano road calipers I grew up with.

This is a move that is almost entirely driven by consumer demand, not suppliers. It started with CX and once it migrated to road, rim brakes were effectively dead on arrival. The sales data bears that out.

As for the complexity, yes they are more complicated, but still fairly easy to work on. You just have to take the leap……most bike mechanics aren’t any smarter than you or me, they just have more experience. I take the same approach to DIY stuff around the house.