Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I predict

With disc brakes being shoved onto more and more bikes in all categories, repair shops will see the first ripples of a rising wave of rusted rotors and frozen calipers on bikes laid up by riders who had to address other priorities and found themselves storing the bike for months or years.

In some climates the damage can occur in weeks.

Your alloy rims and rubber brake pads won't do that to you.

A customer looking at road bikes the other day asked our sales person why road bikes are coming with disc brakes now. I did not pop out of my lair and say it's because the bike industry thinks anything worth doing is worth overdoing and recount their long history of shoving technology down consumers' throats. I'm not mellowing in my old age, I'm just giving up.

The sales person would not speak ill of any product a customer could be induced to order. And if the customer shows clear enthusiasm for a product, mechanical advice be damned. So I'm assembling the disc brake Roubaix today.

Disc brakes have their place. Their spread to many other places is like the escape of an invasive plant. Those are often impulsively imported from Asia, too.


jamie said...

I was test-riding some bikes for a new ride last week and was exposed to disc brakes for the first time. I can see their practicality in certain situations, particularly with my out-of-shape hefty butt warping the rims. But I mentally added them to the lengthening list of geewhiz tricked-out accoutrements that similarly plague the marketing of outdoor gear: specifically hiking boots - nothing beats old style leather ones but now they come with more stylistic bells & whistles it's ridiculous. Looking at models that cost more than I've paid for any vehicle in my life combined made me long for my old banana-seat one-speed (that you had to pedal in reverse to brake) that I logged more miles on in my teenage years than all the elaborate mountain bikes I've owned.

cafiend said...

Yeah, I've been looking at new day packs for several years without seeing one I really like. And I'm still nursing a couple of pairs of leather boots: one pair of Fabianos from the 1980s and a pair of Salomons from just before the turn of the century.

I believe in judicious acceptance of new technology if it really makes an improvement. Based on the marketing of every product, I am in the minority.

When an activity turns into an industry the promoters of it shift from extolling the benefits of the activity itself to aggressively pushing the benefits of new products. The shift in bicycle magazines from enthusiast publications to advertising circulars in the 1980s illustrated this, but it's hardly an isolated example.

The Industry (whatever industry that is) doesn't care if you use your products as long as you buy them. The relationship basically ends there until they want to shake your wallet again.

Steve A said...

Disc brakes facilitate the impromptu use of zip ties to turn any tire into a snow tire. You can't do that with rim brakes.

cafiend said...

Disc brakes do have a good, strong place. They just arent The Answer in every place the industry wants to put them and the gear freaks are willing to accept them.

Yokota Fritz said...

I recently ran across a bike with rotors that's sat a couple of wet winters on somebody's back porch. There was rust, but the calipers and disks are in fine shape. Nothing grabby on them at all.

I also found a 38% grade about 2 miles from my home last month (which is in the heart of Specialized's road test riding territory). That's an extreme example, but we have a lot of topography around here in the land of Specialized. I took a look at that Roubaix disk and I just might give it a spin.

And besides: hydraulic bleeding means more repair work for you, right? :-)

cafiend said...

Bleeding marvelous. We need to keep to keep the requisite fluids and bleed kits on hand.

The Roubaix I assembled had Avid BB7 road cable disc brakes. It behaved pretty well. Avid specifies in-line cable adjusters to take up slack in the system -- implying residual compatibility issues between road levers and disc brakes -- but I hardly needed to use the adjusters at all.

38% grade is basically a cliff. Forget the brakes. Just rappel.