|Bleeding brakes? What's that?|
Disc brake road bikes, disc brake cyclo cross bikes, and disc brake equipped gravel road bikes. You need them, right? Why? Well.......because disc brakes work better in poor conditions, have more power, and are "better".
Are they really better though?
I'm going to say "NO", and I use disc brakes a lot, so it isn't like I am being all "retro-grouchy" here. No, I get why disc brakes are good for a lot of things. However; I am still not convinced of their necessity on road bikes and gravel/dirt/back road type rigs. They work okay, of course, and as stated, I have used them extensively. That said, I know I probably really "needed" to have disc brakes on any of those gravel road rides over the years once. Maybe. I'm allowing for the odd chance I may have forgotten a time there.
I'm thinking disc brakes on most gravel road rides are over kill, are heavier than alternative cable actuated cantilevers, and due to the loose surfaces on most gravel roads, disc brake "power" is never able to be utilized effectively. So........does any of this matter? Certainly not anything I am saying will mean a thing, since - like it or no- disc brake road bikes, gravel bikes, and cyclo cross bikes are what manufacturers need to create demand and make old bike designs "new" again.
|Putting disc brakes on chain stays has prompted design innovations.|
Then again, disc brake design has created some innovative ideas. Mounting disc brakes on the chain stays has freed up seat stay design to be a part that supports the rider with more forgiving attributes. Moving the brakes down nearer to the axle on the fork has removed the mud catching cable across the top of the front tires and opened up that area for mud clearances. Perhaps in some cases disc brake bike set ups are easier to operate, due to their increased power and efficiency compared to cantilevers.
However; I am pretty sure had disc brakes never come over from mountain bikes we wouldn't miss them. The thing is, road and cyclo cross designs have been homogenized and indistinguishable from year to year, brand to brand. Well.......that is until disc brakes came along. Then suddenly the old was new again. Especially in cyclo cross where it was perceived that disc brakes just had to be good like mountain bike disc brakes are. I'm not going to comment about that, since I do not cross race, but as for gravel roads? It is overkill, and not necessarily the advantage one might think. Road racing Pros seem to have ambivalent feelings about their use, although certain media darlings swear they will eventually overcome and be accepted as "better" than caliper brakes.
But in the end, I don't think disc brakes are "better" than cantilever brakes or caliper brakes. I do think they are different which is really why they will appear on road, cyclo cross, and gravel/all road bikes in the coming years. It's marketable, it is what consumers perceive to be "better", and it makes a visual difference in new product versus old. Sometimes I wonder when I listen to this chatter and marketing babble on disc brake road bikes. I mean, how the heck did they manage to stop with those old cantilever brakes and caliper brakes 50 or even ten years ago? It must have been magic or something. Weird.