3rd June 2016

Why you should consider a bike with high quality hydraulic disc brakes

Rear Elixir CR hydraulic disc brakes

Rear Elixir CR hydraulic disc brakes

Hydraulic Disc Brakes – why consider them

Have you ever ridden a steep downhill in the rain and not felt completely confident in the bike’s brake power?

Have you ever reached the bottom of the hill with your biceps and forearms fatigued, or even aching, from the effort of pulling fistfuls of brake lever?

You’re a candidate for hydraulic disc brakes.

Famed for their all-weather performance matched with light fingertip action, hydraulic disc brakes are generally acknowledged as the best and the most widely adopted improvement in bicycle technology of the past 15 years. Here’s why:

  1. Power – with hydraulic disc brakes, a light single-fingertip pull is all that’s required in the wettest conditions on the steepest downhills.
  2. Modulation – hydraulic braking is controlled and modulated so you quickly get a feel for how much lever pull is required, depending on whether you want to lightly scrub your speed or come to an emergency stop.
  3. Hydraulic hoses, unlike cables, are not prone to fraying, rusting, kinking and breaking. This fundamental difference helps explain why hydraulic brakes require far less maintenance and adjustment than cable-operated brakes.
  4. Moving the brakes from the mud and rain-attracting wheel rims to the relatively clean hubs make for an improvement in the brakes’ all-weather all-conditions performance.
  5. Disc brake pads are harder so they last longer than traditional ‘rubber’ brake blocks for rim brakes.
  6. Automatic pad adjustment – even when the pads do wear down, they maintain an optimal distance from the brake rotor so brake performance isn’t compromised.
  7. Your wheel rims should also last much longer now that they are no longer worn down by the brake pads.
  8. If you’re unlucky enough to buckle a wheel, brake performance isn’t compromised and the rim won’t rub on the brake pads as will happen with rim brakes.
  9. Disc brakes don’t compromise clearance for fitting mudguards as rim brakes can.
  10. Just like a car’s disc brakes, a bicycle’s hydraulic disc brakes often require zero maintenance between annual services apart from, perhaps, the occasional change of pads.

Disc brake pads | hydraulic disc brakes

bike service | hydraulic disc brakes


6 comments on “Why you should consider a bike with high quality hydraulic disc brakes

  1. Matt Hodges on

    Hydraulic discs may be good but I have had no end of trouble with those on a recumbent trike. Yes they stop me fine but after the first set of pads wore out and were replaced by the correct makers pads the brakes kept touching lightly. They weren’t backing off properly and despite repeated servicing the problem has persisted. So much so that when I recently got another trike I choose Stermy Archer hub brakes.
    Meanwhile on my upright solo I use Rigida Andra Tungsten Carbide rims. These have now done 28,287 miles riding winter and summer in filthy conditions. The front V brake pads are still the original pair of hard pads recommended for these rims though the rear pads have been replaced with ordinary Fibrax pads which are easily replaced when necessary and last me about 6 thousand miles. They are easy to maintain, work well in the wet and I don’t have to take my bike into a professional shop every year as I would with hydraulic discs.

  2. Matt Hodges on

    Oh! And for all weather use my Rohloff hub gear is still the original working well after 33,000 miles but I have had to change the single rear sprocket once and the single chainring once. I change the oil in the hub once a year and the chain after about 8,000 miles.

  3. A Scott on

    The ones on my Genesis Borough absolutely howl and squeal when I pull them on especially at low speeds and the pads have been replaced twice. I’d seriously consider not getting disc brakes again. I’m always getting looks from pedestrians and comments from other cyclists.

    • Web Master on

      Hi Andrew,

      Sorry to hear about your problem with brake squeal. It’s difficult to diagnose without seeing it, but this can sometimes be solved by hosing the rotors and pads with water. However when the problem persists after replacing pads as you described it’s most likely that the rotors are contaminated. When you fit new pads they will get contaminated too, so the problem isn’t solved. The best solution is to clean both with https://www.edinburghbicycle.com/muc-off-disc-brake-cleaner.

      Alternatively, if you can pop the bike into any of our shops, we’re confident our mechanics will be able to offer a solution.



  4. Tim on

    My latest road bike has been on the go since 1999 and does around 5000 miles per year. In all weathers. (I’m not good news for retailers, I tend to buy things once, buy well and then dispose of them when I can’t fix it any longer). I’m on about the 20th rear cassette.It has Ambrosia rims, DT stainless spokes and Shimano RG100 dual cantilever stop works. Maintenance? Fit and check occasionally, but I have never had to touch them. OK I did change the cables this year. My wife’s bike is fitted out the same. Ditto, and she uses her brakes more than me. She does also weighs less though…….
    If I wanted to be stupid, this set up will actually stand the bike on it’s front wheel. A stoppie in effect. It has good feel, and I am still on the original rims, with a lot of wear to go. After the intial settling down I have had no buckles or rubbing. Not much effort is required to bring this lot to a halt and the feel is just right.
    I can understand disc brakes on muddy terrain where it might be advantageous, but you will never convince me that swapping a big disc brake (which is what a rim brake is) for a tiny little disc bolted to the side of the wheel is a good move on a road bike. Also you need a wider fork just to make the wheels as strong as the disc reduces the width available for the spokes to attach to. Having tried a disc bike out and fried it on a long descent (Luchon Pyranees area) I will not use centre disc brakes for the road. Off road ok, I can get along with that but when I was a kid I rode muddy trails on anything I could lay my hands on. I don’t remember ever coming off because I couldn’t stop the thing.Trees yes, jumps yes, carrying a bike home for five miles is not fun! Perhaps mud has got slicker in the last 60 years? Or perhaps we didn’t push as hard? Hmm when I look at stuff I did as a teenager I wonder how I made it almost to pension age. So in the interest of getting better gear for the job, our hardtails are going to have decent disc brakes. Hopefully the weight is a little less than a conventional set up? Not sure about that. I am still mindfull of the fact that the wheels need to be built more heavily to compensate for the extra strains and reduced axle width. I am still riding, still thinking. Bruises take longer to stop hurting nowadays. I know, I still get them!


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