Few things stir controversy amongst cyclists like the debate over which brakes are best. It’s an odd phenomenon, because as long as they are well maintained, they are all quite effective. A brake’s stopping ability is undoubtedly its most important attribute, so which one you choose is in fact just that: a choice. Still, the debate rages on.
The truth is that whether you choose disc brakes, caliper or cantilever, drum, roller, or even coaster brakes you will note both advantages and disadvantages if you are paying careful attention. More likely than not, however, you will only notice your brakes in the unlikely event that they aren’t actually working properly. So what’s all of the fuss about?
The heart of the debate focuses on whether you prefer disk or rim brakes. They both have distinct advantages, and it’s useful to consider them before you decide which is the best brake for you. Rim brakes are notably lighter and much simpler to maintain and repair. Pads and parts are widely available and are relatively inexpensive, too, and rim brakes are well positioned on the bike so that it’s easy to install racks. Disc brakes are unaffected by even extremely muddy or wet conditions, and their parts tend to last longer, so that they need less frequent maintenance and repair. They don’t cause any wear and tear on the rims, even after long winters and messy, salty conditions, and frankly: they look pretty cool.
In the end, there are good reasons to choose any number of brakes on the market today. For all intents and purposes, they are equally effective at stopping your bike, so the choice really is yours. No matter which brake you choose, however, it is useful to learn how they work, and how to maintain them, so that you can easily recognise when they need repair. After all, knowledge is power.
It’s your bike: what’s stopping you?