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Are Hydraulic Disc Brakes worth the Money?

November 2017
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This could have been my first two-word post ever:  F— Yes!

I own a gravel bike with mechanical discs and a mountain bike with hydraulic.  They’re not even in the same class, the hydraulics are simply that good.

Now, in terms of a ranking brake systems, for what I’ve ridden, it goes like this (best to the rest):

  1. Hydraulic disc
  2. Mechanical disc
  3. Every rim brake setup there is

If you can afford the upgrade to hydraulic disc from mechanical, do it.  They’re worth it and fantastic.

Mechanical Disc

Hydraulic Disc

Caliper rim

Cantilever Rim

Nothing more need be said about the subject.

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14 Comments

  1. The Omil says:

    I’m sure you’re right – but do you think discs are sufficiently better than rim brakes that they should be used on road bikes too?

    • bgddyjim says:

      For riders like us, without question. For racing? That’s a hot-button topic for another day. Hydraulic discs are stunning in their excellence.

    • Archetype says:

      Without question. If you ride hard and ride fast, in corners, on downhills, technical and semi-technical roads, there is NO question. If you ride relativity slower and mostly in straight lines…then no need. Every single bike should come standard with hydraulic discs. Period. Moto’s went from drums to discs, the Luddites complained… now every scooter and moto from entry level to grand prix has hydraulic discs. It’s not a conspiracy weight weenies…it’s BETTER performance. 😉

  2. lampenj says:

    But do you Sram or do you Shimano? 😂

  3. ericritter65 says:

    I’ll take the lighter weight rim brakes over disk, easier and less expensive to repair; and if you’re a seasoned rider, rim braking just feels right. To each his/her own!

  4. biking2work says:

    I’ve gone nearly 3000miles on my Rockhopper with little difference in braking with the hydraulic brakes. They are pretty good and beat the mechanical disc brakes on my crosser hands down. That said I’ve had the shoes on the crosser replaced only once in 10,000 miles…

  5. Archetype says:

    Ah, yes, yes and hell yes! 😀
    first time I rode on hydraulics disc’s was on a Felt carbon. Bombed a double hairpin descent in Colorado. Unknown piece of road, late braking…hard on the binders and they were as smooth as silk. SO linear. So consistent. NO lockup. Managed to get 4th fastest time out of over 1k riders. I now have hydraulics on the Hawk Hill, NO comparison to the mechanicals I had on the previous hardtail. Simply the best type of brakes.

  6. theandyclark says:

    Making sure I understand – are you talking improved stopping power as the difference? How does this translate into wet and/or slightly slippery surfaces?

    • bgddyjim says:

      It’s improved stopping power, better modulation, a crisper “grab”, the brake surface is more than a foot off the ground instead of an inch (which keep the disc dry where a rim is wet)…. If you’ve ridden a bike in the rain, you know braking distance increases because the brakes don’t work as well. There is hardly a difference between wet and dry with disc brakes. The hydraulic brakes aren’t any better than mechanical in wet conditions, because they’re better in ANY condition.

  7. tylerkrenik says:

    How are road bikes with disk brakes? I really want a cyclocross bike with them.

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