Road Cycling

The Pros and Cons of Disc Brakes for Road Bikes

Are disc brakes better than rim brakes on your road bike? We look at the advantages and disadvantages.

Disc brakes are not a new phenomenon. They are par for the course on mountain bikes. But disc brakes for road bikes is a relatively new phenomenon. And a phenomenon that is yet to gain UCI acceptance in professional road racing.

What are the advantages of disc instead of rim brakes on your bike?

It is however becoming more common to see disc brakes on higher end road bikes and hybrids. Examples include the LIV Avail and the Specialized Ruby Pro.

Here are the pros and cons of disc brakes for road bikes:

Disc Brakes: The Pros

It’s all about control

People think that disc brakes will offer more power. But in actual fact the rider gains more control of the available power.

They’re safer

Upgrading to carbon rims is all well and good, but there is one major drawback – braking.

It’s not just better performance that has the bike industry thinking hard about disc brakes; safety is a big factor, especially with the rise of carbon rims. Braking is less than ideal in dry weather but can be particularly hairy in wet weather. Efforts have been made to make pads out of materials better suited to carbon wheels and producing braking surface that distribute heat better.

They’re smooth operators

Ever been on a steep descent, in wet weather, your knuckles white as you cling to your brakes for dear life, a squeaky sound billowing from your brakes? This will not happen with disc brakes. Instead they require a lot less effort as they are far more reactive to your touch. You’ll be gliding down the steepest of descents as you lightly touch the brakes.

They’re awesome in wet weather

Rim brakes can be a little tardy in the reaction department in wet weather. Disc brakes remain unaffected by weather. Good news if you encounter four seasons in one day like we do here in the UK.

No rim wear

Due to the fact rim brakes work by clamping the rim, wear and tear is inevitable, especially if you bring grit and dirt into the mix. This simply isn’t an issue with disc brakes.

They look pretty slick

Internal cable routing improves the overall look of the bike without compromising performance.

Disc Brakes: The Cons

How much do they weigh?!

Disc brakes can be heavier and less aerodynamic than rim brakes.


Changing disc brake pads is slightly trickier than with rim brakes. But once you get the hang of it, it is not too bad.

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