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Everything you need to know about disc brakes on road bikes
Road bikes today are more capable than ever, and that’s thanks to some adventurous road riders who wanted to explore terrain that wasn’t perfectly paved. They increased their expectations of what a road bike should be able to handle, and some major advancements in technology followed that help all road riders, whether they’re riding on smooth pavement or more rugged roads.
The most significant new technology for road bikes is disc brakes. They’ve been used on mountain bikes for years, but until recently disc brakes were considered too heavy for road bikes. Today, though, road disc brakes are lighter and more compact—and they’re increasingly prevalent on road bikes.
Unlike a traditional rim or caliper brake, which slows the wheel by applying pressure from a soft rubber pad directly to the rim, disc brakes employ rotors attached to the wheel hubs, which are slowed by calipers attached directly to the frame. Disc brakes are used on automobiles, motorcycles, and nearly all off-road bicycles, which speaks to their versatility and superior stopping power.
The bottom line.
While disc brakes are relatively new to road cycling, they’re a major innovation in the category and one that’s going to stick around. As you’re shopping for a new road bike, this is something you want to consider.
If you want the lightest braking option you can get or simply prefer the classic look and feel of a traditional road bike, rim brakes are right for you. But disc brakes will give you more versatility and better stopping power in all weather conditions, and they’re a must if you imagine exploring more rugged terrain like gravel or dirt.