Guide to Road Bike Disc Brakes

Words by David Hicks

on 27/04/2018 13:51:26


Rim brakes have long been top dog when it comes to stopping duties on road bike, with traditionalists resistant to embracing disc brake technology on the grounds of a few familiar arguments - too heavy, not aerodynamic, and they just don't look right.

Now is the tipping point however - disc brakes have never been better, and with a number of technological advancements and changes to frame design to better suit discs, we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to braking. Previously the preserve of endurance bikes, you'll now find high performance race bikes and aerodynamically-optimised road bikes built around disc brakes which match or even outperform their rim brake siblings, and with changes to UCI and British Cycling rulings you can now race on disc brakes if that's your preferred type of riding. Disc equipped road bikes enable you to descend faster and with more confidence, and grant you the freedom to explore roads and trails that you would not have considered on your caliper equipped bike. These bikes make it easier and more enjoyable to ride road than ever before, with more reliable braking performance in all conditions and better modulation right at your fingertips.

Here at Rutland Cycling we offer a huge range of disc brake-equipped road bikes, but we understand that switching to discs can be a daunting choice if you're only familiar with caliper brakes. Here, you'll find everything you need to know about disc brake road bikes with tips and advice, reviews, and product news.

Tips & Advice

Top 10 Disc Brake FAQS >Are road disc brakes better than rim brakes? >

Mechanical vs Hydraulic disc brakes

So, you've decided on disc brakes - great! Now do you choose mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes? Mechanical disc brakes work in a similar way to regular rim brakes, in that the caliper is actuated by a cable which runs from the levers. Mechanical disc brakes are usually cheaper, but don't provide quite the same bite or modulation as hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes, on the other hand, use a closed system of hoses and reservoirs containing special hydraulic fluid to operate the brakes. When the lever is activated, a plunger pushes the fluid through the hoses and into the caliper where the pads are pushed onto the rotor, stopping the bike. This system provides far better performance and braking control than mechanical systems but does require a little more know-how to maintain. In the middle ground, systems like Giant's Conduct braking kit use a cable-actuated master cylinder allowing you to combine the simplicity of mechanical disc brakes with the power and smoth feel of hydraulic brakes.

See all hydraulic disc brake road bikes > See all mechanical disc brake road bikes >

Our most popular disc brake road bikes

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Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store

Got more questions about disc brakes, or want to take a closer look at the newsest models? Visit your nearest store and talk to our expert team.