Tubeless Road Tires, Pt. 6

I have a post coming soon with some final thoughts on road tubeless tires but I thought I’d pass along this article that the Technical Editor at Velonews, Lennard Zinn, penned about a month ago about the dangers of accidently burping tubeless road tires. You can find the full article here.

It is not a secret that you can burp tubeless tires if the pressure is too low or say, you’ve done a ‘ghetto’ tubeless set-up with rims not designed for tubeless use. In the past I’ve heard these stories associated with mountain bike or fat tire wheels. But this article seems to show that burping road tires is also possible and that the consequences can be devastating. No one wants to crash and when it’s caused by equipment failure you really begin to look at and question your equipment choices.

That said, this story has to be framed against the overall picture: there have been plenty of crashes on sewups and clincher tires. No one I know in Different Spokes is still using sewups or even has any experience with sewups. But I did. I stopped using sewups not because of safety but because they’re really a lot more work to maintain than clinchers. Sewups are glued to a tubular rim. Those of us who did use sewups knew that the glue job had to be carefully done in order not to peel a tire off in a turn because it could be devastating just as in the story above. In the 2003 Tour de France Joseba Beloki had a terrible career-ending crash due to a sewup tire coming off his rear rim. (Video here, at 1:44 minutes). If you glued a sewup, you let it cure for days in order to make sure the solvent in the glue was completely evaporated and the adhesion was good. Yet as the Beloki incident shows even glue jobs at the highest level of the sport can fail.

Clinchers have a similar story. Catastrophic failure of clincher tires due to blow-outs are not unknown. If you hit a rock hard at high speed you can instantly deflate it, and since nothing holds the tire on the rim except air pressure you risk crashing just like the dude above. We had exactly this experience on our tandem while touring in France many years ago. We hit a rock with our front tire at high speed (>40 mph) descending and our front tire went flat very quickly. But because of luck and Roger’s excellent tandem instincts and the fact that the curve we were in was very broad he steered the bike straight to a stop just off the road by applying only the rear brake. The tire (and tube) did not come off the rim. Fortunately we did not run out of road.

So yes, you can burp a tubeless road tire and because the tire’s air volume is small you risk deflating it to the point it comes off the rim. Note that Zinn calls a rim with spoke holes “standard” in contrast to “tubeless-specific” rims, which he takes to mean ‘has no spoke holes’. The general point he makes is a good one: be careful when it comes to marketing lingo. Many rims are called “tubeless compatible” and what that means is vague. A rim may have no spoke holes and still not be “tubeless-specific”. The HED Belgium rim in the above story is a “tubeless compatible” rim whatever that means. That said, I use exactly those rims in my tubeless setup. What Zinn doesn’t explicitly mention is the Universal Standard Tubeless (UST) rim and tire combination. This was invented by Mavic, Hutchinson, and Michelin originally for mountain bike tires but they now have moved that over to the road. This has a very specific rim and tire bead shape to help the two interlock and so mitigate the danger of burping and rim-tire detachment. If the above story gives you pause but you still want to try road tubeless, consider using official UST rims and tires. Just know that you will be limited to a small subset of available wheels, rims, and tires, as the UST has not taken off either for mountain or road bikes.

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Fun With Road Tubeless Tires, Part 5

Get plugged!

It’s been seven months since my last “lesson” in managing road tubeless tires. In many ways I’m glad I’m not a “fast” learner and I appreciate that my lessons are coming at long intervals rather than all at once since my lessons have always been hands-on, at inopportune times, and involved a lot of swearing and consternation. On the other hand the see-no-evil philosophy of bike care, for which I have great fondness, in the long run leads to more inconvenience. So there you go.

This time I decided to do a little preemptive maintenance and ended up learning something profitable. How many of us check our tires before or after a ride? It’s one of those items that is inevitably included in handy-dandy lists for beginners in Bicycling magazine (which they reprint practically every year). Yeah, me too—there is no way in hell I’m going to be that diligent after climbing up the hill to the manse. After doing a one-mile 10% grade at the end of a long ride, I’m not thinking a lot about how my tires are doing. Not flat? Great—throw the bike in the corner for the next ride. But this time Roger warned me that I had ridden through a big honking pile of glass. Uncharacteristically I hadn’t seen it, and even more uncharacteristically after having been told I had just piled through a splatterfest of future tire flatness I didn’t bother to wipe my tires down. They’re not flat? Great, dodged that bullet and keep on riding. But after returning home despite my innate lethargy and diminished mental capacity due to climbing El Toyonal, I thought I should check them just to be sure I wasn’t going to have a surprise the next time I rode.

The front was fine but the rear tire had something embedded towards the sidewall. I tried to dig it out and it turned out to be a dried plug of sealant. Pop! and the tire started to deflate. I immediately spun the tire so the hole was facing down and sure enough, a spray of Orange Seal came out and shortly thereafter stopped. No problem! Just wait to let it seal up…

The next day I checked the tire and the pressure was down (duh!) but it seemed rideable. When I inflated it with a pump, the seal broke and the tire couldn’t hold pressure above about 40 psi. The hole was just large enough that even Orange Seal wasn’t going to work unless I resigned myself to riding at low inflation all the time. (For dirt it would be plenty but for pavement 40 psi is a little bit too cushy for me.) Since the tire was $70—a Schwalbe Pro One—I wasn’t interested in just tossing it and putting a new one on.

So this is what I did.

A long time ago in a Boy Scout moment I purchased tire plugs for tubeless tires just in case. Tire plugs, you say? Whazzat? If you’ve had a flat on your car tires, you know what these are: they’re big honking plugs of rubber that the repair shop jams into the hole the nail made in your tire using a special tool along with some rubber solvent. The hole seals up and you can inflate your car tire back to 28 psi or whatever. It’s a quick fix and it works on puncture holes typically. Well, they also make tubeless tire repair kits for bicycles. Mountain bikers know what I’m talking about because dirt riding went tubeless years ago. So there is a thriving cottage industry of tubeless tire repair kits—usually a plug jammer with some tacky plugs—just for mountain bikes. Those same plugs *mostly* work for road tires too. Being a cheapass amateur bike mechanic I of course bought the bottom-of-the-barrel brand, Genuine Innovations Tubeless Tire Repair Kit, for about six bucks. It’s the aforementioned plug jammer tool with about five plugs. The kit is two years old and I had never used it. Usually I’d go to YouTube if I were doing some new bike repair thing just to make sure I wouldn’t completely fuck up. But again in my new liberated state of oh-fuck-it-let’s-just-see-what-happens I opened the kit, put the plug sort of on the jammer, and tried to stick it in the hole in the tire. Of course it didn’t work.

Now, why is that you ask? Because (a) the tire plug, which is a short, strand of wound fibers dipped in tacky rubber, doesn’t like to go into a tiny hole without a lot of force, and (b) the jammer tool is rather dull and large. After several attempts at trying to get the plug into the slightly-too-small-hole (but not so small that Orange Seal could plug it), I came to the conclusion that the only solution was brute force since I was way too lazy to try to carefully ream out the puncture. If you’re an amateur mechanic, you know that resorting to brute force often leads to an unhappy ending (and you know I always like my repair sessions to have happy endings!) In a fit of frustration I had a boy-moment and just JAMMED that tool as hard as I could into the tire. And it worked: the plug went in and stuck in the hole like a condom off a limp dick. No leaking air. Voila! The last step is to cut off the part of the plug that sticks out of the tire with a razor blade and then I had a ‘flat’ tire again.

I went riding yesterday on my repaired tire and it worked like a charm.

Yes, tubeless road tires can be a pain in the ass. You’ve got to remember to put fresh sealant in them at regular intervals, put up with getting sprayed with sealant when you do get a puncture, you can’t use CO2 cartridges, and seating the tire on the rim can be Sisyphean. But boy, the pleasure of riding without worrying about flats is leading to a new, oh-fuck-it-all me.

If you want an even easier tubeless tire repair kit, there is Dynaplug. Their tire plugs have a sharp, pointed metal tip that looks like it would slip easily into even a small puncture—no need for brute force! You simply load a tip into the inserter and jam it in. The metal plug can’t be pulled out so it stays in place. The catch is Dynaplug kits start at $42. And that’s with just a tiny number of their proprietary plugs. As I said I’m a cheapass amateur mechanic so I won’t be including these in my repair kit anytime soon (unless they come at my birthday!) But they’ll look cool with your $15,000 Colnago and Zipp carbon wheels.

For more information:

Genuine Innovations Repair kit

Dynaplug

Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer

SP top

                                                                   Your next top?

That name sounds like text from a porn story, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s subtle marketing from the evil minds at Showers Pass in Oregon. This is just a long-sleeved undershirt that’s very good at wicking moisture away from your skin and it is just as worthy as the Assos Body Insulator I swooned over a few years ago. The Assos baselayer is my go-to shirt for the cool winter weather we are having. It’s warm, supremely comfortable, and made from some hi-tech synthetic that promised just about everything under the sun. On top of that it fits very well and has a short neck zipper and collar for adjusting the right amount of cooling or warmth that. The strange thing was that the Assos marketing speak turned out to be mostly true. Even more awesome is that I can wear it for about four or five rides and it doesn’t smell rank and repulsive. (I remember the first Helly Hansen polypro t-shirt I bought in the mid-70s when synthetic athletic wear was nascent: it reeked after one wearing and had to be washed.) Well guess what? This Showers Pass shirt is every bit as good as the Assos. I just got through wearing it for six consecutive rides and it barely has any odor—unbelievable!

It comes in only two sizes for men but is very stretchy; women get four sizes and in an even nicer plum color versus the drab grey for men. The shirt is made of a bamboo-merino wool blend that is adept at wicking sweat, staying warm, feeling plush, and doing what a baselayer is supposed to do: be invisible and unnoticed. It also has thumb holes so that the arms stay in place; I find them very helpful when putting on a cycling jacket with form-fitting arms so that the sleeves don’t get bunched or pulled back on my arms. This shirt is so comfortable in cool and cold weather that I like to wear it just lounging around the house or backyard. I can’t say much about durability since I’ve been using it for only a short time. But it’s not fraying and the seams show no signs of stress or failure. My only wish is that SP would make a version with a higher neck and a zipper like Assos used to. On the other hand, this shirt is about two-thirds the cost of the Assos. Oh, and Assos stopped making base shirts with a high collar and zipper so these two are directly comparable.

And Showers Pass is having a sale right now where you can get this shirt fo $55, down from $69.

https://www.showerspass.com

Different Spokes Kit for 2019

BRLE-162609-Fondo-1-APP3
Loud and Proud!

BRLE-162609-Fondo-2-APP2
Am I Dark Enough?

It’s not often our club gets a new jersey. Over the 37 years of existence we’ve had only four jerseys. Either you don’t give it a second thought—probably because you’ve got a closet full of cycling jerseys already, or because you’re happy wearing the same three jerseys over and over—or you wonder, “Why the hell don’t those lazy board members get off their sorry bike saddles and design some fab new clothing? After all, I can’t wear the same clothing year after year without getting called out. So when cycling Fashion Week comes around, WHERE THE HELL IS OUR NEW FASHION STATEMENT!?”

I mean, our last kit was in 2017 to celebrate our (gulp) 35th anniversary—that was literally so two-years-ago. Well boysettes and grrlenes, your wait is over. Our fab Apparel coordinator Brian got on the stick and has not one but TWO different kits for you to ooh and aah over. If you missed the first ordering period, which closed last Friday, no worries: he has reopened the Jakroo store so you won’t have to gaze with green envy at your fellow Spokers who jumped at the chance to be Abso Fab.

We are offering two kits for 2019, one mad splatter design and another more contemporary blackish-is-the-new-black, with matching bib shorts and even a cycling cap. The jerseys are $64, the bibshorts $104, and the caps are $18 each.

To view the full kit and to order, go to the Different Spokes Jakroo store: http://shop.jakroo.com/Different-Spokes-San-Francisco

Lucky boys and girls who got in on the first order will have their goods by February 4. If you order now, your goodies will be here after February 26.

Ottolock: A Fool and His/Her Money Are Soon Parted

OTTOLOCK_3Rings_matte_web_0

Unfortunately I am one of those fools: I put down $65 at REI for one of these locks, the 30-inch model a month ago. It’s really light, lighter than one of those inexpensive cable locks you see at Ace Hardware (don’t you just love that name?) for about $15 and which I have been using for years. But it turns out it’s no more effective at thwarting bike theft than the $15 type—just a lot more expensive. So much for disruptive technology; about the only things that will be disrupted are your wallet and your ride when you find your bike has vanished from outside Starbucks. It has steel and Kevlar but so what if it doesn’t stop a thief. The Bike Picking Lawyer posted a video showing that you can cut one of these idiotic locks in much less than a New York minute with a pair of $10 tin snips from Home Depot—see the video. Years ago when videos showed up on the Internet showing you could open a Kryptonite U-lock with a Bic pen, Kryptonite revamped their locks and to their credit undertook a massive years-long recall. I’m not sure Ottolock is going to be able to pull off a similar apologia because the raison d’être of their locks is ultra-light weight. Plus, Ottolock is a child of Kickstarter, i.e. it’s young and not well capitalized. However when a complaint was raised to Ottolock about how you could actually palpate the tumbler to detect the numbers used in the combination lock, apparently they did improve them so that you can’t do that anymore. So maybe there’s hope.

That said if you are in the habit of using a cheap cable lock for your coffee stops [for the record I never let my bike out of sight when I’m on a ride] the Ottolock will be lighter. It just won’t be safer. If you do use an Ottolock, like a cable lock it will only delay a thief momentarily. So you should use the usual tricks in combination with the lock (wrap helmet straps around wheel/frame, use more locks, put bike in high gear, pile bikes together, etc.) And by no means think that an Ottolock (or cable lock) allows you to dawdle inside a store for a few minutes. That’s plenty of time for your bike to be whisked away. Just hope the bike thief goes after easier prey, i.e. a nearby unlocked bike.

Continuing Lessons on Road Tubeless Tires

Orange Seal tire booger
Orange Seal tire ‘booger’ blocking a puncture

I recently got a flat tire on a road tubeless tire. How is that possible you say? I’d love to tell you it was because Jason slashed my tire with his chainsaw leaving me hapless by the side of the road. But it was much more mundane and humiliating. Whatever caused the puncture was rather small. I never did see it, only the tiny hole it caused. How come there wasn’t any sealant bubbling out and doing its thing? When I got home and took the tire off, I found the sealant was almost completely dried out!

I was initially puzzled—hadn’t I put Orange Seal in there just a few months ago? It turned out it was 14 months ago, which is an eternity when it comes to tire sealant. That’s one of the little maintenance tasks that go along with tubeless: put more sealant in your tires at regular intervals. But it’s also a task that is easy to forget, just as I did. In my case I had been checking at regular intervals when I first set the tires up, about every three months. At the time I was using Stan’s sealant, which is notorious for drying out in just a few months. But after a year the Stan’s was still there, and with confidence my diligence dropped off. I then switched to Orange Seal and checked my tires only once since then. I won’t make that mistake again.

I was fortunate in that I flatted just about a mile from home. I was able to get back to the house riding an almost flat rear tire (sealant also seems to help clincher tire beads bind to the rim). If I had been further away, I would have had to put in a tube. If the sealant were still working, it would have been an ugly mess to pull the tire off and put in a tube. On the other hand the hole was small enough that it surely would have sealed too. And by the way, did you know that tubeless tires tend to be hard to mount because they have tight beads? It’s enough hassle to try to get those Schwalbe tires on when I’m in the shop let alone by the side of the road. I’m not sure I could have gotten a tube in that tire without breaking a bunch of my finely manicured nails!

By the way this experience gave me an opportunity to check the inside of the tire to see how sealant works. Orange Seal consists of a liquid and lots of particles that flow to the puncture and clog it up. I was able to see two boogers inside the tire where apparently I had punctures that sealed. I made sure not to disturb them. It turns out the particles in Orange Seal are tiny little sparkly squares that look like metalic flakes. Whatever they are they seem to work very well at clogging holes.

Well, did I put more sealant in and mount the tire? Nope. I was going to but then I got Lesson Number Two: make sure you have a working air compressor. Air compressor, you say? Yep. Mounting a tubeless tire isn’t always possible with a regular bike pump. Sometimes it is but you don’t necessarily know ahead of time. It depends on the rim-tire combination. To seat the bead you often need a firm blast of air that literally blows the beads into place and create a seal. If you have a tube, the tube inflates and pushes the tire bead into place. But there isn’t a tube with tubeless tires. Nowadays you have three choices: air compressor, CO2 cartridge, or newfangled floor pumps with compressor tanks. CO2 is easy to get and cheap but has one problem: it causes tire sealant to coagulate. So you must do it in two steps: blow the beads into place and hope they stay there and then add sealant. Air compressors are the tool of choice but how many of you have the interest, need, or space for a shop air compressor? They’re moderately bulky and the cheap ones weigh about 40 lbs. They also make a lot of noise. If you’re a tool kind of guy/gal, then you probably already have an air compressor to drive your nail gun or air sprayer. But I’m guessing most of you wouldn’t know an air compressor from a tongue depressor. The third option is rather new. You can now get bicycle floor pumps that have a tank you inflate with the pump. Then you flip the switch to send the compressed air shooting into your tire. Genius. But they cost more than a cheap air compressor. Those floor pumps start around $125 and you can get a really cheap compressor for about $100 and it’s good for other things besides blowing your tubeless tires. But if you live in a SF apartment, the floor pump is definitely the way to go.

In my case I have an air compressor. But first I tried the floor pump because it’s worked before. No go—matter how I positioned the tire it didn’t want to inflate. Plan B was the air compressor. But when I turned it on, it was broken. Then I tried CO2 cartridges and after two failures I gave up and put a latex tube in the tire. I ordered a new compressor but I wasn’t going to wait for it to show up. So now I have a tubeless tire in front and a regular tubed tire in the back. I’m going to try this for a while. Right now I don’t notice a whole lot of difference in the ride. That’s not too surprising to me because latex tubes are very, very supple and give a Cadillac ride. But that brings up issues around maintaining latex tubes. But I’ll save that for another post!

Disc Brake Hype

Disc brake

If you are contemplating purchasing a road bike or you perhaps fervently peruse cycling magazines and websites for the latest bike porn, without doubt you have been exposed to a deluge of hype about road disc brakes. I’m here to disabuse you of the marketing drivel and share a real world user’s experience.

My experience with road disc brakes goes way back to 2003 long before road disc brakes were a thing. I met a Swiss cyclist from Zurich who had a custom Ericksen road bike with disc brakes, which at the time was a real rarity. I disparagingly asked him why he bothered with discs. He said, “It snows in Zurich and I ride year-round.” Oh. Made sense. If you’ve ever tried to brake in snow or sleet, you know how unreliable and scary it can be with rim brakes. Well, actually it’s scary regardless of the brake type but it’s especially scary with rim brakes. As I also commuted to work by bike, the idea was planted. In 2005 I got a cheap road bike that was EOLed by the manufacturer and it had Avid mechanical disc brakes—probably because no one was buying road bikes with disc brakes back then. It was an experiment perhaps motivated by a specific need. I commuted to work by bike rain or shine. My beater commuter bike often was a filthy mess despite having fenders, partly due to rim brakes. The black brake pads shed material and filth; add water and you have a black, oily slime all around your wheels and frame. Since I was carrying my bike up and down BART stairs, I was getting filthy too. I also was hoping that the braking would be more consistent when it rained; I had already gone down once in the rain due to being unable to tell when the rim brakes were going to lock up. Disc brakes do have a reputation for powerful braking but I just needed to have a consistent feel so that I wouldn’t brake too much or too little.

Roger and I had also been riding a tandem with Avid mechanical disc brakes. Due to the increased mass of two riders, with rim brakes you can produce so much heat during long downhills that you can blow the tire right off the rim. That happened to a friend on his single bike on a long, steep downhill in the Alps and we were also aware of a tandem that did blow its tires on a hairy, steep technical descent in Switzerland leading to copious road rash and a trip to the hospital for the duo. I’m a firm believer in disc brakes for tandems when you’re riding in mountainous terrain.

I now have a road bike that has the latest and greatest Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. The brakes are very nice—they stop the bike, require little hand force to produce immense braking whether dry or wet, and have reasonable modulation. There really aren’t any significant downsides purely with respect to braking. But are they that much better than good rim brakes? Well, yes and no. In dry conditions I find that rim brakes, especially Campagnolo brakes, provide really excellent modulation even if they do require more hand force. Shimano and Avid disc brakes modulate well in the middle but as you get near the lock up point the braking curve suddenly goes up. This is really noticeable with metal/sintered brake pads but less so with resin pads.

Then why did I get them? Because I am running big tires. Current Shimano rim brakes top out at about 28mm tires; older generation brakes—and that’s all that I have—can rarely fit around a 28 mm tire and usually top out at 26 mm if you’re lucky––the tires are just too big to fit under the brake arch. That’s partly a frame problem because until recently major bicycle companies thought no one riding a decent road bike was going to use anything bigger than a 25 mm tire. If you ran big tires, then you had to use “long reach” rim brakes, cantilever brakes, or V-brakes. Over the years I’ve used them all and guess what: they work quite well at stopping. So-called long reach side pull brakes actually have really good modulation but they do require more hand force. But they are not uncomfortable on the road to use even for prolonged periods. Cantilevers and V-brakes can stop on a dime just like disc brakes but they use also brake pads and so shed muck and that wouldn’t work for my commute. In an ironic turn Shimano has made their newest rim brakes so powerful that they stop like disc brakes. But I find their modulation is worse than their hydraulic brakes or their older road brakes. They have so much force in a short pull that I’ve had to relearn how to control them.

When reviewers go gaga over hydraulic brakes what are they getting at? Probably the reduction in hand force that to them feels like better modulation. But 99% of the braking you’re going to be doing is exactly what you’ve been doing to date. Do you often think your brakes are underpowered, lack modulation, or just plain suck? For most of us the answer is no. I do think a reasonable case can be made for very heavy bikes such as cargo bikes or e-bikes and very heavy cyclists. Also if you regularly do crazy long and steep downhills or ride in the rain a lot, then disc brakes are extra insurance against blowing a tire or skidding and crashing. But these are not everyday concerns unless you live in the Alps or Dolomites or live in the Pacific Northwest. Even for descending Mt. Diablo or Mt. Umunhum standard road rim brakes are perfectly fine. And how many of you ride your bike regularly in the rain?

Often you’ll see in reviews that the big minus with hydraulic disc brakes (usually no one mentions mechanical disc brakes anymore) is the added weight. The extra weight is probably just under a pound but I don’t think that’s the real problem with disc brakes. What they don’t mention is the extra maintenance that disc brakes incur. If you want to read an in-depth explanation of exactly what maintenance they do require, go here and here.

In my experience disc brakes require frequent and more complex maintenance than rim brakes. Rim brakes are relatively easy to take care of. It’s trivial to replace brake pads, and I usually go years before needing to replace pads despite riding lots of miles. Setting the pads the correct distance from the rim is also a snap. Disc brakes are another matter altogether. Although the pads cost about the same as rim brake pads, they wear through much more quickly and that means you’ll be replacing them often. Resin pads, which are the preferred type, wear very quickly; I’m getting about 2-3,000 miles per brake and having to replace them at least once a year front and rear (note: and I’m light!) The rotors wear out too. With rim brakes you will wear out rims eventually but it’s many years (about 25-40,000 miles in my case). But I’ve discovered that Shimano rotors wear out in about a year of riding. And they’re not cheap, running $60-90 each. Rotors also warp easily. Massive heat from hard, long braking seems to cause rotors to go out of true. You can also accidentally bump the rotor or lean it against something. The distance between the pads and the rotor is so minute, a few millimeters, that minor warpage means the rotor rubs against the pads usually with a grating, annoying squeak. You can true rotors with a rotor tool but I find it’s much harder than truing spokes in a wheel. Finally, replacing a brake cable is super easy for rim brakes. But bleeding a hydraulic line is a tedious process and you’d better have read the instructions carefully for your brakes because there are nuances in how you bleed your brakes depending on the model. At the moment I’m tearing my hair out over inconsistent piston retraction on the front brake. One of the two pistons doesn’t retract quickly after use so I often get a rasping squeak that only goes away when the piston slowly retracts

Of course if you don’t do your own bike maintenance—which seems to be the trend these days—then you escape the hassle. But your shop bills are going to increase instead.

So before you buy that next bike with disc brakes, think: are you ready to trade the convenience and low cost of rim brakes for the complexity, more frequent maintenance, and higher cost? If you’re going to be riding the same old roads, you are gaining weight and cost for what? Road disc brakes do make sense if want to go up to bigger tires, you ride in the wet a lot, or you need to stop a lot of weight. The other application that make more sense to have disc brakes is if you’re riding on fire roads and trails with your road bike: essentially you’re mountain biking on a road bike and the reduced hand force of disc brakes will definitely feel welcome. It’s no surprise that disc brakes are de rigeur for mountain biking. I have an old mountain bike with cantilever brakes and my hands do get tired and crampy. Now, I do like my hydraulic brakes and the extra weight means little to me. But I’m spending more time futzing with them than I did with the worst rim brakes I’ve ever owned. It’s a pain. And rotor rub just becomes a fact of disc brake life—for some it’s easily ignorable but for me it’s a princess-and-the-pea problem: the noise drives me crazy. There is one other advantage to disc brakes: if your wheel goes out of true—whether it’s due to a broken spoke, tacoing the rim, or “just riding along”, you can usually keep riding to get home. With rim brakes you’ll have to do some serious wheel truing by the side of the road/trail or else call a taxi.