Are disc brakes really necessary??

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by Snarfu, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. Snarfu

    Snarfu Member

    I'm currently browsing the web like a madman, itching to order a engine kit & bike to mount it on. My pal, who is almost done with the tweaking/assembly stage, insists that disc brakes are close to essential to prevent yourself from, say, slamming into a tree. What do you all think? Have you managed to ride with V-Brakes without injury or terrifying decelerations?

    Any opinions would be most appreciated.

  2. 72square

    72square New Member

    disc brakes are awesome. for me v brakes or caliper brakes are enough to make me stop.
  3. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    In my opinion, it all depends on where you ride and how you ride.
    Me for instance...I just ride for fun mostly around my neighborhood where there is virtually no traffic, and very few pedestrians. My neighborhood is one mile in a circle with no sidewalks and one stop sign.
    One of my motorized bikes has a caliper (v) brake, while my other motorized bike just had a coaster brake for awhile. I've recently changed the design of the coaster brake bike, so i had to add a caliper brake to the rear wheel (you'd have to see the bike to understand why i added the caliper brake). But, prior to adding the caliper brake, the coaster brake worked just fine for me. A coaster brake can and will work good, if it's set up and adjusted right.
    Now, if you just plan on riding for fun in a low traffic, low pedestrian area then caliper brakes would be fine in my opinion.

    If you are planning on using this bike in place of a car for commuting in heavy traffic and heavy pedestrian areas, then I would go with disk brakes.
    I think it all depends on how you ride, where you ride and what your budget is.
    caliper brakes are sufficient, but if you want the ultimate in stopping power, then disks are the way to go. of corse, disk brakes cost more to add on to a bike that doesn't come with them because you need caliper brackets welded to the frame and forks, and you need wheels with hubs that have flanges machined into them that the disks bolt to.
  4. machiasmort

    machiasmort Active Member

    Disc brakes are a serious plus. I wish my bike had them. V-brakes will eventually wear the rim out.
  5. Happy Valley

    Happy Valley Active Member

    Disc brake set-ups are great but not all disc brakes are not the same. I had rather have well tuned linear pull or canti brakes with quality components on a decent bike than low quality disc on a cheap bike. You get what you pay for. Asymmetrical stress on rotor side fork blades creates torque steer, as well as extra stress on rotor side spokes. Wheels should be dished and tensioned for it.
  6. A quality disc brake(like a BB5 or better) is the best, but good V or caliper brakes work well for most applications. The old time(1970s) short lever side or center pull brakes don't have strong enough stopping power for me. A rear only brake, of any sort, is inadequate for a motored bike, in my opinion. Here's the thing, I can pedal a standard bicycle at 10 to 14 MPH for a few miles and sprint at maybe 18-20MPH for a short spurt. I can ride my motored bike at 22 to 28 MPH. It takes much more force to slow efficiently from 25 than from 12.5, half the speed. The other problem is we generally have to ride in traffic with inattentive cagers at least part of the time. They don't always see us, and even when they see us, becase of our higher than "normal" bike speeds, they don't estimate our speed correctly. As a result we may need to use our brakes to stop very quickly in panic situations from speeds our pedal bikes were never designed for. Sure, a serious road biker or racer can sustain speeds in excess of 25 MPH for quite a long distance, but they are usually riding high quality road bikes designed for high speeds with brakes to match. We, on the other hand, are usually converting cheap, marginal quality, beach cruiser/comfort bikes that are(poorly) designed for 12 MPH sidewalk use and made to the lowest quality, cheapest standards. You are literally betting your life on the cheapest brakes the Chinese manufacturer can possibly put on your bike every time you ride your bike if you don't upgrade them when you put a motor on a bike and double or triple the speeds it was designed for.

    In my opinion, a coaster brake is asking for an accident. They lock up the rear tire very easily when aplied hard in a panic situation with loss of control the result and if the chain slips off or breaks, you have no brakes at all. When you aply the brake, the weight shifts to the front wheel, making a locked up rear tire even more likely. If you buy a bike with a rear only brake, you are foolish not to add some sort a front brake, at the minimum.

    I have a friend who rode his pedal bike across the country. On a long mountain downhill run, he actually melted the front tire(blowout) on the rim from caliper brakes overheating the rim. He lost control and crashed badly at high speed. Now he will not ride a bike without disc brakes.

    I really like a disc brake on the front wheel, but quality caliper brakes on both wheels work fine for the terrain and at the speeds I usually ride.

    I can't imagine anyone foolish enough to drive a car at highway speeds with brakes only on the rear wheels, or brakes that are substandard. Why would you risk your life with a motored bike with substandard brakes?
  7. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    I agree with you on some points, but like i said earlier, it all depends on how and where you ride.
    me for example...I never ride in traffic, hardly ever ride where there are a lot of pedestrians (I do see the occasional person walking their dog).
    I personally do not use beach cruisers / mountain bikes to build motorized bikes out of (however, the majority of people here seem to use those platforms for motorizing).
    A coaster brake is fine (for me) IF the rider knows how to set it up, adjust it right, and USE it correctly. yes, a coaster brake will lock up the rear wheel, but if you know how to control your bike in a skid, this can work to your advantage. just like defensive driving in a car, a locked up and skidding rear wheel can help you manuver out of the way of danger.
    Now, i understand that not everyone is me, and a lot of people may not have the experience that i do.
    I grew up racing bmx, and motorcycles, so it's kind of natural for me to know how to slide a bike around while maintaning control of it.
    NOW, please do not take this like i'm saying that a coaster brake is fine, and it's all the majority fo the people here need...that's not the case.
    where you ride and how you ride has a lot to do with it.
    BOTH of my motorized bikes have caliper brakes (rear only) and one has a coaster brake as well.
    BUT, I personally have never been in a situation where i was going to run into a car or a person.
    I just ride for fun and I would never commute on a motorized bike (where the best braking set ups would be needed).
    just my personal opinion, and this opinion may not apply to everyone.
  8. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6 Well-Known Member

    For V brakes to work well, you need dry weather. You also need to keep your wheels trued and rims clean. Disk brakes work well in all conditions. I dont consider disk brakes a necessity, but they are great to have.
  9. Happy Valley

    Happy Valley Active Member

    Anything that sees a lot of use will require maintenance. Keeping wheels true, rims surfaced and pads deglazed is just another part of routine maintenance for me. Rims wear as well, so replacement is part of the program.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  10. jeffuehrer

    jeffuehrer Member

    I have a stripped down simple simon version of my bike now. I don't have any gears and I only have front v brakes. I have never not been able to stop in time with just front brakes and I ride on congested streets where cars cut me off regularly. I cruise between 20 - 22mph with bursts no more than 30mph (usually to prevent crashes). The weight of the the motor and myself (only 240ish combined) make flying over the handlebars highly improbable even going down a steep hill. Hope that helps.