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High performance comes with high price. Disc brakes are, no doubt, more expensive than V-brakes or hub brakes. Good news is, that after initial investment, the brake pads won’t be that much more expensive than brake shoes for V-brakes.
Disc brakes (as well as V-brakes) are predisposed to wet weather or dusty conditions. Friction between brake pads and rotor reduces when rotor is wet or covered in dust.
Disc brakes – especially hydraulic – can be trickier to maintain than V-brakes. You might also need special tools for those, for example a bleeding kit.
People who are guilty of over maintaining and washing bikes may find brake dust from brake pads irritating.
Hydraulic disc brakes use brake fluid (or oil) to transit change in brake lever position to brake pads. When the lever is pulled, brake fluid in brake hose moves forcing pistons out of their cylinders in brake caliper. The pistons then push the brake pads against the rotor. This creates friction between pads and rotor, and as the rotor is fixed in relation to the wheel, it will slow down and stop your bike.
In general, brake fluids need to be changed every now and then. Brake fluid has ingredients that protect brake hoses. To get rid of unwanted dirt in hoses, brake fluid can be changed, this is more preventive maintenance and changing brake fluid itself won’t instantly improve braking efficiency. Still, related to changing brake fluid, brake lines might have air bubbles mixed to brake fluid. And that will make your brakes worse. Air bubbles have a direct effect on how well change in brake lever position in transferred to brake pads.
Here is a good illustration of how the whole system works.
Disc brakes are the most efficient brakes available today. Brake feeling is much more sensitive and grip is more instant.
If wheel hasn’t been trued – disc brake will still work as good as always, whereas crooked rim will have a direct effect on your V-brake feeling.
Wired disc brakes operate in almost similar way to hydraulic disc brakes, except instead of fluid, the lever is connected to caliper mechanically with a wire.
From time to time, brake cable needs to changed. Cables stretch over time and old cables make brakes feel less sensitive.
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