Q:

Are there any road bikes fitted with disc brakes?

Here's my recurring nightmare: I'm hurtling down a hill when my rim, worn away by repeated gritty brakings, ruptures and warps, stopping the bike instantly and launching me over the handlebars for a high-speed, unscheduled appointment with the pavement. So far, this has only happened in real life while I've been pedaling uphill. But, have any manufacturers come out with a road bike with disc brakes? I know they're heavier, but I don't care about weight if I can save skin and teeth. Mark Portland, Oregon

Feb 2, 2004
Outside
Outside Magazine

Cyclocross Disc

A: To be honest, I don't see how you can ride a bike to the point where the rims are so thin they blow out like that. I mean, by then they should be going out of true so often that it's clear something is amiss.

So, Mark, how about this: Replace the rims before they GET to the point where your nightmare becomes real. You wouldn't even need to do it that often—one of my bikes is an Eddy Merckx that's now about eight years old. Sure, the front rim got tacoed in a crash five years ago and needed replacing, but the back rim is still the original. Thousands of miles on it, and still goong strong. Even the wheels on my rain bike—a veteran of wet, grit, and the pressure of V-brakes—survived four years before I replaced them, and that was because the non-Shimano/non-Campy hubs sucked. That said, you are seeing a few disc brakes on road-type bikes. Cannondale, for instance, puts disc brakes on its Cyclocross Disc ($1,500; www.cannondale.com), which as the name implies is designed for cyclocross racing. But it's a perfectly good road bike, although you may want to swap out the knobby tires and add a rear cluster with slightly more forgiving gears for the Portland terrain.

Still, for $1,500 you could replace your rims every three years for the next two decades, so there is that to chew over before you rush out and slap down a grand and change.

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