Disc Brake Basics

With the introduction of our Urban Commuters, everyone’s got disc brakes on the brain. Offering increased stopping power, better brake modulation, and more wet-weather effectiveness, there are lots of reasons to make the switch to discs, but is there anything you ought to know before taking the plunge? In today’s post, we’ll walk through the basics of disc brakes so you can get rolling (and stop whenever you want)! 

How They Work

No big surprises here, disc brakes work just like rim brakes! Pull the lever to bring the brake pads against the braking surface (in this case it’s the brake rotor instead of the rim).

The upside to discs is they’ve got more stopping power, especially in wet weather, and they do a better job of handling modulation, so you can easily scrub off speed, slow, or completely stop depending on how much pressure you put on the brake lever. Just be sure you get yourself used to their responsiveness so you know what’ll happen if you grab a handful of brake during an e-stop.

Pad / Rotor Alignment

And before you hit the road you want to make sure your brakes aren’t rubbing anywhere and that they’re dialed in for peak performance. Give the wheels a spin and make sure the rotors stay clear of the pads all the way around.

If there’s a rub, you’ll feel it with every turn of the pedals, stealing your power, slowing you down, and making your ride generally less-fun. Keep everything clear so you can spin smoothly all day long.

Barrel Adjustors

Just like with your rim brakes, as you do more stopping and slowing you’ll wear down those brake pads and eventually need to tighten everything up to keep your levers responsive. Lucky for us, our disc brakes have barrel adjustors (just like our rim brakes) so you can make small changes on the fly with a flick of your wrist.

Locate the barrel adjustors and give them a small counter-clockwise twist to bring the pads closer to the rotors. That’ll speed up the responsiveness when you pull the lever and keep you from having to get more hands-on maintenance-wise for a while.

And, if you go too far, just give them a small turn back the other way to open ‘em back up! Barrel adjustors are awesome! 

Replacement Pads

And when the pads are finally worn down enough for a swap, it’s a simple job too! Remove your old pads and pop over to your local bike shop.

Having your old pads with you will maker getting the right replacement a breeze (in the case of our Urban Commuter bikes you’re looking for Tektro E10.11s as a replacement).

That ought to be enough to get you rolling so take that puppy out for a test ride! In our next lessons we’ll walk step-by-step through rotor installation, brake pad replacement, and getting the most out of your disc brake wrenching.

Ride on. We’ll see you out there.