The type of bicycle to be used is usually a major decision faced by every cyclist who is in the planning phase of his or her cycle touring trip. Much consideration is given to the bicycle’s weight carrying capability, tire size and tread pattern, and of course comfort. How the bicycle’s braking system will perform under the added weight of loaded panniers and the anticipated riding conditions of the trip is often overlooked or underestimated. Even with the increased use of mountain bikes for cycle touring, and the advent of disc brake systems for these types of bicycles, it is still widely advised that cyclists should consider the pros and cons of each type of brake system prior to making their final choice.
- Offer more consistent braking performance under all conditions, especially if it’s wet or muddy. They require less force to stop your bike.
- Rely on the condition of the disc rotors and brake pads for their effectiveness. If the rotor becomes damaged or out of alignment, then braking performance suffers.
- Cost more and weigh more than rim brakes.
- Require special wheel hubs, as well as special disc brake hose lines and disc brake parts (i.e. calipers, oil, reservoirs, brake pad retaining clips, and torx style bolts).
- Hydraulic disc brakes cannot be used with road levers on drop style handlebars.
NOTE: Disc brakes are available in either hydraulic (oil actuated) or mechanical (cable actuated). Mechanical disc brakes tend to be lighter and less expensive than the hydraulic models and they can be utilized with road levers on drop style handlebars.
- Have been developed over the years to give good braking performance when properly maintained and used with a dry rim surface.
- Rely on the condition of the wheel rims and brake pads for their effectiveness. If the wheel rim becomes damaged or out of alignment, then braking performance suffers.
- Cost less and weigh less than disc brakes.
- Use standard wheel hubs, standard brake housing and brake parts (i.e. levers, cables, brake pads, and bolts).
- Can be used with any style of brake lever and handlebar.
Both braking systems are effective and reliable when properly adjusted and maintained. So rather than making a decision based on which system is better, a cyclist planning a touring trip should make his or her decision based on which system is better suited for their intended destination.
- Serviceability – Do I have the knowledge and tools necessary to fix these brakes or do I intend to find capable shops along my route?
- Availability – Am I going to be bringing parts for my brakes or do I expect to find them at shops along my route?
In Thailand, if your cycling trip will be fairly short (two weeks or less), you may encounter no problems using a bicycle equipped with hydraulic disc brakes. It is recommended that you carry, at a minimum, an extra set of brake pads and a retaining clip. But if your trip will be longer and you’re planning to cycle through a part of Thailand where bike shops carry only a few standard parts, then standard rim brakes are the way to go. Happy Riding!
Planning a cycling trip in Thailand? Want to remove some of the guesswork when it comes to routes and information? BicycleThailand.com offers GPS route data for touring cyclists that can be used on a GPS device, smartphone, or tablet. These routes can be viewed on your device regardless of internet access during your Thailand cycling adventure. Learn more about our Thailand GPS cycle touring routes.