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Do any of you use a commuter bike with disc brakes? do the pads last ok or is it more hassle than it's worth.

Also, do mechanical disks get better after break-in? So far I have been quite unimpressed with the ones I've tried on test rides. I have hayes hydraulics on my MTB and the power isn't even close.

The top candidate right now is the Kona Dr. Dew, with the hayes hydraulics. I tried the Dew deluxe, but can't stand the low-end shifters and disliked the Hayes cable discs. Are there any other candidates I should look at?
 

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maybe the sheer potential power of discs is overkill for commuting, but they have other benefits that make them practical.
I used Avid BB5's all winter, about 1800 km of wet cold commuting. The pads lasted fine. For my purposes, the braking performance was no better than my old well-set up centerpulls. but then again, I was slowing for stop signs, decending a steep mtb trail. But I'm sure with icy wet conditions, the rim brakes would not have held up as well.
They sand and salted the roads all winter so I'm glad I had discs and didn't have to worry about eating up my rim walls. From the time I installed them, the discs only squeeled occasionally, no more or less than my cantis.
 

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If you commute only in dry weather, there isn't much reason to have disc brakes. If you commute in wet weather they are nice to have, especially in a hilly place. I live in an area where it rains continuously all year and and where it is also very hilly, and all of my bikes have disc brakes. They don't cost that much more than a good set of rim brakes. The ones I use ( Avid BB7s ) are actually easier to set up and adjust than any rim brake. They stay adjusted for a long time, and the pads last a long time.
 

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I do a 6 mile (one-way) commute into Washington, DC on a Lemond Poprad with Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes.

Except for road racing use where weight may be a factor, I don't think you can have "too much stopping power," so I don't see how non-racers could say disc brakes are "overkill." I definitely feel safer sharing the road with cars because my disc brakes give me a little more control on how quickly I can stop in an emergency.

As other posters have mentioned, in addition to being the best at scrubbing off speed, disc brakes offer other advantages:

1. Disc brakes don't chew up your rims;

2. Disc brakes don't rub when your rim is out of true;

3. Disc brakes work well in the rain;

4. Disc brakes work well after riding through a rim-deep puddle;

5. Disc brakes don't allow rim-bound-freezing-slush to clog the brake;

6. Disc brakes don't over-heat your tires on long downhill descents; and

7. Disc brakes require less maintenance.

The down side of disc brakes are a little extra weight and most bike frames are not equipped to mount a disc brake.

IMHO a well set-up and well maintained rim brake also works well, but for the reasons listed above disc brakes are the better option for commuters.

--mudslinger
 

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I have them on my rain commuter. They help a bit, but not that much of a difference from what I have on my regular ride. Then again, I have a really nice set of rim brakes so maybe that plays into the comparison.
 

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I love my disc brakes.

I am big guy and I find a real improvement in stopping power over regular rim brakes. You could get away with only a disc in the front and rim brakes in the back. I currently have front and rear disc, but my next bike will have a disc front only. I find the rear disc tends to complicate rack and fender mounting.
 

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I have thought about building a urban assualt commuter. I think that I would start with a Surly Karate Monkey frame and fork, build it up with a nice 29" disc brake wheelset using mavic 719 rims and some 32mm tires. I would use a thomson 4 bolt stem and some salsa bell lap bars. A richey cross crankset with a 38/48, centaur components with avid bb disc brakes. I would look for stuff to run over, I wouldn't even need a good headlight.
 

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Do any of you use a commuter bike with disc brakes? - yup

do the pads last ok or is it more hassle than it's worth. - the pads last, there's less hassle than rim brakes and the pads/brakes give great consistency, safety and modulation compared to rim brakes (I'll never go back)

Also, do mechanical disks get better after break-in? - yup

So far I have been quite unimpressed with the ones I've tried on test rides. I have hayes hydraulics on my MTB and the power isn't even close. - never used hydraulics but once the pads on my avids broke in the stopping was eye popping - basically I could modulate the braking much more easily but still only lolck up when I wanted to, i.e., not having grabby rim brakes

The top candidate right now is the Kona Dr. Dew, with the hayes hydraulics. I tried the Dew deluxe, but can't stand the low-end shifters and disliked the Hayes cable discs. Are there any other candidates I should look at? - any disc brake cx bike(mountain cycle, salsa, voodoo, kona, etc) and the other DB equipped city/town bikes (specialized sirius pro et al)
 

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Personally I will not buy any bike/frame without disc brakes other than a strict road bike.

Here in Germany, I wore through 1 set of Mavic 517 rims in just 1 year of commuting. Not anymore - going discs!
 
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