Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bicycle Disc Brake Baloney

          I've been accused of resisting our inevitable future...disc brakes on all bicycles. During my forty-two years of working on and selling bicycles, I've maintained that the beauty of the bike is it's simplicity. We have here, an instrument of conveyance that is light, depletes a minimum of natural resources, distributes even less harmful fumes and poisons than a walking human and is an item that nearly every person in modern society can find a way to afford.
         Well, the modern capitalist cannot resist complicating and therefore making more profitable, even the most efficient mode of transportation ever developed by man. Disc brakes on bicycles is the latest example of technical overkill to sweep the two-wheel industry...braking really wasn't a problem that needed to be addressed. Unless you spend much of your time cycling through the slushy streets of Seattle or Vancouver.
          So, there are seasons and places where disc brakes are appropriate, but why does every bicycle sold in America have to be outfitted with these heavier and technically "advanced" pieces of hardware. The hubs of bicycle wheels are now beefier to accommodate the the stainless rotors and the increased torque stresses they cause on the wheel...the lacing of the spokes must now also be "dished" on both sides of the wheel, resulting in less side to side (lateral) resistance to folding during abrupt turns that the cyclist might deem necessary.
          The additional weight added to the bicycle is alone enough reason to abstain from purchasing a two wheeler that can throw you ass-over-tea-kettle with a squeeze of a pinkee finger. Call me a Luddite or an Amish sympathizer (hey, the Amish love their bicycles but, have no use for hydraulic disc brakes). I am confident that this (fascination with trick technology) too will pass. A hundred years ago innovators thought that all bicycles of the future would have motors, built in headlights, horns and a throttle.        
          Bicycles and motorcycles are no longer sold out of the same dealerships but, each have their following. I'm not saying that the disc brake bicycle does not have a future. I am saying that not all bicycles need "braze-ons" that accommodate the braking mechanism. There is a future for light, simple bicycles and wheels...so, please stop trying to put these contraptions on our lightweight and magical road machines.