Are Disc Brakes Faster? Disc Brakes Vs Rim Brakes | GCN Does Science

Are Disc Brakes Faster? Disc Brakes Vs Rim Brakes | GCN Does Science


In association with SRAM.

Simon’s had enough of the debate, he wants to find out what really is the best, rim or disc brakes?

Subscribe to GCN:
Get exclusive GCN gear in the GCN shop!

Let us know what you think of this massive amount of data in the comments below 👇

To ensure that the results are as accurate as possible, the frames are the same (Orbea Orca), the tyres are the same (Continental GP4000s II), and the riding position is the same.

How is the test going to be conducted?
Once in the dry on each bike and once in the wet on each bike. So a total of four descents.

The location for the test is a portion of the descent of the Passo Pordoi in Alta Badia, Italy.

How are the results going to be gathered? Simon will be using GPS data from his Wahoo Elemnt, Powermeter data, heart rate measurements, and an accelerometer.

Were disc brakes faster? Well, you are going to have to watch to find out.

If you’d like to contribute captions and video info in your language, here’s the link 👍

Watch more on GCN…
Are Disc Brakes Ready For The Tour De France? Road Disc Brakes Vs. Rim Brakes | GCN Does Science 📹
How Much Faster Can You Stop With Disc Brakes? 📹

Photos: © Bettiniphoto / & ©Tim De Waele /

About GCN:

The Global Cycling Network puts you in the centre of the action: from the iconic climbs of Alpe D’Huez and Mont Ventoux to the cobbles of Flanders, everywhere there is road or pavé, world-class racing and pro riders, we will be there bringing you action, analysis and unparalleled access every week, every month, and every year. We show you how to be a better cyclist with our bike maintenance videos, tips for improving your cycling, cycling top tens, and not forgetting the weekly GCN Show. Join us on YouTube’s biggest and best cycling channel to get closer to the action and improve your riding!

Welcome to the Global Cycling Network | Inside cycling

Thanks to our sponsors:

Alta Badia: // Maratona Dles Dolomites:
Assos of Switzerland:
KASK helmets:
fi’zi:k shoes and saddles: and
Topeak tools:
Canyon bikes:
Quarq:
DT Swiss:
Science in Sport:
Orbea bikes:
Trek Bicycles:
Vision wheels:
Zipp wheels:
power2max:
Wahoo Fitness:
Park Tool:
Continental tyres:
Camelbak:

YouTube Channel –
Facebook –
Google+ –
Twitter –

Leave us a comment below!

100 Comments on "Are Disc Brakes Faster? Disc Brakes Vs Rim Brakes | GCN Does Science"


  1. As scientific and as accurate as cutting bread with a toilet roll. One thing we can be sure of .. that road is SO much more fun in a car

    Reply

  2. I choose to keep rim brakes. they just perform well, and I like the fact they're reliable and simple to maintain and adjust. I never use my main road/race bike when the wheather is wet, so for me it's a no brainer.

    Reply

  3. Can you guys measure the force required to squeeze the disk brakes vs. rim brakes in dry and wet conditions? That is one of the largest factors; that when I encounter wet conditions, my rim brakes suddenly require substantial more force. My disk brakes function the same.

    Reply

  4. I think a key component that is missed for this discussion is the heat that is generated on RIM brakes. The rim is often a compromise between its role for holding the bead of the tire and holding part of the tube and it's aerodynamics vs the need the need to provide a flat friction area for braking. At its worst the heat can cause the tube to pop, and delamination of all carbon rims. Furthermore, the need to brake on the rim hinders the goal of rim aerodynamics. Finally, carbon is a poor braking surface as compared to aluminum, which is becoming more and more of an issue as all carbon rims become more and more prevalent.

    Note, for a while the delamination due to rim braking got so bad on rides with a lot of mountain descends, that ride organizers banned rim braked bikes on all carbon rims.

    Reply

  5. Coming from the mtb side of things, I like my discs, but tbh, they aren't functionally any better than a good V-brake. Stepping up from cantis to Vs was revelatory; moving from Vs to discs freed up suspension design, and not much else.

    PS I weigh 120kg-ish (235lbs), so I think I have more than a little intimate experience with applied braking power. 🤔😂

    Reply

  6. THAT is science : test , facts , can be replicated , that i aprouve , …… Big bang theory, evolution , that is belief, that is religion, that i dont !(at least dont say it s science)

    Reply

  7. Disk should have delayed stopping power due to flex in the spokes when power is being transferred from the diameter of the wheel down to the disk. Whereas the rim brakes are absorbing that power directly. Is this right?

    Reply

  8. I have a Se Fat ripper with disk brakes and they are terrible compared to my blocks flyer with rim brakes

    Reply

  9. I have both disc & rim brake road bikes. Generally I prefer the disc bike – a Giant Contend SL2 (cable operated disc).

    Reply

  10. Rim brakes always for me. Flip the bike over & you can true your rim on the road if you hit a nasty hole or something. Plus for me, disc brakes make the ride ugly looking .

    Reply

  11. I just bought a new city bike with hydrolic disk brakes. It is much higher quality than my old bike with rim brakes. I live in a hilly city and ride down hills every day AROUND TRAFFIC. I really don't care how fast I am, I care how safe I am. There is no comparison. Disc brakes all the way for safety.

    Reply

  12. It's funny when you see sub 900g frames etc etc and then a load of disk brakes added to make an 8kg "super" bike.

    Reply

  13. On a mtb it’s no question..I can’t imagine a ride without good hydraulic disk brakes. On my road bike it would be a nice upgrade but the biggest advantage for them in my opinion is the option to run more tire choices. Although after a nasty wreck in the rain I don’t ride road much anymore in heavy rain or snow so maybe that’s where my opinion would change more. I trust Simon on the scientific data lol

    Reply

  14. too poor for discs – end of debate for me / next time I have the money to buy a new road bike is probably when rim brakes have become extinct anyway. until then, I'll gladly ride my rim brake road bike.

    Reply

  15. Your "science" videos are kinda useless tbh 1 run for each configuration is as you said not enough for any kind of conclusion… Waste of time to watch.

    Reply

  16. I know everyone is about performance, but for me disk brakes seem to be just less hassle. Wheel gets a knock, rims start to rub, disks don't. Taking the wheel off, just slides in and out with disks. Pads wear down a bit, rim brakes need an adjust more often. Rim pads can get turned, knocked around as well. Replacing disk pads just slot them in and they are in the right spot (mine have magnetic seats).

    I think they are better too, rims definitely pick up more gunk in nasty conditions and a rim takes longer to clear water as it is more surface area around the whole wheel. I get more feel and feedback with disk brakes. Just seems a no brainer, one less thing to worry about on the road.

    Reply

  17. The proper sequence should have been: dry-disk, dry-rim, wet-rim, wet-disc then repeated as wet-disc, wet-rim, dry-rim, dry-disc. The sequence used for this test favors the rim brakes because you went with the discs's first and that gave you greater knowledge allowing subsequent runs to be faster — again, favoring the rim brakes. If this test were done as I indicated I'd wager that disc brakes would be faster everywhere. there's no reason corner speed should be faster on either bike so the fact that the corner speed was lower on the disc bike further highlights the advantage rim brakes had by going second — with experience you could take the corners faster. In reality, the test performed as it was is almost useless.

    Reply

  18. I'm surprised you didn't mention one obvious, visible difference: rim brakes allow for lighter and/or cheaper wheel builds,(note radial front lacing) because the spokes don't have to stop the bike.

    Reply

  19. This is Rediculous. A guy that's used to rim brakes. Brakes just as efficiently as a guy used to disc. The only thing different is the feel. And the modulation. I can lock up disc. I can lock up rim. I can brake every pressure in between. So what's the difference again besides rider error?

    Reply

  20. dont rim brakes wear out much faster? I weight 100kg let me descend on that bike and watch them burn with smoke, or attack weights to yourself

    Reply

  21. I've never had a problem slowing down "fast" with rim brakes
    except when caught in a rainstorm and then I stop riding and look for a highway overpass
    or some sort of shelter so I can sit down and smoke my pipe.

    Reply

  22. I have plenty of modulation ability on my rim brakes to suit my needs, so the cost of replacement isn't worth it for me, at least. Even for wet scenarios, as I never brake hard in the wet, and I always start early, allowing that layer of water to be quickly wiped off.

    Reply

  23. The braking load is transferred from the hub thru the spokes and then the rim. Rim brakes don’t cause loading on these components. I maintain extra maintenance is required to keep the rims true and rigid. Pro teams have finances and means to do this on a regular basis.

    Reply

  24. Or you could just buy a big box store bike that almost always now a days gives you one of each style of brake. Best of both worlds 😉

    Reply

  25. Disc all day long, better in the wet the UK has lots of rain, and you don't trash your rims.

    Reply

  26. Rim brakes have suited me fine for the most part, on both trails, mountains and bike paths. If I felt there was a need for better brakes, I would just replace the worn out brake pads. But generally speaking, the less I brake the faster or more speed I gain. So having disc brakes is more or less a non-issue.

    Reply

  27. Kudos for doing this test, but I can tell that you weren't interested in giving it another go in the cold wet. …can't blame you.

    Reply

  28. C'mon! Disc brakes are the future. The only reason the industry hasnt fully adapted to it yet is because it would mean less sales on wheelsets in general. Its all about making money for these companies.

    Reply

  29. Disk brakes are superior to rim brakes. More immediate contact, buckled / out of true wheels are not so much of an issue and in the dry they just give better stopping distances

    Reply

  30. How about 2 identical bikes (except for the brakes), driving in a flat surface in the same speed and brake at designated point, so we can see the gap between them.

    Reply

  31. The only reason I prefer hydraulic disc breaks in that they wear slower and at least in my experience seems generally more reliable than than any wire systems

    Reply

  32. The real question : Are Disc brakes worth all the extra money and effort to maintain them in place of the rim brakes ? As bike manufactures try to push rim brakes out of the sport, they screw themselves out of the business.

    Reply

  33. My first cars had drum brakes all around. Then front brakes were disc and the rear drums. Now my cars are all disc brakes. Why? Because they are easier to fix and they work better. They same for my bikes.

    Reply

  34. I hate rim brakes. Commuting and just riding about the cheap shitty rim brakes get damaged, wear out so fast. Disk brakes I can do anything I want leave them for ages. If I crash into another rider or hit something 8/9 times of 10 the rim brakes can damaged/moved around somewhat.

    Reply

  35. Currently ride a 2018 Trek FX3 with disk breaks and "feel" the break performance is vastly superior to my old Schwinn with rim breaks. Fair comparison(?), maybe not.

    Reply

  36. You should try Transfăgărășanul road as well from Romania. Great mountain road, similar but more spectacular then this Dolomiti.

    Reply

  37. Me in 2019 : Im still riding rim brackes, because its lighter and i only right in the dry.
    Every other rider : DISK BRAKES ARE BETTER!?!?!!
    Me : I dont care, they are heavy and not even better in the dry!

    Reply

  38. Can I put some old rim breaks on a modern rock shok on my old mtb? i dont see anywhere to mount the rim breaks, because i need to replace the old shock (30 years old tange)

    Reply

  39. Good test. I’d love to ride in a place like that. I don’t really care for the looks of the disc on the front wheel

    Reply

  40. As a mountain biker, I wouldn't be caught dead on rim brakes (actually, I would, and that is the problem). But I also would never ride anything less than 2.4" tires sooooo shrug. There's a reason the mountain bike industry gave up on rim brakes 20 years ago.

    Reply

  41. I think drum brakes would be better on a bike. Drum brakes don't care about wet conditions because it is very unlikely that water could get in and brake fade isn't a issue on a bike like it is on a truck.

    Reply

  42. Which brake needs more maintenance?
    What is the weight penalty with Discs?
    Disc brakes have the side effect of allowing you to play around with wider tires. No?

    Reply

  43. This is a really well done video. You guys did a great job. Personally, I say get the HED jet black rims with rim brakes and then you’ll get the braking performance you need in the wet.

    Reply

  44. Must be nice to have access to disc brakes and not need to build custom wheels or source compatible forks. BMX life…

    If anyone argues with this I'd appreciate the corresponding links to the parts supplier?

    Reply

  45. I would attributes the dry performance of the disc brakes to the fact that he hadn't riden the course yet

    Reply

  46. Disks are far better if you ride in all conditions like myself.

    Snow piles up at the brake and makes it a bit sketchy

    Reply

  47. The comparison between brake systems to me would be the ability to feather the brake, especially on wet pavement. If the brake is applied and feathered differently on wet pavement than dry pavement I think would be the most important. I’ve noticed through the years that I would find different pad material to determine brake performance for my trickiest descents. My choice would be a brake material that would NOT hook up too quickly. This cause the wheel to lock up and slamming you down on the pavement. For instance the difference between Campy brakes and other cantilever brakes. The Campy would let you feather the brake easier from different road conditions, without risk of locking up the wheel, being the most important on various road conditions.

    Reply

  48. The best brakes I've tried were disc brakes in a sealed housing, preventing any ingress of moisture. Amazingly effective at all times, even though they were very compact (maybe 4cm in diameter). This was on an "old lady" style bike I once bought when living in the Netherlands.

    Reply

  49. I choose rim brakes. But if disc brakes cost and weight same, i choose them ;-). Now It`s still not a standard, but expensive hype.

    Reply

  50. I have both and I'll have to say on a road bike I prefer Rim brakes we throw around the word modulation a lot and the fact is most people don't try but one or two different breaks in their lifetime how do they know what real modulation is and like you hitting this video there definitely needs to be something said about the abilities of that small of a contact patch under braking stress I'm sure the cantilever brakes we're getting close to pushing a 25 M M tires ability as far as friction and traction goes disc brakes are definitely well above our tire technology for road bikes another thing I don't like is under hard braking or if you're not exactly Senator balance when you have to hit those brakes say if it were by surprise or in case of an emergency nobody talks about the lateral Twist on the bike which is definitely noticeable under hard braking unless ideal conditions you can even see the effect of the torque on the rim

    Reply

  51. After thirty years using various styles of rim brakes I can say without a doubt, disc brakes are better, and rule in the wet, period.

    Reply

  52. "Or what if your 80kgs, or even 90kgs…"

    [Me, 102kgs, staring at my toes… (q.q) ]
    (Though my main sport is pretty obviously not cycling, I really do love geeking out about it and riding!)

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *