Road Bike Disc Brakes VS Rim Brakes

At Westbrook Cycles, we stock and supply a massive range of both Rim Brakes and Disc Brakes for all kinds of bikes. These are supplied both fitted to new bikes delivered complete, as well as being available at a component level. Although disc brakes can be classified as the natural evolution of the bike brake, there are many riders which prefer the more traditional choice of rim brakes. 

In this post, we look at the application of rim brakes and disc brakes on road bikes, looking at the advantages, disadvantages of both. To begin with, we will look at exactly what each type of brake is.


What is a Rim brake?

A Rim Brake is the oldest type of bike brake fitted to bikes as new, a rim brake operates by using a brake caliper which is applied to the rim of the wheel, beneath the tyre. The caliper is connected to brake handles by cables, and the subsequent friction between caliper and wheel slows the wheel and bike down, bringing the bike to a stop.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Rim Brakes?

Rim brakes are the brake type of choice for many road cyclists, as well as being incredibly light - they are cheaper, and also easier to look after than disc brakes. The design of rim brakes also means that they are also more aerodynamic. Many road cyclists do not spend too much time braking, so prefer the simplicity of this setup. 

Stopping on rim brakes however, is less instant than disc brakes, and rim brake pads do have a tendency to wear down quickly. As well as the pads wearing down, the rim of the wheel also wears down, so also need replacing in time. 

As rim brakes can only be fitted to certain sizes, rim brakes also reduce the width and choice of tyres that a rider can choose.

What is a Disc Brake?

Disc Brakes operate through a disc caliper being attached to the rotor of a wheel, brake pads apply to the caliper to bring the bike to a stop.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Disc Brakes?

Disc Brakes unsurprisingly have a lot of advantages over disc brakes, they stop quicker, and provide better braking conditions in poor weather conditions. Disc Brake setup can also be changed and amended, providing more tailored performance. Disc Brakes also mean that wider road bike tyres can be used. 

They are however, more expensive than rim brakes, and maintaining them can be more complicated.


The choice between the two types of brake, is of course personal preference. It’s important to note however, that the performance of rim brakes has improved in recent years, and many road bike manufacturers continue to choose to fit rim bikes to their bikes, so do not discount them just yet. 

Here at Westbrook, we believe that disc brakes provide clear benefits - and these can be felt clearly when switching from a bike with disc brakes to rim brakes, but that does not mean that rim brakes should be discounted.