To Disc or Not To Disc

I look up to the sky. I see the grey-black clouds floating above the city. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t ride on this day. I dress up, I grab the bike, I start roaming on the road and the skies get darker and darker.

I hold the drops and hunker down to be that bit faster. It’s now inevitable, the skies will fall. Zeus will cry. Then one drop hits my arm. Then I see another on the handlebars. Then another on my glasses.

So it begins.

I prepare myself for the soakng I will receive both from above and below, from the water and gunk my bike will throw at me. Why’d I left the Ass Saver at home? Why did I leave home in the first place?

The rain’s in full force now. I start to feel the cold of the water on my clothes, and instinctively push the pedals harder to heat myself back up. I keep thinking of the records broken in rainy TT courses. A wry smile appears on my face, with the numbers I see on the speedo.

I see the red light at the intersection, I grab some brakes.

Nothing happens.

The “oh s#@t!” moment lasts only half a second, but it’s an eternity in my mind. The brake track dries up, the pads start working again, I manage to stop.

That monstrosity that people copied from motorbikes may actually have some merit. No, they are not as large as the wheel itself, and no, they don’t add a metric ton tho the bike’s weight. Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, but they can actually look quite clean, exept for the unsightly horns sticking out of your handlebars that happen to be your shift/brake levers. And my bike was too light for the UCI anyway.

Some time later, I find myself searching for the steepest hills in town. Maçka Koppenberg, anyone? Bebek? Narcity Sol? I put it in the granny (36/25, mind you) and manage to get up all of them, while also locking myself into the pain cave and tossing the keys into the river.

Every up has its down.

Carbon fiber is a great structural material, but it’s terrible braking material. In comparative terms. Even with pads made of Swiss unobtainium, they are for stopping, not dissipating the energy of the fat I burned a minute ago.

The pain on the way up turns into panic of fading brake power and the scream of the brakes as they heat up.

Don’t the discs heat up enough to fade? Yes, they do. In, like, auto racing. Where they also glow. Now that would look good, especially at night.

Would I trade more pain going up a hill with less panic going down? Depends on the hills. Many pros (at least those who know their way around corners) wouldn’t. Would you? Depends on how you ride. How much heat you dump into the brakes. Like, doing 300-0 km/h braking every thirty seconds. But you probably don’t.

Enough of the auto racing jokes. If your gross weight is higher than the cycling standard, be it your sheer size, loads you carry on your trip to Mongolia, or the electric motor that propelled you up the climb in the first place, discs may really be a good idea.

by Efe Ballı