Readers Write - Disc Brake Road Bikes

Bike Hugger picked up a comment this week that is near and dear to my biking-heart. As I’ve posted (twice), I’m a fan on disc brakes for the rainy season.

Robert B of Calgary, Alberta writes:

“Hey huggers! I’ve been reading your blogs for a while, however, I have a burning question about an interesting bike build I’m doing.

A fast ultra-marathon road bike with disc brakes. The bike has a little dirt alter-ego mixed in there for fireroads. It’s almost done, but I’m still pondering all my wheel options. One set for road, and one for cross of course.

I was thinking DTSwiss 240 (28h) hubs, on Zipp 417 or 505 clinchers.

The guys at Cane Creek “were” interested in building me a set, but discovered they no longer have any hubs in stock. As they are getting out of geared wheels, and only doing track wheels for 2008.

Any suggestions on wheel/hub configs.”

I’ll start with hubs. My biggest question is around the rear hub. From what I’ve found, the only 130mm rear spacing (road) hub made is the Phil Wood which lightens the wallet at $459! Someone told me the DT 240s would go 130, but all details I can find say otherwise. A couple manufacturers make road disc wheelsets: Bontrager Select Disc, FSA RD-460, Mavic, and Velomax/Easton. None of these are available as a hub only that I know of. Unless you have 135mm (mtn) rear spacing, your options are rather limited.

For Carbon rims, there are a number of options out there, but the spoke count of the hubs you choose will dictate where you need to look. I know me and friends have had luck with HED, Zipp, Bontrager, and Reynolds. What works the best - hard to say. Clinchers limits your options, but if you are thinking of taking them off-road, I’d really consider Tubulars.

I’m envious of your dilemma as it sounds like a real fun project. Send pictures and I’ll get them up.


I think I’m following here—so you want a cyclocross rain bike with discs and road wheels in carbon?

“Cyclocross” in that it’s 700c with drop bars.  In my case, it’s actually classic road geometry.

Anyway - the idea is that if I am running discs, what’s to keep me from running nice carbon rims?  I can get some decent 25mm tires to handle some of the bumps and I don’t have to worry about the braking surface (some guys don’t worry anyway).  With most winter bikes, rims don’t last long because of all the grit that gets collected at the caliper, and ground into the rim.  With discs - not a factor.

One point of clarification and a big gotcha on road disc bikes.  130mm refers to the rear axle spacing that is standard on road (and most cyclocross bikes).  135mm is the standard rear axle spacing for mountain bikes.  The VAST majority of disc-compatible hubs are made for the mtn market, and therefore are 135mm spaced axles.  I mention in the post, that there are only a handlefull of options at present to support road (130mm) disc bikes.  It could be a while before I find the right mix.

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