23 July 2012

You want disc brakes for gravel?

My latest rant and sand in my craw coincides directly with the launch of the Salsa Warhawk and its (of course) eventual TI Warhawk.  This is supposed to be the all brand new gravel racer to take over the fucking world.  Most Vayas don't have enough rust or use to justify the Warhawk but profits must be continued and they want to cash in on one of the greatest forms of cycling ever.  I am sick to death of the speccing of disc brakes on these bikes and I will tell you why, from my own personal experience.

I sold my last gravel rig, a Surly Cross Check and the brakes.  My reasoning was to get my gravel rig lighter, faster, and stronger.  I got a discount on the 2011 Crux non disc frame and it fit all my criteria.  I was super excited about it and got myself a top of the line set of cantis.  Dialed those puppies in and off I went on my first 40 mile gravel adventure on my new bike.  20 miles in I had a revelation like none other.  I hadn't touched my brakes the whole time!  Those awesome stoppers hadn't done a thing but decorated my Crux.  I felt like such an idiot.  You know what I did then?  I sold my stoppers on E-bay and spent 10 bucks per set on BMX v-brakes.  The weight savings are negligible and they do their job in EVERY situation.  I've blown three derailleurs due to mud but guess what?  I've been able to stop my bike every single time that happened!  Without discs!

I'm calling your experience out as well W.C.  You had a Vaya and sold it due to fit issues.  You bought a Tri-Cross without discs.  I hear you crying in the night at your lost discs, oh wait that hasn't happened!  I've not once heard you complain about the loss of your BB7's.  

The use of disc brakes for gravel purposes is just another marketing tool period.  I'm set in my ways but if you have any real compelling argument that disc brakes will revolutionize my gravel experience, I'm welcome to hear it.  All my granny customers grinding gravel in the backwoods on their cheap old Trek mountain bikes would love that info as well.


  1. Meh. I've been in some pretty sketchy descents and fast corners that made me glad the discs were there, not to mention a few crappy, wet, muddy rides. Maybe that's just me trying to justify the discs on my Vaya, but I like 'em. The Warbird/Warhawk/whatever seems to be a pretty clean refinement of the Vaya. They listened to their customers and came up with a more race-oriented bike (v. the touring-oriented Vaya). Its not enough to make me want to trade up (yet) but I like the fact that they're continuing to develop a more gravel race specific bike.

  2. The thing I miss most off of the Vaya is the third bottle mount on the bottom of the downtube. There are probably a few times that the discs would be nice but I haven't missed them. I am still excited that gravel racing is a large enough segment that they are making bikes specifically for it. While I most likely won't be buying one, at least I know that when I do buy a new bike, that there might be advancements above what we have now. Besides it will mean more used bikes in the market. :-)