Wet Season Training: An Option to Side-Pull Caliper Front Brakes

18 02 2013

I have to remark, after converting the front end of my road bike to a disc brake, the difference is quite noticeable. One of our team’s training courses called “three-hills.” While aptly named, the respective slopes or distances upgrade are nothing to get wrapped around the axle about. This route is decent training route. What goes up, must come down, and so slowing for the merging lane halfway down or the stop sign at the bottom gets interesting when the road is wet and/or when it is raining. That is to say that most of our off-season rides are in the wet.

What I needed was to find a 1-1/8″ straight steerer-tube carbon road fork with the ISO mounts for a disc brake. Here are three:

picture of Whisky no.7 cross fork

Whisky No.7 Cross Fork ~$410

picture of Bike Island CX Fork

Bike Island CX Fork ~$145

picture of Tange Prestige CX Carbon Disc Fork

Tange Prestige CX Carbon Disc Fork ~$249

I ordered the fork from Bike Island. All I needed it to do was to allow adequate braking during the off-season’s accumulation of base miles. No eye-popping sprints, no destruction of wheel rims, just hours of steady riding in the cold wet that is Seattle. A nice-to-have was the fender stay mounts at mid-fork. (Fenders during the off-season are mandatory for our team’s “rain bikes.”) The one installation difficulty was the lack of a thru-hole for the fender mount. Note in the picture below where the bolt nut would usually be located. I had to use a nylon lock nut inside the steerer tube with a shorter fender bracket bolt through the existing front hole.

Picture of mounted fender

Mounted fender, front of fork crown

Picture of the rear of the fork crown

Rear fork crown

The next item was the caliper and rotor itself. I could choose between the apparently higher-end Shimano disc road brake, the Hayes CX-5, or the model from SRAM, the BB7:

avid_AVB71665

SRAM BB7 Road

I bought the BB7 and the corresponding rotor. It’s been around for a while. Lot’s of people have used them, and parts are available just about anywhere you go. I reminded myself that this gear was going to be used in otherwise crap riding conditions. It didn’t need to be top-shelf bling, just simple and reliable.

Installation was fairly straight-forward. After mounting the crown race I measured and cut the steerer tube. Cabling and other assembly proceeded as usual—no issues. Centering the calipers on the rotor took a bit of time, but following the instructions provided by SRAM made it easy. An important note is to follow the bed-in procedure. This will help make sure that your disc system provides the braking you want.

I’ve ridden this conversion for about a month now. I’m satisfied to report that since prematurely wearing my conventionally braked wheelset, I have enjoyed fade-free braking without worry. IIRC, the total cost to convert was about $283, much less than having to buy another middle-grade wheelset.

Thanks for reading.

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