Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
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Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by markz » Jul 24 2020 8:50pm

I go to the usual scumbag department store websites and see their fat bicycle shaped objects all have dirt cheap disc brakes.

Wouldnt V-brakes be cheaper and the profit margins higher?

V-brake pads are dirt cheap and are universal, disc pads are all different shapes and cost much more.
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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by amberwolf » Jul 24 2020 9:36pm

Because everybody always says rim brakes suck, and they want disc brakes. So the manufacturers listened, and went with those, so they'd sell more bikes. They don't want them to sit around becuase they have sucky rim brakes, right? ;)


Really, it's probably because there arent' many, if any fatbike rim options that have rim braking surfaces, and/or any that do exist cost more than the other type.

That and it's probably less labor intensive by some small amount to install disc brakes than rim brakes, whether they bother adjusting them or not.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by MadRhino » Jul 24 2020 10:08pm

Fatbike are made to ride the snow. Winter conditions are the worst for rim brakes reliability. The speed that fat bikes are made for wouldn’t require disc brakes, but the conditions they are riding does. Add to this fact that fat bike specific rim brakes would have needed to be manufactured, while disc brakes are not dependant of tire and rim width.

Cheap disc brakes are sh*t, worse than the average rim brake. Yet the disc brakes that first appeared on downhill bikes were motorcycle like and very reliable. The idea was then set in consumers mind, that disc brakes are a characteristic of robust, expansive bikes.
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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Jul 25 2020 1:13am

markz wrote:
Jul 24 2020 8:50pm
I go to the usual scumbag department store websites and see their fat bicycle shaped objects all have dirt cheap disc brakes.

Wouldnt V-brakes be cheaper and the profit margins higher?

V-brake pads are dirt cheap and are universal, disc pads are all different shapes and cost much more.
One of my coworkers serviced an extremely godforsaken Huffy fat bike today, which had V-brakes. I noticed that they were special, with extra-long brake arms so the cable would clear the tire. Also, the mounting studs were spaced freakishly widely to accommodate the very wide rim. I think it had 100mm rims, but the stud spacing probably would not have worked with 80mm rims, and definitely would not work at all with 65mm rims. Huffy had done the disservice of painting the rims, so braking would be impaired and pad wear would be extreme until all the paint or powdercoat wore away.

For whatever that abomination cost, V-brakes were probably good value compared to the kind of disc brakes that could potentially fit the same budget. But that miserable price point is probably better served by large diameter band brakes, which suck— but to a lesser degree than rim brakes or discs on bikes that cost the same as inflatable bike pool toys, or piñatas of bikes.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by spinningmagnets » Jul 25 2020 10:45am

Fat bikes were introduced to the public at a time when disc brake components had already been mass-produced and were affordable. The fat rims come in a variety of widths, so nobody wanted to stock a low-volume group of parts when there was no guarantee that fat bikes were not just a fad.

If you were a new start-up business and bought 200 sets of fat rim brakes in four different sizes, a slow customer adoption could mean you go out of business, and you couldn't sell the rim brakes to anybody for any price.

In the early days, I saw one model of "Sun" fatbike that had rim brakes. It had the most common 4-inch tires, but I have recently seen tires at 3.5, 3.8, 4.0, 4.5, 4.8...etc

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by docw009 » Jul 25 2020 10:46am

I had V-brakes on my $79 Kent Devastator. Real squonkers.
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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Jul 25 2020 11:23am

It's worth noting that the very first mass market fat bike (Surly Pugsley) came with both cantilever brake studs and IS disc brake tabs. The rims for it (Large Marge) were only offered in 65mm width, and they had sidewalls that were suitable for rim braking.

There wasn't a V-brake option for it, because regular V-brakes aren't long enough to clear a 4" tire. But it was feasible to use cantilever brakes.

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Surly still makes a version of Pugsley, but the rim brake studs were deleted years ago.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by markz » Jul 26 2020 1:49pm

Popularity of disc brakes over rim brakes - This is the one I thought of, but many more you guys came up with.

Long enough arms on the V-brakes (not mass produced, not popular, not enough in stock)

Conditions ridden (snow, rain, mud) - Mud could collect at the V-brake bosses more easily. Takes a turn for the V-brake to wipe off crud and bite.

Production methods and costs/profit margins, availability of long arm v-brakes

Rim widths, 50mm - 100mm

Rims made with "machined" brake walls

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by monster » Jul 26 2020 6:30pm

Rim brakes are super annoying because there is so much to adjust.
disc brakes are fixed and cant rotate hitting the tyre like rim brakes do.
Rim brakes need to be adjusted on so many axis to kiss the rim e.g. up/down, rotationally, in/out.
They have to be reguarly re-adjusted cos the adjustment bits are just m6 bolts.

Disc all you have to worry about is how much pad you have left and is it bridgeing over the disc.
The adjustment bits are all thick metal blocks that don't slip.
I would go for cheap disc brakes over expensive v-brakes anyday.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by AHicks » Jul 26 2020 7:56pm

My thought is that the advantages of a disk brake (like being able to actually stop for instance) far out weigh any down side.

For me, this would be like walking into a new car show room and asking for a car with drum brakes.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Jul 26 2020 8:12pm

AHicks wrote:
Jul 26 2020 7:56pm
My thought is that the advantages of a disk brake (like being able to actually stop for instance) far out weigh any down side.
That’s because you’ve never gone to the (easy) effort and (small) expense to get rim brakes that work well.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by AHicks » Jul 26 2020 8:41pm

Balmorhea wrote:
Jul 26 2020 8:12pm
AHicks wrote:
Jul 26 2020 7:56pm
My thought is that the advantages of a disk brake (like being able to actually stop for instance) far out weigh any down side.
That’s because you’ve never gone to the (easy) effort and (small) expense to get rim brakes that work well.
With the availability of disk brakes, I doubt seriously there would be any benefit to rim brakes. Why would I want to take a step backwards in available technology?

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by markz » Jul 26 2020 9:31pm

Ut oh

I can hear Balmorhea now

This should be interesting

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by boytitan » Jul 27 2020 12:03am

Replacing crappy disc brake calipers is 10x easier than buying new rim brakes. My roadbike disc brake calipers were a joke. I got xteck dual piston closed hydraulic system cable actuated calipers for 40 bucks. Pedals, tires, and brakes I never factor in when buying a bike because I am going to replace them. I hate when push bike reviewers bring those up. Personally all my bikes are going to get contintal e bike rated tires push or ebike, xtech brake calipers if it has drop bars, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes if it has flat or semi flat bars. Whatever pedals I think look nice on Amazon.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Jul 27 2020 3:12am

AHicks wrote:
Jul 26 2020 8:41pm
With the availability of disk brakes, I doubt seriously there would be any benefit to rim brakes. Why would I want to take a step backwards in available technology?
Bad discs are as bad as the worst rim brakes. Good rim brakes are as good as the best disc brakes— no exaggeration. But rim brakes are cheaper, easier to service, less demanding of special tools, and far more future-proof. Unrelated to the brakes, rim brake wheels are stronger weight-for-weight than disc wheels, and cheaper, and lighter.

Discs are a little cleaner than rim brakes (but less clean than drum or coaster brakes), but they require more intensive, more expensive maintenance and are far more vulnerable to physical damage.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Jul 27 2020 3:18am

boytitan wrote:
Jul 27 2020 12:03am
Replacing crappy disc brake calipers is 10x easier than buying new rim brakes.
Yep, that’s pretty much all you can do with discs to improve them. I don’t know what you think is so hard about rim brakes, though. The hard ones I deal with are almost all from the mid ‘80s or earlier. It’s a much bigger deal to center a disc caliper that won’t stay put while you tighten it, than it is to set rim brake pads and cable tension.

Good rim brakes can turn your bike right over, just like the best discs. But they do it cheaper, with less frequent pad replacement and higher reliability.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by MadRhino » Jul 27 2020 4:30am

Advantages of dic brakes are getting the most important with speed, snow and dirt conditions. Yet those advantages have a cost. A good disc brake alone cost more than complete cheap bikes, and does require some knowledge to service.

Manufacturers putting cheap disc brakes on every bike are not making them any better. They do it for marketing purpose, and clients are soon to spend money on them.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by miro13car » Jul 27 2020 9:12am

I am amazed that very often in discussion about v-brake versus disc brakes wearing out of rims is not mention.
with V-brakes you would have to replace worn out rims sooner or later
imagine cost of quality rim plus labour on lacing wheel?
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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by MadRhino » Jul 27 2020 9:42am

miro13car wrote:
Jul 27 2020 9:12am
I am amazed that very often in discussion about v-brake versus disc brakes wearing out of rims is not mention.
with V-brakes you would have to replace worn out rims sooner or later
imagine cost of quality rim plus labour on lacing wheel?
Disc brakes users are replacing rotors too, much more often than rim brakes are wearing rims. Most of rims are replaced for other reasons anyway, and are a common cause for rim brakes malfunction.

My rotors last two years if they aren’t damaged in a crash, and I use Hope 225mm rotors that are pretty expansive. During those two years I spend about 100-150$ in brake pads. And, I bleed the calipers once a year.

I sure spend less time maintaining my disc brakes than rim brakes that wouldn't do the job anyway for the performance that I ride. Yet the cost of maintenance is higher for disc brakes in general, for those who can’t service them at home especially.
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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by 2old » Jul 27 2020 10:51am

Living in socal, where inclement weather isn't an issue, and not riding as hard as some (MR) above, "V" brakes have served me very well for the 35+ years I've been riding MTB, but it's nice to have at least a disc up front for my, heavier, e-MTB's. Interesting, to me, is a set of DT hubs that have survived for 20 years without maintenance while I've worn out two rims on the front and rear and needed to rebuild the wheels. When the wheel goes out of true and can't be "brought back", time for a new one.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by markz » Jul 27 2020 3:31pm

I have ridden e-bikes with only a front V-brake, and it was sufficient for casual cruising and even steep hills on controlled descents. I'd eat through the pads every 4 months or so. Heck, I've even ridden e-bikes with no brakes at all with just using my foot and the natural drag of the direct drive hub (no regen/abs braking but like a train sooner or later it would stop with the drag when no power is applied, so planning ahead). Now I did that for a day because bike shop was closed. But $4 for some V-brake pads I am all for that and they arent that hard to setup. The only thing I dislike is when I would get a flat, I'd have to undo the brake cable to install infated tire, or get tube and tire installed on bike then air up. With disc it dont matter, but I just hate spending $22 on disc's that dont last long and when you get any kind of oil on them they are no good no more.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by donn » Jul 27 2020 4:29pm

So ... since the important stuff is probably out of the way by now ... what's a "v-brake"?

A casual persual of my favorite online catalogue's rim brake options shows side pull and center pull calipers; "linear" , "U style", cantilever, hydraulic. The rear brake on my old recumbent is a center pull cam that doesn't seem to have any modern equivalent. But no "v-brake", and nothing that looks to me like a V.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Jul 27 2020 4:35pm

miro13car wrote:
Jul 27 2020 9:12am
I am amazed that very often in discussion about v-brake versus disc brakes wearing out of rims is not mention.
with V-brakes you would have to replace worn out rims sooner or later
imagine cost of quality rim plus labour on lacing wheel?
It depends on what pads you use, and what your local dirt is like, as well as weather conditions and hills. In Seattle, it wasn’t unusual for daily riders to grind up a pair of lightweight rims per year. In Austin, it’s very rare to see badly worn sidewalls, even on decades-old bikes. Most of them, I suspect, were run for a while with pads worn all the way down to the metal core. Some of my bikes have wheels more than 20 years old, were daily use bikes for much of that time, and show no detectible brake track wear.

On the other hand, you have to replace a disc rotor any time it gets a good bump into something. Wheels aren’t fragile like that.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by Balmorhea » Jul 27 2020 4:44pm

donn wrote:
Jul 27 2020 4:29pm
So ... since the important stuff is probably out of the way by now ... what's a "v-brake"?
“V-brake” is a Shimano trademark for what is generically called a linear-pull brake. In the late ‘90s, Shimano was the first mass market manufacturer of such brakes for bikes, so the term V-brake precedes the term linear-pull. Thus “V-brake” has become genericized in casual use, like Kleenex or Q-tip.

Before Shimano V-brakes, the few specialty linear-pull brakes available (e.g. Marinovative Cheap Trick) were usually called “pull-through” brakes.

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Re: Why no V-brakes on Fat Bikes?

Post by markz » Jul 27 2020 5:03pm

Think of linear pull brakes aka V-brakes as having a 650mm inch rotor and not a measly 160mm or 205mm rotor. Yes 650mm is 26" which is the rim, now 29" is 730mm, how common is a 29" with V-brake sidewalls well lemme do a quick little check. Judging solely on the small rim pictures at Chain Reaction Cycle, very few are. I couldnt find any out of the 12 or 18 I did a quick once over. Clicking on the rim link to get the quick details, 2 didnt specify one way or another. I'd imagine it'd be quite hard to find a 29'er in machined sidewall for v-brake.

My last pair of disc pads had gotten some oil on them somehow, and that was the end of those disc pads.

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