We get this question a lot. So, are disc brakes really better for bigger riders? The immediate assumption is that they are better but let’s figure out why. Disc brakes definitely offer more braking power than caliper rim brakes, so that’s clearly an advantage for heavier riders. They also add about 2 lbs to a bike as compared to similar rim brakes. That’s a significant disadvantage, but when you weigh 250lbs, usually a couple pounds of weight on the bike isn’t your biggest concern. With carbon fiber rims becoming more common, disc brakes provide a significant advantage over rim brakes on a carbon braking surface. Rim brakes can heat up the rim and cause tires to explode on very long descents. This is a common issue for heavy riders. When wheels go out of true, they rub on the rim brake which is annoying and slows you down. This is a non issue with disc brakes, and disc rotors are easier to straighten than wheels. Disc brakes also perform better in the rain or mud.
What’s most important is what our extensive experience with big riders has told us. We have been repeatedly told by riders over 250lbs that they feel much much safer with disc brakes. They feel that they slow down much better when needed, and they are no longer nervous about braking when it’s wet out. This level of confidence is huge, and is the main reason we are building all Clydesdale bikes with disc brakes.