Change to Disc Brakes?

Job E.

New Member
Dec 22, 2015
I have a mountain bike with cantilever brakes on them. I want to replace them with disc brakes, since a friend of mine suggested that disc brakes are much better when it comes to mountain bikes, and that they're much easier to maintain than cantilever brakes. But my rims don't have those discs, so does that mean I have to change the rims? Or is there a way to just attach the discs to my existing rims?
Almost need to change the whole bike
Discs brake caliper have to mount to the frame & the discs bolt to the wheel hubs
You can get a new front fork & wheel to put disc on the front easy enough.

Disc wheels are heavier due to the braking force beiing applied to the center of the wheel instead of the rim.
The spokes & rim have to be stronger to carry the braking forces from the center out to the tire.

If your frame is set up for disc, then you'll still need a new wheel set.
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As the other poster said, you will need to replace your existing wheelset since they are not disc compatible. Also likely, you will need to replace the frame and fork to accommodate the disc brakes mounts. You are better off selling your existing bike and replace it with one that have disc brakes on it.
Don't bother.
If you don't have disc tabs on your frame/fork and your wheel set isn't disc compatible, the high cost will not be worth the difference in brake power.
You're better off putting your time and money into keeping your cantilevers in good working condition.
When you're ready for a new bike then you can make sure you get one that runs discs.
What you need is:

- Disk hubs. (not the whole wheel needs to be changed).
- Disk brake tabs on the Frame.

All parts (including brakes) are acquired for less $ $ with a new bike.

If its some sort of expensive MTB you have, like a custom steel 26' tourer, then it might make sense. But if its a standard (older or cheaper) 300 € Alu or Hi ten bike, it might not make sense.

Εasier Μaintence? Not really, especially for Hydraulic systems.

Maybe just get better pads and change all the cables. ;)
Disc brakes is a good improvement over cantilever brakes, but as others already mentioned if your current bike doesn't support them you should get a new one that does. When you have the money and feel is the right timing of course.
To do this change, with what you describe, you would need at least:

new brake cables & housing.
new calipers & rotors
new wheels (or hubs, if you know a wheel builder)
new brake levers.

This can be done for about/slightly above $200. The good thing is, these parts can be taken back off and put on a different bike if necessary.

But if your frame and fork are not disc ready, just buy a new bike.
What these replies appear to be to demonstrate are people that have never used disk brakes. Hydraulic disks are an entirely new world of braking.

However, they don't come for free. Firstly you require disk compatible wheels that also have the same axle size as your bike. That's probably 8 or 10 mm.

If you do not have the disk brake tabs on your frame and fork there are clamp-on adapters available. Getting the proper alignment is something of a problem especially for the fork but most shops can do a good job.

The braking from disks is sure and positive. The lever pressure is much lower than on cantilevers. But buying the new wheelset, the disks, the brakes and the probable adapters isn't cheap. Also the best disk brakes are the XT Shiman on which you can mount the XT shifter mechanism so that you only have a single bar mount per side while keeping the relationship between the brake levers and the shifters proper. And if you don't already have the Shimano derailleurs or if you have SRAM you have to take a slightly different tack and the alignment and hence ease of operation could be slightly (slightly) compromised.

So the cost of replacing all of this equipment is high enough that you can probably find a better whole bike deal on Ebay.
I'd advise you try riding a bike with disc brakes first to see if it suits your style, because the difference can be quite noticeable, and people do have their biases for either one type over the other. Mountain bikers I know tend to like disc brakes, so it may be wise to invest a little and get yourself a whole new bike if it fits your needs.