Is the rim brake dead? From the list of bikes we’ve pulled together below, that’s definitely not the case, but it is clear that disc brake bikes are becoming the main choice for a lot of brands and several retailers list more disc brake bikes for sale than rim brake bikes.
The disc versus rim brake topic is one that sets forums and social media networks ablaze with passionate supporters of each system. But what if you prefer rims brakes and are wondering what your options are for a new road bike in 2019?
We’ve had a scout around and pulled together a list of rim brake bikes still being offered. It’s clear that at the higher-end rim brakes appear to be dwindling with the very newest road bikes being designed entirely around disc brakes, but the lower the price the more rim brake choices increase.
Up to about £1,500 most road bikes are still using rim brakes, but the more you spend the more disc brakes become an increasingly common sight. The price of disc brakes has got lower since they were first introduced in about 2013 with the high-end tech being trickled down to lower-priced groupsets.
Will we eventually see rim brakes wiped out completely? Probably not, but they’re set to become a lot more scarce in the future. As long as the professionals are using rim brakes then bike brands will continue to offer rim brake bikes but this year we’ve seen more discs in the peloton. Deceuninck - Quick Step has won 29 races (at the time of writing) all on disc-equipped Specialized bikes, so change is in the air.
As far back as 2015 bike brands have been pushing their comfort-focused endurance bikes onto disc brakes. Giant was the first to develop its Defy entirely around disc brakes, and today finding an endurance bike with rim brakes is increasingly difficult. And the same is happening with the latest breed of aero road bikes, the likes of the Specalized Venge and Cannondale SystemSix are only offered with disc brakes.
The biggest choice of rim brakes are found on regular lightweight all-round road bikes, the likes of Giant’s TCR or Trek’s Emonda, for example.
Specialized is offering just three road bikes with rim brakes in 2019, the majority of the models are disc brakes only. Specialized has been backing disc brakes with its latest Venge aero road bike and Roubaix endurance bike only offered with disc brakes, which leaves just the Tarmac your only option if you want rim brakes.
However, even here the rim brake choices are limited to just three models. At the top, there’s race-ready S-Works Tarmac (£9,150) and the cheapest option is the Tarmac Comp (£3,150). Better snap them up before they disappear altogether. You can also buy the S-Works Tarmac frameset (£3,400).
Things are a bit better at Giant. Its Defy endurance bike might be disc-only, but there are two models of Propel, its aero bike, with rim brakes, and the TCR Advanced, its lightweight allround road bike.
The Propel Advanced Pro 0 (£4,499) is a race-ready bike with Ultegra and SLR deep section carbon wheels and an aero handlebar and stem.
This is the range-topping TCR Advanced SL 0 (£7,499) with Dura-Ace Di2 and SLR carbon wheels and finishing kit.
At the other end of the range is the TCR Advanced 3 (£1,299) with a carbon frame and fork and a Shimano Tiagra groupset.
The Trek Bikes range shows a healthy number of rim brake bikes across the Madone, Emonda and Domane ranges for men and women.
The most expensive is the Madone SLR 9 (£8,750) with Dura-Ace Di2 and Bontrager Aeolus 6 XXX carbon wheels.
If you prefer comfort you want to consider the Domane SLR 6 (£3,900) which uses front and rear adjustable IsoSpeed decouplers to smooth out the bumps. This model is adorned with an Ultegra groupset.
The Emonda SL 5 (£1,800) is the most affordable carbon fibre Emonda, a bike pitched as a lightweight climbing and all-round choice. This model gets a Shimano 105 groupset and alloy wheels.
British brand Ribble offers a few rim brake bikes in amongst all the disc-equipped road bikes. This is Ribble R872 (£999) which provides a smart carbon frame and fork with a Shimano Tiagra groupset including rim brakes.
Spend a bit more and you could consider the Endurance SL R Series which starts from £2,499 with an Ultegra groupset. The name suggests long-distance comfort but the bike has been designed with aero in mind, with aero shaped tube profiles and a one-piece integrated handlebar and stem. /
Spanish brand Orbea has moved over to disc brakes with an increased focus in recent years but its range shows a decent number of rim brake models priced from £1,299 to £7,199 when looking at the Orca range. Here’s the £1,999 Orca M20 i9 with a full carbon frame and fork and a Shimano Ultegra groupset.
Merida’s range of Reacto (aero) and Scultura (all-round) road bikers are fairly evenly split between disc and rim brakes. This Scultura Limited (£2,800) provides a clean and modern carbon frameset equipped with an Ulegra mechanical groupset and alloy wheels.
If you want a team replica speed machine, this Reacto Team-E (£8,000) might interest you. It’s got the same red and black paint job as Bahrain-Merida professional race bikes and it rolls on Fulcrum Speed wheels with a full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset doing the braking and gear changing.
You’d expect a brand like Bianchi to still offer rim brakes, and indeed it does. In fact, its lightweight Specialissima is only offered with rim brakes, there is no disc brake option at all. Here’s a Specialissima with a Super Record 12-Speed groupset. The price? £10,500.
There’s also a Marco Pantani special edition for fans of the late Italian climbing specialist and winner of both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in 1998. Just £2,999 for the frameset...
If you want a Cannondale, don’t waste your time looking at the new SystemSix aero bike as that is discs only, instead you want to check out the long-running SuperSix Evo. This model bucks the trend as of the 16 bikes 11 are fitted with rim brakes, giving you plenty of choice.
The SuperSix Evo Carbon Tiagra (£1,499) is the most affordable and has all the features of the top-end Evo but fitted with more affordable components, from the Tiagra shifters to RS/Formula wheels.
Go the other way and the SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod Dura-Ace Di2 (£6,499) is the most expensive option with rim brakes. It’s based around a Dura-Ace Di2 groupset with Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels and a HollowGram Si crankset.
If the SuperSix Evo is too aggressive for you and you want a mile-muncher endurance bike, you want the Synapse, but both the alloy and carbon ranges are only offered with disc brakes I'm afraid.
Canyon doesn’t disappoint rim brake fans with a large number of models across its Endurace, Ultimate and Aeroad ranges.
This Ultimate CF EVO 10.0 LTD (£11,799) weighs a claimed 5.8kg, a crazy low weight that few disc bikes can come close to.
More realistically priced is the Ultimate CF SL 8.0 Aero (£2,899) which combines an Ultegra mechanical groupset with Mavic Cosmic Carbon wheels. And it’s red! Everyone knows red is faster right?
Providing a more relaxed position and extra comfort features is the Endurace CF 8.0 Di2 (£2,269) which comes with Shimano Ultegra Di2, DT Swiss P 1800 Spline wheels and weighs a claimed 7.5kg.
BMC’s Teammachine has long been one of the lightest and best performing all-round race bikes, and the latest version has been designed around both rim and disc brakes. The former is offered in four builds plus a frameset, The cheapest full bike Is the Teammachine SLR 01 Four, equipped with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and Mavic wheels costing £3,941.
There’s also the Teammachine ALR with an aluminium frame and offered in two builds, this Tiagra model being the cheapest at £1,250.
The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.
Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.
As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.