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BUYER'S GUIDE

RIP the rim brake? Check out 63 of the best rim brake bikes

Think the rim brake is dead? Think again as we find plenty of choices

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 2020?

Bike makers that still offer rim-brake bikes

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 many 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.

Look 795 Blade RS - front brake.jpg

Will we eventually see rim brakes wiped out completely? A couple of years ago we'd have said probably not, but they’re already becoming quite scarce. As long as the professionals are using rim brakes then bike brands will continue to offer rim brake bikes but in the last couple of years discs have been in the majority in the peloton. Maybe we'll see the pendulum swing back next year though, as both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia were won this year on rim-braked bikes.

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 Tarmac and Cannondale SystemSix are only offered with disc brakes.

The biggest choice of rim brakes are found on entry-level all-round road bikes, the likes of Giant’s Contend or Cannondale’s CAAD Optimo, for example.

Your choices

Specialized

2021 Specialized Allez Elite
Model Material Groupset Price
Allez Aluminium Shimano Claris £725.00
Allez Sport Aluminium Shimano Tiagra £949.00
Allez Elite Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,199.00

Specialized is offering just three road bikes with rim brakes in 2021, and they're all variants of the entry-level Allez road bike. The Allez, Allez Sport and Allez Elite have rim brakes … and that's your lot from the Big S.

Giant

2021 Giant Propel Advanced 2
Model Material Groupset Price
Propel Advanced 2 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,999
TCR Advanced Pro 1 Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra £3,499
TCR Advanced 2 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,699
Contend SL 1 Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,149
Contend 1 Aluminium Shimano Sora £849
Contend 2 Aluminium Shimano Claris £679

Things are a bit better at Giant. Its Defy endurance bike might be disc-only, but there are still versions of the Propel aero bike with rim brakes, plus the latest TCR Advanced, Giant's lightweight all-round road bike.

2021 Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1

Here's the most, erm, advanced of Giant's rim-brake offerings, the Ultegra-equipped version of the TCR Advanced Pro.

2021 Giant Contend 2

Like Specialized, Giant also offers entry-level models with rim brakes, in the ContendSL and Contend models. The range starts with the brilliantly red Contend 2, above.

Trek

2021 Trek Domane AL2
Model Material Groupset Price
Domane AL2 Aluminium Shimano Claris £625

If you want a high-level rim-braked Trek, you're going to have to build it yourself. The Wisconsin-based brand still offers Madone, Emonda and Domane framesets that'll take rim brakes, but just one solitary complete bike, the entry-level Domane AL2, above.

Boardman

2021 Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon.jpg
Model Material Groupset Price
SLR 8.9 Carbon Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,000
SLR 8.9 Carbon Women's Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,000
SLR 8.6 Aluminium Shimano Claris £500
SLR 8.6 Women's Aluminium Shimano Claris £500

Boardman's got two models for you if you're on a limited budget and after a rim-braked bike, both in men's and women's configurations. The carbon fibre SLR 8.9 Carbon, above, is frankly astonishing value at a thousand quid with Shimano 105 gearing, and the SLR 8.6 follows the long-standing Boardman tradition of a well-equipped aluminium frame for a very good price.

Ribble

2021 Ribble endurance sl
Model Material Groupset Price
Endurance SL R Ultegra Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra £2,599
Endurance SL R Ultegra Di2 Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra Di2 £3,299
Endurance SL R Dura Ace Di2 Carbon fibre Shimano Dura-Ace £4,999
Endurance SL Base Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,699
Endurance SL Sport Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £2,399
Endurance SL Enthusiast Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra £2,699
Endurance SL Pro Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra Di2 £3,399
Endurance 725 Base Steel Shimano Tiagra £1,099
Endurance 725 Sport Steel Shimano 105 £1,399
Endurance 725 Enthusiast Steel Shimano Ultegra £1,999
Endurance 725 Pro Steel Shimano Ultegra Di2 £2,999
R872 Sport Carbon fibre Shimano Tiagra £1,099
R872 Enthusiast Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,399
R872 Pro Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra £1,899

British brand Ribble offers four ranges of bikes with rim brakes, the R872, Endurance SL and Endurance SL R in carbon fibre and the Endurance 725 in Reynolds 725 heat-treated chromoly steel. That's the Endurance SL Sport up above the listing, in a rather splendid teal. Ribble will paint your bike in any colour scheme you like if their stock colours don't suit your taste.

Ribble endurance 725 Pro

Proving that steel is not only still real but worthy of being hung with top-class components, here's the Endurance 725 Pro with Ribble's own Level 40 carbon fibre wheels and a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset.

Ribble r872 105

Very keen pricing makes the R872 one of Ribble's most popular models, and it can't hurt that it comes in red, which as any fule kno is the fastest colour.

Orbea

2021 Orbea AVANT H30
Model Material Groupset Price
Avant H30 Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,099

Basque country brand Orbea is another that's trimmed its rim-brake offering down to a single model, the Avant H30.

Merida

2021 Merida SCULTURA RIM 400
Model Material Groupset Price
Scultura Rim 400 Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,000
Scultura Rim 100 Aluminium Shimano Claris £750

Like many brands, Merida has stopped putting 'Disc' in the names of its disc-braked bikes because they're the majority. Instead, the two Merida bikes with rim brakes are designated 'Rim'.

Bianchi

2021 Bianchi Oltre XR4 Ultegra Di2
Model Material Groupset Price
Oltre XR4 Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra Di2 £6,000
Oltre XR4 Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra NA
Aria Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra NA
Sprint Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £2,100

You’d expect a heritage brand like Bianchi to still offer rim brakes, and indeed it does, although its formerly rim-brake-only Specialissima is now available in a disc version, and if you want one with rim brakes you'll have to build it yourself from a frame; there's no complete bike on offer.

Nevertheless, Bianchi tops the price list here with the latest Oltre XR4 up there which will set you back a cool six grand in its Ultegra Di2 incarnation.

2021 Bianchi Aria

If your finances are more modest, check out the aero-framed Aria, above, which has had a visual makeover for 2021. Check out the iridescent colour option on the disc-brake version too.

2021 Bianchi Sprint

Finally there's the Sprint, which Bianchi bills as a sort of My First Race Bike, and we can't think of a more appropriate colour than Celeste if you're hoping to follow in the wheeltracks of Coppi.

Cannondale

2021 Cannondale SuperSix EVO Carbon Ultegra 2
Model Material Groupset Price
SuperSix EVO Carbon Ultegra 2 Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra £2,500
SuperSix EVO Carbon Women's 105 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,800
SuperSix EVO Carbon 105 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £2,000
CAAD13 Ultegra Aluminium Shimano Ultegra £1,900
CAAD13 Women's 105 Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,600
CAAD13 105 Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,600

If you want a Cannondale, don’t waste your time looking at the SystemSix aero bike as that is discs only, instead you want to check out the long-running SuperSix Evo.

That said, there are now only three versions of the SuperSix Evo with rim brakes, topped by the SuperSix EVO Carbon Ultegra 2 above the listing table there.

2021 Cannondale CAAD13 Women's 105

There's richer pickings in Cannondale's aluminium range, which includes three versions of the CAAD13 with rim brakes. Good to see that arguably the state-of-the-art aluminium bike can still be had with traditional brakes.

As with other manufacturers, Cannondale offers you plenty of choice at the entry level, with four versions of the CAAD Optimo starting with the CAAD Optimo 4. However, CAAD Optimo bikes seem to be completely unavailable in the UK at the moment. Cannondale's US website lists a new series of CAAD Optimo frames with dropped seatstays like the CAAD13 but they're not available in the UK yet.

Canyon

2020 canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Di2
Model Material Groupset Price
Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Di2 Carbon fibre Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 £6,349
Ultimate CF SL 8 Di2 Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra Di2 £2,999
Ultimate CF SL 8 Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra £2,299
Ultimate CF SL 7 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,699
Aeroad CF SL 7 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £2,799
Endurace CF 8.0 Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra £1,999
Endurace CF 7.0 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,499
Endurace AL 7.0 Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,199
Endurace WMN AL 7.0 Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,099
Endurace AL 6.0 Aluminium Shimano Tiagra £999
Endurace WMN AL 6.0 Aluminium Shimano Tiagra £949

Canyon doesn’t disappoint rim brake fans with a decent selection of models across its Endurace, Ultimate and Aeroad ranges.

However, there's sadly no longer a rim-brake version of the flagship Ultimate CFR; the range tops out at the Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Di2, up there above the listing.

2021 Canyon Aeroad CF SL 7

The rim-brake offering in the Aeroad aero bike is down to just one bike too: the Aeroad CF SL 7, above.

2020 Canyon Endurace CF 7.0

If your aim is long rides in comfort, though, then the good news is you've plenty of options in the Endurace line. Above is the Endurace CF 7.0 with a full 105 groupset, for example.

2020 canyon endurace al 7.0

And of course there are a couple of aluminium-framed Enduraces as well, like the Endurace AL 7.0 above.

BMC

2021 BMC Teammachine ALR ONE
Model Material Groupset Price
Teammachine ALR ONE Aluminium Shimano 105 £1,400

Previous versions of BMC's Teammachine were available in diosc or rim-brake configurations thanks to some clever frame design, but the latest incarnaiton is disc only, leaving just one aluminium-framed bike in the line with rim brakes.

Decathlon

2021 Van Rysel EDR 940 CF Dura-Ace
Model Material Groupset Price
Van Rysel RCR CF Dura-Ace Carbon fibre Shimano Dura-Ace £3,499.99
Van Rysel Carbon fibre Shimano Dura-Ace £3,799.99
Van Rysel Ultra CF Ultegra Carbon fibre Shimano Ultegra £1,999.99
Van Rysel Ultra CF Potenza Carbon fibre Campagnolo Potenza £1,999.99
Van Rysel Ultra CF 105 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,499.99
Van Rysel Women's Ultra RCR CF 105 Carbon fibre Shimano 105 £1,399.99
Van Rysel EDR AF Ultegra Aluminium Shimano Ultegra £1,299.99
Van Rysel EDR AF 105 Aluminium Shimano 105 £999.99
Triban Women's Intermediate Aluminium Shimano Sora £499.99
Triban RC120 Aluminium Microshift 8-speed £399.99

Decathlon offers a wide range of rim-braked bikes in its Van Rysel, Triban and B'Twin ranges, including the just-introduced EDR 940 CF, above, a Dura-Ace-equipped sportive bike at a very good price for its spec.

Van Rysel RR 920 CF Potenza

Other highlights of the range include the Van Rysel Ultra CF Potenza, above, one of very, very few road bikes on the market with a complete Campagnolo groupset, and the Van Rysel EDR AF Ultegra, below, with a similarly rare combination of an aluminium frame and Shimano Ultegra groupset.

2020 Van rysel edr af ultegra

Read more: The stuff they never tell you about disc brakes

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Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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