HatchOne often gets asked to recommend products based on unique design elements. We also stay aware of clever innovations that can be used cross-functionally in different products.

We climbed a mountain pass recently on bike and while riding behind a clearly outfitted road rider, noticed a heat sink on the rear disc brake. Brilliant, I thought, and lamented the CFD and heat sink studies we’ve done over the years.

Disc brakes have been around awhile for mountain bikes and more recently are more prevalent on road bikes. Often, road bike riders are weight conscious, trying to reduce as many grams as possible to save energy, especially when climbing. (Racers throw their water bottles aside at the start of climbs.)

I’d never noticed a heat sink on a bicycle disc brake before, ever.

I’ve become a fan of disc brakes after riding miles on a gravel bike outfitted with them.  They offer several key advantages over rim brakes.  Bike disc brakes can generate more stopping power, meaning there’s less force required at the lever to generate the same amount of braking as on a rim brake.

This is good for long or steep descents where a lot of braking can fatigue your arms, or for heavier riders or heavier bikes when enough braking power is tough to create with brake pads and cables.

After pondering the heat sink I saw on the road bike disc brake, I wondered if the disc size was smaller than average, which would increase the heat generated and thus need a way to dissipate it.  A smaller disc size will save weight for bicycle riders that don’t need the braking power.  I’ve worked on multiple products where heat dissipation was an afterthought and then solutions Band-aided to meet scheduled releases.  It’s nice to see thermal requirements are being considered and specified in the bike industry.

Heat sinks are fascinating to ponder.  They can be an underutilized physics tool across all products from high-power circuit boards, laptops, car components, cell phones and bicycle disc brakes!  

Want more information on the best bicycle disc brakes, here are three main suppliers.