Safety regulation on brakes?

I saw the CT reviews of the State 6061 and Scott Speedster 30, and was horrified by the bad brakes on those bikes.

Thoughts that come to mind are, “how can they put unsafe brakes on bikes?” “Are unsafe brakes even legal?”

I realized that there is no safety certification for brakes, unlike helmets. Which is ironic, since brakes are more important for safety than helmets. A rider with functioning brakes and no helmet is way safer than a rider with a helmet but no functioning brakes.

Yes, I get testing and certification would increase costs. But it’s people’s lives we are talking about. On entry level bikes, where unsafe brakes are prevalent, the consumer may not have experience to know they are riding a death machine.

Yes, there won’t be a perfect test, just as how there is no perfect helmet safety test. But a basic test, must stop a 20 lb bike traveling at 18 mph in 4 seconds on a flat plane, should be good enough.

Currently, the US seems to rely on the free market for brake safety. In theory, bike companies and brake manufacturers would have good brakes that consumers want to buy. Bad brakes would be avoided by consumers and get sued. In practice, bike companies and brake manufacturers make shoddy products and hope they don’t get sued. If they get sued, they deflect blame (user error, installation error, manufacturer error, etc) and offer settlement hush money.

Unsafe brakes on two big bike companies show the free market safety method isn’t working. I’ll end by saying I guess the overwhelming majority of people on this forum won’t have unsafe brakes, since you are probably using mid to high level groupsets. Have some compassion and sympathy to people who are getting into cycling and buying an entry level bike. Chances are you started on an entry level bike, and you may be dead (or stop cycling) if that entry level bike had unsafe brakes.

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There are some regulations in the US. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has a requirement similar to what you have propsed:

(c) A bicycle that only has hand brakes must stop within 15 feet when tested with a 150-pound rider riding at 15 miles per hour. See §1512.18(d) for more detail on this test.

(Full regulations are in eCFR :: 16 CFR Part 1512 Subpart A -- Regulations)

While this does dictate effectiveness, there is nothing about modulation in the rule. Presumably it will pass if the test bike can be adjusted to stop in that distance a few times. (The section that spells out the test procedure states that the average of four test runs must meet that distance.)

While I don’t know how manufacturers test for CPSC compliance, it is possible that some of the parts substitutions due to shortages are not retested.

Many bikes sold, especially by department stores, are not well adjusted and might not meet the requirements even if the manufacturer was able to demonstrate it.

It’s hard to expect the free market to do a good job with safety when there is an assumption on the part of the consumer that isn’t always met by the manufacturer, and it’s not always possible to test this yourself ahead of time.


Bought a CaadX ages ago with some promax render mechanical disc brakes. Really wish I could beat the shit out of whoever at C-Dale spec’d such an absolute garbage and dangerous product in a safety critical area.


Thanks for looking up the regulations!

Now I wonder if the State and Scott could actually pass the brake requirement…

I also don’t recall seeing anything in the reviews about how many adjustments the reviewers made. My assumption is that the performance as described is after they dialed it in as well as they could. I think that is a reasonable approach but it should be stated, particularly with direct-to-consumer bikes that are not being given an inspection or test before reaching the shop floor.

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Even with awesome (or rather, expensive) brakes, shit happens. Last winter I was doing a steep climb up a local mountain when it started raining. On the way down (steep and potentially very fast), my Dura Ace 9100 disc brakes with resin pads just had no stopping power as they were getting wet. I basically had to go down several miles rolling down while dragging a cleat giving my brakes as much pressure as I could. Switched to metal pads and all was good.

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Slightly off topic but can someone explain why lower end mechanical disc brakes seem to be far worse at biting and braking in general vs cheap dual pivot rim brakes? I’ve got Spyre’s on my R8000 road bike because I was holding off to see if 105 Di2 was going to be priced close to Rival ETap and even with compressionless housing, proper bed in, expensive TRP Rotors, and having them set up correctly they’re terrible in comparison with cheap Tiagra rim brakes I started on 15 years ago. Obviously hydros don’t have issues with biting but genuinely interested why mechanical stuff is so bad.

I’ve used Spyres for thousands of miles and never had an issue. Modulation not great, but always stopped fine in dry and wet. I used solid 160mm rotors, nothing fancy. Sram levers.

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I bought Avid BB7s back when none of the mainstream brands had hydraulics for road available. They stop at least as well as the rim brakes on my previous bike (Campag dual pivots) in dry conditions and far better in wet, though they make a godawful noise when there is any moisture present.

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I have BB7’s on my mtb and they work great, why would I stuff around with hydraulic when a simple cable change works fine. I can go from flat to drop bars in a cinch.

the problem with more detailed regulations is the red tape. in Australia, we can’t buy a whole range of helmets that meet overseas stds because we have specific national standards that are very similar to overseas ones in most ways, but they’ve thrown in a few extra details that block imports unless they do certification for Australia specifically.

it sounds logical having detailed regulations for everything and to be honest it’s more practical in the US which has a bigger market and the fixed certification costs can be spread more broadly across larger sales volumes, but it’s crippling in smaller countries like Australia.

Swap the original pads for some shimano/swisstop/koolstop/galfer pads.

Problem solved.

Same happen with cheap rim brakes from tektro that comes with very low quality pads. I don’t understand why Tektro/TRP continue selling their brake with such shitty original pads.

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I have used the Avids since 2009, never an issue of stopping power. Not even with 60+ kg luggage on the bike


Wow, thats awesome 60+kg. Sorry for being curious: What sort of trip was this?
And more importantly: Are the red buttons on the brake housing for rockets?

I cycled the Pamir Highway to the base camp of Lenin Peak, so lots of climbing and high altitude gear


I agree with S-Car: awesome bike and even more awesome adventure.


I think smooth cable runs make a huge difference with mechanical disc brakes, ideally it should be externally routed.

I’d be especially concerned about the Scott Speedster that was reviewed here recently as that internal routing must be having an impact on braking performance.

The State bike looks to have simple internal routing but it looks like State cheaped out on the brakes, cables and outers.

Since last century, did rim brakes ever pose a concern on safety?

What was the reason to start mechanical disc brake revolution in road discipline? Safety is compromised when you trust manufacturers who rise by the marketing teams (people who don’t race bikes).

Is it really?

Mechanical disc brakes is a problem for non-existing solution.
*Mediocre performance
*Poor modulation
*Finicky cables
*Extra weight

Live long rim brakes. Such a simple and elegant solution has been serving riders for almost 100 years around the globe.

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