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Tech FAQ: Lennard Zinn on rotors and drilling frame drain holes

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Oct. 25, 2011
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:52 PM EDT
AVID X0: Caliper/Rotor

Regarding thickness of the rotor.

Dear Lennard,

Is there a magic number for disc brake rotor replacement – the thickness of the rotor?  I happened to caliper my old rotors when I made a recent change (I didn’t care for the sound my Avid clean sweep rotors make, so I went to a smoother style Avid).  They all seem to be .073 thick.  The front rotor was still close to original, while the rear had lost .005 inches.  It just got me wondering if there was a minimum recommended thickness, and I was curious if all disc brake brands use the same thickness?

— Steve

Dear Steve,

Yes there is a minimum recommended rotor thickness, and it varies from brand to brand.

Magura’s minimum recommended rotor thickness is 1.7mm. At that thickness, Magura recommends replacing them for several reasons, one being reduced heat stability. Stefan Pahl, Magura’s product manager for its bicycle division says, “In the past we had the rotor thickness limit at 1.7mm. With the Storm and Storm SL rotors we even have increased that limit to 1.8mm (which is also laser printed on the rotor, on one of its spokes).” So you can wear the rotors down by 0.2mm down from 2.0mm. The reason for the high recommended thickness is not only heat stability, but also structural stability and reduced squealing.

For Hope’s 140mm diameter and 160mm diameter floating discs, the minimum recommended rotor thickness is 1.4mm (they are 1.60mm +0.05mm when new). For all the rest of Hope’s discs, floating or plain, minimum thickness is 1.5mm (they are 1.80mm +0.05mm when new).

Hayes rotors start out life at 1.75mm to 1.78mm thick, depending on rotor diameter. Hayes’s minimum thickness call out is 1.52mm and is marked on all Hayes rotors.

Shimano rotors are made 1.8mm thick and should be replaced when the thickness has been reduced to 1.5mm. Since 2010, the 1.5mm minimum recommended rotor thickness has been printed on Shimano rotors.

As for your specific rotors, that’s the least easy information to find. By my measurement, SRAM/Avid rotors seem to begin life at 1.85mm thickness, but I have not been able to find it in SRAM/Avid technical documents, and it is not printed on any of the SRAM/Avid rotors I’ve checked around here. I’m awaiting a response from the SRAM/Avid tech department.

— Lennard

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Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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