Until recently, I hadn’t thought much about the Shimano CenterLock hub/rotor standard. I had brushed it off as another Shimano proprietary design made just to frustrate and confuse consumers (yeah, Shimano does that sometimes). But, after thinking it through, I can see some merit to the design.
But, with those positives, come lots of compatibility questions and other problems. So, I’ve compiled a quick list of what I see as positives and negatives of both the Shimano CenterLock and the 6-bolt standard used by everyone else. You make the call which is preferred and chime in below with your own take on things. I’m not set either way, but always lean towards sticking with the standard 6-bolt, however, if Shimano is onto something, maybe that “standard” should change?
Shimano CenterLock Rotors
This system involves a channeled rotor attachment and matching hub that provides a secure and always-centered rotor. The system is patented by Shimano and licensed by several hub manufacturers including DT Swiss and Mavic. Here are the positive and negatives I see with the Shimano CenterLock design:
- Rotors are always centered around the hub
- Stripping a bolt and rendering the hub useless is eliminated
- Rotors are more difficult to bend due to the reinforced inner spider ring
- Easy rotor removal for shipping or transport
- Hub weight can be less than ISO 6-bolt due to reduction of reinforced side area
- Compatibility issues have resulted in funky adapters
- Lack of mass-market adoption and options from high-end hub makers Chris King, Industry Nine, etc.
- Really only compatible with Shimano brakes, but their brakes are solid performers
- Oddball 180mm diameter rotor vs. 185mm from other manufacturers
- Rotors are slightly heavier and can cost twice as much
- Need to buy a Centerlock wrench
ISO Standard 6-bolt Disc Rotors
This is what has been used by all manufacturers since it was adopted in the late 1990’s. Rotors are simple and available in standard rotor diameters that are readily interchangeable between all other brake manufacturers including Hayes, Avid, Magura, Hope and even Shimano. Yes, Shimano still plays in this market while at the same time pushing the CenterLock option.
- Rotors and adapters are readily available
- Plethora of brake options
- Lots of hub choices
- Rotors can be half the price of CenterLock designs
- Can install rotors off-center
- Removal for shipping is cumbersome
- Risk of stripping a bolt
- Multiple points of failure (6 bolts)
In the end, the choice is up to you as there are good and bad with each design. I’m always reluctant to adopt any proprietary design, but the CenterLock has some merit if you are starting from scratch. But, if you are retrofitting your bike and wish to use Shimano CenterLock, you’re in for some serious sticker shock with all the parts you’ll have to replace.
Chime in… what do you see as good/bad with each design?
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