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  1. #1
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    Switching from hydraulic brakes to BB7s on XC bike?

    Looking for some opinions from those that may have made this switch back to BB7s.

    Did you miss the power? Enjoy the simplicity? Effect on your riding performance or enjoyability?

    Long time rider that built up my dream bike (Silk Ti 29er) about six years ago and may need to replace my Formula Uno Puro brakes due to wear. Most likely looking at the new XT/SLX brakes. They seem solid. Bling parts are not in the current budget.

    But I am having some second thoughts about possibly using BB7s with a set of almost new Avid Ultimate levers I have sitting in the garage. I currently use BB7s on my drop barred Niner MCR. Like them a lot. But that bike is more of a CX bike in build and use then a true XC bike.

    I am 210lbs (225+ w/camelback) on mostly Front Range Colorado fireroad and singletrack. Never resort style downhilling, but still significant descending on XC rides. Still an occasional race. (last mtb race was Laramie Enduro) Style is relatively smooth and not as aggressive as I used to be 25 years ago.

    Any real world experience or thoughts would be helpful. Thanks.
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  2. #2
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    I haven't switched back, but I have new XTR on my race bike, and have always used BB7s on my other singlespeed/training/bad weather bike. I never really notice much difference switching back and forth. I enjoy the simplicity/serviceability on the singlespeed and general lack of maintenance with the BB7s.
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  3. #3
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    I can't exactly speak to your point as I've never owned hydraulics of any kind. I've been riding BB7s for 10+ years with Avid Ultimates. When I bought the Ultimates ($100 less than they are now) from Speedgoat, the description said something like "If engineers from another planet who didn't know anything about bikes saw these, they'd say "Nice".

    Those levers are half the reason I keep riding BB7s. The other half that BB7s perform really well. And the third half is they're 1/3 the price of cheap hydraulics. That's money I spend on better hubs or some other upgrade.

    While I don't do gonzo downhilling, there are plenty of steep downs in central CT, and I've never felt them to be inadequate. I weigh 190 on my RIP9. I use organic pads for quieter performance and better modulation.

    Nothing against hydraulics, I'll probably have some someday. But BB7s are excellent brakes that you should do fine with. Check them out in the review section. They're highly regarded.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  4. #4
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    I've tried hydraulics briefly, and I felt they had too much stopping power. Also, all the talk about setting up and maintenance didn't really get me interested. I have BB7 on my 2010 Kona Unit, and for the most part, it has enough stopping power. One thing I didn't like about hydraulics was that too much stopping power came on too suddenly, giving me that "gonna go over the bar" feeling. With my current BB7 set up, I stop almost instantly without such feeling. Keep in mind though, I'm on rigid, so I can only go so fast on downhills. 220 lb, btw.
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  5. #5
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    Not sure why this is in '29er Bikes' & not 'Brake Time', but I'll bite.......

    I ride w/BB7s & weigh 230#.
    The only times I've wanted hydro brakes is on long, long rocky descents, or when riding certain trails at resorts, like Trestle DH to Bear Arms. That combo works out my forearms more than watching Cinemax while the wife's at work.
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  6. #6
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    Funny, I just had this conversation not 5 min ago. Was on the phone with a buddy talking brakes. He and I agree. The diff between hyd. and mech is so little its not worth debating. We don't do any huge downhilling but we do ride the crap out of our bikes. I currently have hopes, avid xo's , avid cr's. avid bb7's and bb5's. They all do what they're supposed to. Between the mech's I would give the 7's the nod over the 5's
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  7. #7
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    Before I purchased my Overdrive I test many bikes with both and I really like BB7's over the hydro's. Maybe it's because I crossed over from Road biking and they felt very similar to what I was used to.

  8. #8
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    I like my hydros because I never have to mess with them.

  9. #9
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    Good Hydro's are better in performance but if you shim the cable out on a BB7 at the engaugement arm to give you more leverage and slow the action down they are very good. I found them stock to need some work. They are to on and off and no where inbetween stock.

  10. #10
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    Wow. BB7s are great brakes, but compared to the new Shimano's? No way.
    The new generation of Shimano Hydraulic brakes are lighter than BB7s, easier to bleed than pretty much any other hydro ever, have great power, and (the best part) superb modulation.
    After using the Shimano brakes for a season, I would NEVER go back to mechanical disc brakes on my go-to mountain bike.
    The modulation is hard to imagine until you try it. I have way more control over the bike in all circumstances than I ever had using Avid Hydros, Avid Mechs, or Shimano Mechs.

  11. #11
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    Have both on two different bikes. No contest. Hydraulics win by a land slide. Better power, modulation, and set up. I bought the BB7's because I thought they would be more reliable. They have been really reliable in the 3 seasons I've run them. But so have the hydro's. In fact, I don't recall any issues with hydro brakes on any of the bikes I've been on rides with.

  12. #12
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    You would be surprised how much better the BB7 are with the shim mod.

  13. #13
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    I should just be quoting some prior post of mine...
    185# here.

    5" FS 26er - BB7 185/160 Roundagon rotors, Avid semi-metallics - brakes are super strong with OK modulation. Modulation improves as they heat up on long descents. Power is constant.
    29er HT with 4" fork - BB7 160/160 Aztec (F)/Roundagon (R), Avid semi-metallics - brakes are strong - not having a 185mm rotor is noticeable in power but improves modulation - performance is predictable and constant.
    29er rigid - Hope M4 180/160 Floating rotors, Hope organics - brakes are super strong with unbelievably good modulation. Power fades when very hot. Will probably switch to semi-metallics when these pads wear out.

    The only place the BB7's came up short was a long downhill in the rain where water and grit rapidly wore the pads. There is no self-adjusting feature and I had to slow down while I cranked the barrel adjusters out on the fly. Ran out of barrel adjuster length on both brakes before I got to the bottom. Pads were worn very crooked and it was making the rotors flex awfully. So, uh, long, gritty downhills in the rain are off the list when running BB7's, but for the $$$ they are unbeatable. I probably won't ever spring for Hopes again. Also have BB7 on our mountain tandem.

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Realslowww View Post
    Good Hydro's are better in performance but if you shim the cable out on a BB7 at the engaugement arm to give you more leverage and slow the action down they are very good. I found them stock to need some work. They are to on and off and no where inbetween stock.



    Pics of this mod?

  15. #15
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    I've been running BB7's for a long time, and have never needed/wanted more stopping power. Properly set up with good cables (I really like Jagwire Ripcord cables) and lever (Avid Speed Dial), they're all the braking I need. Maybe if I was downhilling a lot, I'd want something hydraulic, but for XC and general trail riding, the BB7's are perfect for me.

    I recently made the switch back to BB7's on my Spearfish from the stock Elixer 5's (those are terrible). I've now got the same brakes/levers on my Spearfish, Karate Monkey and old steel Rockhopper and I couldn't be happier with my braking. I love the low/easy maintenance of the BB7's.

  16. #16
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    BB7's are the only disc brakes I've ever ridden, and I don't really see a reason to change. If you have ultimate levers you should be good on that front - the low end FR-5 levers don't work that well but the speed dial 7's work great, and I suspect the ultimates are better still (at least I'd hope so, considering the price differential). One thing I would recommend is using a compressionless cable housing - this helps translate more of the lever's cable pull into stopping power.
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  17. #17
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    XT's by a light year over the BB7's. I got sick of fiddling with the BB7's, inconsistent pad alignment, low power, high pad wear, poor wet weather performance etc, etc. Haven't touched the XT's other than to change pads once.

    Best $300 (incl. rotors) I've spent on any bike.
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    I want to climb them.

  18. #18
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    I learned that on my MOTO X motorcycles over the years,mech are no match for a good and I say good hydro system.Although on a bicycle with the lower speeds it probably is not as big a deal.

  19. #19
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    By a smidge, I'll give the nod to Shimano XTs. But if I bought a new bike tomorrow and it came with BB7's, I would happily ride them forever.

    In general, while the constant desire to innovate is generally a good thing, moving from mech brakes to hydros is possibly NOT the best example of this.

    But I think Avid has (had?) the ball-ramp mechanism patented, so what was everybody else to do, except pursue a "better" alternative?
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Realslowww View Post
    You would be surprised how much better the BB7 are with the shim mod.
    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    Pics of this mod?
    Quote Originally Posted by Realslowww View Post
    I learned that on my MOTO X motorcycles over the years,mech are no match for a good and I say good hydro system.Although on a bicycle with the lower speeds it probably is not as big a deal.
    Yep, id love to see a picture of this shim mod too which makes the BB7's that much better.

    Personally, I also found overall stopping power the same between my BB7's and my Hayes Stroker Carbons... Where I found the hydraulics to shine was during light "trail braking". I just love how much better the brakes feel.

    Then again, all this might not be applicable since im using 26'er brakes....

  21. #21
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    Why would you need to replace a whole set of brakes due to wear? The only wear items are the rotors and the pads. And if you replace your pads when you should, the rotors will last a very long time.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew-FSR View Post
    Why would you need to replace a whole set of brakes due to wear? The only wear items are the rotors and the pads. And if you replace your pads when you should, the rotors will last a very long time.
    and piston seals and master cylinder internals like orings and bladder....

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Realslowww View Post
    You would be surprised how much better the BB7 are with the shim mod.
    Details?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Realslowww View Post
    You would be surprised how much better the BB7 are with the shim mod.
    Yes, please don't leave us hanging...

  25. #25
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    I've used many different hydraulic brakes and my bikes currently use BB7 brakes. They're heavier, but with compressionless housing they work extremely well. They're also very easy to set up exactly how you want, you can easily eliminate rub, they're easy to fix on the trail, and are much more tolerant of damage. They're just a very robust design. They don't self-adjust, but they're easy to adjust on your own. Also, it's an exercise in frustration when hydraulic brakes stop self adjusting and you're left trying to troubleshoot it.

    With the BB7 it's very important to use compressionless housing; they feel like a completely different brake, especially on the rear. If anyone ever starts saying hydraulics are so much better than the BB7 the first question I ask is if they used compressionless housing. The answers seems to be invariably "no". Fortunately you can pick up a high quality kit for only $20:
    Alligator Super Fortress Cable Kit at Price Point

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic View Post
    I've used many different hydraulic brakes and my bikes currently use BB7 brakes. They're heavier, but with compressionless housing they work extremely well. They're also very easy to set up exactly how you want, you can easily eliminate rub, they're easy to fix on the trail, and are much more tolerant of damage. They're just a very robust design. They don't self-adjust, but they're easy to adjust on your own. Also, it's an exercise in frustration when hydraulic brakes stop self adjusting and you're left trying to troubleshoot it.

    With the BB7 it's very important to use compressionless housing; they feel like a completely different brake, especially on the rear. If anyone ever starts saying hydraulics are so much better than the BB7 the first question I ask is if they used compressionless housing. The answers seems to be invariably "no". Fortunately you can pick up a high quality kit for only $20:
    Alligator Super Fortress Cable Kit at Price Point
    +1. Housing and cables make a huge difference, especially when you consider how much cable you've got between your levers and your rear brake.

    So that Alligator (pricepoint's house brand, no?) cable kit is good? I've considered it as a cheaper alternative to Jagwire Ripcord, but never bit the bullet and tried it.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by FKMTB07 View Post
    +1. Housing and cables make a huge difference, especially when you consider how much cable you've got between your levers and your rear brake.

    So that Alligator (pricepoint's house brand, no?) cable kit is good? I've considered it as a cheaper alternative to Jagwire Ripcord, but never bit the bullet and tried it.
    I've been using it on a couple bikes for several years and it works great. It's only downside is it's a couple grams heavier than Jagwire Ripcord.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneBadWagon View Post
    I like my hydros because I never have to mess with them.
    This^^^, I find my formula rx brakes so much easier to maintain(read, 0 minutes)

    Always ready and on, seemed like my avid's always needed some fine tuning that I don't have to do with hydro's.

    Don't get me wrong, I liked my avid's but prefer my formula brakes.

  29. #29
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    Another vote towards hydraulics. BB7 never had the feel or power of the Hope, Avid, and Shimano brakes I've used over the years.
    99% of the problems and questions posted here would be answered if people actually walked into a bicycle shop and asked

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by classrc View Post
    Yes, please don't leave us hanging...
    I am not going to post a picture,shim the cable out where it attaches to the arm so it is longer, so it is like using a longer wrench to loosen a bolt.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by 69erEverything View Post
    Another vote towards hydraulics. BB7 never had the feel or power of the Hope, Avid, and Shimano brakes I've used over the years.
    Did you use it with compressionless cable housing like Jagwire Ripcord?

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic View Post
    Did you use it with compressionless cable housing like Jagwire Ripcord?
    While not directly toward me, my opinion is similar. Thats exactly the housing I used, Jagwire Ripcord.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew-FSR View Post
    Why would you need to replace a whole set of brakes due to wear? The only wear items are the rotors and the pads. And if you replace your pads when you should, the rotors will last a very long time.
    Ever try working on a set of Formula brakes? Replacement is far less painful than working on them.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLMike View Post
    While not directly toward me, my opinion is similar. Thats exactly the housing I used, Jagwire Ripcord.
    I've used bb7s with compression-less housing and big rotors for years, while they are adequate, a good pair of hydraulic brakes still feel better.
    Disclaimer: I no longer fix bikes for a living.
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  35. #35
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    Have an Iron Horse 7point3 that came with hydros (Hayes HFX?) rear went soft after about 1 year probably needed bleeding, rather than dick with those I switched to BB7s/Speed Dialers, awesomeness was back. Currently running BB7 on a RIP9, original build was 160/160 but after a few DHs left me feeling under-braked switched to 203/203 like the 7point3, also using Avid speed dialers get excellent modulation(at one extreme end you do get the on/off effect I've read others complain of but this is easily fixed by using correct levers). Have never worn pads out on any bike with BB7s , but did have to change on RIP9 due to contamination when I switched to 203s got something on discs -> pads I think, squealed horribly after the switch. After new pads nice and quiet.
    Last edited by socal_jack; 11-01-2012 at 03:45 PM.

  36. #36
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    After many hassles with a set of hydros, I went with BB7's a few years ago.

    Other than weight, I really do not see a reason to go back to hydros again. Set up with Jagwire Ripcord cables/housing, they are super solid. I use hydros on bikes I borrow/rent/demo, and while I like the silky feel, I don't see any actual performance benefit, nor did I see any downside when I first switched to bb7s.

    I like that they are very adjustable, I can get the lever to engage anywhere I want, which is not the case with many hydros.

    A good friend of mine switched to bb7s from a set of avid hydros that were giving him trouble, and has no regrets.

    And housing does make all the difference in the world. I use Jagwire Ripcord.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Learux View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by OneBadWagon
    I like my hydros because I never have to mess with them.
    This^^^, I find my formula rx brakes so much easier to maintain(read, 0 minutes)

    Always ready and on, seemed like my avid's always needed some fine tuning that I don't have to do with hydro's.

    Don't get me wrong, I liked my avid's but prefer my formula brakes.
    Yep, you never have to mess with hydros. Except when you do. Every once in a while they fail completely and you need a bleed kit and the time and knowledge about how to use one, or you need a someone who has those things that you can pay to deal with it.

    Worst things that ever happen in my life with BB7s is that every 100 miles or so when I'm cleaning up the bike anyway, I take out my little torqx wrench and tighten up the fixed pad side so that it's one click from the rotor. Once in a while, especially after some long descents, I have to spend all of 10 seconds tightening the dynamic side (I can actually do the front while I'm rolling if I want to).

    I don't know how many times I've been on rides with somebody who found out when it was too late to do anything about it that one of their hydro levers was going all the way to the bar--need bleed. One of the times when I was lined up for the Leadville 100, a gal right next to me suddenly yelled out to her husband to come help because her brake lever was fading all the way to the grip. Tough luck...

    Read Sonya Looney's story about her race in Nepal. Being 100s of miles away from anything like a bleed kit and having her brakes fail. Sure, she was at a ridiculously high elevation, but when I read that, first thing I thought was, "jeez, if she'd just been running mechanicals that simply could not happen."

    I have had hydros that worked well. I've never personally gotten stuck with a failed hydro. Yeah, they feel nice and buttery. But I honestly can't say that my BB7s work any less well. I like to go on adventures with my bike. Having an equipment failure that is avoidable is simply not acceptable to me.

    YMMV.
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  38. #38
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    Well bringing in the female factor isn't really making a point. The vast majority of lady mtn bikers don't know how anything works or is adjusted or fixed on a bike.

    Kidding around but also being honest...

    (Oh and most pros don't know how to work on their bikes also Haha)
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  39. #39
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    I appreciate all the thoughts and info.

    Formula brakes are currently at Formula for inspection and possible rebuild. Several bleeds by myself and LBS did not fix an unridable lever fade. I will find out soon if it is a rebuild or internals are worn out/not repairable.

    I initially posted on Brake Forum, but had many more responses here. Thanks.

    The question is more about the riding perceptions then technical aspects of the switch anyways.

    I was wondering if anyone had made the switch and regretted it horribly. If the loss of power was extreme and effected the enjoyment of the ride. Some great answers from both sides of preference.

    Actually hoping Formula figures out the problem, fixes it and I am riding next week. I am just exploring options just in case I get bad news though.
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  40. #40
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    When hydraulic brakes attack!
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  41. #41
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    Theres a reason all cars and motorcycles use hydraulic brakes. Step away from the 8 track and get an iPod.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by FR hokeypokey View Post
    Looking for some opinions from those that may have made this switch back to BB7s.

    Did you miss the power? Enjoy the simplicity? Effect on your riding performance or enjoyability?

    Long time rider that built up my dream bike (Silk Ti 29er) about six years ago and may need to replace my Formula Uno Puro brakes due to wear. Most likely looking at the new XT/SLX brakes. They seem solid. Bling parts are not in the current budget.

    But I am having some second thoughts about possibly using BB7s with a set of almost new Avid Ultimate levers I have sitting in the garage. I currently use BB7s on my drop barred Niner MCR. Like them a lot. But that bike is more of a CX bike in build and use then a true XC bike.

    I am 210lbs (225+ w/camelback) on mostly Front Range Colorado fireroad and singletrack. Never resort style downhilling, but still significant descending on XC rides. Still an occasional race. (last mtb race was Laramie Enduro) Style is relatively smooth and not as aggressive as I used to be 25 years ago.

    Any real world experience or thoughts would be helpful. Thanks.
    I went from hydraulic to BB7 on my last 2 bikes. Lots of trouble with Magura and Avid hydraulics.
    Like the BB7 a lot, and I'm not leightweight.
    But I found I had to use a little more force on the levers to get the performance that I got from hydro's..
    On one bike I replaced the cables once due to wear, felt like new again. => good cables are important.
    They never let me down, never felt unsecure. Modulation is good, no surprises.

    However, on my new bike I used the new XT's and they are a bit beter than hte BB7.
    My advice would be:
    If you have the BB7's laying around, use them.
    If you plan to buy new brakes, go fot the XT's.
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbd View Post
    Theres a reason all cars and motorcycles use hydraulic brakes. Step away from the 8 track and get an iPod.
    Should I also use 4 wheels, 8 cylinders etc ?
    I understand what you trying to say, but a car is not a bicycle and vice versa.
    I found that BB7's are good brakes, althoug some hydraulic brakes are better.
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  44. #44
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    ive ridden my bb7s (on a riggid surly km ) for almost a year now and really the only bad thing i got to say is that they squeal like pigs when wet! ofcourse you could use swissstops brake silencer, i had to dial em in first, but now i have only adjusted the pads 1 or 2 times in last months, i love that feature of bb7... and whoever says hydros take less time to work on ur so so so so wrong... i could change the pads cables n housing on the bb7s when you could get the bleed cap off ur hydros, ive just ordered a set of new bb7s for myself since a friend wanted to buy my used ones, but this time im going for 180 front rotor and 160 rear, and the jagwire l3 housing. i have the l3s atm and they have been perfect all that time. id say go for bb7s, but if you have some extra to spend get a brake silencer, real good cables or maybe even organic pads

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbd View Post
    Theres a reason all cars and motorcycles use hydraulic brakes. Step away from the 8 track and get an iPod.
    What an absolutely useless post.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic View Post
    What an absolutely useless post.
    Agreed.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Cool didnt know about the compresionless housing thing and have BB7s on a newer bike (had them once before as upgrade to V brakes and was happy).

    Anyway being on second set of BB7s they are great reliable brakes, a little pain to adjust at times.

    I would never trade for hydros though on bikes that will for trails with long fast descents. I have had older XT hydros and now have elixr 9s. I want to upgrade to XT or XTR brakes because I loved the simplicity and lack of maintiance on old XTs!
    Last edited by HEMIjer; 11-02-2012 at 05:10 AM. Reason: spelling
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  48. #48
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    I use BB7's as well and love em! Setup was dead easy using the online mini BB7 resource. The only thing I would add to that guide is to disconnect them entirely from the cable before the alignment process so that they will move freely on the CPS bolts. Also keep an eye on the washers they can get stuck in an odd position and may need a little nudge. Easy as pie WAY easier than setting up v-brakes were.

    I run 203mm front and 185mm rear one finger stopping power on my N9.
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  49. #49
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    I'd rather get a set a Shimano Deore M596 Hydro's... which will be cheaper than a set a BB7's, compressionless housing, and speed dial/ultimate levers... and not have to fiddle around, consult forums, or do any sort of special tricks to get them to work well. Shimano hydraulics are ridiculously easy to bleed too.

    If you do end up having to replace your brakes, there is absolutely no comparison between Shimano hydro's and BB7s.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by CasteelG View Post
    I'd rather get a set a Shimano Deore M596 Hydro's... which will be cheaper than a set a BB7's, compressionless housing, and speed dial/ultimate levers....
    A quick look over at Jenson USA:

    $230 for Shimano Deore Brakes with rotors.

    $152 for BB7's (which come with rotors), Ripcord cables, and Speed dial 7 levers.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  51. #51
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    Yet again for BB7's!!

    I've tried Avid elixirs and Usagis. I like the BB7s with speed dial levers better than my hydraulics.

    I can work on them myself without making a greasy mess with oil all over the place. I can adjust them on the trail with a multi-tool... try that with hydraulics.

    They're easy to setup. Screw the pads in to the rotor, tighten the post mounts. set the cable screw, dial the pads back. Viola!

    They're genius in design because of their simplicity.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    Yet again for BB7's!!

    I've tried Avid elixirs and Usagis. I like the BB7s with speed dial levers better than my hydraulics.

    I can work on them myself without making a greasy mess with oil all over the place. I can adjust them on the trail with a multi-tool... try that with hydraulics.

    They're easy to setup. Screw the pads in to the rotor, tighten the post mounts. set the cable screw, dial the pads back. Viola!

    They're genius in design because of their simplicity.
    With hydraulics, you rarely if ever have to "adjust" anything. You adjust them once, and then you ride. I have yet to ever see a person with a catastrophic brake problem on the trail, but I have seen a billion people fiddling with mechanicals trying to get them just right. At some point, you will have to service hydraulics, but that's not adjusting. Avids being the exception, because those ****ing things are cursed. My current Magura and SLX brakes have been flawless.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneBadWagon View Post
    With hydraulics, you rarely if ever have to "adjust" anything. You adjust them once, and then you ride. I have yet to ever see a person with a catastrophic brake problem on the trail, but I have seen a billion people fiddling with mechanicals trying to get them just right. At some point, you will have to service hydraulics, but that's not adjusting. Avids being the exception, because those ****ing things are cursed. My current Magura and SLX brakes have been flawless.
    I had a catastrophic hydraulic brake failure on the trail. After a crash I found my hose had crimped right at the lever fitting, and was seeping brake fluid. The rest of the run was extremely sketchy, and that was the end of my day. That simply wouldn't have happened with a BB7.

    I don't see people with hydraulics fiddling with them, but I hear pretty regular complaints about the lever not feeling right, or it's rubbing, or contaminated pads. With the BB7 people are generally adjusting them (me included) because we can, and we're just trying to make them just that liiiiitle bit better.

    Yup, hydraulics generally don't need adjust, but heaven help you if they do.
    Last edited by bad mechanic; 11-02-2012 at 12:28 PM.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneBadWagon View Post
    With hydraulics, you rarely if ever have to "adjust" anything. You adjust them once, and then you ride. I have yet to ever see a person with a catastrophic brake problem on the trail, but I have seen a billion people fiddling with mechanicals trying to get them just right. At some point, you will have to service hydraulics, but that's not adjusting. Avids being the exception, because those ****ing things are cursed. My current Magura and SLX brakes have been flawless.
    I've ridden with people having issues with their hydros on the trail (or, more often, in the parking lot pre-ride) that could not be dealt with without some tools or a bleed kit. Granted, it is not a regular occurrence, but I have never seen an issue with bb7s that was not quickly remedied trailside.

    It is a valid point that when working properly, hydros are definitely lower maintenance than mechs. However, the fiddling you need to do with bb7s every few rides is really simple, quick, and requires no tools.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  55. #55
    sbd
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    Should I also use 4 wheels, 8 cylinders etc ?
    I understand what you trying to say, but a car is not a bicycle and vice versa.
    I found that BB7's are good brakes, althoug some hydraulic brakes are better.
    No but across all vehicles hydro has emerged as the best option. Are great mechs better than shitty hdros...yes. But a good hydro is better than any good mech. An xt is lighter, simpler, more powerful and offer better feedback than any mech including a bb7. So why dick around with a lamer alternative???

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbd View Post
    So why dick around with a lamer alternative???
    Why? Well.....

    A quick look over at Jenson USA:

    -$380 for Shimano XT Brakes with XT rotors.
    -$152 for BB7's (which come with rotors), Ripcord cables, and Speed dial 7 levers.

    So, $228 is why. And I beg to differ that the alternative here is "lame".
    Last edited by kapusta; 11-02-2012 at 05:38 PM.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbd View Post
    No but across all vehicles hydro has emerged as the best option. Are great mechs better than shitty hdros...yes. But a good hydro is better than any good mech. An xt is lighter, simpler, more powerful and offer better feedback than any mech including a bb7. So why dick around with a lamer alternative???
    Actually, air brakes are the best. Just not simple enough for cars, moto's or bikes. There is a reason semi's and trains use them still. Also- even though you are correct about XT's being lighter and more powerful (simpler, meh) BB7's are still a great brake. BB7 and XT trade points in the maintenance department-but for reliability and cost, the BB's take the prize.

    I have returned to the BB7 on my latest SS build. I sold my FS bike with all the gears, hydro and shock because I wanted to return to simple. BB7's fit the bill of simple while being cheap. I consider my riding strengths to be in the finesse department and have not felt the BB7 hindering me at all. I live in the desert and the only time my bike really sees water is if it rains (yeah right) so I have not had any issues to deal with as far as grit and moisture. Would I buy XT's? Yes, if they were as cheap as what I have now,but only to save some grams. And why concentrate on brakes? They only slow you down and unless you race DH, no one wins on braking ability alone.
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  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Realslowww View Post
    You would be surprised how much better the BB7 are with the shim mod.
    pics!

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    Why? Well.....

    A quick look over at Jenson USA:

    -$380 for Shimano XT Brakes with XT rotors.
    -$152 for BB7's (which come with rotors), Ripcord cables, and Speed dial 7 levers.

    So, $228 is why. And I beg to differ that the alternative here is "lame".
    Bluesky cycling often has deals on XT brakes for closer to $220 a set
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  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitzikatzi View Post
    Bluesky cycling often has deals on XT brakes for closer to $220 a set
    You still need to buy rotors.

    And you can also find bb7s for less as well.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    You still need to buy rotors.

    And you can also find bb7s for less as well.
    I have seen deals with the non ice tech rotors for that price.

    Several European based online shops have SLX brake sets for very good prices.
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitzikatzi View Post
    I have seen deals with the non ice tech rotors for that price.

    Several European based online shops have SLX brake sets for very good prices.
    I'll believe XT brakes with rotors for $110 per end when I see it. Heck, I might buy them as well.

    In any event, the point was that there is a large price difference. If we are now talking about comparing screaming good deals, I've seen bb7's for $45, Ripcord for $22, and Levers for $12, so thats about $124.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  63. #63
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    My only real beef with XTs is the strong tendency for one piston to be dominant, and keep self adjusting out towards the rotor, while the the other piston stays nearly fully retracted into the caliper.

    For me, in the rear especially, this results in the need for easy but fairly frequent tweaking. At least as much as the old Avid mechs took to adjust as the pads wore.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Realslowww View Post
    I am not going to post a picture,shim the cable out where it attaches to the arm so it is longer, so it is like using a longer wrench to loosen a bolt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    pics!
    Dont hold your breath Bill, he already refused to post a picture....

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    Quote Originally Posted by FLMike View Post
    Dont hold your breath Bill, he already refused to post a picture....
    Exactly. He's talked about this mod previously, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how a washer is going to fit where he says.

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic View Post
    I had a catastrophic hydraulic brake failure on the trail. After a crash I found my hose had crimped right at the lever fitting, and was seeping brake fluid. The rest of the run was extremely sketchy, and that was the end of my day. That simply wouldn't have happened with a BB7.

    I don't see people with hydraulics fiddling with them, but I hear pretty regular complaints about the lever not feeling right, or it's rubbing, or contaminated pads. With the BB7 people are generally adjusting them (me included) because we can, and we're just trying to make them just that liiiiitle bit better.

    Yup, hydraulics generally don't need adjust, but heaven help you if they do.
    I'm in no way claiming that it doesn't happen, I'm quite certain that it does. I haven't seen it. I do know that my BB7's irritate me, as did my last set. They're a fine brake, but always seem to require adjustment, and it probably bugs me most of all that you can't really turn the inside red knob by hand with the wheel on the bike on mine. I'm also not running compressionless housing on my Unit.

    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    I've ridden with people having issues with their hydros on the trail (or, more often, in the parking lot pre-ride) that could not be dealt with without some tools or a bleed kit. Granted, it is not a regular occurrence, but I have never seen an issue with bb7s that was not quickly remedied trailside.

    It is a valid point that when working properly, hydros are definitely lower maintenance than mechs. However, the fiddling you need to do with bb7s every few rides is really simple, quick, and requires no tools.
    With the exception of some old juicy brakes I've used, literally every other set has been 100% set and forget. That includes some jankety Tektro (deore copies), SLX, Magura Louise BATs, and a couple others that I can't think of. I wouldn't ride AVID hydraulic disks if you paid me. All of my buddies who work in shops have eventually had their AVID hydraulic brakes warrantied so many times that they're now riding XX brakes, and they all suffer the same maladies.

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneBadWagon View Post
    Exactly. He's talked about this mod previously, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how a washer is going to fit where he says.
    It may require a longer bolt but I can see how putting a couple washers under the cable on the end of the lever would help leverage. But, this will also require more lever travel for the same pad travel. I sketched up a pic of what I think he's trying to say...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ufdah View Post
    It may require a longer bolt but I can see how putting a couple washers under the cable on the end of the lever would help leverage. But, this will also require more lever travel for the same pad travel. I sketched up a pic of what I think he's trying to say...
    I probably should have phrased that better. I find that more often than not I can't get the pads close enough to the rotor without rubbing to get the feel that I want. I would need a different leverage rate brake lever to enjoy that mod. I guess that's what the SD levers are for.

  69. #69
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    The sd levers are fabulous and dirt cheap, highly recommend them with the bb7. I can't see why one would need to mod the caliper considering you can adjust leverage at the lever... With 203's on the front and the leverage dial all the way in the brakes are way too powerful as it is...
    Michael

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  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneBadWagon View Post
    ... I do know that my BB7's irritate me, as did my last set. They're a fine brake, but always seem to require adjustment, and it probably bugs me most of all that you can't really turn the inside red knob by hand with the wheel on the bike on mine...
    That is true. I'm a pro-BB7 bigot, and if there's one thing I would change it would be not needing to have the wheel off or a torqx wrench to adjust that side. At least the newest generation of them have a torqx head in the middle...

    I was riding today and it came to be technical descent time. My rear brake had loosened up, needed the dreaded fiddling. I actually made the futile effort to tighten that inside ride knob by hand without taking the wheel off. It was obvious that there was no way that would work so I took my multi-tool out of the seat bag and took care of business. I bet I was stuck finishing that task for MORE THEN 45 SECONDS. Ridiculous.

    The previous version of BB7 didn't even have a torqx option, that actually was a problem. I've gotten rid of all of the calipers of that style I had.

    Hey peoples, Speeddial levers are good. Or at least OK. But God help me, don't you know that XTR v-brake levers have a little plastic plug that you can knock out, and once you do there's an adjustment for cable pull ratio (like the Speeddial adjustment)?

    XTR levers and BB7s are the shiznit my friends.
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  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    That is true. I'm a pro-BB7 bigot, and if there's one thing I would change it would be not needing to have the wheel off or a torqx wrench to adjust that side. At least the newest generation of them have a torqx head in the middle...

    I was riding today and it came to be technical descent time. My rear brake had loosened up, needed the dreaded fiddling. I actually made the futile effort to tighten that inside ride knob by hand without taking the wheel off. It was obvious that there was no way that would work so I took my multi-tool out of the seat bag and took care of business. I bet I was stuck finishing that task for MORE THEN 45 SECONDS. Ridiculous.

    The previous version of BB7 didn't even have a torqx option, that actually was a problem. I've gotten rid of all of the calipers of that style I had.

    Hey peoples, Speeddial levers are good. Or at least OK. But God help me, don't you know that XTR v-brake levers have a little plastic plug that you can knock out, and once you do there's an adjustment for cable pull ratio (like the Speeddial adjustment)?

    XTR levers and BB7s are the shiznit my friends.
    I never realized the inboard adjusters were giving people problems.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  72. #72
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    You can break off some of the "teeth" of the inboard pad adjuster to make them easier to turn. Did that with an old "N type" that I had. But alas I had to stop using them because the return springs had gotten weaker.

    As for levers, I've used Paul's and SD7s but the best feeling ones were the cheapo FR-5s. Of course feel is subjective :-)

    As is brake preference.

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gasp4Air View Post
    I can't exactly speak to your point as I've never owned hydraulics of any kind. I've been riding BB7s for 10+ years with Avid Ultimates. When I bought the Ultimates ($100 less than they are now) from Speedgoat, the description said something like "If engineers from another planet who didn't know anything about bikes saw these, they'd say "Nice".

    Those levers are half the reason I keep riding BB7s. The other half that BB7s perform really well. And the third half is they're 1/3 the price of cheap hydraulics. That's money I spend on better hubs or some other upgrade.

    .
    I run SD-7 levers with BB7 brakes. I'm perfectly satisfied especially since I can adjust the leverage between the front and back brakes to suit my needs

    Quick tips for ANY bike .... run a larger rotor in the front then you do in the back. Effective braking is done primarily with the front brake so to keep your fingers from getting sore, use a larger rotor for more breaking force.

    Though, I love the SD7 levers. I'm also aware that Shimano Servo-Wave levers are very effective as they ramp up the leverage in the lever through the lever stroke. So you get high travel when first depressing the lever to make contact and higher clamping force at the point of pad contact. If I ever go Hydro, I will go with XT brakes. This is coming from a guy who is married to SRAM shifters and derailleurs.

  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ufdah View Post
    It may require a longer bolt but I can see how putting a couple washers under the cable on the end of the lever would help leverage. But, this will also require more lever travel for the same pad travel. I sketched up a pic of what I think he's trying to say...
    You are also increase the cable angle which will increase the friction in the cable travel and make it less likely for the pads to fully retract. Laugh if you like but I've resorted to inserting a spring in the cable run from the boss to the cable mount to insure full pad retraction.

    I've also used some Hayes mechanicals where the angle was just TOO much between the boss and the lever arm and pad retraction was a problem that required TWO springs in order to remedy.

    SD7 levers are cheap and will increase the leverage without causing extra cable friction.

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbd View Post
    There's a reason all cars and motorcycles use hydraulic brakes. Step away from the 8 track and get an iPod.
    Yes, technically ....
    Well the reason is that hydro cable can be routed anywhere at any angle without preventing the system from working so long as you don't crimp the cable. It is also a crucial factor in engine enhanced braking.

    And, financially ....
    The cost of hydro is also more easily absorbed with high economies of scale in auto and motorcyle production. This as well as the fact that the increased cost is much less a factor overall when the minimum retail cost of a vehicle is around $14,000 rather than $75.

  76. #76
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    Actually, air brakes are the best. Just not simple enough for cars, moto's or bikes. There is a reason semi's and trains use them still.
    This is true, but that requires a motor to run a comresssor, and most of them are air over hydraulic.

    As to cost the difference is the price of a decent tire for a better part, that will last years.

  77. #77
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    My BB7s/FR5 levers with ripcord cables had decent enough feel and power, but needed constant fiddling to keep them from rubbing and the noise was awful.

    I switched to SLXs last spring, install and cable shortening was easy enough and since then they have required zero maintenance or adjustment. Silent operation out on the trail and are crazy powerful.

    That being said, I would take my BB7s back over any non-Shimano hydro set-ups.

  78. #78
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    Duplicate post (slow server response)
    Last edited by KLF; 11-04-2012 at 08:47 PM. Reason: Duplicate post (slow server response)

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ufdah View Post
    It may require a longer bolt but I can see how putting a couple washers under the cable on the end of the lever would help leverage. But, this will also require more lever travel for the same pad travel. I sketched up a pic of what I think he's trying to say...
    But note that adding washers has no effect on the leverage until the lever arm rotates far enough so that the cable is free of the curved cable bed (the shark fin shaped piece that supports the cable before it reaches the attachment bolt).

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ufdah View Post
    It may require a longer bolt but I can see how putting a couple washers under the cable on the end of the lever would help leverage. But, this will also require more lever travel for the same pad travel. I sketched up a pic of what I think he's trying to say...
    Bingo it works good,you can do it to like 3/4 of a inch or 1". I used a proper size 1 piece bushing on one end and like 3 nuts on the other. Shim it out to the point to where you like the feel and power.

    I bought these brakes and stock they were not very good, for really technical riding which I do not do I could see some major gripes. I did a review in the review section and explained how I fixed mine. They have some issues stock but are easily fixed, in no way can they match a good hydraulic system but do you need that for a bicycle.Somebody who rides real technical stuff is probably better off with hydro's.

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    You can also achieve the same effect by using Avid Speed Dial levers and turning the leverage up (turning the adjuster in to move the cable closer to the pivot).

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by FR hokeypokey View Post
    Looking for some opinions from those that may have made this switch back to BB7s.

    Did you miss the power? Enjoy the simplicity? Effect on your riding performance or enjoyability?

    Long time rider that built up my dream bike (Silk Ti 29er) about six years ago and may need to replace my Formula Uno Puro brakes due to wear. Most likely looking at the new XT/SLX brakes. They seem solid. Bling parts are not in the current budget.

    But I am having some second thoughts about possibly using BB7s with a set of almost new Avid Ultimate levers I have sitting in the garage. I currently use BB7s on my drop barred Niner MCR. Like them a lot. But that bike is more of a CX bike in build and use then a true XC bike.

    I am 210lbs (225+ w/camelback) on mostly Front Range Colorado fireroad and singletrack. Never resort style downhilling, but still significant descending on XC rides. Still an occasional race. (last mtb race was Laramie Enduro) Style is relatively smooth and not as aggressive as I used to be 25 years ago.

    Any real world experience or thoughts would be helpful. Thanks.
    I'm 195# and run two sets of hydros (on two geared 29er's- one full suspension w/ Elixir-CR's and one hard tail w/ Juicy 7's) and one set of BB7's (on my single speed 29er). I have no problem switching between them, run through a good bit of BB height water crossings, mud, dirt, etc. I like hydros better in two particular situations:

    In sub freezing weather, mech brakes are a bit sluggish in my experience.

    On really long descents I feel like I maintain consistent stopping power w/ hydros and BB7's take an additional amount of effort. Note: it is not enough of a difference that I'm going to throw them away but if I were buying new brakes, I'd tilt toward hydros. Recently installed Elixir 5's on my GF's 29er and they've been stellar. I have no qualms about bleeding brakes and haven't had difficulty with my two sets or installing & trimming the lines on my GF's set.

  83. #83
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    I had a set of BB7s/Ripcord/SD7 on two bikes. Same exact bedding procedure, and yet one of them, I could not get the squealing out for the life of me, and that included "resurfacing" the rotor and starting over. However, on the good set, I thought they were awesome, especially for the price. Setup, maintenance, tweaking, etc. was super easy as I had hoped, for my SS/rigid "simple/low maintenance" setup.

    With that being said, I recently tried a 2012 XT setup, and was just wow'ed by how they performed. I was hesitant on having to deal with hydros in general, such as bleeding, leaks, etc, but honestly it's really not that bad. The BB7 had easy setup, but constant tweaking to get it just right, while the XT had more of an initial up front effort to setup, but little to no tweaking to get it just right. I will also say
    the XTs perform better than my BB7 setup, but I'll be honest that I probably didn't fudge with the SD7 levers or fine tune the BB7 as much as I could.

    I have also tried a set of Avid Juicy 7 and that was the first and only time I endo'ed on a bike...enough said.

    If I had to choose BB7 or XT, it would be a tough call, but I'd say BB7, but only because it just seems to fit in the scheme of simplicity of a SS rigid ride. However, since I don't have to choose, I'll probably stick with the XT for the time being.

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    I've never understood the "maintenance" complaint for hyd brakes. I've had a set on my bike i literally haven't touched in three years... (well, aligned calipers once or twice, but that took me all of 5 seconds). Contrast that with the bb5's and bb7's on some riding buddy's rigs that we fiddle with all the time, and I have to say that I wouldn't want mechanicals purely for the maintenance.

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick2cents View Post
    I've never understood the "maintenance" complaint for hyd brakes. I've had a set on my bike i literally haven't touched in three years... (well, aligned calipers once or twice, but that took me all of 5 seconds). Contrast that with the bb5's and bb7's on some riding buddy's rigs that we fiddle with all the time, and I have to say that I wouldn't want mechanicals purely for the maintenance.
    For one, there's a misconception/misunderstanding/lack of knowledge about bleeding hydros. You got by 3 years without having to do it, which is quite a long time, so consider yourself lucky. When I set up my XT set, if I had a hiccup while cutting down the lines, I would have to deal with bleeding, right off the bat. From the sounds of it, although it doesn't intimidate me, I can see how it can scare others.

    Then there's also the notion that hydros are more "complex". Maybe they don't necessarily require more maintenance, but they arguably can be more "complex" than a clearly visible cable that tugs on the caliper, which then squeezes the calipers onto the rotor (think V-brakes). Maybe the hydro complexity in itself, can add to the scariness of maintenance.

  86. #86
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    does anybody know exactly what the weight difference is between the xt's and the bb7 are for a complete set?
    -It's time to shred some mild to moderate gnar!!

  87. #87
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    I'm of the opinion that both mech and hydro disc brakes leave a lot to be desired. I never have to fiddle with my BB-7s (and don't understand why people do, but OK), but they feel primitive after using hydros. On the other hand, I've had problems with the hydros I've tried not retracting. The latest "feature" I've encountered with my Elixir-CRs is that they want to activate themselves JRA. I've got no idea what the heck could cause that. Maybe it's time for a bleed, but I'm not clear on how air in the system could force the pistons out when I'm not even touching the lever. It's definitely got me skittish about making an investment in new hydros when BB-7s work out of the box, and if they don't, I can figure out what the problem is straight away.
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  88. #88
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    Switching from hydraulic brakes to BB7s on XC bike?

    Tex- try weight weenies. I'm on my phone now or would pop up a link. Off the top of my head, the weight difference is not that great, and depending what XT model year you are looking at the XT is lighter. I am still a BB7 guy. I'll take simplicity, parts availability (I can buy a brake cable at Walmart if needed) and don't mind a small adjustment from time to time that I do about every 200 miles.


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  89. #89
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    I've been using BB7's on my Selma, but installed stainless 3/16" tubing with liner, bent to follow the frame/fork to the caliper... The tubing-to-handlebar is Nokon segmented housing - expensive but it does work nice. Feel like hydros, and the braking power is almost the same as well. The same set-up with Ripcord would probably work just as well. While I will concede that a good set of later XT brakes out-perform (slightly) the BB7's, I like the fact that on longer rides, or even tours, I can carry a spare cable and be able to do repairs on the trail in the event of a crash, etc... (Of course, I might have to look around to find a bunch of Nokon segments to put it back together...) For the riding that I do, the BB7's seem to be more than enough for me. If I was riding a FS bike that had a bit more "hit" capability, Shimano brakes would be the only way to go, IMO.
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  90. #90
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    Switching from hydraulic brakes to BB7s on XC bike?

    Scott- the stainless line thing intrigues me! Pics?


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