1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Dawes Haymaker 1500

    You know those reviews for bikes from BikesDirect always follow the same form? They start off with pictures of the box, and then the bike out of the box but still wrapped up, then (sometimes) partially assembled, then fully assembled. Well, I'm sorry to dissapoint, but if you want to see a box, go to a store that has them! If you want to see the inner packaging, just imagine heavy paper, tape, and bubble wrap. Better still, go buy some bubble wrap so you can pop it! Doesn't everyone love popping bubble wrap? Oh, where was I? Yeah, my new MTB! And if you want to see what the bike looks like assembled, just go to the bikesdirect website. M'kay?

    Go ahead and call me a shill, as I'm really a road biker, and I got this to try out trails and have fun. I didn't want to spend a lot, because I know I won't use it much, and might end up never riding it. But, I wanted a decent bike, so hence why I turned to BD. From the looks of it, it is similar in features to a Trek 4300 Disc. It's listed as a 2013 model, yet has older 8-speed Alivio shifters. Also listed are Rock Shox Dart2 forks, which are also discontinued.

    The bike came with the Rock Shox XC28 forks (Not sure if they're current, or even of the same level as the Dart 2) but everything else came as advertised. I did get a few surprises I didn't expect: The bike does look nicer than the pics, but it also required me to nearly disassemble the entire thing to put it together properly. More on that in a bit. Another surprise was the cheapo stem and handlebars. At least, they're not an expensive upgrade. The front plate on the stem is a 2 bolt design that weighs close to a whole pound! I'd bet that spending $70 on a new stem and bars will enable the bike to lose about 2 pounds. The stem took considerable torque to keep the bars from slipping. The rest of the assembly was straight-forward and easy. Granted, it only needed the stem turned, the bars, saddle, front wheel, and pedals.

    I might have exaggerated a bit when I said I nearly had to disassemble the bike, but it needed a lot of adjustments. The front hubs came too tight, and the wheels didn't spin freely. This was reminiscent of walmart bikes. Both the front and back wheels needed adjusting. The shifters needed quite a bit of adjusting as well, and the brakes needed adjusting. I expected the brakes to need adjusting, and I'm still dealing with that issue too. At least the bottom bracket was installed good at the factory, as I lack the proper tools for that. It spins very nicely.

    The 8 speed part didn't bother me, as I know a properly tuned 8 speed can usually shift better than most 9 and 10 speed systems. They also have a longer wear life on the chain and need tuned less frequently. I read that mechanical disc brakes have advanced quite a bit, but the braking still seems very poor. I got the front set up, but cannot get the rear to adjust properly. I don't know if it's a frame alignment issue, or if it's the brake mount. I'll be contacting them today. On a moderately steep decline yesterday, it proved too much for the brakes. My road bike had no issues in the same spot. Going to contact the company to see if I can get this resolved.

    Overall, I'm content with my purchase so far. The gearing I'm not sure on, but I'm used to a road bike. The braking definitely needs to be made better. The wheels could use a tiny bit of truing even though the spoke tension seems fairly even. I would say that the bike is a pretty good deal if you know how to wrench. If not, expect to spend at least $100 at a LBS to get it tuned properly. Sure, you can simply put it together, but you'll get a lousy performing bike.
    Last edited by Peanya; 02-08-2013 at 05:35 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peanya View Post
    You know those reviews for bikes from BikesDirect always follow the same form? They start off with pictures of the box, and then the bike out of the box but still wrapped up, then (sometimes) partially assembled, then fully assembled. Well, I'm sorry to dissapoint, but if you want to see a box, go to a store that has them! If you want to see the inner packaging, just imagine heavy paper, tape, and bubble wrap. Better still, go buy some bubble wrap so you can pop it! Doesn't everyone love popping bubble wrap? Oh, where was I? Yeah, my new MTB! And if you want to see what the bike looks like assembled, just go to the bikesdirect website. M'kay?

    Go ahead and call me a shill, as I'm really a road biker, and I got this to try out trails and have fun. I didn't want to spend a lot, because I know I won't use it much, and might end up never riding it. But, I wanted a decent bike, so hence why I turned to BD. From the looks of it, it is similar in features to a Trek 4300 Disc. It's listed as a 2013 model, yet has older 8-speed Alivio shifters. Also listed are Rock Shox Dart2 forks, which are also discontinued.

    The bike came with the Rock Shox XC28 forks (Not sure if they're current, or even of the same level as the Dart 2) but everything else came as advertised. I did get a few surprises I didn't expect: The bike does look nicer than the pics, but it also required me to nearly disassemble the entire thing to put it together properly. More on that in a bit. Another surprise was the cheapo stem and handlebars. At least, they're not an expensive upgrade. The front plate on the stem is a 2 bolt design that weighs close to a whole pound! I'd bet that spending $70 on a new stem and bars will enable the bike to lose about 2 pounds. The stem took considerable torque to keep the bars from slipping. The rest of the assembly was straight-forward and easy. Granted, it only needed the stem turned, the bars, saddle, front wheel, and pedals.

    I might have exaggerated a bit when I said I nearly had to disassemble the bike, but it needed a lot of adjustments. The front hubs came too tight, and the wheels didn't spin freely. This was reminiscent of walmart bikes. Both the front and back wheels needed adjusting. The shifters needed quite a bit of adjusting as well, and the brakes needed adjusting. I expected the brakes to need adjusting, and I'm still dealing with that issue too. At least the bottom bracket was installed good at the factory, as I lack the proper tools for that. It spins very nicely.

    The 8 speed part didn't bother me, as I know a properly tuned 8 speed can usually shift better than most 9 and 10 speed systems. They also have a longer wear life on the chain and need tuned less frequently. I read that mechanical disc brakes have advanced quite a bit, but the braking still seems very poor. I got the front set up, but cannot get the rear to adjust properly. I don't know if it's a frame alignment issue, or if it's the brake mount. I'll be contacting them today. On a moderately steep decline yesterday, it proved too much for the brakes. My road bike had no issues in the same spot. Going to contact the company to see if I can get this resolved.

    Overall, I'm content with my purchase so far. The gearing I'm not sure on, but I'm used to a road bike. The braking definitely needs to be made better. The wheels could use a tiny bit of truing even though the spoke tension seems fairly even. I would say that the bike is a pretty good deal if you know how to wrench. If not, expect to spend at least $100 at a LBS to get it tuned properly. Sure, you can simply put it together, but you'll get a lousy performing bike.
    Fixed. It's a minor detail, but when you hit the "enter" key one more time after you end a paragraph people will actually be able to read what you wrote. Huge blocks of text are very difficult to read.

    You should get out there and ride your new bike!
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Fixed. It's a minor detail, but when you hit the "enter" key one more time after you end a paragraph people will actually be able to read what you wrote. Huge blocks of text are very difficult to read.

    You should get out there and ride your new bike!
    Yeah, I tend to get a bit wordy at times.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peanya View Post
    Yeah, I tend to get a bit wordy at times.
    Wordy isn't the problem, it's the formatting. I tend to be wordy as well so I can't fault you there. it's just that a few breaks in the paragraph make things much much easier to read. Compare my quote to your initial post for ease of reading; that's all I was driving at, it's not a big deal really.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  5. #5
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    You're lucky so far. The RS XC28TF fork is not a Suntour. It will work on the difficult rocky rooty trails that are fun and challenging. Find that trail and ride it in a loop. Goodbye road bike time.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Goodbye road bike time.
    I wouldn't go that far. While riding yesterday, I was still longing for the effortless speed I could get out of my BMC, and the way the bike felt as if it was an extension of myself. Who knows though?

  7. #7
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    That sounds like a decent bike, with RS XCT28's, how does it ride/shift?

  8. #8
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    I just got the same model from BD this week, it went together well but i just couldnt get the brakes working, they wont stop me even on flat pavement, took them to LBS and they said it was fine, they tuned the front derailuer and thought it may need replacement pads but on inspection they said not. Is this normal?

    Am I just too heavy at 200lbs for these TEKTRO NOVELA Mechanical Disc Brakes ? My old Trek with it's V breaks would stop me instantly, these take 9-12 feet.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by haymaker View Post
    I just got the same model from BD this week, it went together well but i just couldnt get the brakes working, they wont stop me even on flat pavement, took them to LBS and they said it was fine, they tuned the front derailuer and thought it may need replacement pads but on inspection they said not. Is this normal?

    Am I just too heavy at 200lbs for these TEKTRO NOVELA Mechanical Disc Brakes ? My old Trek with it's V breaks would stop me instantly, these take 9-12 feet.
    Those aren't the best brakes around but they should work better than they are. Here's how I would troubleshoot this:

    1. Make sure the brakes are adjusted properly. If you can't find a good procedure on the Novelas then follow the procedure for Avid BB5 which should be easy enough to see. And failing that the BB7 procedure is nearly the same just using cable tension (barrel adjusters) instead of the moving pad adjuster on your brakes. Poorly aligned and adjusted brakes are the most common cause of improperly functioning brakes.

    2. Pad contamination. If you got lube or WD-40 or any other contaminate on your pads then no amount of adjustment will help you. You could try to cook the pads (search how) or you could replace them. Either way you go make sure you clean every little bit of the calipers and rotors with isopropyl before you install new pads.

    3. Pads are cooked. Take a look at your rotors, have they turned a shade of blue or purple? If so, you've overheated your brakes and likely glazed your pads. You can help fix this by lightly sanding the rotor and pad surface then cleaning the heck out of them with isopropyl.

    Failing any of those, maybe you could use larger diameter rotors. At some point you're going to hit the point of diminishing returns and should probably just buy BB7s with larger rotors. Like I said, those brakes aren't great but they're not so bad that they shouldn't stop you.
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  10. #10
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    that's a disappointing amount of work required to assemble the BD bike. I bet your brakes just need adjustment. Follow brake installation manuals as zebra suggested. You're investing your time to a assemble the bike properly now. It's good to know how bikes are put together and how to fix them.

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    thanks zebrahum. I followed your advice and found some instructional vids on youtube for adjusting the brakes this evening and after doing that I noticed that both front and rear wheels now spin more freely , not even slightly rubbing the pads. I also wiped clean the rotors as suggested, but didnt notice any shading on the rotors itself, having only done 20 miles total on the bike so far, and very little of that down hill because of my lack of confidence in their stopping power I don't think I will have overheated them.

    I hope to get out on the trails tomorrow evening and have my breaking fingers crossed that this has at least made them usable!

    I am however tempted by the BB7s having now read numerous threads on people ditching the Novelas for them but having just bought the bike I really can't justify spending another stash of cash to upgrade to those nice looking 180mm rotors just yet.

  12. #12
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    if you do get bb7, you can grab a set off ebay for reasonable. you can just use the rotors on the bike. I don't like recommending this because you're going to have to install it and adjust it; which sounds like what your existing brakes need.

    You should not test the brakes on the trail. You should be able to cruise around the block on flat surface and lock the rear tire easily. Your front brake should feel strong (don't flip over your handlebars).

    To tell between contaminate rotors vs brakes not adjusting properly. Even if your rotors are contaminated, you should have good firm pull and on your brake lever. If your brake lever goes all the way do the handlebar, then it's not setup properly. You either need to shorten the brake line or adjust the barrel adjuster to do so.

    If your brake lever does not go all the way to the handle bar, but still does not stop bike; you most likely have a contamination problem. There are ways to work around this, do a search of contaminated pads.

  13. #13
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    unsqueezed lever





    lever when squeezed firmly. This lever has a firm stopping point.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Dawes Haymaker 1500-pmvbtrw.jpg  


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    If your brake lever does not go all the way to the handle bar, but still does not stop bike; you most likely have a contamination problem. There are ways to work around this, do a search of contaminated pads.
    There is more to adjusting a brake than just the throw of the lever. You should have a firmly stopping lever with a twisting or bending rotor and your bike still won't stop properly. The one downside of mechanical brakes is that you are always adjusting them to keep them functioning properly. If you start with a nicely centered and square caliper then those adjustments are pretty easy.
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  15. #15
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    I doubt that off center caliper or twisted rotor will cause brake failure to the extend of 10-12ft stopping distance. In my experience, most likely going to be improper cable length (lever squeezes to the bar) or contamination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    I doubt that off center caliper or twisted rotor will cause brake failure to the extend of 10-12ft stopping distance. In my experience, most likely going to be improper cable length (lever squeezes to the bar) or contamination.
    Bending rotors is the number one cause of poor brake performance; before cable throw, before contamination, and it should be the first thing that is checked, always.

    You can't narrow down issues if you don't start from the most basic one. While your (repeated) suggestions are valid, they can not be the first thing that is checked. If the caliper isn't straight and the assumption is made that contamination is the issue then you'll spend money putting new pads into a caliper that just needed to be aligned properly. You also can't set cable throw until the caliper is aligned because you won't know how much cable to pull through until the pads are hitting square and evenly with the fixed pad adjusted properly.

    Take a look at your rotor while you squeeze the brake lever; if the rotor deflects more than a millimeter or two then you need to adjust your caliper. Even worse is if you see your rotor twist while you pull the lever. If your rotor is bending or twisting during braking you will never get any force out of them, no matter how firm you adjust the barrel adjuster to pull.
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  17. #17
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    Re: Dawes Haymaker 1500

    Disc Brakes require a "break in" period I think it's called burning in?

    That might be a reason why yours aren't as powerful as you want it to be.


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnj2803 View Post
    Disc Brakes require a "break in" period I think it's called burning in?

    That might be a reason why yours aren't as powerful as you want it to be.


    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S3 using tapatalk
    Also called "bedding in" and it's a very valid point with only 20 miles on the bike so far. Any time you change pads, rotors, or make a major change in the adjustment of the brakes you'll probably need to bed the pads back in. It's pretty easy and should be able to be accomplished with finding a gentle hill (good runout in case something goes wrong) and dragging one brake until it gets warm. A few laps of that and you should should have a strong brake then repeat it with the other brake.
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    Thanks guys for all this valuable advice.

    I did manage to get out this afternoon and try out the brake adjustments, I am still unable to lock either the front or rear wheel on the road or going down hill, there's no way these are going to throw me over the handlebars unfortunately (fortunately?!) but I do feel like the stopping distance is better maybe takes 6ft to stop when doing about 10mph. The pull on my levers is good, they dont go all the way to the handlebars. I can pull them with 1 or 2 fingers.

    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    To tell between contaminate rotors vs brakes not adjusting properly. Even if your rotors are contaminated, you should have good firm pull and on your brake lever. If your brake lever goes all the way do the handlebar, then it's not setup properly. You either need to shorten the brake line or adjust the barrel adjuster to do so.
    I've tried to follow your example bob13bob of taking photos of the brake levers unsqueezed and squeezed, I do feel good feedback from pulling the levers, so it seems like contimation may be my problem. Or maybe I just need to 'burn these in more', having now done 40+ miles I

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    Dawes Haymaker 1500-unsqueezed-1.jpgDawes Haymaker 1500-squeezed-1.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Take a look at your rotor while you squeeze the brake lever; if the rotor deflects more than a millimeter or two then you need to adjust your caliper. Even worse is if you see your rotor twist while you pull the lever. If your rotor is bending or twisting during braking you will never get any force out of them, no matter how firm you adjust the barrel adjuster to pull.

    zebrahum I notice when I just took these photos I span the front wheel and notice after my ride an audible sound from the front brake pad catching the rotor again but not to the point where the wheel couldnt spin feeling. And upon compressing the lever I see the pad moving/bending the rotor slightly a couple of MMs. I've tried slackening the caliper and retightening it while the break lever was squeezed and it made no difference.

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    So I'm conflicted is it the rotor being 'moved' like this when pressing the lever the issue or are the pads just not worn in yet or if there's some contamination I'm not sure if taking out the pads and sanding them might help.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by haymaker View Post
    Thanks guys for all this valuable advice.

    I did manage to get out this afternoon and try out the brake adjustments, I am still unable to lock either the front or rear wheel on the road or going down hill, there's no way these are going to throw me over the handlebars unfortunately (fortunately?!) but I do feel like the stopping distance is better maybe takes 6ft to stop when doing about 10mph. The pull on my levers is good, they dont go all the way to the handlebars. I can pull them with 1 or 2 fingers.



    I've tried to follow your example bob13bob of taking photos of the brake levers unsqueezed and squeezed, I do feel good feedback from pulling the levers, so it seems like contimation may be my problem. Or maybe I just need to 'burn these in more', having now done 40+ miles I

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    zebrahum I notice when I just took these photos I span the front wheel and notice after my ride an audible sound from the front brake pad catching the rotor again but not to the point where the wheel couldnt spin feeling. And upon compressing the lever I see the pad moving/bending the rotor slightly a couple of MMs. I've tried slackening the caliper and retightening it while the break lever was squeezed and it made no difference.

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    So I'm conflicted is it the rotor being 'moved' like this when pressing the lever the issue or are the pads just not worn in yet or if there's some contamination I'm not sure if taking out the pads and sanding them might help.
    This is the mode of action of mechanical disc brakes if I am not mistaken. Only one of the pads moves to compress on the rotor. But it shouldn't Ben excessive. I think yours is normal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by haymaker View Post
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    So I'm conflicted is it the rotor being 'moved' like this when pressing the lever the issue or are the pads just not worn in yet or if there's some contamination I'm not sure if taking out the pads and sanding them might help.
    So from this picture alone I can see that your caliper is moved too far to the outside of the bike. Let's assume that this picture is accurate and it's not a trick of perspective. There is a pretty obvious gap from the fixed pad to the rotor while there it appears the moving pad is nearly touching the rotor. I would start over from scratch here. You have two methods you can use:

    1. Loosen the caliper fixing bolts so the caliper can move freely. Make sure you have the fixed pad adjuster about halfway out. Squeeze the brake lever with one hand and gently tighten the bolts back down while you hold the lever. Then adjust the fixed pad adjuster so that you don't rub during freewheeling and adjust the cable tension to get the throw you want. Brake lever throw is irrelevant to brake performance so long as the lever can fully actuate the brake so adjust it to where it feels comfortable.

    2. This one is a little harder to get right but I prefer it. Once again, loosen the caliper fixing bolts. Back out the fixed pad adjuster as far as it will go and either remove the cable or loosen it a good amount. Visually center the rotor in the caliper and tighten down the bolts. With this method your rotor will always be in the center of the caliper no matter what your adjustments are. You can pull the moving pad to check how lined up you are and adjust as needed. Adjust the fixed pad in to prevent rotor flex then adjust the cable pull to preference. You might have to take a few cracks at it as it's a manual process.
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  22. #22
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    Re: Dawes Haymaker 1500

    All mechanical disc will bend the rotor just slightly.

    As said caliper is off center. Get it centered and square to the rotor first thing. Also loosen brake cable at caliper completely.

    Next clean the rotor with rubbing alcohol or residue free brake parts cleaner (automotive stuff its what i use and works great)

    With wheel able to spin freely, adjust inboard pad (fixed pad) in towards rotor till you have very thin gap but not rubbing. Repeat with outside pad.

    Make sure barrel adjusters are all the way in at both ends then tighten. Cable at caliper. Next use barrel adjust to suck any bit of slack there is in the cable. You shouldn't see cable pull tighter before caliper ARM moves, should be that you move brake lever even the tiniest bit caliper ARM should move exactly with it. If done correctly when you squeeze brake lever it should stop firmly long before its able to touch the fingers on the grips with decent but not excessive force.

    Next as said use a hill. I live on a rather steepish hill so makes bedding easy as ****. Get some speed then head down the hill, drag your brakes just enough to maintain ur speed not speed up or slow down, ull notice them warm up cause then all the sudden they start grabbing a bit harder without you moving levers at all. Immediately let off for a couple secs for rotors/pads to cool a bit and repeat as many times as hill allows. At the bottom regain speed and brake firm but don't come to dead stop, more like if your slowing way down to turn around then let off, turn around go back up and do again.

    Then go ride but hit some random hills, long, short, shallow, steep so you can drag ur brakes to heat them up a bit but normal riding basically. Riding around town is best because of constant brake use at varying speeds without dangers of trail use.

    During bedding avoid hard sudden STOPS if at all possible, sometimes (as I have ran into on novelas and bb7s) it can be counter productive. And JUST BECAUSE BRAKING POWER IS NOT GREAT DURING THIS TIME DON'T HAMMER LEVERS AS HARD AS YOU CAN, you'll warp rotors doing that. Once bedded you do that its an otb moment for you so just break that habit before it starts. Just leave yourself ample time to stop if you know or its a chance you'll have to.

    Hope that helps. Novelas are a ***** to get bedded but are ok for light use once they are. I wouldnt be doing technical down hill stuff, things like that but they are plenty good enough for faster flowing trails that aren't real steep and don't require almost otb stops to make a tight corner (though planned ahead braking to lower speed over more distance worked well for me till i upgraded to bb7s)

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    if pads are contaminated, they should be burnt off as well in addition to cleaning the rotors.. if you do search on here for contaminated pads,

    Looking at that pic, I am very skeptical that this could be caused by misaligned caliper over rotor. It's looks close enough to me to not cause such a big brake failure of 10-12 ft.

  24. #24
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    Ultimately, you should be able to get the brakes where you can lock them up fairly easily if you want. If not, it's going to be a problem.

    Something you mentioned, that no one has touched on, is that you notice a difference between the front and rear. Even on perfectly working mechanical disc brakes, this is not unusual. This happens because it a longer distance from the lever to the rear brake caliper than it is to the front. There is more cable, and more importantly, there will be more cable housing, which tends to compress, anywhere from a little with high quality housing, to a lot with poor quality housing.

    I also see on the Dawes 1500, that the housing appears to have a break in it where it crosses the top tube. This is actually a good thing in my opinion, because it is that much less housing that can compress. I find full length housing to have poorer performance if everything is installed properly.

    If you have some budget to get BB7's, I can all but guarantee that you will be able to get them to perform more than adequately. Might be a good option if you can swing the budget so you can quit fum-ducking around and spend the time riding instead.

    Zebrahum (and others) have given you some excellent advice on getting the rest of it sorted out. Good luck.

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