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.
Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
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    I think I need better brakes

    I have a Trek 4500 and I love it. I have been riding the crap out of it.
    Problem is I am riding in the local hills And they are steep, and wet (at least in the mornings) almost all year round plus I am a big guy over 6 foot and over 200 lbs

    I just don't like the way the stock brakes work no major problems just want better braking
    Checked LBS about them putting on disc brakes lets just say I could almost buy a new bike for the cost they quoted.

    Questions:
    I am pretty handy with a wrench mostly working on cars never really worked on bikes before but is disc brakes somthing I can do myself and if so aproximate cost for a basic kit?

    Is there just a better brake pad or upgrade that I could get or another way to improve preformance of my stock brakes?

    Do I need disc front and rear or would just front be ok?

    My old walmart special mongoose has front disc and always did stop good would it be wrong to canabalize it and swap over?

    Thank you in advance for response

  2. #2
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    The actual wrenching is easy compared to selecting the bits and pieces, and making sure they all fit.

    The online shops all have good prices on kits.

    Step one cannableize the old bike for a new front disk brake espicially if your wheels are disc ready, and the mounting tabs are already on the fork and seat stay

  3. #3
    Former Bike Wrench
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    Idea! Some Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubbles & Me
    Questions:
    I am pretty handy with a wrench mostly working on cars never really worked on bikes before but is disc brakes somthing I can do myself and if so aproximate cost for a basic kit?
    If you have the mechanical skills to work on your car, you can certainly install a set of Mechanical Disc Brakes. It's relatively easy, I would just recommend a good bike manual like "Zinn and the art of Mountain Bike Maintenance". If you have a good grasp on brake systems on cars, you could probably work with Hydraulic discs as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubbles & Me
    Is there just a better brake pad or upgrade that I could get or another way to improve preformance of my stock brakes?
    Well, a Trek 4500 is most likely going to have a cheap set of v-brakes...something like Tektro or Promax. You could upgrade to a solid set of Avid SD7 brakes and levers for under $100 which will increase your braking power. But wet braking is where your going to see the limitation of rim brakes versus disc brakes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bubbles & Me
    Do I need disc front and rear or would just front be ok?
    Up front would be OK. If your using your brakes correctly, a front brake does 70-80% of your braking anyway. However, I think you'll find pretty quickly that you'll want them front and rear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubbles & Me
    My old walmart special mongoose has front disc and always did stop good would it be wrong to canabalize it and swap over?
    No, it wouldn't be wrong assuming that the brake uses an international standard mounting setup. It'll probably be a cheap Tektro or Promax brake...so while it will be an improvement over your rim brake, it will be nowhere in the league of an Avid Mechanical or most hydraulic disc brakes.


  4. #4
    In dog years, I'm dead.
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    Another Option

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubbles & Me
    I have a Trek 4500 and I love it. I have been riding the crap out of it.
    Problem is I am riding in the local hills And they are steep, and wet (at least in the mornings) almost all year round plus I am a big guy over 6 foot and over 200 lbs

    I just don't like the way the stock brakes work no major problems just want better braking
    Checked LBS about them putting on disc brakes lets just say I could almost buy a new bike for the cost they quoted.

    Questions:
    I am pretty handy with a wrench mostly working on cars never really worked on bikes before but is disc brakes somthing I can do myself and if so aproximate cost for a basic kit?

    Is there just a better brake pad or upgrade that I could get or another way to improve preformance of my stock brakes?

    Do I need disc front and rear or would just front be ok?

    My old walmart special mongoose has front disc and always did stop good would it be wrong to canabalize it and swap over?

    Thank you in advance for response
    Another option instead of replacing the rim brakes is to change your braking method. Although I do agree that disk brakes would be preferred, if your wheels aren't disk ready it may be expensive & complicated even if you do it yourself. So for a less than perfect solution, or short-term before you get around to the upgrade, try this:

    When riding in wet conditions with rim brakes, press the brakes ever so slightly to create enough friction to raise the temperature on the rims & pads to dry the surfaces. This won't work well if conditions are extremelty wet. And of course it will slow you down & require more pedaling effort. But in some situations it might help.

    Here's a scenario that works:
    Your doing an early morning hill climb on a single track rimmed with dew-drenched grass. At the top of the hill, the trail levels out for a while before you encounter a steep descent. During the level stretch you pull slightly on both brake levers - just enough to dry the rims & pads. You can feel the effectiveness of the braking increase before you hit the lip & drop over the side of the hill. During the descent you have full braking power from top to bottom, & you keep the brakes engaged to maintain the dryness even through the stretches that you could manage without brakes.

    Here's a scenario that doesn't work:
    You've just splashed through a creek at the bottom of a gully, drenching your bike & yourself. As you crest the rim of the gully & drop down a hill on the narrow single track on the other side, you realize the gap between 2 trees is too narrow for your handle bars. You've had no time to dry your brakes after splashing through the creek & you choose to veer into a thicket of thorns rather than break bones & your bike in an encounter with the trees.

    So not a perfect solution by far, but it might help you out in some situations in the short-term. It's a trick I learned in my road-bike commuting days with a steel-rimmed 10-speed.
    Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.... (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

  5. #5
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    ths might help

    order up some new wheels here, these are sturdy and will take a beating. $89

    Order up a set of Avid Mechanical brakes here approx. $180. You can use existing levers on your bike.

    Or plan B, as you said, new bike if that is a better alternative for you.

    Good luck, Jim

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimC.
    order up some new wheels here, these are sturdy and will take a beating. $89

    Order up a set of Avid Mechanical brakes here approx. $180. You can use existing levers on your bike.

    Or plan B, as you said, new bike if that is a better alternative for you.

    Good luck, Jim
    New bike not an option I love my bike and have grown very attached to it!
    Kinda hard to explain but it just seems to feel right

    $180 bucks to do it myself aint to bad LBS qoute was over twice that
    Recent purchase of bike and bunch of related stuff kinda broke the bank for a while but sure does look like way I will go by end of summer to prepare for fall and winter riding when I will really need them.

    In mean time I guess I will go with a combination of some of the other advice given.
    Thanks everyone for advice and any other suggestions are welcome.

  7. #7
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    Whoa...

    you need wheels with disc hubs as your ride doesn't have them. $89 for a set.

    I might suggest to get those first, and then shop around for cheap or used Disc brakes as the second part.

    Hope that helps, Jim

    Oh, I'd also check a few mail order places as from time to time, I've seen disc upgrade packages offered.

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