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  1. #1
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    Mechanical disc brake cables

    Hi. Do mechanical disc brakes use the same exact cables as cantilevers/V brakes? I read online "Mechanical brakes use a steel cable to translate a pull on the brake lever into a pull on the caliper at the disc." Also in this link Shimano MTB Brake Cable and Housing Set | Shimano | Brand | www.PricePoint.com it says "Shimano standard mountain bike brake cable and housing set includes all the cable and housing you need to install your mechanical disc or v-brakes." I just wanted further confirmation.

    I got a brand new XTR front & rear cable set. Now i gotta figure out if i'm going hydraulic or mechanical. If i don't go mechanical i can sell the cable set. Thanks

  2. #2
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    Same. Go SLX hydraulic. Blue Sky has a front for $60.

  3. #3
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    What eb1888 said. They are the same. The performance of mechanical brakes is highly dependent upon the quality of the cables.

    I have personally had great success with gore cables.

    SLX brakes are very, very good. Keep in mind, SLX brakes are still ~$100 per wheel with rotors. Avid BB7s are ~$50-$60 per wheel with rotors.
    On MTBR, the reputation is infamous.

  4. #4
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    you will find a lot of Avid BB7 fans too. those cables will work just great with BB7s.

  5. #5
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    Cable units can be good. If you are used to cable brakes like v-brakes they will feel fine. If you use hydraulics you will have a hard time going back
    '93 Giant Sedona ATX custom
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  6. #6
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    If the price difference is close, I would go for SLX or XT hydros for certain. They have a more refined feel to them, and that seems to be important to some riders. They are pretty reliable, and don't seem to require much maintenance. The 'action' is more of and 'off/on' than other disc brakes, but it takes about two stops for me to adjust. The one thing I really like about the SLX/XT brakes is that the ergonomics make it very easy to 'one-finger' brake. Hard to find any negatives about these brakes.

    That said, I have no qualms about running BB7's because I know how to set them up, and how to deal with them. I weigh more than 250lbs, and BB7's stop me EASILY. Anyone that says that BB7's are not powerful enough (when set up correctly with the right size rotor for the application) would disappear if given an enema :~). One of my bikes currently has a hydraulic disc on one wheel, and a BB7 on the other (I won't go into the reason why), and I never noticed a difference in stopping power when I swapped the BB7 onto the bike. Been running BB7's for around 10 years, along with hydros since 1999. I'm good to go with either one.

  7. #7
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    I work as a service tech in a busy shop that sees a lot of mid-high commuter bikes (and some MTBs, and some 'cross) on which mechanical discs are common. I would answer the mech vs. hydro question not on the basis of performance, but from the user's (you) willingness to adjust them.

    A well-bled set of hydros is virtually zero maintenance untill the pads wear out, and then usually an easy swap, and then potentially several sets of pads worth of consistent performance without re-bleeding.

    A well set up mechanical brake will need to have it's cable tension adjusted with some frequency, and have the static, inner pad moved outward from time to time as it wears down. If you fail to do one of these, the quality of performance suffers a little. No big deal. But if you fail to do both your brakes' performance will suck.

    The flip side is that if you get a lemon for a hydro brake, it can be a rebleed/rebuild/warranty sh1tshow. My 2c.

  8. #8
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    A lot of people swear by using compressionless brake cables for BB7s. I've used both and don't see a big difference. The cables you have will work fine.

    I have one bike with SLX, one with Deore and several with BB7. I move between bikes without giving the brakes a second thought. They all work great. I like the BB7s since they are so adjustable. The hydros are a little nicer at the lever but not a huge difference.

  9. #9
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    Lots of good, unbiased information here. I too have used both hydro and mech and I like both, for different reasons. A well set-up hydro brake is unbeatable. I have Magura Marta SL's and the lever feel is like butter, there is nothing smoother. But as snfoilhat said, if you get a lemon, you'll find yourself wondering why you chose hydros. One of my original Marta's leaked over the course of a 4 mile climb. When I turned around to descend, I had no front brake. Nice, huh? Magura ended up replacing it under warranty and it has worked flawlessly ever since.

    I have BB7's on my other bike. Stopping power is adequate, but not as good as the Marta's. Lever feel is fine, but again, not as buttery smooth as the Marta's. On the plus side, BB7's are cheap and dead-simple to set up and maintain. Oh, and I use compressionless housing with my BB7's to reduce spongy feel at the lever. Every little bit helps.

  10. #10
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    Now that I have hydraulic brakes, I really like them. I just have lower-tier Avid Elixirs on two bikes. I don't know wtf people keep doing to their brakes to mess up the alignment; I suspect they don't know how to use quick release skewers. The brakes I bought for my older bike were set-and-forget when I installed them, which I found easy and pad replacement was easy. The only time I had trouble with them was when I needed to have them bled. Then they went back to working great.

    On the new bike, they came stock. So the only thing I've done at all was adjusting the position of the levers on my handlebar.

    I have BB7s on one bike. I feel like I have to mess around with them more than rim brakes. They perform better on a wet day, but since you seem to be interested in throwing parts at your bike, go to a hydraulic brake.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
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    Oops - also, performance of anything cable-actuated on a bike is sensitive to how well the ends of the housings are finished. Do it yourself. See the article on sheldonbrown.com if you don't know how.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    This used to be about the best cheep compressionless housing set around back not that long ago...along with the 20 buck rolls of STSP housing pricepoint.com had.
    Nashbar Mechanical Disc Brake Cable and Housing Set - Bike Brake Cables / Housing

    It's actually Jagwire brand last I got mine.

    I think pricepoint.com only has STSP shifter housing these days...but there may be others that offer the stiffness of compressionless housing too.
    I will say I agree with the poster above at this point though...really don't care which I use...just clean and lubed stuff if OK for me. i'm just getting into hydros...so no comments yet.Here's a cable story.(techblah)
    Alligator Cables-manufacturer of brake and control cables for the bicycle, motorcycle

    You could run full length housing from lever all the way to caliper like hydro lines too...also shifter housings too with the right adapters or drilling out the frame housing stops...here's some clips.
    Alligator The Gripper Bolt-On Hydraulic Hose Guide | Alligator | Brand | www.PricePoint.com

    maybe too much info. LOL
    roccowt.
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  13. #13
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    Actually, with cable brakes, the LESS housing you have between the brake and the lever, the LESS compression (ie; mushy feel at the lever) you will have. Frames that have cable stops along the top tube will get better performance from cable actuated brakes because there is less housing to compress. The section between cable stops where there is no housing will have zero compression. It's the same reason that a front cable disc brake will have a better/ stronger feel than a rear with full length housing.

    With decent cable housing, it eventually stops(for all practical purposes) compressing and transfers the power to the caliper. At that point, if you pull hard enough on the levers, you will see the arm on the caliper moving (indicating there is play and/or flex in some place or places on or inside of the caliper), and/or you will see the lever mechanism flexing. I believe that the cable itself is the last place where you would see noticeable stretching or flexing.

    One easy well to tell that there is compression in your brake housing is to grab a great big handful of brake lever and keep an eye on the housing as it exits the lever and makes a big bend toward wherever it's headed to. See the housing move? That is the housing compressing.

    If you ride in an area where contamination of the cables/housings is an issue, it might just be something you have to live with to keep things working well enough for a longer period of time. But, if you ride in an area that is relatively dry and cables don't get gunked up or rusted easily, cable stops on your frame that reduce the amount of housing to the components they serve are your friend. Your components will work better when used correctly. That includes derailleurs too.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    Actually, with cable brakes, the LESS housing you have between the brake and the lever, the LESS compression (ie; mushy feel at the lever) you will have. Frames that have cable stops along the top tube will get better performance from cable actuated brakes because there is less housing to compress. The section between cable stops where there is no housing will have zero compression. It's the same reason that a front cable disc brake will have a better/ stronger feel than a rear with full length housing.

    With decent cable housing, it eventually stops(for all practical purposes) compressing and transfers the power to the caliper. At that point, if you pull hard enough on the levers, you will see the arm on the caliper moving (indicating there is play and/or flex in some place or places on or inside of the caliper), and/or you will see the lever mechanism flexing. I believe that the cable itself is the last place where you would see noticeable stretching or flexing.

    One easy well to tell that there is compression in your brake housing is to grab a great big handful of brake lever and keep an eye on the housing as it exits the lever and makes a big bend toward wherever it's headed to. See the housing move? That is the housing compressing.

    If you ride in an area where contamination of the cables/housings is an issue, it might just be something you have to live with to keep things working well enough for a longer period of time. But, if you ride in an area that is relatively dry and cables don't get gunked up or rusted easily, cable stops on your frame that reduce the amount of housing to the components they serve are your friend. Your components will work better when used correctly. That includes derailleurs too.
    agreed.
    full length housing shields muck...if there is any.
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  15. #15
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    Full length Jagwire L3 housing with the high end Jagwire brake cables (can't remember the name), BB7's and Avid SD7 levers makes a very sweet combo. Very silky smooth. Very similar to hydros in feel.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    That includes derailleurs too.
    This is not the case-- because of ferrules. With each extra stop you get two extra ferrules with a small hole through their metal end. You get 6 instead of 2. These get cut by the cable and create drag on cable return in a system with light spring rates at the derailleur and shifter. This can make you experience slow shifting with heavy shift feel. Nothing you do with your adjusters will overcome this.
    First step-- you drill out your stops or use zip ties and use enough housing to give a good sized loop at the derailleur and shifter.
    Second step-- Use a high quality lined housing and slick coated stainless cable and plastic ferrules. Jagwire's high end product line is cheapest from REI as a Novara/Jagwire $19 kit.
    Novara Shift Cable Kit at REI.com
    I have this on my bike. The difference was a major improvement. It makes lower level components into a buttery smooth high quality experience you will have no desire to upgrade.
    You may get a similar initial feel with the 6 ferrules in a cut up system by using the Jagwire housing/cable and plastic ferrules at first, but deterioration may be quicker.
    Last edited by eb1888; 10-06-2013 at 12:48 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    This is not the case-- because of ferrules. With each extra stop you get two extra ferrules with a small hole through their metal end. You get 6 instead of 2. These get cut by the cable and create drag on cable return in a system with light spring rates at the derailleur and shifter. This can make you experience slow shifting with heavy shift feel. Nothing you do with your adjusters will overcome this.
    I think if you're careful with the housing cuts and use quality ferrules split housing can be at least as smooth, if not smoother than full length. I suppose one could argue that full length housing is more practical but I have always preferred the minimalist aesthetics of splitting it so I use the stops. I live in the SW but we still see a fair bit of mud and water and my shifting does not suffer because of the splits. On either setup I would change cable & housing at about the same intervals.

    I haven't lived in any really wet climates for a long time so I might chance my tune if I lived somewhere else.

  18. #18
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    I just installed full length shifter housing for the rear derailleurs on my wife's bike and my bike. Someone had borrowed hers on an epic rain/mud ride and crashed in a mud hole. Shifting was all FUBAR.

    Shifting with full length is about the same as or better than the normal way, but you don't get the small loop at the rear der. always causing problems due to gunk. I didn't use the ferrules with the little sleeve on the end due to the noticeable extra friction. I used regular shifter cables and Jagwire L3 housing, plastic ends, and these:

    佳格 Jagwire 油管支架 油管转接架 车架改油管支架 线管卡子-淘宝网

    It turned out very well. Worth the time and money.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    This is not the case-- because of ferrules. With each extra stop you get two extra ferrules with a small hole through their metal end. You get 6 instead of 2. These get cut by the cable and create drag on cable return in a system with light spring rates at the derailleur and shifter. This can make you experience slow shifting with heavy shift feel. Nothing you do with your adjusters will overcome this.
    First step-- you drill out your stops or use zip ties and use enough housing to give a good sized loop at the derailleur and shifter.
    Second step-- Use a high quality lined housing and slick coated stainless cable and plastic ferrules. Jagwire's high end product line is cheapest from REI as a Novara/Jagwire $19 kit.
    Novara Shift Cable Kit at REI.com
    I have this on my bike. The difference was a major improvement. It makes lower level components into a buttery smooth high quality experience you will have no desire to upgrade.
    You may get a similar initial feel with the 6 ferrules in a cut up system by using the Jagwire housing/cable and plastic ferrules at first, but deterioration may be quicker.
    We'll just have to agree to disagree on this. I take the time to make good square cuts on the housing, and will file or grind them flat if needed. If the cable comes out of the ferrule at an angle it could grind on it. But I rarely see that happen. I get much better feel from interrupted housing setups than with full length housing setups, and better quality housing makes a difference. Personally, I don't care for the plastic ferrules as I have more trouble with them deforming over time.

    Next time you see a bike with cable discs, and there is full length housing to bot front and rear brakes, give both levers a squeeze. Most likely you'll feel the difference. The front will have more positive feedback and feel much more on/off than the rear. That's due to the housing compressing.

    I just (last night) swapped out a set of Hayes Prime Pros for a set of BB7's I have had for years. One of the Prime Pros needed bleeding and I wanted to shorten the hoses. It will take some time to get all that together, so I put the BB7's on. I have actually dialed in some modulation into the Speed Dial levers, and dialed the reach adjustment in to make them easier to 'one finger'. They feel really good. Since I didn't have cable stops on this frame, I used a good (supposedly) compressionless housing. I can still see the housing compress a little when I squeeze the lever, but not as much as when I have used cheap housing.

    Still, if I could get either for about the same price, I would opt for SLX or XT. Shimano has hydraulic disc brakes figured out, and they are releasing Ice Tech all the way down to Deore this year.

  20. #20
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    Name:  deore.jpg
Views: 478
Size:  17.8 KBMy post really refers to derailleur housing and cable. I use SLX brakes and won't be setting up a cable brake system.
    Hydraulic Disc Brake Caliper Shimano BR-M615 Deore 2014--
    This caliper looks similar but isn't the 21mm ceramic piston unit used in the SLX, XT and XTR models. I'd stick with SLX.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Name:  deore.jpg
Views: 478
Size:  17.8 KBMy post really refers to derailleur housing and cable. I use SLX brakes and won't be setting up a cable brake system.
    Aha, OK.

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