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  1. #1
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    Am I crazy? (just switched from V brakes to disc)

    I understand that my new ride has loathed Elixer 3R brakes, but they are SOOOO weak compared to my 15 year old XTR v brakes.

    Will I really have to go to something like the Zee/Saint or Code/XO Trail brakes to get the kind of power I am use to back?
    Fat guys need bikes too.

  2. #2
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    I don't think you're crazy at all. My 19 year old Diacompe cantilevers are every bit as nice as my brand new Elixir 7. The Diacompes are stronger, more linear (lever action) and more positive feeling. The Elixirs are a little bit smoother (lever action) and more progressive. If all cantilevers were as good as these old Diacompes (very few were), I wonder if disc brakes would have been viewed as a forward move for many cyclists.

  3. #3
    High Gravity Haze
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    I used to run Avid Arch Rival 50's when I had v brakes. The only difference in braking that I ever discovered with disc brakes was the better braking ability after a creek crossing. I like my disc brakes, but I do not view them as superior in braking power to my Arch Rivals.

  4. #4
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    I don't know what type of riding you do, but I starting running a disc up front on one of my bikes last season and there is no comparison. I have bikes with cantis, v brakes and now discs. Discs are one of the best improvements I have experienced in the last +20 years of riding.

  5. #5
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    I have found mixed performance with discs. I've had some stop incredibly, some not so good. I think some if it is pad and rotor compatibility, or contamination (dirty pads or rotors).

    I have elixirs and they are OK. I ended up running 180 mm rotors front and rear and now they stop like a champ.

    I really liked the Hayes HFX-9s. I had great luck with those and they stopped better than the elixers and were easier to bleed IMO. I have one set that is still running great and stops great with 160's, but my other set is f@%ked, for some reason I can't get the rear to stop well, I think I may have mixed the wrong pads and rotors or something. I've heard that if you use a rotor with organic pads and then switch to sintered, or vice versa, stopping power will be affected. They are on my backup bike, so its not worth putting on brand new pads and rotors to see if that fixes it.
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  6. #6
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    There are a lot of variables that effect how hydraulic discs work, have you had a (good) mechanic look at your brakes?

    I finally got a new bike this year with discs, I went with Avid BB7 mechanicals. I was coming from old XT cantis and was a little more comfortable with mechanical over hydraulic. And I think they were the perfect choice. Honestly, I think hydraulic is way over played in the market.

  7. #7
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    I have 8 bikes with disk and non disk. Only 2 bikes really should have the disks if used to the bikes potential. I ride only mellow trails, like bike path equivalent. The bikes used for this that have the disks on are a pita to keep clean. Just sitting for a couple of weeks the disk brakes need to be heated or whetted and brakes dragged dry to get back to usefulness. The bikes I ride on road I use the disks as rain and traffic and rim brakes don't cut it. I don't ride off road when its wet so the rim brakes are fine for that. If ones riding is fast and downhill the resetting hydro disks are mandatory. Ya gotta make a fair assessment of ones riding before paying to convert to disks. Sometimes bling overrules utility though..and pressure to buy from the bike industry which includes sites like this.
    lean forward

  8. #8
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight511 View Post
    I understand that my new ride has loathed Elixer 3R brakes, but they are SOOOO weak compared to my 15 year old XTR v brakes.

    Will I really have to go to something like the Zee/Saint or Code/XO Trail brakes to get the kind of power I am use to back?
    Generally, disc brakes:

    New setups need the pads/rotors to bed in before they reach full power.

    Require less hand effort for the same braking.

    Have better control (modulation)

    Are more consistent on a wide range of conditions (dry, wet, snow).

    I am done with rim brakes
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  9. #9
    @trailgrinder
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    You are going to be just fine, like the above post said just break them in properly and make sure they are bled right and you will be fine. It only took me riding in the rain once or riding through a puddle and I never looked back. My hands don't get so fatigued and I can worry about controlling my bar rather than applying a bunch of lever power.

  10. #10
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    Doubt the V brakes are actually more powerful, just "instant on" which is one of the many things Wrong with non disc brakes. Once they bed in and you are used to brakes that have some modulation you'll never talk of V brakes again. Oh, you could also get a Much better disc brake set and have even more reason to love a disc set up. Welcome to the 20th century 12 years into the 21st.

  11. #11
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    rim brakes are so old school ... easier to take the the wheel off with discs too
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  12. #12
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    If I need to have a mechanic "look" at brakes that are less than a week old, that is a HUGE problem. I am going to work more on getting them bedded in, hopefully that helps. Time will tell whether I end up liking discs as much, I just don't have the complaints other do/did about Vs. In my area, you don't ride wet/muddy trails so wet brakes are rarely a problem (you may pray for the opportunity to have wet brakes in the Texas summer).

    As for discs being better.... less mass to absorb heat which is all a brake is designed to do (convert kinetic energy to heat energy) is not really a great thing.

    And FWIW, I knew when I bought this bike the #1 likely upgrade would be the brakes... so I am not surprised I am "slightly" underwhelmed by the Elixer 3 performance. I will nag some freinds about "checking out" their brakes before upgrading.... if I need more serious trail brakes for my "style," so be it. I am 100% in love with my new ride though.... so learning new brakes is going to be WELL worth it.
    Fat guys need bikes too.

  13. #13
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight511 View Post
    If I need to have a mechanic "look" at brakes that are less than a week old, that is a HUGE problem. I am going to work more on getting them bedded in, hopefully that helps. Time will tell whether I end up liking discs as much, I just don't have the complaints other do/did about Vs. In my area, you don't ride wet/muddy trails so wet brakes are rarely a problem (you may pray for the opportunity to have wet brakes in the Texas summer).

    As for discs being better.... less mass to absorb heat which is all a brake is designed to do (convert kinetic energy to heat energy) is not really a great thing.

    And FWIW, I knew when I bought this bike the #1 likely upgrade would be the brakes... so I am not surprised I am "slightly" underwhelmed by the Elixer 3 performance. I will nag some freinds about "checking out" their brakes before upgrading.... if I need more serious trail brakes for my "style," so be it. I am 100% in love with my new ride though.... so learning new brakes is going to be WELL worth it.
    Less than a week old? How much have you ridden the bike? Likely not enough to bed in the pads. Unless the brakes were poorly setup in the first place, no need to make any adjustments yet. Same as with rim brakes.

    Disc brakes dissipate heat just fine. Especially since they do not have to do the other things that a rim does.

    In any case, the brakes are going to be different, regardless if they have more "power" or not.

    With my BB7s I tend to de-tune them to increase control rather than having maximum toss-you-over-the-bars power.
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  14. #14
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    I have been just riding around on the bike to bed the brakes in. They are SO different. I ride my Vs "loose" to have more modulation than tossing me over the bars. The 3s just feel VERY loose. They are slowly getting better and I can tell a difference just riding some more tonight.

    My first real encounter with discs was a rental bike that needed some braking help. That bike would not stop on the slightest downhill, much less if I was in a "panic stop" situation. Even those bad brakes didn't stop me from moving over to discs, so please don't think I am down on discs, I am just amazed at how much different (not necessarily better or worse) they are.
    Fat guys need bikes too.

  15. #15
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    +1 on holding off judgement until the rotors and pads have a few rides on them. I had the elixer 5's for a while, which are essentially the same as the 3's. I found them to be too strong with regards to the initial grab. Never could quite get used to it, I only weigh 135, maybe a heavier rider wouldn't have the same problem.
    Ended up going back to juicy 5's. Just the right amount of power for me.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobretti View Post
    maybe a heavier rider wouldn't have the same problem.
    That describes me, and that is the reason I won't hesitate to buy some "big/bad" brakes if I need to in the future.
    Fat guys need bikes too.

  17. #17
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    If you are concerned with bedding in the pads correctly, go do some sprints on the road, always slowing to a walking speed from around 17-20MPH, repeating 20ish times with each brake (not doing it together). Clean your rotors well with denatured alcohol before attempting the bedding, to remove any poorly deposited pad material.

    Heat is next to a non-issue, except in long downhill courses, just like rim brakes.

    If you still don't have enough power after you bed them in properly, get rotors as big as your frame will allow.

    Shiggy couldn't be more right...outside of road racing, rim brakes are a dying breed.

  18. #18
    San Miguel Beer Drinker
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    isnt it isopropyl alcohol?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by james-42 View Post
    Honestly, I think hydraulic is way over played in the market.
    I view most everything about bicycles this way

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by IstongKowldPaRin View Post
    isnt it isopropyl alcohol?
    Ethanol or methanol will work just fine for the job. Denatured is just ethanol that has been made using chemicals that make it toxic to humans. Either alcohol will clean non-polar deposits (brake pad crap, oil, grease, etc) without leaving a residue... that is all you need on brakes... squeaky clean with no other residues.

    And yes, that does mean you could use grain alcohol or Everclear if you had it around.
    Fat guys need bikes too.

  21. #21
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    I am a large rider too, and had similar issues going to disk. My main problem was, that the action is too light, ie, it takes very little force to get good braking power, but you run out of lever travel before you run out of finger power(even with one finger). (elixer 1). With cantis or even V brakes, you could pull harder and harder, and even if the frame and fork were flexing a lot, you still never ran out of lever travel, so if you have strong hands, you can keep adding more brake, where as with the hydraulic setup, it may take less effort to brake to a certain level, but if you are heavy, that may not be enough, and you could brake much harder with a much less "powerful" brake.
    They need to make hydraulic disc brakes for big guys, that have larger master cylinders. Instead, all of the high end brakes have about the same size master cylinder, and more or bigger pistons, which makes it even worse.

    I don't care how well the brakes work when you squeeze them with about 10lbs of force, I want brakes that can keep getting more brake force till about 60-70lbs(2 fingers) and will stop quickly with good traction and lots of weight.

    I think my best bet is going to be trying to use some levers from a 4or6 piston setup with 2 piston calipers

  22. #22
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    I've been running Elixir 5's for the last two seasons, coming from rim brakes (1998 XT), and have had the complete opposite experience (thought disc was a huge improvement). I weigh 180 lb without gear.
    I can lock up the wheel or throw myself over the bars with ease, never had any trouble with lack of power.
    I didn't notice a significant bed in process, but I took it pretty easy to start with.

    What I have heard is that Avid brakes will often need a bleed straight out of the box. If you can pull the lever all the way back to the bars without snapping it in half I would guess that this is your problem (mushy feel). I'm no bike mechanic though.

    Oh, and they squeal like the dickens in the wet.

  23. #23
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    I was having a talk about this with the mechanic at my lbs and he said that vbrakes are more powerfull but has the problem that they cut the rim and they only stop cant slow down (lack of modulation) also has the problem with overheating and the water/dirt/mud problem disc brakes (hydraulics if you are going to go with mechanical ones stay with vbrakes) they dont overheat as much and have a much better modulation dont lock the wheel in a moment but stops you faster

  24. #24
    A guy on a bike Moderator
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    Getting even the tiniest bit of oil or grease on a rotor can make disc brakes feel pretty wimpy, which might be part of your problem. I'm not always careful enough when working on my bike, and I've gotten to the trailhead more than once with brakes that don't have much stopping power. A big hill or two usually burns off any residue, and I'm back to having decent brakes again.

  25. #25
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    That's terrible. I've had the Elixir R's and they've been alright. However when I did use the R's I usually used larger rotor i.e. 185mm. Eventually I replaced the Avid rotors with 203mm /160mm Shimano RT-76 rotors, and this made a signifciant difference braking power.

    If you really like riding at full power I would suggest changing over the Code R's or even the new Shimano Zee brakes.

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