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  1. #1
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    BB7 help please. (another BB7 thread, yay!)

    I'm beyond frustrated with my brakes and I'm about to give up riding until I can afford the absolute best brakes because of how miserable it makes every ride when your brakes aren't capable of doing their job.

    My bike came with BB5 brakes. They weren't too bad, I eventually got used to them. I had plenty of power, just no real great lever feel. I got SD7 levers and Jagwire Mountain Pro cables and it improved the feel greatly. I damaged the front BB5 in a fall so I figured I'd upgrade to the BB7s because of the incredible reviews on this site and elsewhere. Best mechanicals ever is basically what everyone said. Cheap, reliable. Okay, I'm in. I bought the 160mm rear and 180mm front. Well, I've followed every write up and watched every video available to learn to set them up properly and they still suck.

    I opened the boxes, checked for any damage and found none. I threw them on, adjusted the calipers according to the various write-ups and bedded the pads, then re-bedded and tweaked and tuned and still nothing. I've tried three different sets of pads on each trying to get them to stop even halfway decently. The pads are OEM Avid and everything is new.

    The only sanding I've done is just as you'd do to a new clutch disc and flywheel or auto brake setup... very light cross hatch on the rotors and pads just to kill the smooth surface and allow you to break them in again, and that's only after trying to set up the brakes when new, straight out of the box and having no luck. At no point have I had any contamination whatsoever. This experimentation was from right out of the box when new. It was a three week period where I couldn't ride my bike due to other issues so the testing and bedding in was on fresh everything only on the street. No moisture or dirt present.

    I ended up switching back to the BB5 in the rear just because the BB7 was so bad. The BB5 160mm rear is now worlds better then the 180mm BB7 in the front. At this point, with only one really decent brake, I do the majority of my braking with the rear, which is wrong, but it's all I've got. I'd switch back to the 160mm BB5 in the front too if I could.

    I know a lot of people use these brakes but I honestly don't know how. My experience with them has been nothing but terrible. There's just no power at all. You pull the lever and it's just a light grinding noise and the brakes keep rolling until you pull harder and they finally squeal to a stop. It's the same regardless of how they're adjusted.

    I've built engines, done motor swaps, suspension work, and I've been a painter/body guy in a body shop for years. I can MIG and TIG weld, fabricate suspension components, etc. I've tuned and modified firearms as an amateur gunsmith, and built some of the most complicated guns from bare bones. I've now done all of the tear down and reassembly of mountain bikes as well. All that simply to say I'm no stranger to technical work. With all of my collected experience tweaking and tuning different systems in many different industries and hobbies, and all of the technical research and learning in each one, I absolutely cannot get those brakes to stop worth a damn. Three very knowledgeable local shops have adjusted them for me as well and all I ended up with was a grand total of close to $100 in wasted labor, each shop made the brakes a different level of "worse".

    So, after this long winded post, does anyone have a suggestion? Anything I might be missing? I can try to post pictures and maybe even a video later on, but it might take a day or two.

  2. #2
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    I completely understand what you are going through. My bike came with Tektro mechanicals stock. I immediately replaced them with BB7s and Speed Dial 7 levers, based largely on the rave reviews of both. Needless to say, I had them for just over a year and never felt comfortable with them. I had constant rotor rub and never felt like I would stop when I needed to. Cleaned rotors, went to 180mm front, changed pads and nothing. I just switched to Shimano SLX hydros and could not be happier.

  3. #3
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    Re: BB7 help please. (another BB7 thread, yay!)

    I've been riding my bb7s since I bought them in the spring. I had a good fight at first till I realized 2 thing were being done wrong. First the video on setting the caliper is wrong. Found a blog write up (forgot the site try to link when i find it again) and did what it said. Huge help. Second was the whole bedding in process. That was being done wrong too. Rotors would get too hot and glaze pads doing the way they say to. Instead I would cruise down hill dragging on the brakes a bit, let off, and repeat. About 1-2 hr after that my bb7s can flip my 270lb butt right over my bars and lock the rear on command.

    As for rotor scrub, your rotor is warped and/or you QR skewed isn't tightened enough.

    Sorry guys its not the brakes that are the problem. It's lack of clr and proper instructions leading to poor install. I know this cause as I said I was there with you at first, till i dug deeper and went over every fine detail and found simple easy to over look issues that made them from crap to awesome. Avid rotors are part of the complication and i tried different ones early on (and bedded quick, worked well) but I have the avid rotors back on now cause I gave them another go knowing what I do now and love the whole set up.

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    As for rotor scrub, your rotor is warped and/or you QR skewed isn't tightened enough.

    Sorry guys its not the brakes that are the problem. It's lack of clr and proper instructions leading to poor install. I know this cause as I said I was there with you at first, till i dug deeper and went over every fine detail and found simple easy to over look issues that made them from crap to awesome. Avid rotors are part of the complication and i tried different ones early on (and bedded quick, worked well) but I have the avid rotors back on now cause I gave them another go knowing what I do now and love the whole set up.

    Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk 2
    Thanks for your assessment. As far as rotor rub, it wasn't a rotor issue as I had 2 different LBSes double check that they were true. I even bought the tool to true them myself. In fact, I had to true a new Shimano Ice Tech rotor due to Blue Sky's no frills packaging. I also tried different skewers and, believe me, they were all tight enough.

    I do agree with you on the clear and proper directions. I went through quite a few variations of BB7 install guides.

    Don't get me wrong (as I'm not looking to start another debate), I do believe the BB7s are indeed excellent brakes. As I mentioned, I did used them for just over a year. It was just time for me to move on.

  5. #5
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    I have installed 3 sets of these based on the directions as given by Park Tool online. I have had no issues with them and wouldn't replace them with hydros since I view that as more maintenance and less time for riding. I'm sorry to hear some have troubles with them, but I agree that it's the installation and bedding, not the brakes. As far as bedding goes, I just rode normally and pulled hard a few times without coming to a stop. I did not prepare the rotors in any way with sandpaper or some other equally scratchy device. I can OTB with the best should I choose. Here's the link, best of luck.

    Park Tool Co. » ParkTool Blog » Avid® Mechanical Disc Adjustment
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  6. #6
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    I had the BB7s on my rigid SS when I first built it up and LOVED them. I'm 190lbs and ran them with the windcutter rotors.
    They seemed to set up pretty easily - pretty sure this is the thread I went with when I did it.
    How to install Avid BB7 disc brakes

    I switched to the XT hydros because I got a screaming deal and wanted hydros. My old BB7s are now on my buddy's bike and he's riding the heck out of them

    Hope you get it all worked out

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    I've been riding my bb7s since I bought them in the spring. I had a good fight at first till I realized 2 thing were being done wrong. First the video on setting the caliper is wrong. Found a blog write up (forgot the site try to link when i find it again) and did what it said. Huge help. Second was the whole bedding in process. That was being done wrong too. Rotors would get too hot and glaze pads doing the way they say to. Instead I would cruise down hill dragging on the brakes a bit, let off, and repeat. About 1-2 hr after that my bb7s can flip my 270lb butt right over my bars and lock the rear on command.

    As for rotor scrub, your rotor is warped and/or you QR skewed isn't tightened enough.

    Sorry guys its not the brakes that are the problem. It's lack of clr and proper instructions leading to poor install. I know this cause as I said I was there with you at first, till i dug deeper and went over every fine detail and found simple easy to over look issues that made them from crap to awesome. Avid rotors are part of the complication and i tried different ones early on (and bedded quick, worked well) but I have the avid rotors back on now cause I gave them another go knowing what I do now and love the whole set up.

    Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk 2
    For the mounting and break in process I have followed the Avid instructions as well as the Twowheelblogs write up, the Park Tool directions, numerous other write ups and blogs and videos, etc. Nothing works. I have tried bedding via quick "hot" bursts followed by cooling, consistent brake dragging going down hill followed by cooling, regular use, you name it. Nothing has worked even the slightest bit. I never experienced any glazing of the pads, they have stayed normal texture. My rotors, calipers, and pads were (and still are) brand new, and there has never been any warping to them.

    As I said in my original post, I know a lot of people use these brakes and love them but I just can't understand how. It just feels like there's no power. I mean they function, they bring the bike to a stop, but in a panic stop I'd say it's at very least twice or three times the distance of my friend's M446 hydros, and he never touched his, they're straight from the factory.

  8. #8
    Merendon Junkie
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    Have you checked your cable routing? I installed bb7 on a buddys bike and was amazed at how easily you could otb with them. It was like you hit a wall if you putted too much pressure on the front brake.

  9. #9
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    BB7 help please. (another BB7 thread, yay!)

    I wrote this in regards to the BB7 Road, but it applies to all versions (from 12+ years of using all versions of the Avid BBDB and BB7):

    First, high mechanical advantage levers (most road levers) can feel mushy, even when the brakes work well. The lever feeling rock hard does not mean the brakes are powerful.

    I use 3300, R600, 5500, 6500 series STI levers on different bikes with BB7 Road calipers. Have them adjusted so the pad contact point happens with the lever ~1" from the bar. More than enough power and modulation. This works on the road, and on my mtbs on long steep trail descents.

    I can also adjust the pads so the lever barely moves before pad contact. That just makes them tougher to use and reduces modulation.

    * I always use full length housing. File the ends square. Clean up the liner ends. Every housing end adds friction.
    * Route the housing with minimal bends possible.
    * Teflon coated cable.
    * No lube.
    * No barrel adjusters.

    Caliper/pad adjustment:
    * Make sure the rotor is true.
    * With the caliper slightly loose on the bracket run the inner pad in to contact the rotor and center the rotor in the caliper ( the 1/3-2/3 bit is BS).
    * Tighten the outer pad to hold the caliper in position.
    * Tighten the caliper bolts
    * Loosen the outer pad most of the way out.
    * Adjust the inner pad as close to the rotor as possible without rubbing. (Looser can decrease grabbiness and increase modulation while making the lever feel softer)
    * Adjust the outer pad to get the lever feel you want. (NOTE: new rotors and pads need to bed in. You may need to run the pads tighter and have some rubbing during break in, before you get full power and can back off the pads)
    * Check the cable and remove any slack. The brake arm should remain in the full open position until the brake lever is pulled.
    * Double check caliper alignment. The pads need to be parallel to the rotor.
    If needed: Loosen the caliper bolts slightly. Wiggle the caliper. Move inner pad in 2 clicks. Wiggle caliper. Tighten outer pad. Tighten mounting bolts. Readjust pads.

    I have no rub. No noise 98% of the time. Plenty of power. Make adjustments ~once a month.
    -------
    Also, if you insist/need to sand the rotors it is not the same procedure as for automotive parts.
    Use 800grit emery paper and LOTS of water. If you can see crosshatching you did it wrong.

    The only time I sand the rotors is if I change pad compounds. Never done it with new rotors.

    Unless the rotors are severely warped you do not need any tools to true them. Just your hands and a clean rag work well. I have used nothing more for 5-6 years.
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  10. #10
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    BB7 help please. (another BB7 thread, yay!)

    Good answers . I just want to add that better housing running the whole length makes for a better system.
    Also it's not unusual to hear some brake scrub under hard cornering. It only lasts a sec or two so no big deal.

    Bill

  11. #11
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    Is the outer cable giving at cable routing points. This will take away all power at the caliper

  12. #12
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    I have owned 2 bikes with BB7, now down to one because I had a good deal on Hayes Ace brakes, but now I am considering going back to BB7.

    I love those brakes.

    Anyhow, to add to what shiggy wrote.

    BB7 are very sensitive to pads being:
    - parallel to the disc
    - non-moving pad needs to be as close to the disc as humanly possible

    The trick I use to center the caliper properely is to use a strong light from the back of the caliper, so I can inspect the pad-to-disc distance.

  13. #13
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    I pretty much did what Shiggy describes above and my BB7s have much more than enough power. I never intentionally lock my rear brake up but I easily can if I get a little heavy with my brake finger.

  14. #14
    Jacob 34:19
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    BB7 help please. (another BB7 thread, yay!)

    Great write up from shiggy. I have BB7's on three different bikes (and a couple in the past) and have always had great luck with them. A couple things I always do when setting them up:

    *run full housing with Teflon coated cable and use a GOOD cable cutter. I also use a jeweler's file to dress the cut ends of the housing. Especially the inner housing.
    *alternate tightening the CPS bolts as you're bringing them up to torque, making sure the caliper isn't moving as you go. I go maybe 5 - 10 ft lbs at a time.
    *couple points where my setup differs from shiggy, I DO use the 1/3 - 2/3 rule when centering the caliper and I always clamp the cable to the brake arm with the arm actuated maybe 1/8" to ensure a positive feel at the lever. I hate having any slack in the cable.
    *Should go without saying but, use smart cable routing and always back all the adjustments out of the barrel adjusters on the levers. Those are only for cable stretch, not the initial setup.

    Using this setup (and the suggestions above), good quality housing, and good levers (I have SL's and Ultimates and actually prefer the SL's), there's no reason your BB7's shouldn't be perfectly serviceable brakes. The only other brake set I use are hydro XX's that cost 4X what my BB7's cost and while they're excellent, they're definitely not 4X better.

    Good luck.
    I buy stuff from Milltown Cycles.

  15. #15
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    I was getting real pissed at mine this afternoon spent way too long trying to get the front re-dialed (fork just back from anodizer). They have been on almost a year stopping power is huge but I've always had problems with rotor rub, some good points/suggestions here (thanks), must have another go at them during the week. New hydros are not in this weeks FU budget!

  16. #16
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    BB7 help please. (another BB7 thread, yay!)

    When tightening the caliper down, often I would spin the wheel, and slowly pull the brake lever till it all comes to a stop and the slowly pull harder to make it snug, then carefully tighten the bolts, going back and forth between each to make sure the caliper doesn't try to twist around. Then often I'll have to use a fine sandpaper to take off the paint and irregularities on the contact points on the caliper, adapter and CPS stuff so everything turns smoothly and don't jam up. Ultimate resort is to use a drop of very fine oil onto the cone and cup washers stack to help them move freely when you tighten.

    Also because I've been using different rotors and not every frame and hubs are the same, sometimes you will have to fine tune the stack height and even angle of the caliper position over the rotor to make sure the pads are as linear as possible with the rotor so you don't have pad material over or under the braking track of the rotor.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
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  17. #17
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    I just upgraded from the stock 160mm Roundagons to the 160mm G2CS discs and the brakes feel much better and sensitive.

  18. #18
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    As I mentioned earlier, the housings are both brand new, prepped and installed correctly. They're Jagwire Ripcord/Mountain Pro.

    I rode the other day and got them heated up going down a huge hill and by the bottom they were finally feeling great! I couldn't believe the power I had for the next minute or so. After they cooled it was right back to crap again. I guess I just have to deal with it until I can replace both brakes.

  19. #19
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    BB7 help please. (another BB7 thread, yay!)

    Quote Originally Posted by DC2.2GSR View Post
    As I mentioned earlier, the housings are both brand new, prepped and installed correctly. They're Jagwire Ripcord/Mountain Pro.

    I rode the other day and got them heated up going down a huge hill and by the bottom they were finally feeling great! I couldn't believe the power I had for the next minute or so. After they cooled it was right back to crap again. I guess I just have to deal with it until I can replace both brakes.
    No mention of the cable routing, or if full length or not.

    Get rid of the OEM pads!

    And I will bet you still do not have the calipers aligned well.
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  20. #20
    Huckin' trails
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    BB7 help please. (another BB7 thread, yay!)

    If the brakes starts to work better when they heat up, it's a big indicator that it's not the parts themselves, but the install/alignment/adjustment.

    Honestly, I've had BB5, BB7 from the retail kit, BB7 from China (only calipers&adaptors) and using various rotors, from Hayes V, Avid G2 and HS1, Magura Storm SL, etc. And I've only been using the provided pads.

    Even the china ordered ones which came with aftermarket pads had awesome initial bite right in the repair stand, and all the other ones I used with new rotors, the break-in period was only a couple 20-30 smooth braking on about 100ft distance on the street and you could feel the power building up with every run. Then I was able to start locating mis-alignment more precisely on for both pad alignment and position regarding the rotor braking track, then re-adjust the calipers and sand down the adaptors and CPS stack to reach the best pad placement and caliper alignment possible. And that was on a 160f/140r, full linear housing and SS cables.

    I have yet to encounter BB7 with braking power issues. I have dealt a lot with bad alignment that causes turkey noises and just annoy the heck out of me, but even with very misaligned calipers, power was there. However, I have seen some Tektro mechanicals that even with the best of intentions and a lot of love, would not give a damn joule of deceleration.

    Now there's a few steps you can take to track down the problem and fix it.

    It can be the pads themselves, take them out, take a paper towel with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol is what I use), gently whip the pad surface to get all the dirt off. Take a pic of the pads and post it here. If there's something obviously wrong, we'll be able to tell.

    Do the same with the rotors, but also with a pic before you clean it.

    Next get a picture of the housing setup, with how you finished the housing ends and how you routed the whole thing. Also are you using any ferrules on the housing ends ?

    Also show us your brake levers and how they are adjusted, and if you use SD7 levers too, it's easy to get them messed up with the pull-ratio adjuster if you are clueless about how they affect the system.

    Another thing is to see how your calipers, adaptors, etc, are installed. How much each pad adjuster is backed out from fully in position. How is your CPS cones/cups/washers stack ? How's the caliper positioned over the rotors ? Are the adaptors backwards ? Are the rotors warped, showing signs of over-heating, just a bloody mess ? Are your QR skewer tight ? Are the wheel axles sitting all the way in the drop-outs ?

    And the most obvious, do you use any spray or squirt bottle to lube your chain ? The kind of process that shoot oil all over the place, from your rims to your rotors ? Because yes, I've seen people doing it and claiming that their whole drivetrain run way smoother, and obviously don't really care about the fact they would be better by bathing the bike in oil instead, when you see the whole rear end is coated with oil and a big smile on their smart face.

    Btw, I ride in winter time here too, below -10C, and the brakes are doing great. What's funny is when you stop for a few minutes, the rotors (usually warm to hot) will start building condensation on them and then make noise for a few braking moment, and dry right away, back to silent. But never loose power even when cold and wet.



    Let's make a deal. Come see me with your bike, and if I can't get your brakes to work decently (assuming no parts are defectives or broken), I'll give you my brakes. But if I can get them to work (including replacing defectives or broken parts), you own me a set of SLX hydro (without rotors).

    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  21. #21
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    Question for you guys, which would be a better back rotor, a 180mm or a 160mm.

    I would think the smaller rotor would be better because the bigger the wheel/diameter the more momentum it carries, is this right?

    I'm thinking I should have a 160mm rotor on back and a 180mm rotor on front. Any thoughts to this guys?

    Thanks for reading!
    Frozen Trails... err

  22. #22
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    Typically if any rotor is bigger its the front as it works harder. If you use both brakes that is. In terms of size depends on a lot of things. Terrain, incline, your weight etc. Are you having problems with your setup now?

    Sent from my skz_tenderloin using Tapatalk 4

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdxmark View Post
    Question for you guys, which would be a better back rotor, a 180mm or a 160mm.

    I would think the smaller rotor would be better because the bigger the wheel/diameter the more momentum it carries, is this right?

    I'm thinking I should have a 160mm rotor on back and a 180mm rotor on front. Any thoughts to this guys?

    Thanks for reading!
    I use 185f/160r on most of my bikes, 26 and 29.
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  24. #24
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    On my 29er with BB7's I had 185/185, but switched to 160 mm in the rear because it would lock up too easily with the larger rotor. With the smaller rotor I have better modulation and all the power I need.

  25. #25
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    I may still be in the brake-in period. The brakes feel as if the are getting more solid, but I really have to pull them hard to lock the wheel. The pads are very close to the rotor, but not making any noise when not braking, and what sounds like rotor style brakes when I apply pressure. I'm using the Speed Dials, but even at max leverage I can't get teh wheel to lock, not that I want it to. These brakes seem to work, they wont lock the wheel, but at one inch pull, going fast, the brakes stop the bike quickly, and the harder I pull the brake lever, the quicker the bike stops. Currently have the speed-dial set at half.

    I was just thinking that a smaller diameter rotor would stop a bike faster than a bigger rotor that has more momentum being pushed through it?
    Frozen Trails... err

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