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  1. #1
    bt
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    BB7's. Are they as good as some Hydro Brakes?

    I'm reading a lot of hype about the mechanical BB7's and it has me interested in trying a set.

    Are they really comparable to say Juicy ultimate's?

  2. #2
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    Price wise they're not comparable at all. BB7s work great, though.
    "...the people get the government they deserve..."
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  3. #3
    Daniel the Dog
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    Not to me

    Quote Originally Posted by bt
    I'm reading a lot of hype about the mechanical BB7's and it has me interested in trying a set.

    Are they really comparable to say Juicy ultimate's?
    I had BB7's and went to LX disc brakes. I don't think the BB7's are as nearly as good as LX disc brakes; however, some folks love BB7's. You may be one of those people.

    Jaybo

  4. #4
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    No they are not comparable...

    to J Ultimates. They're not comparable in feel or performance. But they are better than almost any low end hydro, and comparable to many mid level hydraulic brakes. With that said they are not hydros, they feel different because they are mechanical and have a slightly mechanical feel to them. If properly set up they feel quite a bit like a high end well set up set of V-brakes, but stronger and with more modulation, and much better adverse condition performance. It's very difficult to compare hydraulic brakes to mechaincal brakes. They are very different systems that use very different methods of "advantage" in transfer of lever movement to the pads. The mechanical brake uses leverage, i.e. a lever pulls a cable that pulls another lever. The hydraulic brake uses, obviously, hydraulics. A column of flud is pushed by a piston atached to the lever which in turn pushes another piston to move the pad. The hydraulic system has a better adavantage, that column of fluid becomes a solid when contained by the brake line and is just like pushing a metal rod against the inside of the caliper piston. Physics 101, you can compress a gas but you can't compress a liquid. That's why hydraulic lock outs on forks work so well.

    The bottom line is, there are very few hydraulic brakes at the price of a BB7 that will perform as well. But there are quite a few that perform better as long as you are willing to spend the money. A set of Juicy 5s will perform about the same or a little better than BB7s, but you'll pay aobut twice the price for them. But as far as feel at the lever, etc., they'll be very different. The best thing to do is ride them back to back if you can. Then you'll get an idea of the differences. Performance isn't all about stopping power or the ability to toss the rider over the bars, or lock up the wheels. Yes it's part of it, but lever feel, adjustability, and the way the available powere is applied has the most to do with it. My personal preference is for the BB7. I like the adjustability and the feel of the mechanical disc system.

    I know this isn't helping much, but it really isn't quite comparing apples to apples when comparing mech discs with hydros. BB7s will feel very much like a good set of V-brakes at the lever, but, if properly set up, will have better power and better modulation than any v ever did. But they're not hydros. They may perform as well as many, but they just don't do it the same way, if you get my meaning. I'd say if you at all can, ride both the BB7 and a hydro that you like. Then make your choice. You'll know the differences first hand. And you won't have to rely on the advice of biased rambling old men like me!

    Good Dirt
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  5. #5
    knock-knock...
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    i like em

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    Good advice from Squash. My bb7s were easy to install following Avid's directions. It only took a few rides to get them adjusted to my preference. Like Squash said, at the lever the feel like V-brakes. I have the same stopping power as my v's, but with less force, more modulation, and much better performance when things get wet and muddy. It was worth the cost to me.

    I can't compare them to hydraulics at all.

  7. #7
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    As a brake, they're very good. There are hydraulics that, as a brake, are very bad. Therefore bb7's are better than some hydro brakes.

    They're easy to set up and fix and offer good and very consistent performance. If those are the most important attributes for a brake to you, i doubt you could do better. If weight, or lever feel, or cost, or power, or no daily maintenance are more important... there's other brakes on the market that would better suit your desires.
    Hell is eternally climbing manzanita trail on your singlespeed.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squash
    to J Ultimates. They're not comparable in feel or performance. But they are better than almost any low end hydro, and comparable to many mid level hydraulic brakes. With that said they are not hydros, they feel different because they are mechanical and have a slightly mechanical feel to them. If properly set up they feel quite a bit like a high end well set up set of V-brakes, but stronger and with more modulation, and much better adverse condition performance. It's very difficult to compare hydraulic brakes to mechaincal brakes. They are very different systems that use very different methods of "advantage" in transfer of lever movement to the pads. The mechanical brake uses leverage, i.e. a lever pulls a cable that pulls another lever. The hydraulic brake uses, obviously, hydraulics. A column of flud is pushed by a piston atached to the lever which in turn pushes another piston to move the pad. The hydraulic system has a better adavantage, that column of fluid becomes a solid when contained by the brake line and is just like pushing a metal rod against the inside of the caliper piston. Physics 101, you can compress a gas but you can't compress a liquid. That's why hydraulic lock outs on forks work so well.

    The bottom line is, there are very few hydraulic brakes at the price of a BB7 that will perform as well. But there are quite a few that perform better as long as you are willing to spend the money. A set of Juicy 5s will perform about the same or a little better than BB7s, but you'll pay aobut twice the price for them. But as far as feel at the lever, etc., they'll be very different. The best thing to do is ride them back to back if you can. Then you'll get an idea of the differences. Performance isn't all about stopping power or the ability to toss the rider over the bars, or lock up the wheels. Yes it's part of it, but lever feel, adjustability, and the way the available powere is applied has the most to do with it. My personal preference is for the BB7. I like the adjustability and the feel of the mechanical disc system.

    I know this isn't helping much, but it really isn't quite comparing apples to apples when comparing mech discs with hydros. BB7s will feel very much like a good set of V-brakes at the lever, but, if properly set up, will have better power and better modulation than any v ever did. But they're not hydros. They may perform as well as many, but they just don't do it the same way, if you get my meaning. I'd say if you at all can, ride both the BB7 and a hydro that you like. Then make your choice. You'll know the differences first hand. And you won't have to rely on the advice of biased rambling old men like me!

    Good Dirt
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  9. #9
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    I have both BB7's and Ultimates

    The BB7's have impressed me by braking stronger on my 29" bike than my Juicy Ultimates with sintered pads do on my 26" bike. Modulation is comparable. Both are set up with a pair of stock 160mm rotors.

    I have to adjust the BB7 on a much, much more frequent basis than the Ultimates and they do weigh more.

  10. #10
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    you have to frequently adjust bb7's by design. if everything is working as it should, you'll be making frequent adjustments. hydros do not need to be touched, by design. just hop on and ride, the brake does the rest. you'll occasionally need a bleed or flush, which is easy.. mech brakes will occasionally need cables and housings replaced, which is easy.

    hydros are easier to setup and maintain. the bb7s arent bad, but they need to be adjusted. they have plenty of power and modulation, but they feel like cable brakes. some people like them, the overwhelming majority of everyone else has hydros and isnt changing back.

    disc brakes need to be broken in to actually work too.. so if you take a spin on a brand new bike, the brakes will always feel horrible. try to find someone with a well broken in set of hydros and bb7's and see for yourself.

  11. #11
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    Tomsmoto,

    I installed new brake lines and new levers (Avid Speed Levers) and my brakes feel several times stronger than they even did when new! The problem is they are so strong that I don't have much feel to them. They act like an on/off switch and I only need slight pressure from one finger to lock up either wheel. What should I do to improve modulation? My current setup: Avid Speed Levers, XTR brake housing, BB7 calipers, G2 rotors.

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    ^^^^^ All good notes. As a direct comparison, I rode bb7's on my HT for years. J3's came on my ex7. The BB7's have better stopping power than my J3's, however I'll take the J3's because of the feel at the lever, predictablity, and lack of maintenance/tweaking. I ended up going with a larger rotor on my front j3 and now the performance is better, but still doesn't have the shear stopping power of the BB7's. W/ the stock 6 or 7" rotor on my HT the J3's would have been money as I wasn't going down nearly as fast as I do now on my FS.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by willevans

    I installed new brake lines and new levers (Avid Speed Levers) and my brakes feel several times stronger than they even did when new! The problem is they are so strong that I don't have much feel to them. They act like an on/off switch and I only need slight pressure from one finger to lock up either wheel. What should I do to improve modulation?
    Will,

    First things first, back off your inside (fixed) pad one click at a time, until the operate with the modulation you desire. This adjustment effectively "detunes" the brakes from max stopping power.

    Secondly, adjust your Speed Dial adjustment so the cable carrier is closer to the pivots. Actually, maybe you want to do this first, since it's a truer modulation adjustment. However, the first step I suggested has a bigger impact on how the brakes operate, and you should make yourself familiar with exactly what the inner pad adjustment changes.

    Lastly, play around with your outer pad adjustment so that the brakes "bite" when your fingers are in the optimal position. If you follow Avids setup instructions, the brakes engage very early, when your fingers are still outstretched. This isn't necessarily the best position from which to to modulate a brake.
    speedub.nate
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  14. #14
    Mud lover
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    I don't doubt that good hydros will walk all over BB7's. But for bang for the buck the BB7's are very hard to beat.

    I had a go on a friends Scott that had J3's on it. I hated them. They felt like mush. This bike was set up by a very experienced LBS btw.

    So I think that at the low level the BB7's are well worth the money. I would also trust mechanicals more for long distance riding mainly because of the issue of roadside maintenance.

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    Speedub.Nate,

    Thanks for the feedback! I'm going to try your suggestions this afternoon. Setting up the BB7s as described by Avid makes them rediculously strong, especially with fresh cables and levers. I'm 210 lbs and I ride a 30 lb bike with only 160mm rotors and these things SNATCH my bike to a stop like a dog at the end of his chain!

  16. #16
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    There are many other threads in the brake forum where some of us here discussed the BB7, modulation, best Speed Dial setting etc.. Everyone seems to have his own favourite setting. I would like to invite you BB7 owners to try the following "extreme" setup (if not yet tried):
    - both pads only one single click away from rubbing
    - Speed Dial full counterclockwise

    At first glance this is the setting for the ultimate brake power. Yes - but in my opinion you get great modulation with respect to the tremendous power. Now you should feel a very early and predictable beginning of brake operation just after pulling the lever, but you have to pull a significant lever range up to the maximum power. It is't abruptly (no on-off feel) and with a linear range until you reach the maximum.
    Some friends with hydros (Formula Oro, Avid Juicy...) who swapped their bike with mine were impressed by this brake performance!

    Would be nice to hear some comments how this setting feels for you (please practice before commenting).

    My experience is that hydraulic models with so much power (e.g. a Juicy 7 with larger rotors and Swissstop pads instead of sintered ones) have a much more abrupt braking curve.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by trelgne
    There are many other threads in the brake forum where some of us here discussed the BB7, modulation, best Speed Dial setting etc.. Everyone seems to have his own favourite setting. I would like to invite you BB7 owners to try the following "extreme" setup (if not yet tried):
    - both pads only one single click away from rubbing
    - Speed Dial full counterclockwise

    At first glance this is the setting for the ultimate brake power. Yes - but in my opinion you get great modulation with respect to the tremendous power. Now you should feel a very early and predictable beginning of brake operation just after pulling the lever, but you have to pull a significant lever range up to the maximum power. It is't abruptly (no on-off feel) and with a linear range until you reach the maximum.
    Some friends with hydros (Formula Oro, Avid Juicy...) who swapped their bike with mine were impressed by this brake performance!

    Would be nice to hear some comments how this setting feels for you (please practice before commenting).

    My experience is that hydraulic models with so much power (e.g. a Juicy 7 with larger rotors and Swissstop pads instead of sintered ones) have a much more abrupt braking curve.
    trelgne,
    My GF just got (a)nother) new bike, which came with BB7s. They don't seem to be stopping well at all (especially compare to the hydros on our other bikes). I don't know anything about these brakes, and I'd like to adjust them a bit. Which is the "Speed wheel" and by adjusting the pads "one click away from rubbing", is that the red wheel by the hub?
    Thanks.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by manowar669
    trelgne,
    Which is the "Speed wheel" and by adjusting the pads "one click away from rubbing", is that the red wheel by the hub?
    Thanks.
    Yes. Set your bike so that both wheels can spin freely. Then (watch your fingers) dial in the pads until you start to hear some rubbing using both inside and outside red dials. You'll notice the engagement will be much faster and stronger. If not, take some alcohol and clean your rotors.

    I think the SpeedDial is the little red knob on the SpeedLevers (Avid) that allows you to adjust the leverage ratio of your brake levers to the amount of cable travel.

  19. #19
    knock-knock...
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    you might want to hit the brakes a couple of times as you do that, especially if you are backing the pads out, just to make sure the pads are right against the piston.

  20. #20
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    BB7s that are set-up properly are damn near as good as hydros, both in terms of feel and power.

  21. #21
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    Coming from V-brakes initially, I loved my BB7s. The above posts are correct, at the lever they'll feel a lot like V-brakes, but with much better stopping power. Going on to Juicy 5s, I wasn't crazy about them at first, and I didn't like the lever feel. Now that I'm used to them, I really like the modulation and feel. But, IMO the BB7s are great brakes for the price.

  22. #22
    Keep on Rockin...
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    Avid Mechs...

    It's all in the set up. Cable routing, housing type, pad adjustment, lever type; these all can make or "brake" the Mechs. The Mechs usually get a bad rap as they are speced on low end bikes, are set up with little attention to the details above, and are then maintained by the "low end rider" whose riding the low end bike.

    A "perfectly" dialed set of Mechs will rival a mid-range-priced hydro easily, performance wise.

    Set-up-wise and ease of maintenance they are impossible to beat. That's why I run them on my do-it-all, low maintenance, mule of a SS. They route wonderfully on KM frames. IMO this is where these brakes have their real niche, the low maintenance, "mule bikes", if you follow.


    Don't be fooled into thinking that they lack power. I use to run them on my DH bike. No they are not as powerful as a good hydro but they are good enough with the right size rotor.

    Compared to a top end hydro they are not as good performance-wise.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J
    It's all in the set up. Cable routing, housing type, pad adjustment, lever type; these all can make or "brake" the Mechs. The Mechs usually get a bad rap as they are speced on low end bikes, are set up with little attention to the details above, and are then maintained by the "low end rider" whose riding the low end bike.
    Yeah i agree, and to add to that, also consider when comparing prices as well, people are possibly forgetting that when you buy the BB7s you just get the caliper and rotor, whereas hydros you get the cable and lever as well (obviously it'll have to come with that). So you can think of it like this, when you get the BB7, they will be damn awesome but youll need to 'complete' the setup with also awesome cables and levers.

    Cables are often over looked, but getting quality cables will make a big difference. And if you can make your cables full length housing, then it will have the advantage like hydros in that it wont collect dirt. And also good cables will make the pull feel frictionless, smooth etc. Then theres the lever, which a good lever can influence the responsiveness, and can be adjusted for desired feel, reach, actuation ratio etc.

    In my opinion, a good setup and good combination of components to make the mechanical disc setup will make the brakes perform superbly, then beyond that it becomes user preference if they like the 'mechanical feel' or the 'hydraulic feel'.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J
    No they are not as powerful as a good hydro but they are good enough with the right size rotor.
    Compared to a top end hydro they are not as good performance-wise.
    Which are these good or top end hydro models that have more power than a BB7 with maximum power setting (that is: Speed Dial full counterclockwise, both pads only one click from rubbing)? Of course I speak of same rotor size and same or comparable pads. Up to now I haven't seen a hydro that could rival with my BB7 in the front. I've tested: Magura Julie, Magura Louise, Avid Juicy 7, Formula Oro K18, Formula Oro Puro, Shimano LX, Magura Louise FR, Giant MPH3.

  25. #25
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    Just sold my J5s to get some BB7s/Speed Dials/Generic compression-less housings/steel cables. I run 185 fr /160 rr clean sweep rotors.

    Let me tell you, the BB7s are amazing. The power is there, but really satisfying that the modulation is fantastic. I use one finger down the steep, rocky, wet single track and can modulate the front so the tire doesn't slip. Its really confidence inspiring.

    The real reason I went back to BB7s from hydros is that I run two wheelsets and I didn't have the discs *exactly* lined up. I used some spacers and got them within < 0.5 mm of each other, but the J5s still hated me. I'd have to loosen the mounting bolts and reseat them (multiple times) each time I changed wheelsets. With the BB7s, I just drop in another wheelset, and have a few quick turns of those red dials and I'm back in business.

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