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  1. #1
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    BB7s vs. Hydros?

    Yes, I did a search and couldn't find anything comparing the two. If it's been done please direct me. Thanks.

    I'm building a ti hardtail and trying to cut costs w/o sacrificing too much braking performance. I'm used to my Hope Tech X2s and Shimano M755 4-pots, both of which are great brakes. But to use another set of either of these would be more than I want to spend on a hardtail XC/trail bike. I can get the BB7s for 1/2 the cost of the Hopes.

    From the reviews the BB7s have great performance for the price. But I wonder if I'll be totally disappointed. Guess I'd never know for sure unless I try them. I love to scream downhills fast as possible so I dont want to cut myself short with brake fade and poor stopping power. I did have my old skool XTR V-brakes on a previous softail ti bike and didn't like the lack of stopping power. I had to take it slower on my fun descents.

    So, those of you with experience on these AND hydros, tell me what you think. Also, do the BB7s have issues with screaming when wet? Weight? With the BB7s, is one rotor design better than another for modulation, power, wear, heat dissipation? Thanks
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  2. #2
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    I have seen this question asked elsewhere and one of the answers by a keen rider/racer was

    having one bike with (MTB) BB7s and 5 with hydro brakes I strongly prefer the hydros. sure they have a similar amount of power but the modulation and feel of hydros is way better.
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  3. #3
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    I have had XTR Hydros and BB7's and actually liked the BB7's better. Granted, I am just a weekend rider and not a racer. The Hydros always seemed to have an adjustment issues. The BB7's did sometimes as well, but the fix was as simple as a twist of a knob. Performance wise I couldn't tell a difference.

  4. #4
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    BB7's for the win Sure you can get some hydro's that will out stop the BB7's, but if your being budget minded, then you know what to buy. The BB7's will weigh a bit more than most hydro's as well. To me, though, peace of mind outweighs weight savings any day. No worries of being out in the middle of nowhere with failed brakes or blasting down a steep hill only to find out your brakes have just failed. Catch my drift

  5. #5
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    I have had both BB7's and a set of XT M775. Now I had problems with my rear XT's as far as it feeling squishy but I can say that when they were working they were like butter! They were so much smoother when squeezing the lever and the power of them rivaled the BB7's. But from a stand point of maintenance and ease of setting up the BB7's win.

    I have been working on doing a little bit of tuning on my BB7's now by chaning out some of the bolts to titanium and upgraded my rotors as well as going to i-link cables that weigh half as much as standard cables. The cables also provide a much smoother feel to the lever action. I am also waiting for the arrival of my new levers that weigh 1/2 of what my FR5 Avids weigh. Granted I picked up my BB7's used on ebay complete with rotors, levers, cables and calipers for about $100 but the extra money paid for upgrades in addition to the original price could have been spent on a brand new pair of Marta SL's that weigh less off the bat and have similar power to them. IMO, if I had the cash up front and was paying attention to the game I would have just bought the Marta's! But I have become a bit of a weight weenie (still have steel frame though)

  6. #6
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    If you're trying to cut costs w/o sacrificing too much braking performance then BB7's are the way to go. I picked up a complete set, new, for $120. For XC/Trail they will certainly provide enough performance.

  7. #7
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    There is no doubt that they work and are probably the best bang for the buck out there imo.

  8. #8
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    Modulation - Hydros/BB7's
    Power - Hydros
    Hand feel (subjective) - Hydros
    Ease of setup - BB7's
    Maintenance - BB7's
    Fine tuning - BB7's
    Repair cost - BB7's
    Initial cost - BB7's

    I have Hayes Hydros on my FS bike and BB7's on my SS 29'er. I love both brakes but they feel very differently. Even though I have perfected setting up the Hayes, I dred working on them. Fluid levels, stuck pistions, dirty pistons, leaks, etc... For the SS 29'er, I heard the legends of the BB7's and was in the same position as you, I simply couldn't afford hydros. Although the BB7's don't have the same power and confidence as the hydros, they are awesome brakes. They are incredibly easy to work on and I actually like tweaking them for more power every once in a while.
    For a monster FS bike capable of very high speed, it would be worth the aggravation to go with hydros. For a simple do-it-all bike, the ease of setup and maintenance of the BB7's cannot be ignored.

  9. #9
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    ^^^ I don't know what you mean by 'not having the same power", but they'll throw you right over the bars if you wanted too...
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  10. #10
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    I've had no problems with BB7s stopping me, even to the point of stopping me too well.

  11. #11
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    When it comes to raw I'm-gonna-throw-you-over-the-bars-and-mess-up-your-grill power, the hydros easily win.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    ^^^ I don't know what you mean by 'not having the same power", but they'll throw you right over the bars if you wanted too...
    only if you grab the breaks as hard as you can. With Hydro's you can do a faceplant with one finger.
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  13. #13
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    Wow, great comments to read and real experiences.

    What about screaming when wet? I know many brakes do but are these worse than most?

    How about contamination in the housing? That must really cause drag just like with V-brakes I'd think.

    How are the cables/housing set up? Is it just like brake and gear line using the guides with tension between sections? I'd think it would have to be that way to provide the tension necessary for optimum cable pull. Some frames only have two housing guides routes with the third being open for hydro brake line. Set up could be a problem on frames like this.
    Last edited by myitch; 01-11-2011 at 10:07 AM.
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  14. #14
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    Just this past weekend I sold my Formula K18's and back to BB7's...Biggest reasons are ease of maintenance and consistency of operation. I think the Hydros do offer a slight power advantage, but there is no fluid to overheat, leak, get old and need to bleed, no worries about cable housing abrasion with the BB7's, more adjustment with the mechanicals, better lever shifter alignment (problem with the older formulas and Shimano) and are just more consistent performance wise year round.

    For the money you can't beat the BB7's IMO.

  15. #15
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    You'll always get conflicting reports when it comes to the performance of BB7s. There's just too many variables with cable/housing quality and installation, as well as the brake lever used. Factor in how the cable housing is routed along the frame/fork, the adjustable leverage some levers have, the operating environment and the adjustments at the caliper, it's easy to see some people will always have a better experience with cable operated discs than others.

    My take is they both work about the same, with a slight nod to hydraulic systems because they're sealed and self adjusting. The cost difference becomes negligible over time due to the cost of regular cable and housing replacement.

    Overall, I still think the BB7 brake is a great product.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by sxr-racer
    only if you grab the breaks as hard as you can.
    yeah, with "breaks" as in broken
    Quote Originally Posted by sxr-racer
    With Hydro's you can do a faceplant with one finger.
    same w/ my BB7s
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  17. #17
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    typo police in the house.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    yeah, with "breaks" as in broken

    same w/ my BB7s
    rephrase.

    You can do faceplants with just your pinky finger with Hydro's (At least decent ones), I dont think your gonna do that with BB7's.


    I love my 7's on my Rig. On my FTM I prefer the Magura's that came on it.
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  19. #19
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    Both are great options....

    Provided you get the right hydros, and properly set up the BB7s. First and foremost, the BB7's with Speed Dial 7 levers are an excellent combo for a number of reasons. Modulation and reach are adjustible, and the pads are easily adjustibe. I've had this combination on a number of bikes.

    I've also had Juicy 5's and Juicy 7's, and unlike many who have had them, never had an issue. Problem is, I didn't have them for long. I LOVED the feel of the modulation on the hydros.

    It comes down to what you have to spend, and what's important for you. A very good set of Hydros is about $200.00, and goes up from there. BB7's and SD7's will be about $120.00 if you shop smart. For that difference in money, I'd take the BB7's 9 times out of 10. On a high end build, and having the money, I'd spring for a good set of hydro's, but that's just my opinion.

    Both will stop you very well, and there will be no difference in their performance in wet conditions. With that said, I lean towards the BB7/SD7 combo for most bikes.

    CmC

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by myitch
    I did have my old skool XTR V-brakes on a previous softail ti bike and didn't like the lack of stopping power.

    I'm confused when people say stuff like this. I have never had a V-brake I couldn't lock the wheel with, especially XTRs. And if I'm screaming down a hill, being able to lock the wheel is too much braking power already. I think the drawbacks of a rim brake are not in the power, but in the fact that they suck when it's wet, and a small tweak to the rim screws up your braking experience.

    The primary difference between a cable-actuated brake and a hydro brake is the lever feel. As stated by sxr-racer, it's very easy to use one finger and lock the brakes with hydros. With a cable brake system, friction is much more of an issue.

    To me, it's about feel. If I'm going disc, I'd rather use a hydro because I like the feel.

  21. #21
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    V-brakes flex at the cable, the cantilever arms, and the housing. All that equals decreased stopping power compared to hydros and they dont have the modulation of hydros. Of course we're talking about totally different brakes and costs. Anyhow...

    For sure hydros will outperform cable-actuated discs. But $$ is the main factor of why I'm leaning towards the BB7s at this point.

    Zanetti makes a good point regarding costs amortized over time (nice way to justify the nicer hydros) about cable replacement. Let's see...

    XT cables/housing kits=~$20.00.
    Hope Tech X2s (Complete sets front/rear) at $375.
    BB7s (Complete sets front/rear)=~$130. This equals a $245 price difference between the two.
    $245/$20=12.25 or approx 13 cable/housing changes.

    I change housing/cables maybe 1x/yr or 2x/1.5 yrs. Ok, so not quite enough to make up the price difference. Shucks. I would love another set of X2s, but they're a bit overkill on a hardtail IMHO. Yep. Unless I find a killer deal on a set of X2s, I'm going with the BB7s.

    But theres still the issue with my frame only having two cable guide routes (one for each shift housing). I wont be able to run the housing tight for higher tension on the BB7 cables. Anything out there like Problem Solvers cable guides to allow for tension between the sections of housing?
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sxr-racer
    ...
    You can do faceplants with just your pinky finger with Hydro's (At least decent ones), I dont think your gonna do that with BB7's...
    seriously?
    I can't reach the levers w/ my pinkies...I don't think I'd want brakes that sensitive if I could...
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by myitch
    ...
    For sure hydros will outperform cable-actuated discs.
    ..
    This is the thing - I hate this kind of blanket statement that gets said ALL the time (nothing against you myitch). Some cables out perform some hydros, so that can't be true - ya dig what I'm sayin?? (everyone in general)
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  24. #24
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    I've found BB7 kits for approx. $140, but not any lower. Would anyone care to reveal their shopping source? Ebay can of course be used to find cheaper stuff, but personally, I'd rather buy from one shop. That way, I can pay for shipping costs only once, as opposed to multiple times from numerous sellers for a handful of components. Not trying to hijack, just trying to build a bike for the right price!

    Thanks.

  25. #25
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    I think I got mine on bluesky. Right now(1/11/11 at 7:30pm) they have the whole kit for $110. You can get them on chainlove from time to time for pretty cheap. Look around.

    For a budget brake, definitely buy them. Get a 180 or 203mm front disk and adapter if you're really worried about stopping power. I'm on 160/160 and they stop well for an XC brake. When I was doing some freeride stuff they left a little to be desired but I plan on upgrading them to a larger rotor soon.

    For my next bike I'll get hydros but only because it will be a new bike and I love the feel of them. I wont be changing out to hydros on my hardtail.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Goldenberg
    I've found BB7 kits for approx. $140, but not any lower. Would anyone care to reveal their shopping source? Ebay can of course be used to find cheaper stuff, but personally, I'd rather buy from one shop. That way, I can pay for shipping costs only once, as opposed to multiple times from numerous sellers for a handful of components. Not trying to hijack, just trying to build a bike for the right price!

    Thanks.
    eh, no hijacking my thread. ha. really this is a good thing since i'm looking for a deal on them too. maybe $130 was wishful thinking. i've been searching on ebay and cheapest seems to be around $140 w/o levers.

    How about rotors? G2 vs G3? Any better? Worth the extra $? Differences?
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim-H
    I think I got mine on bluesky. Right now(1/11/11 at 7:30pm) they have the whole kit for $110.
    Nice price! Here it is.
    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc..._Combo_Kit.htm
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by myitch
    eh, no hijacking my thread. ha. really this is a good thing since i'm looking for a deal on them too. maybe $130 was wishful thinking. i've been searching on ebay and cheapest seems to be around $140 w/o levers.

    How about rotors? G2 vs G3? Any better? Worth the extra $? Differences?
    There is very little difference between the G2 and G3. The original roundagon rotor is the one to avoid.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by sxr-racer
    rephrase.

    You can do faceplants with just your pinky finger with Hydro's (At least decent ones), I dont think your gonna do that with BB7's.

    I don't ride using my pinkies to brake. If we're going to make stupid claims, then how about this one: I can hold a brake cable in my mouth safely. Try that with your hydraulic fluid. Unless you're selling brakes or run an ambulance service, I don't know why you keep posting in this thread.

  30. #30
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    I have Avid v-brakes, Avid BB7, Avid Elixir Hydro, and Avid Juicy 3's. For cable brakes, the quality of the cable and housing does make a difference. My finacee's BB5 were very squishy until he replaced the cables with JagWire Ripcords. So, assuming that the housing/cable combo is high quality, here are my impressions.

    Hydros - very low resistance when you pull the levers; good modulation; they sometimes scream when wet (just like the BB7), but that's probably got more to do with the brake pad formulation; Avid Elixirs with a 180mm front rotor and 160mm rear rotor are the only ones I can use one-finger to brake with. The Juicy 3's are a x-c brake on a downhill bike, so I need to use 2 fingers even after I increased the rotors to 180mm. I have had no maintenance issues either of with these brakes, but they definitely would be harder to work with than the BB7's.

    BB7 - more lever resistance than the hydros or v-brakes; stronger than v-brakes; not as strong as Elixirs; probably similar strength to the Juicy 3's when I had smaller rotors on the bike; scream when wet; have to adjust periocally as pads wear (which is easy but don't have to do that with hydros); they just work and if there are problems, maintenance is pretty easy; if you ride in very cold temperatures anything with cables can freeze up--not sure how hydros work in these temps

    V-brakes - I have these on my hard tails and have them adjusted and tuned so well that they feel phenomenal; for x-c trails and my style of riding, they have plenty of power; once in 5 years I didn't have enough power; they work fine when wet, but I don't like to get them wet because I don't like to wear out my expensive rims, so if it's nasty out, I take another bike; they are very light weight; guys who like to grab the brakes hard and skid through corners don't like them

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumbee1
    There is very little difference between the G2 and G3. The original roundagon rotor is the one to avoid.
    This!

    BB7's are fine, but be sure to avoid the Roundagon rotors. They squeal like Ned Beatty.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by myitch
    V-brakes flex at the cable, the cantilever arms, and the housing. All that equals decreased stopping power compared to hydros and they dont have the modulation of hydros. Of course we're talking about totally different brakes and costs. Anyhow...

    For sure hydros will outperform cable-actuated discs. But $$ is the main factor of why I'm leaning towards the BB7s at this point.

    Zanetti makes a good point regarding costs amortized over time (nice way to justify the nicer hydros) about cable replacement. Let's see...

    XT cables/housing kits=~$20.00.
    Hope Tech X2s (Complete sets front/rear) at $375.
    BB7s (Complete sets front/rear)=~$130. This equals a $245 price difference between the two.
    $245/$20=12.25 or approx 13 cable/housing changes.

    I change housing/cables maybe 1x/yr or 2x/1.5 yrs. Ok, so not quite enough to make up the price difference. Shucks. I would love another set of X2s, but they're a bit overkill on a hardtail IMHO. Yep. Unless I find a killer deal on a set of X2s, I'm going with the BB7s.

    But theres still the issue with my frame only having two cable guide routes (one for each shift housing). I wont be able to run the housing tight for higher tension on the BB7 cables. Anything out there like Problem Solvers cable guides to allow for tension between the sections of housing?

    When it comes to Mechanical VS Hydro it pretty much weight, and lever feel. Price is not the issue, as you can get the both Hydro and Mech at about the same price range along the way. If you are comparing in house CNC X2 brake from hope to an off year model BB7 with so-so lever then yes the price point is quite dramatic.

    Case and point, same website I used as example Pricepoint, which by the way really cool, I order stuff and delivered within 24hr, cool

    If you want cheap set up of BB7 sure at $130 according to you. It would have been the older model or 2010. You can get Hayes Stroker Ryde at 120, or Magura Julie for the same price.
    Hydro would come out on top when it comes to weight and lever feel.

    If you set up the best possible set up for BB7 it would be over $400

    BB7 calipers 2011 $142
    Ultimate levers $241
    Pit stop cables $ 30

    At that price you can get Elixir CR carbon, Magura Marta, Hayes Stroker Grams, Magura Marta Louise Carbon BAT.

    As for the power, it depends on the rotor size and your willingness to squeeze the lever, you can stop just as fast or as well as Hydro. Although, I'd question the eased of use on the trail as the pad adjustment is at the caliper and you probably don't want to make any adjustment after a long descend Wet condition is probably the same as well.

    Set up and learning curve is just like every thing else, you gotta put in some times for each brake, it's quite a shallow curve, one additional step for hydro is to learn how to bleed.

    Same goes with V-brake as well. I had Ultimate calipers, and Avid Arch Supreme, Both set up with Ultimate lever one silver and one black ops. and price at over $500 a set up. Although this setup is lighter than the most Disc brake systems but the lever feel is still not as good as Hydro.

    So for those posts about price, it's just not true. You can get the entry level Hydro and still be lighter or at the same weight. Of course, you can find better deal on both elsewhere, especially used

  33. #33
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    Ok, I'm curious. What is the difference between the 2011 and 2010 BB7's? From the pictures they both look the same.

  34. #34
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    BB7's for less than $100.00

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Goldenberg
    I've found BB7 kits for approx. $140, but not any lower. Would anyone care to reveal their shopping source? Ebay can of course be used to find cheaper stuff, but personally, I'd rather buy from one shop. That way, I can pay for shipping costs only once, as opposed to multiple times from numerous sellers for a handful of components. Not trying to hijack, just trying to build a bike for the right price!

    Thanks.
    Here ya go. Less than $100.00, complete, shipped to your door, brand new.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=STRK:MEWAX:IT

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirt farmer
    This!

    BB7's are fine, but be sure to avoid the Roundagon rotors. They squeal like Ned Beatty.
    Well, kinda - set up right, they don't squeak and perform fine...I know I've had them (still do just in a box)
    they're a bit heavier, and aren't as good at clearing mud/moisture (so the may squeal a bit longer when wet)
    But I wouldn't say "avoid them" they come stock with most sets and there's no reason not to run them if you don't wanna spend some $$ for a bit.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Call_me_Clyde
    Here ya go. Less than $100.00, complete, shipped to your door, brand new.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=STRK:MEWAX:IT
    Thanks. I saw this one too. Nice price. I also saw the Speed Dial 7 levers somewhere for $20. With shipping, tax, total price for complete front/rear=~$130. Now if only I could catch the darn things on Chainlove. I think I heard they went for ~$40 for a 185 front, no levers. nice.
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  37. #37
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    Thanks, Call_me_Clyde - that's a steal! I was intent on buying 185mm front and rears, but I wonder if it is something I could upgrade at a later time. I'm 190 pounds or thereabouts. Adequate at 160mm? I'm buying brakes tonight, that's for sure!

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Goldenberg
    Thanks, Call_me_Clyde - that's a steal! I was intent on buying 185mm front and rears, but I wonder if it is something I could upgrade at a later time. I'm 190 pounds or thereabouts. Adequate at 160mm? I'm buying brakes tonight, that's for sure!
    Size matters when it comes to rotors. Bigger boys like yourself would benefit from 180s or larger. It depends on how fast and the conditions you ride in. Going from 160 to 180 is minimal weight difference but noticeable in brake performance.

    If you're a bomber, maybe even 200+ front 180 rear. I've 203 front and back on my RFX and I'm only 165 but wow, sweet power from the M755 4-pots.
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  39. #39
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    I have bb7s and xt hydraulics. The bb7s are stronger and has really good adjustability. The xt's are lighter and have good modulation.

  40. #40
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    Bought the 185s. 4 pistons? That's nuts! I was pumped to read that these BB7 mechanicals have 2.... Hell, only a single piston on my old Subaru Legacy's calipers.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Goldenberg
    Bought the 185s. 4 pistons? That's nuts! I was pumped to read that these BB7 mechanicals have 2.... Hell, only a single piston on my old Subaru Legacy's calipers.
    Yep, size matters on the rotors and so do number of pistons. The M755s are Shimano's old no longer produced bomb-proof legendary stoppers. I have these on my AM/DH 37lb rig. These would be total overkill on my hardtail.
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  42. #42
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    Long rides + hydros = less hand cramps.

  43. #43
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    All the talk about power is largely irrelevant. Pretty much any brake these days can deliver enough power with the right pads and rotors.

    There are four things mechanicals fall down on.

    1. They don't self align pads to rotors. Unless everything is square they won't run right. Count on possibly having the mounts faced.
    2. They don't self-adjust. If you're doing enough downhill to significantly wear the pads then you'll need to readjust them where a hydro won't. Particularly in wet abrasive conditions.
    3. They aren't fully sealed.
    4. They weigh a lot more.

    #1 isn't really an issue with avid mounts, but try some other mechanicals and feel the pain, #2 depends on your riding style, #3 depends on where you ride and #4 is about your own feelings.

    Since you're putting these on a Ti hardtail, either weight matters to you or corrosion matters to you (wet environment)? Either way mechanical discs on a ti frame seem a bit like galvanised steel wheels on a bentley.
    Cost isn't really the issue, disc brakes have been around for long enough that everything is available second hand.
    Last edited by Dougal; 01-13-2011 at 01:49 AM.
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  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    All the talk about power is largely irrelevant. Pretty much any brake these days can deliver enough power with the right pads and rotors.

    There are four things mechanicals fall down on.

    1. They don't self align pads to rotors. Unless everything is square they won't run right. Count on possibly having the mounts faced.
    2. They don't self-adjust. If you're doing enough downhill to significantly wear the pads then you'll need to readjust them where a hydro won't. Particularly in wet abrasive conditions.
    3. They aren't fully sealed.
    4. They weigh a lot more.

    #1 isn't really an issue with avid mounts, but try some other mechanicals and feel the pain, #2 depends on your riding style, #3 depends on where you ride and #4 is about your own feelings.

    Since you're putting these on a Ti hardtail, either weight matters to you or corrosion matters to you (wet environment)? Either way mechanical discs on a ti frame seem a bit like galvanised steel wheels on a bentley.Cost isn't really the issue, disc brakes have been around for long enough that everything is available second hand.
    If weight mattered they'd be building aluminum and/or carbon. It's probably got alot more to do with the ride characteristics and overall durability of a Ti frame.

  45. #45
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    fully sealed?
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn D.
    I don't ride using my pinkies to brake. If we're going to make stupid claims, then how about this one: I can hold a brake cable in my mouth safely. Try that with your hydraulic fluid. Unless you're selling brakes or run an ambulance service, I don't know why you keep posting in this thread.
    So, are you saying you have practice with holding things in your mouth??? Wow..... Impressed. Actually post a picture of that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is an internet message board where people post opinions. If you dont like it, dont open threads where people are asking opinions.

    I have 3 bikes. 2 of which have Disc Brakes. 1 has Hydrolic Brakes, the other has BB7 Mechanical brakes. Both work and work well but are very different in feel when pulling the levers.
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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by sxr-racer
    So, are you saying you have practice with holding things in your mouth??? Wow..... Impressed. Actually post a picture of that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    How do you eat?


    This is an internet message board where people post opinions. If you dont like it, dont open threads where people are asking opinions.

    I have 3 bikes. 2 of which have Disc Brakes. 1 has Hydrolic Brakes, the other has BB7 Mechanical brakes. Both work and work well but are very different in feel when pulling the levers.
    Different <> better. I ran Bb7s with Avid levers and 185mm/160mm for years on my Heckler. One finger braking all the time, even on long downhill runs, and I could nose-wheelie with no effort at walking speed, with just one finger. I ran regular full length housing, changed the cables once a year and never had anyy problems. The only reason I switched is to run the Matchmaker system for optimum shifter/lever placement once I switched away from Gripshift. If the mechanical levers were set up for Matchmaker I'd still be running them.

  48. #48
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    I have SD7 levers and picked up some full metal jacket cables for $10 on REIs clearance shelf. 160mm f/r currently. 160 lbs +~25lb bike. One finger braking. Rear locks up easily. Upgrading to 185 front as soon as I get around to it.

    Thats how well they work for me. Seems adequate.

    Full Metal Jacket Cables

    edit: also, was riding a month or two ago and ran head on into a tree after a bad landing. The cable got smashed between the stem and the tree. Brakes still work fine, no damage to the cable, only cosmetic to the housing. I'd recommend flak jacket cables from that.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    fully sealed?
    Yeah, from lever to caliper nothing can get into a hydro brake.
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  50. #50
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    Not trying to hijack the thread or anything but this seems like a relevant question to ask here and the answer might be helpful to the OP. Can you adjust the reach on hydros?
    I'm enjoying my childhood way too much to ever give it up.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by skullcap
    Not trying to hijack the thread or anything but this seems like a relevant question to ask here and the answer might be helpful to the OP. Can you adjust the reach on hydros?
    Reach yes. But engagement point (as in lever throw) is only adjustable on some.
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  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    Yeah, from lever to caliper nothing can get into a hydro brake.
    oh, mine are kinda fully sealed - I guess I have an Inch of exposed cable at the housing stop and pinch bolt
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  53. #53
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    I have BB7's on one bike and Formula RX's on the other. The Formulas are WAAAAAAY better only because they look cooler BLING! Performance wise can't really tell a difference though. If you are the kind person who is happy with something for a long time once you buy it, get the BB7's if you always feel the need to upgrade (that's me) skip the BB7's and go for the Hydro's. Go ahead call me shallow but I LOVE cool Hydro's!!!!

  54. #54
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    optimum setup?

    There's been some mention of the BB7s performing on-par with hydros given proper BB7 setup...and that they can be tweaked for more power. OK, given what seems like a relatively standard setup of BB7 F&R (185/160), what are the "tricks" to get them setup for optimal performance? Is there a different "gap ratio" for the pad/rotor gap than Avid/SRAM recommends in their setup instructions?

    What are the "tweaking" tricks for optimum power? Let's get the OP the power he's looking for and that has been discussed in this thread.

    Jeremy

  55. #55
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    Sure, both work, even the V's work, but it is the feel for me. Hydro's feel less spongy, more solid and I like that....

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by JST169
    There's been some mention of the BB7s performing on-par with hydros given proper BB7 setup...and that they can be tweaked for more power. OK, given what seems like a relatively standard setup of BB7 F&R (185/160), what are the "tricks" to get them setup for optimal performance? Is there a different "gap ratio" for the pad/rotor gap than Avid/SRAM recommends in their setup instructions?

    What are the "tweaking" tricks for optimum power? Let's get the OP the power he's looking for and that has been discussed in this thread.

    Jeremy
    I have heard people mention this, but can't recall any threads talking about the specifics. I have used both BB7's and hydros (XT, XTR, Hayes G2, Avid Ultimate Juicys) over the years, and for me the BB7's have always felt stronger. I use the mtn BB7's with drop bars and tektro RL 520's though, and that combo really provides a powerful leverage and stopping power. I do set my pads up with tight tolerances by making sure the fixed side is as close as possible by running the inner adjuster in, and then setting the caliper square with the inner pad, then backing off the inner adjuster just enough to eliminate any rotor rub noise. Then I pre-load the actuator arm to make sure there isn't a lot of cable slack, and then make minor adjustments using the outer adjuster knob to fine tune the adjustable pad side in to a point where it just clears enough to not drag the rotor any. Thats what I do, and it has always worked great for me. When I have used the BB7's with regular levers, I follow a similar approach, but I always make sure that the lever is positioned on the bar in a location that will allow me the best mechanical advantage to get the most leverage out of that particular lever. A lot of levers (hydro and mechanical) get located to far outboard and the result is more pressure applied closer to the pivot of the lever as opposed to further out on the lever. Not sure if there are any special pad or rotor choices that might make things better or not. I have used 160\185, and 160\160 on my BB7's.

    I do think lever feel is a lot lighter with hydros though, and there is no doubt that although BB7's are a great value in cost and performance, they lack the zoot appeal of some of the nicer hydro systems. Not that a cool bike can't have BB7's, but if thats your mission and money wasn't a factor, then I would be looking at a set of Hopes or Formulas probably. Just my .02 on the topic.

  57. #57
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    Great advice above me. Id also add a quality set of cables with minimal or no stretch.

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    Great info here. Looking for new brakes for my new 29ner build up. I rode a bike with bb7 and thought they stopped well for my riding conditions, midwest singletrack. I am coming from Magura Hydraulic v brakes, so this will be my first experience with Disc brakes. I am a 220lb rider would it be better for me to go with the 185 mm rotor than the 160mm. Also while I am intrigued by higher end brakes I just think the money can be more wisely spent on other things like wheels etc. Am I correct in this thinking.

  59. #59
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    If everyone is making this judgement on power, rim brakes have more pure stopping power than any disc brake. Fact, not opinion. Considering all the other factors that go into a brake system (consistent lever feel, modulation, self-cleaning, etc) a good set of hydros will blow BB7's out of the water.

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by cemeb4dk
    Great info here. Looking for new brakes for my new 29ner build up. I rode a bike with bb7 and thought they stopped well for my riding conditions, midwest singletrack. I am coming from Magura Hydraulic v brakes, so this will be my first experience with Disc brakes. I am a 220lb rider would it be better for me to go with the 185 mm rotor than the 160mm. Also while I am intrigued by higher end brakes I just think the money can be more wisely spent on other things like wheels etc. Am I correct in this thinking.
    I'd definitely go with 185s.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by BostonBoy
    If everyone is making this judgement on power, rim brakes have more pure stopping power than any disc brake. Fact, not opinion. Considering all the other factors that go into a brake system (consistent lever feel, modulation, self-cleaning, etc) a good set of hydros will blow BB7's out of the water.
    Just remember, this board is basically the Avid BB club. Any brake question on here usually comes back to that brake.
    Other sections of this forum take quite different views. Maybe because there's nothing else to talk about with working hydros.
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  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim-H
    Great advice above me. Id also add a quality set of cables with minimal or no stretch.
    housing compaction really, but no biggie
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    Just remember, this board is basically the Avid BB club. Any brake question on here usually comes back to that brake.
    Other sections of this forum take quite different views. Maybe because there's nothing else to talk about with working hydros.
    I dunno - I've seen sooo many people in the "hydro's are better because they're hydro's" camp than anything. There are a few informed people who will argue in favor for the BB7s just for the price alone...and if you were to compare the same price, the BB7s just flat-out win ALL the time.

    Sure, you can get a nice 4-pot set of Formulas or what ever - and they ARE with-out-a-doubt suuuper sweet, but they cost as much as some peoples' bikes that they want to upgrade their brakes on.

    Face it people, not all brakes (hydro's or cables) are equal and shouldn't be lumped in the same category just because of their method of delivering actuation to the pads.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll

    ... but they cost as much as some peoples' bikes that they want to upgrade their brakes on.
    I hear ya...$300 per brake for something like the formulas are outrageous. But then again some ppl got money to burn. My first bike as a kid only cost $100.

  65. #65
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    Of course you don't have to spend $300 on each end to get hydraulic brakes.
    Jenson has Juicy 3's from $49 per end, I'm not sure why deore's are going for, but they've never been expensive.
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  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    Of course you don't have to spend $300 on each end to get hydraulic brakes.
    Jenson has Juicy 3's from $49 per end, I'm not sure why deore's are going for, but they've never been expensive.
    yet they aren't as nice... comparatively...so why?
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by BostonBoy
    If everyone is making this judgement on power, rim brakes have more pure stopping power than any disc brake. Fact, not opinion.
    Wet rim brakes, even with ceramic coating completely and utterly suck. I do not agree with your fact.

  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    yet they aren't as nice... comparatively...so why?
    Like it or not, most of us have a budget to work to. For many a cheap hydro is a better suit than a mechanical.
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    Wow, been away a few days and this thread has taken off.

    After all this discussion, I just decided to re-use my Hope Tech X2's on the new ti hardtail build. I really didn't like the idea of full length housing to run the BB7s and the X2s are awesome brakes.
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  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    Like it or not, most of us have a budget to work to. For many a cheap hydro is a better suit than a mechanical.
    dooooooo lemme add some more oooooood!
    Are you fukkinn kiddin?
    did you not just read what I wrote?
    BB7s are budget and BETTER at the SAME price-point - to think I used to respect your opinions..
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    dooooooo lemme add some more oooooood!
    Are you fukkinn kiddin?
    Dude what? Juicy3 = hydro. The Most Expensive Formulas Ever = hydro. Therefore Juicy3 = The Most Expensive Formula Brakes Ever. Plain first grade math me thinks.

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by BostonBoy
    If everyone is making this judgement on power, rim brakes have more pure stopping power than any disc brake.

    If that was the case, AM bikes and DH bikes would be equipped with rim brakes. Cable disc's aren't even up to the job, they are ok if you are coasting along, but then again what brake wouldn't stop.
    I so far haven't seen a AM or DH bike equipped with cable disc brakes, I wonder why.

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    dooooooo lemme add some more oooooood!
    Are you fukkinn kiddin?
    did you not just read what I wrote?
    BB7s are budget and BETTER at the SAME price-point - to think I used to respect your opinions..
    They're not better than basic hydro's.
    Modulation aside, they can't/don't self adjust, they're heavier, bulkier and they're not sealed. That's why hydros are better, self adjusting and maintenance free. Which is why all high performance vehicles use hydraulic brakes.

    I have taken deore hydraulics over BB7's before, nothing has happened in the years since that would make me rethink that.
    My main hayes are 6 years old, my backup hayes are 11 years old and one of them has just stopped working.
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  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by SV11
    If that was the case, AM bikes and DH bikes would be equipped with rim brakes. Cable disc's aren't even up to the job, they are ok if you are coasting along, but then again what brake wouldn't stop.
    I so far haven't seen a AM or DH bike equipped with cable disc brakes, I wonder why.
    Here ya go. Rode this set up all over the blues at Keystone.


  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    They're not better than basic hydro's.
    Modulation aside, they can't/don't self adjust, they're heavier, bulkier and they're not sealed. That's why hydros are better, self adjusting and maintenance free. Which is why all high performance vehicles use hydraulic brakes.
    How often is self-adjusting an issue? Once per ride at most? You can easily adjust mechanicals from the levers should you not even wish to get off your bike.


    I have taken deore hydraulics over BB7's before, nothing has happened in the years since that would make me rethink that.
    My main hayes are 6 years old, my backup hayes are 11 years old and one of them has just stopped working.
    You seem to have difficulty with anecdote and data.

  76. #76
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    Friends don't let friends ride BB7's.

    But Frosty, it is all in the "set-up". You just don't know how to "set them up"...

    Balderdash.

    Have you read some of the "set-up" directions? They are like legal documents: Many pages, small print, indecipherable description and instruction. All of them are different. It makes me laugh.

    "Twist this, angle that, turn this first and that last after pigeon toeing the left front inner bottom side of the caliper if and only if the leading edge is trailing the adjacent pad angle... Now... tighten slowly while gyrating to some deep-drop house."



    I have BB7 brakes on my Pugs. I love them until they don't work at all. For instance, the other day it was -25F. We were going down a particularly nasty section of snow covered trail. It was dark as it was late. Before a section of icy and steep stairs, I went to brake to prepare for the decent. No problems until I released the lever. The brake was frozen. The front wheel, locked. It took quite a bit of wrastling <sic> to free the frozen mechanism.

    I am sure some would say, but Frosty, if you knew the set up procedure..."



    Or... forget all that and taste the hydraulic fluid. Feel the milky petroleum swish. It is better.
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  77. #77
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    Go with BB7's rather than cheap or middle range hydros. But buy all the tools yourself and learn how to set them up and you will keep saving into the future. BB7's are best set up using Avid clean sweep 2 or 3 (as used by Avid Elxir and Juicy) then maybe upgrade the pads and use high end cables and wires. Want to reroute a cable? Easy with BB7s.

    I have BB7's and Hayes Stroker Rydes.

    Hayes Stroker Rydes Pros
    -Easier to change pads than BB7.
    -Lever shape nicer

    BB7 Pros
    -Cheap, easy and quick to fix.

    Both systems perform similarly on the trail. I don't get the big deal over power, you're either locked up or you are modulating on the edge of locking your wheels, if you loose power halfway down the hill it isn't the fault of your brakes, you just need a bigger rotor.

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by rinseflow
    Dude what? Juicy3 = hydro. The Most Expensive Formulas Ever = hydro. Therefore Juicy3 = The Most Expensive Formula Brakes Ever. Plain first grade math me thinks.
    Ummm, and BB7s are better than Juicy3s - What are you trying to get at?
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  79. #79
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    dougal and frosty - get your heads out of your asses and breathe the fresh air of common sense.

    There's no point in trying to have a rational argument w/ you if you wont accept some basic premises.

    "Fully sealed" doesn't mean better, "lighter" doesn't mean better...
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  80. #80
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    I just weighed my bb7's (bolts, adapter, pads, everything) vs. XT's.
    The weight difference is about 50g. You can easily pee twice that much before hitting the trails.
    I have both and like both. The bb7's are stronger. The XT's are a little lighter and self-centers, but is it worth the extra 2-3x price? And I wouldn't consider XT's middle grade hydros.
    The bb7's are nice for the price (can sometimes find them for $40). I think it really depends on your budget. They're also super reliable. You really don't need to adjust them too often.

  81. #81
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    I have three bikes with BB7s two of mine and my wifes.I think they are great.I have only rode friends bikes that had hydros but I thought the BB7s felt better.The main key I have found is getting the right lever for them.Either Avid speed sdial 7 or avid fr 5 work well and are under 20 bucks.When I had other ones they had no power or smoothness.
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  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moodrid
    I have three bikes with BB7s two of mine and my wifes.I think they are great.I have only rode friends bikes that had hydros but I thought the BB7s felt better.The main key I have found is getting the right lever for them.Either Avid speed sdial 7 or avid fr 5 work well and are under 20 bucks.When I had other ones they had no power or smoothness.
    Great point about matching them up with proper levers
    SD7s here - I can adjust throw and ratio - therefore, I can make both front and rear 'feel' and behave the same with the same amount of finger pressure.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  83. #83
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    I didnt mean for this thread to bring out anomosity of any kind.

    Let's just keep it cool as we're all just folks who enjoy a great sport. I'm not going BB7s anyhow, just using my Hope Tech X2s. Sweet brakes.
    We Ride In God's Country!

  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn D.
    How often is self-adjusting an issue? Once per ride at most? You can easily adjust mechanicals from the levers should you not even wish to get off your bike.
    Self adjusting is an issue in rapid pad wear conditions. Riding a lot of veritical, shuttling, riding in mud etc.
    You can only adjust one side of the pad from the barrell adjuster, the fixed pad needs direct intervention. Which is fine if you're brakes are nice and cool, but if you've just ridden down a decent amount of vertical the rotors and calipers are too hot to touch.

    Put simply, it's a big enough issue that my main bikes will never get mechanical brakes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn D.
    You seem to have difficulty with anecdote and data.
    I'm unsure what you're implying, there is no data at all in this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by highdell
    dougal and frosty - get your heads out of your asses and breathe the fresh air of common sense.

    There's no point in trying to have a rational argument w/ you if you wont accept some basic premises.

    "Fully sealed" doesn't mean better, "lighter" doesn't mean better...
    No need to be so defensive, we're talking about brakes, not your close family.

    Fully sealed is very important for some riders as is the ability to self-adjust. For those riders any hydro brake is going to be far better suited, more reliable and require far less maintenance than a mechanical brake. Yes that's the Juicy 3 vs BB7 etc, bottom tier hydraulics against the best mechanical brake.
    Owner of www.shockcraft.co.nz and NZ Manitou Agent.
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  85. #85
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    I don't think the question is ever about power between the two. I have and hate Hope mono mini, IS mount to IS tab ran 180f and 160r, man that thing has no power, may be that's why it modulate so well My old OEM Hayes Hydro couldn't match the power either.

    The advantage of Hydro is the trickle down, Juicy 7 to J3, Elixir CR- to Elixir 3, and so on. I'm sure BB7 gets some trickle down benefit from the Hydros cousin, it's limited as they are orange and grapefruit comparison. Even tougher as BB7 is the top line product for BB5 and road are trickle down from.

    I hope to see a new design mech, "The Hydro Killer" Lighter, ceramic bearing, smooth as silk action. I'm sure people who rides drop bar or prefer the mech brake over hydro would love them. Of course it would be more expensive, and it's the opposite of what mech is known for, it's been type cast

    BB7 is top of the line mech brake I know now, it's not a bad system, it probably has more power and adjustment than the entry hydro, not so much mid range as SLX already has good features already.

    Personally, I like the roundagon, that comes with the BB7 than the G2/3 on the Hydro.

  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    ... There are a few informed people who will argue in favor for the BB7s just for the price alone...and if you were to compare the same price, the BB7s just flat-out win ALL the time.
    I'd rather have Hayes HFX-9 over BB7s in just about every situation imaginable, and they can be found OEM for like $50/side ... no need for fancy housing or handles. I would definitely say BB7s do not win ALL the time. A simple shuttle up your favourite DH run and at the bottom, when your BB7s are a pile of goo and twisted plastic, anyone with even the lamest hydros will be lining up for another run.

  87. #87
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    On my current bikes I run current model Shimano XT, XT dual control, Avid BB7 with Paul levers, Avid Juicy Ultimate, and Formula RX. One bike has V-brakes.

    Shimano XT are the easiest to install, adjust and maintain both in the long term and during a long ride/trip. Bleeding is about as time consuming as changing cable. They did cost me about the same as BB7 with bling levers. I think they do perform better than BB7 - more repeatable and accurate braking control.

    That said, I got nothing on BB7, they are definitely a solid choice. I can not say that about Avid Ultimate. Those suck.

  88. #88
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    Isn't there literally hundreds of these threads? BB7 vs Hydros has been hashed and rehashed many times over. You will get way more info just doing a quick search than a new thread.

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    "Fully sealed" doesn't mean better, "lighter" doesn't mean better...
    You are right! Better is better... and hydros are better than cables any day.

    Yes, steel is most certainly stronger than aluminum EVERY time.
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  90. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by salimoneus
    Isn't there literally hundreds of these threads? BB7 vs Hydros has been hashed and rehashed many times over. You will get way more info just doing a quick search than a new thread.
    Yes Salli.. there are literally hundreds. It has been hashed and baked and churned and whipped and plucked.

    He said he searched, but he could not find anything. If he had just searched, "Hydraulic brakes are better than cables every time" he would have had a wealth of information indeed.

    Yes, steel is most certainly stronger than aluminum EVERY time.
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  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by ettore
    I'd rather have Hayes HFX-9 over BB7s in just about every situation imaginable, and they can be found OEM for like $50/side ... no need for fancy housing or handles. I would definitely say BB7s do not win ALL the time. A simple shuttle up your favourite DH run and at the bottom, when your BB7s are a pile of goo and twisted plastic, anyone with even the lamest hydros will be lining up for another run.
    how so?
    I'd say quite the opposite
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  92. #92
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    Been following this thread for a while now and i have a question for those of you with more experience with brakes than i,which is not alot.
    I have been wanting to upgrade from my BB5s to BB7s but my local bike mechanic told that there is no difference in power or performance.Now i dont want to start an argument over this just wanting thoughts from owners who have owned both or similar.

    Cheers
    2010 Yeti ASR 7

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwimtbr
    Been following this thread for a while now and i have a question for those of you with more experience with brakes than i,which is not alot.
    I have been wanting to upgrade from my BB5s to BB7s but my local bike mechanic told that there is no difference in power or performance.Now i dont want to start an argument over this just wanting thoughts from owners who have owned both or similar.

    Cheers

    He is right. There is no major difference between the bb5's and the bb7's, just ease of adjustability.

    bb7s are nice brakes that works really well and I run them. With that said, hydos are also very nice and can offer more power and more control.

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus
    He is right. There is no major difference between the bb5's and the bb7's.
    If I remember correctly, BB5 use different pads, not the widely available Juicy pads, as in BB7. That alone is worth going for BB7.

    BB5 pads wear out more quickly, and are harder to adjust, from accounts I have heard; and harder to come by. Whether that is important enough to replace existing brakes, I do not know, but buying new ones, no reason to get BB5 at all, I would think.

  95. #95
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    ^^ you remember correctly
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    Ummm, and BB7s are better than Juicy3s - What are you trying to get at?
    Shoot, they're better than my 2010 Julie HP. That's why I just removed a barely ridden Julie HP and replaced it with a BB7. Stupid, I know, but I really don't fancy brake levers that suck in air during riding in 10F temperature and then as a result of less than ten of those rides start leaking fluid too to top it off. Besides braking with an aired up Magura was way worse than any v-brake ever because the v-brakes at least try to grab the rim when you squeeze while Maggie does nothing. Then you go bleed her and she does the same scheisse again and again. Even my road bike stops better in these temperatures and it has seriously bad braking capability/power when it comes to winter riding.

    Though I have to say Maggie had a really nice feel as a rear brake compared to BB7. But that might be partly due to the cheapo cable casing used. I really did like Julie last summer when used in a bike park and even then I had a 185mm BB7 up front, Julie in the rear. In the end, functionality/reliability wins in this cold weather of winter. And not to bash only on Maggies, temperature failures up here north include the mighty Formulas, Hayes, Shimano, Avid hydros, come to think of it I've seen most hydros fail in the winter with the exception of Hopes. Hmmm.

  97. #97
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    You just have to know hot to "set-up" that Julie.

    Yes, steel is most certainly stronger than aluminum EVERY time.
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  98. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrostyStruthers
    You just have to know hot to "set-up" that Julie.

    I know. I did read about it.

  99. #99
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    If you have problems with BB7s get better cables (that don't compress).
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  100. #100
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    I really loved my BB7's had no issues setting them up and had no reason to consider buying hydraulics. Mine where dialed with Speed dial levers, Flak Jacket cables, Rock N' Roll lube kept them tweaked and didnt mind stopping to tinker with the red dials as the pads wore....

    then I bought my girl friend a new mountain bike that happened to come with some Shimano hydros (very low end m485's) and they crushed my perfectly set up BB'7's

    I cant see ever going back to mechanicals, especially since you can snag a set of them for around $100 if you look.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    They're not better than basic hydro's.
    Modulation aside, they can't/don't self adjust, they're heavier, bulkier and they're not sealed. That's why hydros are better, self adjusting and maintenance free. Which is why all high performance vehicles use hydraulic brakes.

    I have taken deore hydraulics over BB7's before, nothing has happened in the years since that would make me rethink that.
    My main hayes are 6 years old, my backup hayes are 11 years old and one of them has just stopped working.

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