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  1. #1
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    Getting better power out of brakes...

    Avid BB5 again......................

    I changed the pads(bedded in,Semi-Metallic), changed the rotor(Avid G3), changed cable. I still don't get decent power out of the brakes. I can't do a one finger stop and lift the rear wheel, and very hard even with 2 fingers.

    Compared to some old 14inch kids bike, fitted with some new promax v brakes and new pads, they are like 2x better stopping power and feel - I can do a full stop by a quick lever pull and not too hard either.

    Currently using avid FR-5 levers. Would upgrading to the Speed dial levers give me more power and one or two finger braking?

    Might upgrade to BB7 next year if I can't get decent power out of these, and have enough money.

    Thanks in advanced.

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    The G2 would of been a better choice of rotor then the G3.

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    Well, I just had the roundagon and G3 as spare so put the G3 on front.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    Avid BB5 again......................

    I changed the pads(bedded in,Semi-Metallic), changed the rotor(Avid G3), changed cable. I still don't get decent power out of the brakes. I can't do a one finger stop and lift the rear wheel, and very hard even with 2 fingers.

    Compared to some old 14inch kids bike, fitted with some new promax v brakes and new pads, they are like 2x better stopping power and feel - I can do a full stop by a quick lever pull and not too hard either.

    Currently using avid FR-5 levers. Would upgrading to the Speed dial levers give me more power and one or two finger braking?

    Might upgrade to BB7 next year if I can't get decent power out of these, and have enough money.

    Thanks in advanced.
    No upgrading the levers is not going to give you an increase in braking power. And going to a different rotor of the same size as the original usually doesn't result in much of an increase either. Increasing rotor size and going with a different pad compound (which you've already done) are usually the best ways to get more bite from the brakes. So, what size rotor are you running. If you're using a 160mm up front, then bump up to a 185. Once bedded a 185 will give you noticeably more bite. If not, then there's something wrong with your set up.

    Good Dirt
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  5. #5
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    Mechanical disc brake power is directly proportional to the amount of flex the rotor sees while braking. Obviously these are single moving piston systems so there will be an inherent amount of flex needed but minimizing it is the key to power.

    In an Avid system, your rotor can flex in three major ways: bending in toward the fixed pad, twisting through the pads, and what I'll call folding through the pads. Remember, in all of these examples, a millimeter of movement is a very significant amount of movement.

    Bending in toward the pads is the most common and the one that you need to keep constant adjustment of through the life of your pads. To adjust this, keep the fixed pad as close to the rotor as you can without excessive rubbing. Sometimes that means dealing with a little bit of rub to keep the brake running strong.

    Twisting through the pads: let's say you're looking down at the slot in the back of the caliper while you squeeze the brake lever. If the rotor is making an "S" shape while you pull the lever then you're loosing power. Adjust the caliper such that the rotor no longer needs to snake between the pads and instead runs straight through the caliper.

    Folding the rotor: hard to describe, but let's say you're looking at your bike's rear brake from the back of the bike. Let's say the caliper is roughly at the 12 o'clock position. The rotor can also bend like the top of the rotor is being folded over into a little hook. This is actually hard to see when you squeeze the lever so what you want to check is if both brake pads hit square onto the rotor. You don't want the top edge or the bottom edge of the moving pad to contact the rotor, you want the pad to hit the whole surface against the rotor at once.

    The Avid CPS system is the worst thing to happen to bike brakes since... I can't think of anything witty because I think I'd rather run coaster brakes than keep the CPS on an Avid brake. The CPS system is the stack of conical washers that allow the brake to adjust to all the crazy angles of frames out there and get the pads to contact the rotor square. In practice, however, frames are built to much higher tolerances than they used to be and the CPS washers actually cause the caliper to go out of alignment while you tighten down the caliper fixing bolts. You can minimize this by putting a little bit of lube on the concial washers and even sanding their surface smooth if you want to get really crazy. Tighten any Avid brake down very slowly working back and forth from bolt to bolt for the best result.

    Good luck!
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    New Avid pads can require a very long time to bed in.

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    The rotor still flexes the very slightest, so will move the actuating arm down a bit and screw in the pad adjuster.

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    Don't think of flex as flex, it's the power wasted to continually warp the disk as it passes through the pads, so yeah keep that to a min, check the facing is good to so the pad contacts the disk flat, having the continually warp the disk to allow for this wastes a lot of hand strength.

  9. #9
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    just wanted to point out, that just since you can endo on a kids bike doesn't mean that it has superior braking power. I'm sure the cheapest brake out their could endo you pretty easy on a road bike compared to a nice break on a long travel mountain bike.

    Although, i have the bb5s on my ht and haven't been to satisfied either. its all about getting them dialed in to the least amount of rub and the most braking. IME i have had to sacrifice one or the other, and i usually opt for a little bit of rub for more braking power.

    i am not an experienced bike mechanic or bike expert though, its just what has worked for me

  10. #10
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    Off topic:

    I just thought my rotor might have some oil on it from last time they got contaminated.

    I followed my friends method and squirted Kerosene on the rotor. Went for a ride, and they were stopping slightly worse (SOOOOOOOOOOOO LOUD). You could see black oils on the rotor from kerosene and maybe old contamination. Then put some water on it, slight squeaking and 2X stopping power. Wiped off the rotor, it was squeaking and worse like before. More water, less squeaking heaps more power! Just left it for 20mins without wiping (some grime on there) come back and awesome stopping power! I suggest this method if your pads/rotors are contaminated. Just need to fine a nice long downhill to burn off the rest of oil (very fine oil) from kerosene.


    Back to main topic:

    I'll see if I still get good power when completely dry tomorrow.

    Also readjusted and removed caliper from bike. Then put the torque arm to rest position, screwed in inboard pad adjuster. Then put the caliper on the bike (had to back out pad adjuster just so it fit in). Then hold brake lever and tight CPS. After, tightened, I screwed the pad adjuster so the wheel could spin but it was touching pads heaps (was in a rush, so couldn't do perfect). Used the barrel adjuster a bit so didn't have to pull brake past halfway, and after that, it worked great (Still had to more torque arm up a tiny bit - will readjust later).

    So they are working better but still cant seem to do a 2 finger stop yet, but can with 3 fingers quite easily. Does it matter what way the pads are put in? eg one for outboard side and one for inboard?

  11. #11
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    Just curious - have you thought about moving to hydro's - the new XT brakes are superb with an excellent price point.

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    Don't plan on that at the moment, might in the future.

    How do BB5's compare in stopping power and feel to the Tektro Auriga Comp hyrdo's?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    ...I just thought my rotor might have some oil on it from last time they got contaminated.

    I followed my friends method and squirted Kerosene on the rotor. Went for a ride, and they were stopping slightly worse (SOOOOOOOOOOOO LOUD). You could see black oils on the rotor from kerosene and maybe old contamination. Then put some water on it, slight squeaking and 2X stopping power. Wiped off the rotor, it was squeaking and worse like before. More water, less squeaking heaps more power! Just left it for 20mins without wiping (some grime on there) come back and awesome stopping power! I suggest this method if your pads/rotors are contaminated. Just need to fine a nice long downhill to burn off the rest of oil (very fine oil) from kerosene...


    I would suggest trying new pads after cleaning the rotor with alcohol or brake cleaner.

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    Its crazy but it works great.

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    Also realized that the pads aren't grabbing on 5mm of the disc. The CPS washers are correct.

  16. #16
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    Also realized that the pads aren't grabbing on 5mm of the disc.
    What exactly do you mean, are the pads overhanging the outer edge of disc by 5mm ?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post

    The Avid CPS system is the worst thing to happen to bike brakes since... I can't think of anything witty because I think I'd rather run coaster brakes than keep the CPS on an Avid brake. The CPS system is the stack of conical washers that allow the brake to adjust to all the crazy angles of frames out there and get the pads to contact the rotor square. In practice, however, frames are built to much higher tolerances than they used to be and the CPS washers actually cause the caliper to go out of alignment while you tighten down the caliper fixing bolts. You can minimize this by putting a little bit of lube on the concial washers and even sanding their surface smooth if you want to get really crazy. Tighten any Avid brake down very slowly working back and forth from bolt to bolt for the best result.

    Good luck!
    You are the only one besides myself who seems to see this. I use a piece of poly milk carton between the pad and rotor to let the caliper slip down along the rotor as it is tightened. And i don't squeeze hard on the lever as I tighten.

    I would like to see jack screws to push against the calipar mounting screws. Would make adjustment and repeatability a whole lot easier.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cobba View Post
    What exactly do you mean, are the pads overhanging the outer edge of disc by 5mm ?
    The pads are leaving a 5mm gap on the bottom of the rotor. You can see the pads are grabbing on the bulk of it, but you see there is a gap that shows the pads aren't grabbing fully. The bulk of the rotor is darker which shows the pads aren't grabbing on the bottom as the bottom is much lighter and shows marks from sanding it previously.

    Can post pics if needed.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    Can post pics if needed.
    That would be a good way to see what's going on.

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    Sorry for late reply, I don't have my good camera so had to take on my iPod.

    You can't really see it but if you look at the bottom part of the rotor, you see it is not being used and same with the top curves.

    I'm sure this is probably because the rotor is not designed for the disc.



    EDIT: sorry, forgot to attach image
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Getting better power out of brakes...-img_0217.jpg  

    Last edited by bikeman1; 10-01-2011 at 09:14 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    Avid BB5 again........I still don't get decent power out of the brakes...
    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    ...I just thought my rotor might have some oil on it from last time they got contaminated.

    I followed my friends method and squirted Kerosene on the rotor. Went for a ride, and they were stopping slightly worse (SOOOOOOOOOOOO LOUD). You could see black oils on the rotor from kerosene and maybe old contamination. Then put some water on it, slight squeaking and 2X stopping power. Wiped off the rotor, it was squeaking and worse like before. More water, less squeaking heaps more power! Just left it for 20mins without wiping (some grime on there) come back and awesome stopping power! I suggest this method if your pads/rotors are contaminated. Just need to fine a nice long downhill to burn off the rest of oil (very fine oil) from kerosene....
    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    The pads are leaving a 5mm gap on the bottom of the rotor. You can see the pads are grabbing on the bulk of it, but you see there is a gap that shows the pads aren't grabbing fully. The bulk of the rotor is darker which shows the pads aren't grabbing on the bottom as the bottom is much lighter and shows marks from sanding it previously....
    Am I the only one that sees a problem here?

    I still suggest you start off with new pads and a clean rotor.

  22. #22
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    Pic is too grainy and blurry to see the wear pattern so it doesn't help much. BB5s, once adjusted properly, should give you one finger stopping. Mine did while I had a set on one of my bikes.

    Oh, kerosene or any other petroleum based liquid is not good for brake pads and braking effectiveness. It's crazy, but it doesn't work.
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

  23. #23
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    The Kerosene gave my friend better than new stopping power. He soaked his pads in kero, scrubbed rotor with kero, went down quite a huge hill, at the end smoke was coming off and his power was better than new (easy one finger stop).

    I can get good stopping power when water is on it, but when it dries off, its really crap and squeaks like crazy. I'll try the same hill, and if no good, then i'll change the pads.


    When you adjusted your BB5's Malibu412, was the torque arm at rest or did you pull it up with the cable to a higher position (How it's done in the bluecollar guide)?

  24. #24
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    Also in the bluecollar guide, the torque arm is raised so the outboard pad is closer. Should I do the same?

    And also there are no CPS bolts installed in the guide.. Don't you need these or should I do it without?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    The Kerosene gave my friend better than new stopping power. He soaked his pads in kero, scrubbed rotor with kero, went down quite a huge hill, at the end smoke was coming off and his power was better than new (easy one finger stop).

    I can get good stopping power when water is on it, but when it dries off, its really crap and squeaks like crazy. I'll try the same hill, and if no good, then i'll change the pads.


    When you adjusted your BB5's Malibu412, was the torque arm at rest or did you pull it up with the cable to a higher position (How it's done in the bluecollar guide)?
    I still say any petroleum based material is not good for brakes but that's just me...and millions of others. Also, that Avid rotor and your BB5 calipers/pads should match up fine once you have the correct washers and alignment.

    With my optimum adjustment, I usually had the arm pulled up away from full open just a small amount as part of the outer pad adjustment and to keep the lever pull short enough. The back pad is adjusted with the red knob, of course.
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

  26. #26
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    Probably change the pads soon and clean rotor with Denatured Alcohol/rubbing alcohol/meths.

    The rotor currently is the Tektro one. I may fit the G3 as it is probably going to line up better.

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    I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet (or maybe I missed it), but there is a procedure to adjust BB5's that usually works for good stopping power. I don't have a link or anything, so I'll describe it here. In short, the caliper lever arm needs to rest at the bottom of its stroke (caliper all the way open), and only the first part of stroke of that lever gives you good stopping power. So the pads have to be adjusted as close as possible to the rotor, and the cable tension should be just barely loose when there is no pressure on the lever. I've found that it helps to put the moving pad as close as possible to the rotor, and leave a slightly larger gap on the fixed pad side. That causes some rotor bending, but only slightly, and it works for me.

    Once the pads wear past a certain point, even with some pad material left, the moving pad will sit flush or recessed to the caliper body, making it impossible to adjust the brakes to get the gap low enough. At that point you might as well replace the pads or replace the brakes. A spacer on the back of the moving pad might work as a kind of pad contact adjustment, but you would have to make one custom because I don' think I've ever seen anything like that.
    Matt

  28. #28
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    Got new pads (Alligator Semi-Metallic). Cleaned rotor with meths many times, until no contamination came off on cotton bud. Put the torque arm at rest and no slack in cable. Turned in inboard pad adjuster till it couldn't go any further in. Pulled the lever (Very tight anyway) and tightened CPS. Turned out inboard adjuster until it wouldn't touch the pads too much. Pulled lever, but it pulled all the way to the grip and it still was not locking.

    Am I doing something wrong? I have had to pull the torque arm up and re-adjust. That flexes the rotor very slightly but causes rubbing.

    Bedded the pads in doing 20-30 hard stops but still average power. I pull with 3 fingers quite hard going at about 20km/h and it takes about 2.5 seconds to lift rear wheel and completely stop. Friends hyros are instant stop.

    Took out pads and wiped with meths and nothing came off, same with rotor.

    What am I doing wrong?

  29. #29
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    Burnish – Brake power is generated by the friction material on the pads embedding into the surface of the rotor, re-bonding to the friction material still on the pads and then breaking apart or shearing. In order for this bonding/shearing to occur, the friction material must first be displaced onto the surface of the rotor. This typically happens during the first 10 – 50 stops of a brake system and is referred to as “burnishing” the rotor and pads. When a rotor is cleaned, it will need to be re-burnished again to re-deposit the friction material onto the surface.


    Manual: www.sram.com/_media/techdocs/2006_BB5and7_English.pdf



    <object style="height: 390px; width: 640px"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/H5zjUaTAQmY?version=3"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/H5zjUaTAQmY?version=3" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="640" height="360"></object>

  30. #30
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    Okay, In the video, do it says center the caliper. What i'm doing is, turning the inboard pad all the way in, so the wheel won't move. I'm sure this is wrong so i'll try so the rotor is in the center.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    Okay, In the video, do it says center the caliper. What i'm doing is, turning the inboard pad all the way in, so the wheel won't move. I'm sure this is wrong so i'll try so the rotor is in the center.
    You can't truly center a fixed pad system. What you should try to do is center the slot in the caliper with the rotor then bring the pads into the recommended position (fixed pad as close as possible, moving pad adjusted to proper throw). I didn't watch the video but I would assume if you're trying to center the pads then that was done with hydraulic brakes, not mechanicals.
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  32. #32
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    Well, this is what I did:

    1) Loosen CPS.

    2) Torque arm at rest and clamp.

    3) Turn in inboard pad adjuster until centered.

    4) Pulled lever. - Went all the way to handle bars.

    5) Tightened CPS.

    6) Rubbing and no brake.


    (BTW.... I was trying with very old pads with very little pad left to prevent finger oils etc..(before i get gloves) and to test that it works).

  33. #33
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    Read the manual that I that linked in my previous post and start all over again.

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    I have bb7 and all you have to remember is three things for proper brake function. One, make sure the brake cable is tightened properly to the caliper actuation arm. Second, adjust inside fixed pad as close as possible to rotor with very little to no rub. Third, don't touch the pads and rotors, just let them break in till you get good braking power. My set of 185mm bb7 with sd7 levers will outbrake most hyro setups with consistency because I follow the steps above carefully during setup.

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    Well, I'll give it a try. Here's what I do with new pads...with the lever at rest, back off all the way the inside adjuster and turn it in one full turn. Adjust the outside pad to just touch the rotor. Tighten bolts, alternating as you go. Back off both adjusters to the desired clearance. One should see light between the pad and rotor. The more the pad is worn, the more one would turn in the inside adjuster when starting. When I got mine the distructions said 1/3, 2/3 calipar placement. It comes pretty close this way.

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    I have gotten it pretty much perfectly adjusted now. The lever arm is a bit above rest level, and the rotor flexes very little. Installed new pads (Sanded lightly), cleaned / sanded rotor, installed, adjusted. Went for a ride, 5 hard stops, great power with 3 fingers. Tried 2, but its takes around 2 sec's pulling as hard as possible. Maybe getting pads bedded completely will give me 1 finger power!

    Thanks everyone.

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    Same power after more stops. On a guide, it told me to put some water on the disc/pads. I did. Went for a ride, and stopped and found black water coming of the disc. Someone please tell me that wasn't oil. I just replaced the pads and cleaned rotor heaps. Now stopping power is poor and caliper arm is sticking like it use to 2 weeks ago. Cleaned disc and pads with alcohol and heaps of black stuff came off disc and little on pads.

    I'll try post a video on youtube to show my problem(s).




    I honestly am sick of these brakes and want new ones, but too bad I can't at the moment.


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    i dont understand why its so hard for you to set up your brakes so it WORKS.

    you really have to ride the brakes for awhile for the pads to mate or bed into the rotors.

    i dont know what that black stuff is washing off on your calipers and rotors but it might be the kerosene you sprayed which has not completely came off.

    i think you are expecting instant gratification when it fact it takes time to bed in a new set of pads onto rotors.

    one last thing, how much do you weigh?

  39. #39
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    54KG

    The caliper arm is sticking so when pulling, the caliper arm gets stuck and have to pull push the wheel back until rest position. I have a feeling it's the spring in the caliper, but don't know how I would get inside to get the spring out.

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    Do the cables move easily & smoothly through the housings ?
    Does the brake lever move easily without the cable attached ?

    If you need to adjust the spring tension on the torque arm then have a look in the manual, it will show you how to do it.

    Stop putting water on your brake and stop cleaning the rotor and pads all the time.
    Regarding the black stuff on your pads and rotor, have another read of what I wrote on post # 29

  41. #41
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    Yes
    Yes
    Played with spring tension but no improvement. (seems to only happen when wet, it has stopped now but it will happen if you pull hard enough.


    Did about 30 stops and similar but better power. It is annoying with the caliper arm sticking - and dangerous also, (eg. I am going down a hill fast and need to slow down fast, I slam on the brakes, and since it locks up and sticks I may be thrown over the handle bars.)

  42. #42
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    The first thing you need to learn to work on your bike is to stop following "guides" and friends instructions. Stick with Avids directions.

    It's probably time for a trip to your lbs. Tell them all the things you have done and let them sort it out.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcttr View Post
    It's probably time for a trip to your lbs. Tell them all the things you have done and let them sort it out.
    I agree.

    More threads from the OP about brake adjustment:
    http://forums.mtbr.com/brake-time/avid-bb5-adjustment-728503.html
    http://forums.mtbr.com/brake-time/smoothen-mechanical-disc-brakes-721945.html

    A few pix from the OP that show what parts are being used:
    Old brake Lever
    Old BB5 #1
    Old BB5 #2
    Old BB5 #3
    Butchered Brake/Shifter #1
    Butchered Brake/Shifter #2
    Upside down Brake Adapter

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcttr View Post
    It's probably time for a trip to your lbs. Tell them all the things you have done and let them sort it out.
    +1

    You've crossed over into the point where we can't talk you through how to fix this. You are causing problems to your brakes that could seriously hurt you and it's time to get them fixed properly. If the shop is nice and not busy they might even let you watch (from the counter) while they work on your bike. That way you might be able to learn what they're doing and what happened.
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  45. #45
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    Dude....KEROSENE?!?

    Quote Originally Posted by bikeman1 View Post
    Off topic:

    I just thought my rotor might have some oil on it from last time they got contaminated.

    I followed my friends method and squirted Kerosene on the rotor. Went for a ride, and they were stopping slightly worse (SOOOOOOOOOOOO LOUD). You could see black oils on the rotor from kerosene and maybe old contamination. Then put some water on it, slight squeaking and 2X stopping power. Wiped off the rotor, it was squeaking and worse like before. More water, less squeaking heaps more power! Just left it for 20mins without wiping (some grime on there) come back and awesome stopping power! I suggest this method if your pads/rotors are contaminated. Just need to fine a nice long downhill to burn off the rest of oil (very fine oil) from kerosene.


    Back to main topic:

    I'll see if I still get good power when completely dry tomorrow.

    Also readjusted and removed caliper from bike. Then put the torque arm to rest position, screwed in inboard pad adjuster. Then put the caliper on the bike (had to back out pad adjuster just so it fit in). Then hold brake lever and tight CPS. After, tightened, I screwed the pad adjuster so the wheel could spin but it was touching pads heaps (was in a rush, so couldn't do perfect). Used the barrel adjuster a bit so didn't have to pull brake past halfway, and after that, it worked great (Still had to more torque arm up a tiny bit - will readjust later).

    So they are working better but still cant seem to do a 2 finger stop yet, but can with 3 fingers quite easily. Does it matter what way the pads are put in? eg one for outboard side and one for inboard?
    Kerosene is an oily fuel, known in some parts of the world as paraffin oil.

    Oil is the last thing you should use on your brakes.

    I would try burning off the oil with a torch (follow safety procedures, obviously... and this procedure has been written up a zillion times here) and cleaning your rotor with Brake Kleen and see if it works better.

  46. #46
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    After seeing cobba's post I'm going to have to agree and say take it to the bike shop.

  47. #47
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    Yea, probably going to the bike shop. I switched the front and back calipers, fronts now giving me good power, back is 'sticking'. Front is adjusted exactly to Avid instructions and is working fine - No rotor flex, torque arm at rest, good power. Back is sticking when pulling lever, and crappy feel, I can't even adjust with the torque arm at rest, so will just get LBS to open it up, look at spring and fix the damn thing.

  48. #48
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    I had the FR-5 levers and I put some speed dial 7 ti levers on my bb7 brakes and I feel like the extra adjustability helped! (is adjustability even a word) The brakes don't have a mushy feel anymore and they are way more solid.
    Use the tech video to set up the brakes, it's way easy!!!

    I got them off ebay for cheap and I dont see any reason upgrading to hydro brakes. I have juicy 7s hydro brakes on my other bike and i really don't mind the mechanicals at all!

  49. #49
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    I am now actually very impressed with these front brakes. Compared with my friends hydros, you only have to pull slightly harder for an endo and only 2 fingers.

    The back set is far worse than a v brake and for some reason feels horrible. The spring may be damaged or rusted. Ill try taking off the bolt under the red cap and see if it's an obvious problem. If not, lbs it is.

  50. #50
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    Here is a bb5 & bb7 set up video
    Avid_BB5_Setup - YouTube
    Avid_BB7_Setup - YouTube

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