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  1. #1
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    How bad are BB7 brakes?

    I have no experience beyond what I have read with either hydro or mechanical discs, but what I want to know is how bad can they be? Why am I able to set up a bike with BB7s for ~$80-$90 front and rear and even "cheap" hydros are going to run me $200 or more. Is there that big of a difference? If I go the cheap route and put BB7's on my EMD9 build and I going to regret it?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    check out some of the reviews on this site.

    http://www.mtbr.com/cat/brakes/disc-...8_1507crx.aspx

  3. #3
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    BB7's are a good mechanical disc brake. The adjustable pad contact is nice and have plenty of power. Aren't going to have the same feel as a hydraulic disc brake but they are solid and great if you are on a budget.
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  4. #4
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    The bb7s are hands down the best mechanical disc brakes. Hydros aren't automatically better than all disc brakes, just because they're hydros. When comparing prices, people often neglect that the total cost of the bb7s would include the brake cables and brake levers, probably because when they upgrade, they use their existing cable/levers. $80-90 for both front and rear? That's insanely cheap. But nonetheless, you have to look beyond the price tag, keep your mind open. Many people have stated their preference of the bb7s over a variety of hydros for a variety of reasons.

    Is there a big difference? Which 'cheap' hydros are you comparing with?

    And with your dilemma, the bb7s WILL be the 'cheap' (low cost) route, but the bb7s themselves are NOT 'cheap' (low quality) brakes calipers.

  5. #5
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    They are excellent brakes and super fuss-free.
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  6. #6
    Always Learning
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamorgan3777
    I have no experience beyond what I have read with either hydro or mechanical discs, but what I want to know is how bad can they be? Why am I able to set up a bike with BB7s for ~$80-$90 front and rear and even "cheap" hydros are going to run me $200 or more. Is there that big of a difference? If I go the cheap route and put BB7's on my EMD9 build and I going to regret it?

    Thanks!
    No, you won't regret it if you go with the BB7's. I mean, it's not going to "dumb down" your EMD build or anything if that is what you are concerned about. If it is cash you are concerned about and you can get a pair of calipers at that price - give them a shot. If you really don't like them they sell well new or used on eBay.

    You don't have to use top notch housing/cables, but if you use something like a Jagwire Ripcord set for cables/housing and some nice levers (my personal preference goes for the Avid Speed Dial Utlimates which you can found for $100 or so on eBay every now and then) - the brake system is excellent. I've got the coin to be running whatever brake I want to run, but I've been using the Avid mechanical brakes since 2002. I now have them on 3 bikes because they perform so well for my needs. In my case I figured "Why fix what isn't broken if they are working so well?". In fact, I downsized to smaller rotors this season and love them.

    I've got the newer BB7's f/r on my Dos Niner with 160f/140r Alligator rotors:

    DosNinerConAspens

    Older 2002 calipers on my JET 9 with the same rotors:

    JET with Raven 2.2's

    And older calipers on my 4" squish bike. This one I did not use Jagwire Ripcord cables/housing and you can see the severe bends I put in the rear brake cable routing. In fact, it's really crappy and heavy Specialized housing (maybe even made by Jagwire, I don't know - but it's cheap and heavy that I bought in a spool many years ago and am trying to use up). Not ideal on my part, but still great one finger rear braking nonetheless:

    Sugar2009

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  7. #7
    bi-winning
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    I think they are great brakes.
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  8. #8
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    I have a set of BB7 on a $2k build. I didn't want to deal with hydro's b/c a nice set was about 4 times what I paid for the BB7. I use speed dial levers and you can modify the feel a lot with them. About the only down side to the BB7 is a lack of perfect modulation but you can come pretty close with the speed dials. If you are on a budget, I'd stick with the standard SD levers for $25, a set of teflon coated cables and your choice of housing. Also, even a blind monkey can set up a set of these brakes.

    BTW, my BB7 in 185 front and 160 rear will stop a train.

  9. #9
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    I love my BB7's I have them on my scalpel build up that I did a few months ago. They stop on a dime and are very user friendly even on the trail. I tend to like them better than my Juicy 7's that I put on my 29er.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamorgan3777
    I have no experience beyond what I have read with either hydro or mechanical discs, but what I want to know is how bad can they be? Why am I able to set up a bike with BB7s for ~$80-$90 front and rear and even "cheap" hydros are going to run me $200 or more. Is there that big of a difference? If I go the cheap route and put BB7's on my EMD9 build and I going to regret it?
    As the others have indicated, BB7s are very good mechanical brakes.

    I've used several different hydraulic brake systems on the bikes I own. (Shimano LX, Hayes Mag, and Hayes HFX-9) I've switched most of the bikes I maintain over to using BB7s. The feel of BB7s is somewhat different from that of the hydraulics I've used, but I think they perform just as well.

    The thing I really like about BB7s over the hydraulic brakes that I've used is that they're easier to keep in adjustment. In theory, hydraulic brakes are self centering; once you have the caliper centered over the rotor, you shouldn't have to monkey with it until it's time to change the pads. It's fairly common though for one piston to move more freely than the other. As a consequence, it's not uncommon for the pistons to become off-centered causing the pads to rub or squeal. It is very frustrating to spend an hour or so resetting the pistons and recentering the calipers to be rub free only to have to repeat that adjustment process again a few days later. That said, sometimes they work fine for months. The Hayes HFX-9s on my wife's bike have been working well for years with few adjustments needed. (Or it could be that my wife is less picky than I am about brake rub.)

    On the BB7, the pads are independently adjustable and, as the pads wear, you need adjust them inwards periodically to account for that wear. It only takes a few moments to make this adjustment and it only needs to be done every now and then. I check mine every few weeks. Even though some small amount of tweaking is required every now and then, I've spent far, far less time maintaining my BB7s that I did my hydraulic brakes.

    In conclusion, I regret that I put up with hydraulic brakes for as long as I did before switching to BB7s. (I think I was sucked into the whole "they're cheaper, therefore they must not be as good" concept.)

  11. #11
    offroader
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    They're great brakes. Easy to set up and great stopping power. Cons: they're a little heavy.

  12. #12
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    Avid Juicy Ultimate 2008 models are selling for extremely cheap these days. Grab them if you can.

  13. #13
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    I agree the BB7's are amazing brakes, I have had them on my DH bike my single speed an now my new build, I went all out on this bike and spent more than most people wold on their first car and still chose to go with BB7's.

    I have lightened them up the best I could and replaced all bolts with Ti, I even went as far as tearing them down, getting them ceramic coated and replaced the internal bearings with ceramic bearings just for $hits and giggles

    if you score a killer deal, or even pay retail you will be very happy. all i can say is ditch the stock rotors(round-a-gon), any of the clean sweeps are better and lighter. Price point has good deals on alligator rotors which work very well. as well as dropping some weight as well
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  14. #14
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    I ran mechanical disc brakes for years and was hesitant to go hydro as I thought they might add complications to my simple bike. I had the chance to demo a DH bike w/ entry level HFX Nine's and was really impressed w/ the lever feel and fact I didn't have to touch a dial all day after 7 hard DH runs. Fast forward 5 years i'd have to park a bike in the corner before I ever used mechanical brakes again - the lever pull feels horrible through a cable, the fiddling w/ pad adjustments, & less modulation than a hydro. I wonder how many have tried a good hydro (properly set-up) and still favor mechanicals ?

  15. #15
    TNC
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    I can never see going back to mechanical discs for me personally, but BB7's are absolutely the best and most powerful mech brakes made IMO. If it was down to using V-brakes or BB7's, there would be no debate...BB7's. You mention, "how bad can it be". I don't think there's really any "bad" associated with BB7's. Extra weight compared to V-brakes might be an issue for some, but the more reliable and stronger brake performance would offset that IMO. On the issue of V-brakes, frankly many riders because of where they ride, what they ride, and how they ride don't really need discs of any kind. V-brakes work pretty darned well. But if one can feel even the occasional and/or slight challenge to your V-brakes, then I'd go for mech or hydro discs in a second.

  16. #16
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    Should start the other way...how good are BB7 brakes?

    I've been using them for years, have them on two bikes at the moment. They work great, but they are different from hydraulics. However I think in several ways the BB7s are easier to setup, use and maintain.

    Have a set of Elixir CRs I picked up a few months ago. Already some problems, in that the front brake, if the bike is laid on its side, apparently has air in the line, so I have to pump the lever to have a brake. Not the most secure feeling at the beginning of a long ride back to town, but no issues unless the bike is laid on it's side. I discovered this on a trip where I didn't bring the bleed kit, of course. Now that I'm back home It'll be my fun this weekend to learn how to use the kit...needed to shorten the hoses anyways so not without some benefit, just a pain that a BB7 doesn't have.
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  17. #17
    The Mud Stud
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    Well lets see. Last time on the trail I tried a guys 2008 or 09 shimano xt hydros. They werent really more powerfull by any margin, maybe 15%. The modulation was about 20% better. This is considering brakes costing (currently at jesonusa 45) usually 75 bucks, vs brakes costing about 150 to 200. The performance is almost exactly the same. Thats not just a good mechanical brake. It blows quite a few hydros off the trail too.

  18. #18
    Combat Wombat
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    I have used both BB7s and several different hydros, and while I prefer hydros, you do have to drop some serious coin to get any real noticable improvement over the BB7s. The lower end hydros on sale at the various online stores are not going to do it. Personally, I do not buy off on the BB7s being easier or simpler. Bleeding a set of Shimano hydros is about as simple as it gets and properly set up, in the long run require less maintenance and fuss than any mechanical. You have already pointed out the primary advantage of the BB7s, performance vs cost.

    Use good levers, cables and you will not regret putting BB7s on your Niner.

    Brian

  19. #19
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    Another vote for BB7's. On a sidenote, I picked up a bike last year that came stocked with BB5's. No comparison to the 7's. Worst.....brakes.....ever!

  20. #20
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    BB7s are my favorite disc brakes. I do have some Juicy 5s on my hardtail, and I used to have some juicy carbons. Both are very nice brakes, and lighter than the BB7s. So if you are a weight weenies you should stay clear of them. But for ease of setup, adjustment and power I will take BB7s anyday. The only issue with BB7s is that they are very dependent on setting them up right. That means using quality housing, adjusting the distances of the pads correctly and using the right levers. I have used them with the older style SD7 levers and they do not work to well. But use them with the new style SD7 lever and they are amazing. It also helps if you use G2 or G3 rotors, I am not a big fan of the roundagons they come with. Also if you ever have to take your wheels off, it is a lot easier to keep the brakes from rubbing on reinstallation, which is a big issue I have with hydros.

    Anyone who says BB7s do not have the power of hydros simply has never used a set that was set up correctly. I don't run BB7s because they are cheap (I can afford higher end brakes if I want) I run them because I think they are the best.
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  21. #21
    TNC
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsmith
    BB7s are my favorite disc brakes. I do have some Juicy 5s on my hardtail, and I used to have some juicy carbons. Both are very nice brakes, and lighter than the BB7s. So if you are a weight weenies you should stay clear of them. But for ease of setup, adjustment and power I will take BB7s anyday. The only issue with BB7s is that they are very dependent on setting them up right. That means using quality housing, adjusting the distances of the pads correctly and using the right levers. I have used them with the older style SD7 levers and they do not work to well. But use them with the new style SD7 lever and they are amazing. It also helps if you use G2 or G3 rotors, I am not a big fan of the roundagons they come with. Also if you ever have to take your wheels off, it is a lot easier to keep the brakes from rubbing on reinstallation, which is a big issue I have with hydros.

    Anyone who says BB7s do not have the power of hydros simply has never used a set that was set up correctly. I don't run BB7s because they are cheap (I can afford higher end brakes if I want) I run them because I think they are the best.
    I see this comment occasionally, and it's one of the few that I don't believe there is an opinion based option. BB7's are not as powerful as a well designed and properly setup hydro brake. I don't know what hydros you might be comparing them to, but it just ain't so. Unless you're running some cheesy hydros with small rotors compared to some properly setup BB7's with large rotors, there's not much of a power contest here. I get to see all types of hydros and BB5's and 7's. Good hydro brakes are more powerful. For specifics, the Elixir hydro is way stronger than a good BB7.

    BB7's have their place. They're decently priced, have admirable power, and relatively easy to live with. They're the next logically and economically based step up from V-brakes. I would venture a bet that I've installed, setup, and ridden more varied combinations of BB5/7 mechs and hydros than most just from working at a shop as well as having owned a good many myself. BB7's are the best mechs available. They do not have the power of a solid, "quality" hydro. This is even more evident in longer, steeper runs where heat builds through use. I don't think this is an opinion based issue. It's a physics based issue.

  22. #22
    the mountian is within
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    I have allways wondered-if there was a more expensive BB7 'pro'-would they be raved about by more folks?
    I can run any i want-i own a shop-i luv my BB7's!
    185 front-160 rear-Galfer pads-Ripcord housing-SD7 levers.
    Most people are wow! when they ride my bike!
    I just put in new pads this morn.-took 3min-install-and reset caliper.
    I laff my head off when some one complains of the fact they must turn the red dails to adjust for wear!Come on a few seconds is that hard?
    Try them set-up right-maybe hydos have a lil better this and that-but for the price?
    Cant beat them.
    And we ride 3days a week plus in steep wet terrain-some hydro-some bb7-no advantage either way-its the rider that is the factor.
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  23. #23
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    I like everything about the BB7's except the modulation or control when trying to take the bike to it's stopping limit without skidding. Picked up a set of used Formula k18's for $130 shipped yesterday,with 6" rotors, levers,cables, etc. Value is where you find it.

  24. #24
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    I love my BB7s (185/185 rotors). Lots of power, hard to overheat, good modulation, very smooth with good cables and housing. They're heavy, but that can be made up for in other ways.

  25. #25
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    My front BB5 is starting to do the 'turkey gobble'. For awhile they're fine, then the next day, they start squealing. I'm thinking the best solution is ordering BB7 for my front...

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