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  1. #1
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    Need an affordable brake upgrade for my Giant XTC 29er

    Hello Brake forum --

    I purchased a used 2013 Giant XTC 29er hardtail a few months ago for a great deal ($400). I bought it knowing that I'd eventually be upgrading some parts on it, but it has served me well for XC riding for the most part. As I become more accustomed to the bike, I'm really starting to see the areas where they skimped on the componentry -- namely, the brakes (cheap Shimano entry-level stuff; I'm not going to bother going to look at the exact model).

    Anyway -- here's my background: I've been mountain biking since the 80s and raced DH at a fairly high level through the 90s and 2000s. Despite being almost 40 years old, I still ride pretty hard and fast, and my other bike is a light-DH/heavy Enduro type bike. The brakes on that bike are literally 4 X more powerful than the ones on the Giant.

    The problem is, once you're used to all that effortless stopping/slowing power, if you get on a bike with weak brakes you can get into trouble. I don't rally this thing near as hard as my other bike, obviously, but I have had some close calls where I carried too much speed into a corner and could NOT slow down enough to hold the corner. Though I plan to ride this bike pretty much for XC only, a lot of our trails have steep descents quite regularly and these brakes are not up to the task.

    I am on a very tight budget, so I was thinking I'd initially just upgrade the front brake. Ideally, I'd like to not spend over $100 for a brake. I've tried Shimano Zees and was quite impressed, and see that they can be had for around $115 per brake. I know that throwing one of those on the front would likely solve my problem. But if there are any other options that are even cheaper, yet don't skimp on power -- I'm all ears. I don't care about weight whatsoever -- my other bike weighs 36 pounds and I can climb it all day. This bike is a dream to climb, comparatively, so a few extra ounces won't make a bit of difference.
    Dear U.S. Forest Service: Please ban all wilderness in my riding areas.

  2. #2
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    According to Giant's site, you have 160mm brake rotors.
    If your brakes are working correctly, I'd go for larger rotors, 203 front (if it's within the fork's limit), 180 rear, and new pads.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cc_math View Post
    According to Giant's site, you have 160mm brake rotors.
    If your brakes are working correctly, I'd go for larger rotors, 203 front (if it's within the fork's limit), 180 rear, and new pads.
    I agree, even going with a 180 up front and new OE resin pads front and rear would probably help a lot.
    Niner Jet 9 RDO, Scalpel 29, XTC 650b, 04 Stumpjumper FSR Pro, Trek Rigid SS - No suspension, no gears....no problem

  4. #4
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    Zees are great but SLX is more budget friendly. check out the rt66 shimano rotors they are pretty cheap

  5. #5
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    Good brakes with larger rotors will give a lot more stopping for a given lever squeeze, but if you can't lock up the current brakes (or go OTB) then they'll probably benefit a lot from new pads, cleaning and resurfacing the rotors, and, if the levers are squishy, a bleed.
    Do the math.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the responses guys. I suppose I'll look into just replacing the rotors with larger ones. The brakes seem to be working properly, but the problem is they overheat very quickly and lose power. There just isn't enough power altogether. I am hesitant to spend the money on rotors though if it won't make a pretty significant difference. (I've never had the experience of upgrading from smaller rotors to larger ones, so I don't know how big of a difference it can make -- all of my previous bikes already had 200mm rotors).

    Come to think of it, I have noticed that every bike I've ever ridden that had 160mm rotors seemed to have inadequate braking, even with high-end brakes. At 195 pounds, perhaps I'm just too heavy for 160mm rotors?
    Dear U.S. Forest Service: Please ban all wilderness in my riding areas.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookieMonster View Post
    Come to think of it, I have noticed that every bike I've ever ridden that had 160mm rotors seemed to have inadequate braking, even with high-end brakes. At 195 pounds, perhaps I'm just too heavy for 160mm rotors?
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  8. #8
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    Bigger rotors will def make a difference. I would go 203/180

  9. #9
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    I have older model XT (just a modulation prefrence) with 203/180 rotors the stop and stay cooler. I'm 210lbs and can easily stop my bike any time.

  10. #10
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    Need an affordable brake upgrade for my Giant XTC 29er

    I run dual 160s... 250lbs, 6'2". My level tlms are just shitty but i was riding a bike with xts an it was like some one stuck a stick in my spokes dual 160s too. I like my they are sketchy, ive gotten faster on downhills now. I switched from centerline rotors to ice techs and no change but i have a 180 i might throw on from my fatbike, Just need the adapter but i think ill be going xts in the future, just so many things to buy!
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  11. #11
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    XT are on sale at Chainreation $89 each and SLX for $74
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  12. #12
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    Same price at Jenson, for those in the US

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotooutdoors View Post
    Same price at Jenson, for those in the US
    Being on the east coast I get things faster from Chain Reaction than west coast us suppliers. Free shipping so no biggie.
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  14. #14
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    Fair enough. I just like to use US suppliers when possible for ease of returns and if there are warranty claims, not that I ever have had them.

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