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  1. #1
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    New question here. Perfect levers for Avid Mech's

    I picked up a pair of avid mech's to put on my bike, as typical on all mtn bikes i have, a set of mech's goes on. Anyways, I am looking to get a set of levers that will be compatible, but not just any lever, the best lever. Think of this as a "cost is no option" without being rediculious. I was looking at anything from Speed Dial Ultimate's to Pauls to whatever...

    Thoughts?

    -Stebes

  2. #2
    R.I.P. DogFriend
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    Speed Dials are awesome. I have the Ti models with 203mm Avid mechanicals and I am amazed at the stopping power of these brakes. I can't comment on the Ultimates, but I don't see how they could be at least twice as nice. I think once you get at or near the top of the line stuff, it's all a matter of personal preference. See how you like the feel of different levers and then knock yourself out!

    I also used the Flak Jacket cable set. I would recommend that or the XTR cable set. The housings are low / no compression. The housings and a good meticulous installation make almost as much difference as the brakes and levers themselves.

  3. #3
    Do It Yourself
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    If cost is no option, then the Avid Ultimates are the clear choice. I bought mine used for $75, used them for 3 years then sold them for the same price. They are super trick and super smooth forever.

    But whatever you do, get levers with adjustable pull so you can dial in the modulation.

  4. #4
    "El Whatever"
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    Some will rant at me for what I'm gonna say but here I go... try the Deore levers first.

    I've only used my Avids with the AD3 levers (garbage) stock on my Giant and a set of Deore on my self-assembled bike. And I prefer the feel and characteritics of the Deores for a large amount. Cheap trick.

    Just my honest from the heart opinion....
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by stebesplace
    I picked up a pair of avid mech's to put on my bike, as typical on all mtn bikes i have, a set of mech's goes on. Anyways, I am looking to get a set of levers that will be compatible, but not just any lever, the best lever. Think of this as a "cost is no option" without being rediculious. I was looking at anything from Speed Dial Ultimate's to Pauls to whatever...

    Thoughts?

    -Stebes
    Maybe it's just me, but the only thing you are really gaining on super high end levers is a low weight. You've already decided that weight isn't the real issue by going to disks, so why spend $100+ on levers when a $30 set will do just as well and only weigh 30g more?

    That said, I love my Speed Dial 9s. They are far better than the 1.9's, AD3's, LX, XT's and a couple others I have used. If you are trying to shave grams, get the SD Ti's or SD Mags.

  6. #6
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    I hate to admit it, but the SD Ultimate really are best

    I pooh-poohed the Ultimates for many years as just some chi-chi bits for weight weenies.

    then I built a bike this winter using Avid Mech discs, and wanted a better quality lever FEEL than the regular Avid SD levers - pick your number, they all feel alike. I'd ridden a friend's bike with Avid Mechs and Paul's Love Levers, and was impressed with their solid, smooth feel... but no speed dial.

    I splurged and paid for the SD Ultimates.

    and I'm glad I did.

    Super-high quality of lever feel, no slop AT ALL, and with these levers my Avid Mechs feel as close to hydro as you can get.

    Avid SD Ultimates for sure.

  7. #7
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    So Gonz, what's the difference between the ultimates and the regular SD's

    I have SD7's that make me happy, I'm not sure I could justify the extra $$$ for the ultimates but I would like to know what the differences are that make them 'that' good.

  8. #8
    Flyin Canine
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    I have tried the Avid SD-5, SD-7 and SD-ti. They all feel good and on the digital scale were all within 10gms of each other. So I would say get the 7's or the ultimates. The reason for the 7's and not the 5's is the viewports. They are a nice feature but not necessary by any means. Sounds like the Ultimates are great but I just couldn't see spending that much more for them.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by stebesplace
    I picked up a pair of avid mech's to put on my bike, as typical on all mtn bikes i have, a set of mech's goes on. Anyways, I am looking to get a set of levers that will be compatible, but not just any lever, the best lever. Think of this as a "cost is no option" without being rediculious. I was looking at anything from Speed Dial Ultimate's to Pauls to whatever...

    Thoughts?

    -Stebes

    Just based upon building up a few bikes using avid mechs and various levers...i personally, really liked the feel / modulation of the Paul Love levers. And i even had a mirror imaged bike built with Avid / SD7 to compare side by side...and the Pauls felt MUCH better !

    later, Chad
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  10. #10
    Te mortuo heres tibi sim?
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    avid ultimates or paul love levers are the only two choices, if money is no object. lighter. no slop.

    if you use and like the speed dial feature of avid levers, go that route. if you don't like/don't use that feature, go for pauls.

    less $$ levers work and can feel great. up until they start getting slop and play in the pivots, something that annoys me greatly.

    i've got the paul levers on two bikes setup front and rear with avid mechs. love them, but then, i never used the SD feature on my old avid levers, so don't miss that.
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  11. #11
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    Yeah for the best feel get the Ultimates, otherwise all the other avids feel about the same. The ultimates are a little bit of $$$ but worth it once you have them set up.
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  12. #12
    Don't touch me!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schtoojp
    So Gonz, what's the difference between the ultimates and the regular SD's

    I have SD7's that make me happy, I'm not sure I could justify the extra $$$ for the ultimates but I would like to know what the differences are that make them 'that' good.

    The Ultimates have cartridge bearings, less slop, quick cable adjuster, split cam clamp, and are lighter(of course). Also the Ultimate's Speed Dial has more adjustment than any other Speed Dial levers. Last year I bit the bullet and purchased the Ultimates to go with my mechs and couldn't be happier. My previous levers were Avid Speed Discs. I think they are/were relabeled SD-7's.

  13. #13
    Birdman aka JMJ
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    Ditto: Paul's Love levers

    Quote Originally Posted by nwmtb
    Just based upon building up a few bikes using avid mechs and various levers...i personally, really liked the feel / modulation of the Paul Love levers. And i even had a mirror imaged bike built with Avid / SD7 to compare side by side...and the Pauls felt MUCH better !

    later, Chad
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    http://redbarnbicycles.com/
    My wife and I both run Avid Mech's mated to Pauls levers on our full suspension bikes.

    JMJ

  14. #14
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    Thanks for that.

    I'm not convinced the Ultimates are for me just yet. Cartridge bearings are nice, quick cable adjustment is nice but I don't think I need it, split clamp is also nice, but I now use Lock-ons so don't need that and I just shed a pound with my new wheelset so the extra $$$ are not common right now.

    And still debating if I should switch to hydros or not too. That's a while off, and if I stick with mechs then the Ultimates might be a go.

    Anyway, thanks again!

  15. #15
    "El Whatever"
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    Schtoojp: Try a bike with Mechs and Deore Levers... it may sound cheap and stoopid but in my honest opinion is not. I was really pleased with this set-up performance. And it's hell of a lot cheaper than anything else. There's nothing that could give you the "hydro feeling" but hydros. The real difference is not on the levers but the cable housing and its routing. A good quality sealed teflon or kevlar housing will do the trick. Actually (in my opinion again) some cable compression is good for the Avids, they become more progressive and the "instant-endo" power is still there if you squeeze the lever with enough authority and it still can be done with one finger.

    Deores have only two position adjustment but they work really fine with the Avid Mechs. Make them more progressive and you get not the ON-OFF feeling the Avids are known for. It's just that they are so cheap that people often consider those are crap without trying.

    If you can try this set-up first I'm positive you will wonder why to spend more money on that.
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  16. #16
    no gears, no tears
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capt_phun
    Yeah for the best feel get the Ultimates, otherwise all the other avids feel about the same. The ultimates are a little bit of $$$ but worth it once you have them set up.
    I've been using the same set of xtr levers for 3 years, used them with avid mechs and xtr v's. They feel awesome, and seem to fit my hands better than avid levers.

  17. #17
    Don't touch me!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schtoojp
    Thanks for that.

    I'm not convinced the Ultimates are for me just yet. Cartridge bearings are nice, quick cable adjustment is nice but I don't think I need it, split clamp is also nice, but I now use Lock-ons so don't need that and I just shed a pound with my new wheelset so the extra $$$ are not common right now.

    And still debating if I should switch to hydros or not too. That's a while off, and if I stick with mechs then the Ultimates might be a go.

    Anyway, thanks again!
    Yeah, the only features that are worth it are the Speed Dial adjustment and maybe the bearings(which may be the reason for less slop). The other features are only good it you are piched for time.

    FEI There is roughly a max 186 gram penalty(a little less if you run a Manitou; without cables and housing; both f&r) if you run Avid's Ultimates and Mechs. That is less than 1/2 pound, maybe at or less than 3/4 pound with cables and housing. Even less with Paul's levers. Not to shabby for mechs if you ask me.

  18. #18
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    My lever choices:
    -SD-Ultimate. In my experience, all the good things people have said here about these levers is true. I won't repeat what everyone has already said.
    -XTR levers. I reall like the geometry of these, and they remain about as slop-free as you can expect from a lever. That said, the Deore levers someone else mentioned have pretty much the same pivot design, which really does work great, and if you prfere the shape of the Deore levers, then get them.
    -LX/ DX levers. There are two things about these levers that might damp your enthusiasm: weight, and the not-always-the-tightest pivot. But... they have Servo-Wave, which means that the lever's leverage starts off low so your pads can really far from the disc for drag-free performance, but then the leverage climbs as you pull so you get lots of power. Great disc-pad clearance, lots of power, low cost. But if you already feel the Avid discs are a little grabby, then these are not your levers. If your main goal is brute stopping power, then pony up.
    -SRAM 9.0s. These have a mechanism inside very similar to the one on the DX / LX levers, are light, and have a much nicer pivot. The only downside is that they flex some under hard braking.
    -Paul. Very light, little slop, big flat lever blade if that's what you're into. The pivot requires some cleaning every once in awhile, it's not sealed so well in my experience.
    ------------------
    Having said all that, I think the geometry of the old cantilever levers was much better than the geometry of the V-Brake levers. The pivot on V-Brake levers is really close to the bar, with the result that you have to pull super far before you get a lot of power. Not so with canti levers. If I had my druthers, I would get Avid mechanical discs for a road bike, which require the use of a shorter-pull lever so I could use my old canti levers.
    undefined Absolutely must have: Black Machine Tech Zeroflex brake levers (the ones with the rotating leverage adjuster)

  19. #19
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    beeristasty pretty much nailed it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schtoojp
    So Gonz, what's the difference between the ultimates and the regular SD's

    I have SD7's that make me happy, I'm not sure I could justify the extra $$$ for the ultimates but I would like to know what the differences are that make them 'that' good.
    see beeristasty's post above. all the same reasons.

    Paul's Love Levers also use bushings where Avid Ultimates use bearings. Not a real serious functional difference, as a good bushing sometimes outperforms a good bearing.

    The solid, no slop, extra smooth lever action of the Ultimates (or the Paul's) is what makes them worth the price. I didn't pay the upcharge for lightness. I'd have bought the Ultimates if they were 80g heavier, that's how nice is the feel and how solid the performance.

    So, if you like and use Speed Dial -- Avid Ultimates

    If you don't like or don't use Speed Dial -- Paul's Love Levers

  20. #20
    ballbuster
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    I dunno....

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj
    Speed Dials are awesome. I have the Ti models with 203mm Avid mechanicals and I am amazed at the stopping power of these brakes. I can't comment on the Ultimates, but I don't see how they could be at least twice as nice. I think once you get at or near the top of the line stuff, it's all a matter of personal preference. See how you like the feel of different levers and then knock yourself out!

    I also used the Flak Jacket cable set. I would recommend that or the XTR cable set. The housings are low / no compression. The housings and a good meticulous installation make almost as much difference as the brakes and levers themselves.
    I put XTR cables on my SS with LX canti brakes, and the housing compresses a lot. I don't know if that is because Canti's pull half the cable with twice as much pressure, or what.

    I got SD7s on my fully bike and love them, apart form the small amount of slop in the blade. I love the modulation adjusters, and would never buy levers without it, apart from hydro brakes. I got a set of SD Ti's still in the wrapper I got at a swap meet for $15, waiting for my next bike build. No reason to spend extra dough on Ti's, you only save like 10 grams. The Ultimates, tho...
    Last edited by pimpbot; 06-13-2004 at 11:42 AM.

  21. #21
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    You know, the bearing size looks like a common 1/4"x3/8"x1/8" flanged bearing. Pick them up for next to nothing.

    At least it looked near enough to that size when I had my 7's apart last time.


  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by stebesplace
    I picked up a pair of avid mech's to put on my bike, as typical on all mtn bikes i have, a set of mech's goes on. Anyways, I am looking to get a set of levers that will be compatible, but not just any lever, the best lever. Think of this as a "cost is no option" without being rediculious. I was looking at anything from Speed Dial Ultimate's to Pauls to whatever...

    Thoughts?

    -Stebes
    The Dia Compe 287Vs have been the best levers for me.
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    But I ride dropbars.
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  23. #23
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    ... and if we just ...

    XTRs and Full Metal Jacket cables. Insallation is of the utmost importance. Sweeeet combo. That said: Deore, Pauls, any Avid lever. Really I think it is whatever floats your boat. It is the lines and the installation/tuning.

  24. #24
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    Go with the Avid Ulltimates, they are Worth it.

    I have tried these all with avids:

    XTR levers ---- Nice feel, no adjustment.
    Avid 1.9 ------- Terrible feel.
    Avid sd5------- Ok feel, I dont like the return spring, good adjustment.
    Avid Ultimates- AWESOME feel, feel like Hydros, Great adjustment.

    I have the sd5's on my hardtail right now with 8 inch avids. They are ok.

    I have the Ultimates on my downhill rig and they are AMAZING. Best 100 bucks i ever spent. I will tell you though, it was pretty tough to spend that much money on levers. I actually spent less on both 8 inch avids.

  25. #25
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    Just to move my build along , so i can ride the freaking thing! I salvaged my old LX levers with the servo wave. I have the SD2.0 on my old schwinn now and was tempted too take those off and use. But i wanted too keep it rideable until winter. So i dug the lx`s out of the ol toolbox. I used the full metal jackets too run my lines and 203mm rotors.After a tired mental block i was having with the front rotor. i finnished my work thursday morning and i`m now waiting to get these baby`s fully broken in...............Ah but back too the bigger picture, the lx`s are only temporary. avid ultimates look too damn sweet to not want too touch them. So i`m budgeting for a set this july(talk about fireworks) these babie are the bling bling.........................................ghos t
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