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  1. #1
    Master of Disaster
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    Shimano M486, M665 or other budget hydro?

    I recently read what I take to be a well informed opinion that the Shimano M486 is under-rated as entry-level hydro's go. Shortly thereafter, I saw a new set of M486's F&R going for just $50 on eBay; take-offs complete with 6-bolt rotors. Hard to loose at that price so I placed the first bid on it before somebody used the Buy-It-Now option. Then I started my research.

    OEM on the 2010 Giant Anthem X3 with an MSRP of $2,000 - OK

    The rest of what I read wasn't so good. Turns out that many of the budget Shimano systems come with resin pads that wear alarmingly in the wet. People described toasting a set of pads in a just a couple of rides. Whoa. Then I read that some Shimano rotors specify "For use with Resin pads only". Apparently, the metal is too soft to handle sintered, semi-metallic pads. Also, Shimano uses various rotor designs with different width swept areas - so you have to get the right ones - and most of their rotors are Center-Lock anyway. So if you want those low-end Shimano hydro's to work well, you might have to scavenge for non-standard pads and rotors (especially if you want 6-bolt rotors) that will fit after which you may be quite happy. So I gather from the many user reports I've read recently. Fortunately, I was quickly outbid and off the hook for the M486's.

    Alternatively, on a budget like I am, one could side-step the hassles and just buy Avid BB7's with Cleansweep rotors and the standard semi-metallic pads. Lots of pad clearance with mechanical calipers so there's no dragging or scraping and, of course, no bleeding. No thick Mineral Oil when it's cold or paint-eating DOT4 fluid to deal with. No hose lengths to worry about.

    For any affordable hydro brake that someone says is good, there are two people saying they've had a horrible experience. I don't like noisy bike parts and I don't like paying through the nose for hard-to-find wear items and replacement parts. Seems to me then that BB7's are my only serious option - cheap, reliable and easy to get parts for.

    Am I wrong? Is there another serious option for under $200 F&R? The closest thing I've seen is these but I still suspect that I'd be better off with BB7's.

    Shimano SLX M665 Disc Brake Kit - $99.98
    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc...w_Adapters.htm
    Last edited by Clones123; 09-16-2010 at 07:03 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clones123
    I recently read what I take to be a well informed opinion that the Shimano M486 is under-rated as entry-level hydro's go. Shortly thereafter, I saw a new set of M486's F&R going for just $50 on eBay; take-offs complete with 6-bolt rotors. Hard to loose at that price so I placed the first bid on it before somebody used the Buy-It-Now option. Then I started my research.

    What I read wasn't so good. Turns out that many of the budget Shimano systems come with resin pads that wear alarmingly in the wet. People described toasting a set of pads in a just a couple of rides. Whoa. Then I read that some Shimano rotors specify "For use with Resin pads only". Apparently, the metal is too soft to handle sintered, semi-metallic pads. Also, Shimano uses various rotor designs with different width swept areas - so you have to get the right ones - and most of their rotors are Center-Lock anyway. So if you want those low-end Shimano hydro's to work well, you might have to scavenge for non-standard pads and rotors (especially if you want 6-bolt rotors) that will fit after which you may be quite happy. So I gather from the many user reports I've read recently. Fortunately, I was quickly outbid and off the hook for the M486's.

    Alternatively, on a budget like I am, one could side-step the hassles and just buy Avid BB7's with Cleansweep rotors and the standard semi-metallic pads. Lots of pad clearance with mechanical calipers so there's no dragging or scraping and, of course, no bleeding. No thick Mineral Oil when it's cold or paint-eating DOT4 fluid to deal with. No hose lengths to worry about.

    For any affordable hydro brake that someone says is good, there are two people saying they've had a horrible experience. I don't like noisy bike parts and I don't like paying through the nose for hard-to-find wear items and replacement parts. Seems to me then that BB7's are my only serious option - cheap, reliable and easy to get parts for.

    Am I wrong? Is there another serious option for under $200 F&R? The closest thing I've seen is these but I still suspect that I'd be better off with BB7's.

    Shimano SLX M665 Disc Brake Kit - $99.98
    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc...w_Adapters.htm
    Get the SLX's. They're a really good brake. I love em. Blue Sky sells them with white cables? That's trick.

    Search works but I'll help you out.
    Avid Elixir 5 vs SLX
    Shimano SLX brakes - anybody using them?
    Gotta get up to get down.
    LMB

  3. #3
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    I have some 485's....Pretty much the same design as the 486 but with some redesigned seals and caliper tweaks as a huge amount of the 485's leaked fluid and were recalled.. I picked up a set on ebay for my 1x9 for $35 (took a chance they were not leaky) and when I got them they would not stop you to save your life, but after I bought new pads and rotors with a fresh bleed they are very capable . Yes, the stock b01s pads are resin but I have not had problems with them and I like the resin pad, but I'm not a DH'er or have very long descents either. You can put metallic pads on them but you need to make sure you use the RT75S rotor (or center-lock equivalent) as the RT51 that comes stock with a lot of 485/86 bikes is resin only, the 75's will take both.

    Though after all that, If you have a $200 budget I would highly recommend the SLX's (665) or even XT's (775's are a little more) They have better stopping power than the 48*/58* series and are very reliable in my experience with them.

  4. #4
    Master of Disaster
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    To get a 180mm front rotor, Shimano SM-RT75MA 180mm or Alligator Round Rotor 180mm (generic fit) from PricePoint ?

  5. #5
    Save Jesus
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    If u r patient, u can wait around for a really good deal to come along, typically on LX / Hone level stuff. I had decided that the 4 and 5 series levers and calipers were very similar functionally to the higher end stuff, except that the calipers purposely looked cheesy. If u need to buy something now, the BB7 works fine, it just doesn't "feel" as nice as a hydraulic.
    Somewhere on the shimano web page, there is a list of brake pads, and the calipers they work in.

    Also, no need to stick with Shimano rotors. I am running Avid 185f/160r using the Avid adapters.

  6. #6
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    Are you shimano only guy? If not the HFX9 are as cheap as hydraulics go, ~$50 per end. cambria currently has a sale but it seems they're only selling rear units.

    I also read that strokers are good brakes and they can be had at pricepoint for like $70 per end.

  7. #7
    Master of Disaster
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    Thanks for the suggestion but I'm put off on Hayes by so many negative reviews here on MTBR. I only tend toward Shimano for the easy bleeding, their reliability and the Mineral Oil.

  8. #8
    ronbo613
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    I also read that strokers are good brakes and they can be had at pricepoint for like $70 per end.
    The low end Strokers, as well as the OEM takeoffs Jenson is selling are hit and miss. I have Stroker Trails on my 2008 Giant and they have been one problem after another. After a trip to the Hayes factory, they don't work at all. You might get lucky and get a good pair, but you have to ask why bike shops are taking them off and replacing them with other brakes.
    Since I'm in the market for brakes, if those SLXs had a 180 or 185 front rotor, I'd be tempted to buy them. I don't think 160mm front and rear would be enough stopping power for me.

  9. #9
    Master of Disaster
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitzikatzi
    OE XT M775 with 180mm rotors about $240 a pair with free post at wiggle
    Man, that's a deal. Amazing how competitive UK retail prices are when you take away VAT, so...

    SLX M665 with 160mm rotors for $200 plus shipping and still need to buy a 180mm front rotor and adapter.
    vs
    XT M775 with 180mm rotors for $240 shipped and need to trade someone for a 160mm rear (probably not too hard to find).

    Odd how rarely you see retail brake sets with the most popular 180mm front/160mm rear combination. Usually, the very few 180/160 sets you see are takeoffs.

    Anyway, I recently went to a shop to have a look at the SLX brakes and came away a little disappointed in their build quality. The levers felt cheap and the pads being held in by just a long cotter pin? Today, I went to yet another bike shop seeking a close up look at the XT M775 brakes. Looked around and didn't see any. When I asked, the fellow pulled down the only bike with XT brakes in the shop - a $5,600 Ti-framed Salsa kitted out with spectacular parts from end to end. The solid M775 levers (with bite-point adjustment missing on the M665's) looked and felt anything but cheap. They fit right in with the rest of the spec on that bike. M665 vs M775 for the same money - doesn't seem like a very difficult choice.

  10. #10
    Master of Disaster
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    I saw this today and jumped at the amazingly low price on a great set of hydro's...

    Shimano Deore XT Hydraulic Disc Brake Set - $193.61 shipped
    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/cycle/7/Sh...mo/5360054846/

    Wiggle seems to have a pretty good reputation so we'll see if that holds.

  11. #11
    ronbo613
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    I bought the same brakes a few days ago for $240. You got a really good deal.

  12. #12
    Master of Disaster
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    Wish me luck. I don't expect there to be much difference between an unused OE set like you ordered and these as showroom takeoffs but I'll know soon enough. I was biting my nails watching the in-stock quantity on the OE set for $241 getting lower and lower...

    Shimano Deore XT Hydraulic Disc Brake Set - OE ($241 shipped)
    "Original Equipment products have been bought from excess stock destined for bike manufacturers and as such they may not come in the original packaging or with instructions."
    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/cycle/7/Sh...OE/5360050952/

    Then when I saw that they had just a couple of takeoff sets available at an even lower price, that tipped me over the edge. There are used, budget-model brakes going for $120-140 a set on eBay. Surely, high-end model showroom takeoffs are easily worth $50 more...

    Shimano Deore XT Hydraulic Disc Brake Set Ex-Demo ($193.61 shipped)
    "Items have only been fixed to showroom bikes. Product is un-boxed with slight scratch marks to rotors."
    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/cycle/7/Sh...mo/5360054846/

    Are you going to run the 180mm on the rear or get a 160mm? Myself, I'm inclined to buy a pair of 160mm rotors to create two matched sets of 180/160's - one set to use and one spare. Got to wait a week or two to see exactly what I get first.

  13. #13
    ronbo613
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    The brakes you ordered are probably off demo bikes that were ridden around the parking lot.
    Since they are OE brakes, I am hoping the hoses will fit my bike, but I've already mentally prepared to replace hoses if necessary. Even if I have to replace both hoses, it's still a good deal. I bought the Shimano bleed kit and a liter bottle of brake fluid when I got the brakes.
    As far at the rotors go, I have a Hayes 180F/160R setup now, so I might start out by using the rotors and adapters I have and hope the Shimano calipers will work so I can get back to riding. If not, I'll buy a 180 IS adapter for the rear and run 180F/180R with the rotors that come with the brakes. I think the weight/performance difference between 180/160 and 180/180 will be negligible. I prefer not to spend any more money than I already have.
    I think that either the demo or OE brakes at these prices is a darn good deal. I know guys who use them and they say they are virtually trouble free, something I never could say about my Hayes Stroker Trails. I should have the brakes by tomorrow or early next week so I'll let you know how it goes.

  14. #14
    Master of Disaster
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronbo613
    I got the OE setup, they arrived yesterday. Rotors were new, never used. There were a few scratches here and there, but these are brand new brakes. All the hardware was there, including front post and rear IS adapters for the 180mm rotors. Much to my relief, the hoses were long enough for my large Trance X.
    Everything installed fine, but the brakes needed to be bled, which I was anticipating and purchased Shimano brake fluid with the brakes. I was running a 180F/160R, but the Shimano rotors are a little smaller than the old Hayes rotors, so hopefully the 180F/180R will work out. I can switch to different rotors later if I want to spend the money, which I don't.
    All in all, a pretty darn good deal on a great set of brakes. Free shipping from Wiggle, arrived here in the PacNW in five business days.
    Off to go riding......
    I hope the showroom takeoff sets are in nearly as good of a condition as yours. Thanks for the update.

    Kinda figures that, being bounced around in shipping without a 100% full reservoir, there would be some air in the MC. Instead of a full bleed, I'll be tempted to first try pumping any air bubbles out through the supply/return holes inside the reservoir. If that fails, I've got a 8oz bottle of Finish Line Disc Brake Mineral Oil on the way and I'll source a syringe and tubing from somewhere. Lots of past experience bleeding motorcycle brakes has taught me that suctioning air out through a hydraulic system at the caliper is easier than trying to pump it through under positive pressure. That's the opposite of what Shimano shows below. I expect the reason manufacturers rarely show negative-pressure bleeding is that it's easy to pull air past the caliper bleed screw and you can be seeing bubbles in the fluid literally forever (not realizing that the bubbles aren't coming from inside the system but right from the base of the bleed screw itself).

    Service Instructions for BL-M775 Disc Brake Lever
    http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/te...9830615973.PDF

  15. #15
    ronbo613
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    Pretty easy to bleed them from the top down, it's very similar to bleeding the brakes on your car. I suggest taking the rear caliper off the bike and move it around, lots of air stuck in there.
    It may be my imagination, but the morning after bleeding the brakes, a couple pumps of the levers really stiffened them up. Maybe a few remaining air bubbles working their way out of the system and into the reservoir?
    The brakes are very nice; good modulation and stopping power, no noise or rubbing pads. I did not really notice any difference between my previous 180F/160R and the Shimano 180F/180R setup. It seemed easier to negotiate switchbacks with the larger rear rotor providing a bit more stopping power, letting the front wheel turn easier without front braking.
    I think you will be happy with the M775s.

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