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  1. #1
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    Why Expensive Brakes

    For discs I've tried Avid, Formula, Hope, and Shimano. I currently have the previous model of XT and SLX. I honestly don't see any reason to spend more than SLX or Zee. My Shimano's flat out work amazingly well and I can walk 10 minutes to buy new pads. One finger braking on any descent that I've ever tried. I will spend my money where it counts, on suspension and wheels. I understand the bling factor and having something different, but I don't think it's worth it these days.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  2. #2
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    I'm perfectly happy with my XTs. I would've bought ZEE at the time but it didn't occur to me. I'm sure tat more expensive brakes will be better, at least some of them anyway, but it's like anything else, you pay a lot for small improvements.

  3. #3
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    Weight. SLX is around 580g. Zee, 650g. A number of powerful brakesets are in the 350-400g range. That's an additional 6-10 ounces for a component that's unsprung weight and mounted toward the extremities of the bike.

  4. #4
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    The SLX work awesome. Some people want lighter weight or more adjustments, but there is nothing wrong with the good 'ole workhorse SLX's.
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  5. #5
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    I spent up for my Hopes because they're fairly light, they modulate well, they've got plenty of power and they're easy to bleed / maintain when needed. Although I did wait until they were on sale...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by comptiger5000 View Post
    I spent up for my Hopes because they're fairly light, they modulate well, they've got plenty of power and they're easy to bleed / maintain when needed. Although I did wait until they were on sale...
    Me too!. I finally bought some Hope Race E4's just to try them when they went on sale.

    I like to "waste" my money by buying XTR level brakes on most of my bikes...cause I can!
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  7. #7
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    The feel of the brake is just as important as the feel of a shock etc.
    Personally I'm not a fan of Shimano brakes, too on/off. I like the fact that Hope are all machined in house, and there is no plastic parts.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by blcman View Post
    Me too!. I finally bought some Hope Race E4's just to try them when they went on sale.
    That's exactly what I got. Race Evo E4 front and rear, 180mm rotor up front, 160 in the rear. I've only been out with them twice and haven't hit any tough trails yet but they seem great so far. Definitely an improvement from the BB7s I had on this bike before (with 185/185 rotors).

  9. #9
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    My fancy bike has fancy brakes and my cheaper bike has SLX. Both work roughly the same.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by comptiger5000 View Post
    That's exactly what I got. Race Evo E4 front and rear, 180mm rotor up front, 160 in the rear. I've only been out with them twice and haven't hit any tough trails yet but they seem great so far. Definitely an improvement from the BB7s I had on this bike before (with 185/185 rotors).
    Wow c5000, though the BB7's worked okay for me when I used them (like 10 yrs ago! lol), going from them to Hopes is like going from a Ford Escort to a nice BMW M3.

    Quite the upgrade!! Enjoy them and ride FAST!!
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  11. #11
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    Got my Specialized Enduro two years ago with SRAM Guide R and replaced them with Guide Ultimates last year. What was immediately noticable is that I needed less power for braking. On long, technical descends (500-1000 metres) my hands and lower arms were hurting pretty soon with the Rs, and then suddenly lasted much longer with the Ultimates. Less pronounced but also noticable for me was the improved modulation. On very steep, loose underground, I feel that I have more control with the Ultimates.

  12. #12
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    I like the modulation of my XT/SLX. Lots of power but never a problem with unwanted locking up, even when slippery. The lever fits perfectly as well. Years ago I switched to right-front because I'm right handed. It helped my braking having my dominant hand with better control on the dominant and powerful front brake.
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  13. #13
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    Personally, I wish SLX/XT brakes were simpler. I'd be happier with them if the eliminated the servowave mechanism which makes them too abrupt IMO. XTR race levers don't have it and work much better IMO.
    Do the math.

  14. #14
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    [QUOTE=Travis Bickle;13080556]I like the modulation of my XT/SLX. Lots of power but never a problem with unwanted locking up, even when slippery. The lever fits perfectly as well. Years ago I switched to right

    I switched to right/front due to decades of motorcycle riding. Just not right having the front brake on the left side! I have no problem modulating SLX's either. I could see how some may not like them, they do bite pretty hard with not much effort.

  15. #15
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    I also have been through a number of brakes to find one that works for me. The older XTs (before the last design change) did not have enough power even with sintered pads and a 200/180mm rotor setup. I would find my fingers and hands becoming tired from the effort of braking. Way back ran a few different set of Hayes, funny enough they did seem to work pretty good, maybe we expect more from our brakes / bikes now.

    Went to Avid Juicy 7's, Shimano XT, Avid Trail, Shimano XT, Avid Guide RSC, Another set of Shimano XT's (different XT generations). I also had a couple of sets of Formula (the One, R0), was not all that impressed. Maybe it was the bleeds were hard to get right but even took them into a shop that was a Formula rep and had them worked on, no change.

    I had a set of Guide RSC's ready to go for my latest bike, but ended up with a set of Avid XO Trail levers (they have tool required lever adjust and tool-free contact adjustment) connected to a set of newer code calipers. I was going to put the Guide RSC's on, but after riding the XO Trail/Code setup, I am keep with it. Great power (180/160 rotors), great feel / modulation, and for me the best part is the levers don't pump out after extended use or fade.

    All the other recent brakes I used seem to be impacted by this. Start the downhill with the brake lever in the right position (contact point / reach) then halfway down a descent the lever is way further out and almost solid feeling. - NOTE: Maybe I just need to ride faster and brake less.

  16. #16
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    ^^^ Sometimes (not necessarily in your case) this is caused by too much fluid in the system such that there is not adequate room for expansion in the reservoir. This can happen if the brakes are bled or the fluid topped off without the caliper pistons spaced sufficiently with a bleed block.
    Do the math.

  17. #17
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    When I was using Vs, one finger was enough. If any working brake doesn't have enough power for 1 finger it is probably setup or contamination.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  18. #18
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    I guess I am mr. Frugal. And am perfectly happy with deore. Just bought a new set, already switched Moto they must have been euro. Left me some spare change for a new set of ice techs. Bring it

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideitall View Post
    I also have been through a number of brakes to find one that works for me. The older XTs (before the last design change) did not have enough power even with sintered pads and a 200/180mm rotor setup. I would find my fingers and hands becoming tired from the effort of braking. Way back ran a few different set of Hayes, funny enough they did seem to work pretty good, maybe we expect more from our brakes / bikes now.

    Went to Avid Juicy 7's, Shimano XT, Avid Trail, Shimano XT, Avid Guide RSC, Another set of Shimano XT's (different XT generations). I also had a couple of sets of Formula (the One, R0), was not all that impressed. Maybe it was the bleeds were hard to get right but even took them into a shop that was a Formula rep and had them worked on, no change.

    I had a set of Guide RSC's ready to go for my latest bike, but ended up with a set of Avid XO Trail levers (they have tool required lever adjust and tool-free contact adjustment) connected to a set of newer code calipers. I was going to put the Guide RSC's on, but after riding the XO Trail/Code setup, I am keep with it. Great power (180/160 rotors), great feel / modulation, and for me the best part is the levers don't pump out after extended use or fade.

    All the other recent brakes I used seem to be impacted by this. Start the downhill with the brake lever in the right position (contact point / reach) then halfway down a descent the lever is way further out and almost solid feeling. - NOTE: Maybe I just need to ride faster and brake less.
    My brakeing experience mirrors this. The newer sram brakes have truely remarkable consistency in bite point compared anything I've tried. However, they're pretty underwhelming everywhere else including power. I'm on the fence now of trying to find and investing in some code calipers or just buying some saints and being done with it. Maguras are some mighty nice brakes as well but can't get over the chincy lever feel.

    I'm fairly confident if I had v-brakes on a modern 29er the idea of one finger braking would not play out in practice. I have some pretty bomber (compared to v-brakes) calipers on my road bike, and one finger power they are not.

    Xt brakes are the best value out there in my book, but there are definitely better for less in scale compared to money spent on other parts.
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  20. #20
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    I have avid 5s on one bike and magura mt8s on the other. personally I really dont notice a difference other than its hard to find pads for the maguras.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    Personally I'm not a fan of Shimano brakes, too on/off. I like the fact that Hope are all machined in house, and there is no plastic parts.
    i tried shimanos a few years ago and they were a horrible on off mess, then i tried current xtr trails ans they have good initial bite and progressive linear power, better than the big bucks i spent on several pairs of mt8s which are pretty good as well but not as crisp and powerful. So all shimanos not the same

  22. #22
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    The two sets of X.0 brakes I have likely keep myself off SRAM brakes forever. Magura looks interesting, Hope is undeniably cool, but cost and lack of readily available parts will keep myself on Shimano for the time being.

    FYI those TRP "Gwin" brakes use the Saint/Zee size pads.

  23. #23
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    [QUOTE=not2shabby;13082862]
    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    I like the modulation of my XT/SLX. Lots of power but never a problem with unwanted locking up, even when slippery. The lever fits perfectly as well. Years ago I switched to right

    I switched to right/front due to decades of motorcycle riding. Just not right having the front brake on the left side! I have no problem modulating SLX's either. I could see how some may not like them, they do bite pretty hard with not much effort.
    If this reasoning was sound, you would install a foot brake on the pedals. Do you also feather the rear brake pulling out of a corner?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by PUNKY View Post
    Hope is undeniably cool, but cost and lack of readily available parts will keep myself on Shimano for the time being.
    That's one I haven't heard before . . . Hope has parts readily available everywhere. If one were so inclined, an entire brake set could be built just by ordering all the relevant spares. Hell, you can even call Hope directly and get parts for the original circa 2002 Mono's. Good luck getting parts for shimano's that are more than a few years old.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Maguras are some mighty nice brakes as well but can't get over the chincy lever feel.
    I looked long and hard at Maguras. I was all set when I read an interview with one of the Magura marketing guys on the 2017 stuff and was turned off. He went on about the much needed heavy braking IN THE FRONT of the bike, and how they went with 4 piston front and 2 rear.

    Now I could be WAY wrong on this, but I've always considered rear braking to be of PARAMOUNT importance, and one lock of the front would send you over the bars. I use both front and rear, but that plan, to me, stunk.

    Hope got my money.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by charlatan View Post
    Now I could be WAY wrong on this, but I've always considered rear braking to be of PARAMOUNT importance, and one lock of the front would send you over the bars. I use both front and rear, but that plan, to me, stunk.

    Hope got my money.
    The guys from Magura were correct. The front brake is FAR more important than the rear brake. WIth proper braking technique and even a semi-decent setup, its very hard to go over the bars from locking the front wheel. You have much less control using the rear brake as your primary stopping power. There are some really great videos on braking technique. More than any other skill in biking, its the one that EVERYONE should take the time and get better at. You WILL ride faster as a result.

    Just look at motor cycles and performance cars. All of them have far bigger front brakes and rotors than the rear
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by 007 View Post
    That's one I haven't heard before . . . Hope has parts readily available everywhere. If one were so inclined, an entire brake set could be built just by ordering all the relevant spares. Hell, you can even call Hope directly and get parts for the original circa 2002 Mono's. Good luck getting parts for shimano's that are more than a few years old.
    I don't consider waiting for delivery of spare parts or pads as readily available. As compared to SRAM or Shimano where almost any bike shop you walk into will have a set of pads for sale.
    Shimano brakes are so cheap they're practically disposable.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by PUNKY View Post
    I don't consider waiting for delivery of spare parts or pads as readily available. As compared to SRAM or Shimano where almost any bike shop you walk into will have a set of pads for sale.
    Shimano brakes are so cheap they're practically disposable.
    I love my Maguras but carry spare pads and a bleed kit with me just in case as most shops don't have either. Like you said, it is virtually impossible to find a shop that doesn't have sram and shimano brake parts and the tools and knowledge to work on them. Unless you are prepared to carry your own parts and tools and know how to work on them it is really hard to argue against brakes from one of the big two.


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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by 007 View Post
    The guys from Magura were correct. The front brake is FAR more important than the rear brake. WIth proper braking technique and even a semi-decent setup, its very hard to go over the bars from locking the front wheel. You have much less control using the rear brake as your primary stopping power. There are some really great videos on braking technique. More than any other skill in biking, its the one that EVERYONE should take the time and get better at. You WILL ride faster as a result.

    Just look at motor cycles and performance cars. All of them have far bigger front brakes and rotors than the rear
    Fair enough. I stand corrected and thanks for the info.

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  30. #30
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    Walking into a random bike shop, it's hit or miss if they will have hope pads.
    I always bring a spare set if I'm on a bike trip somewhere.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by charlatan View Post
    I looked long and hard at Maguras. I was all set when I read an interview with one of the Magura marketing guys on the 2017 stuff and was turned off. He went on about the much needed heavy braking IN THE FRONT of the bike, and how they went with 4 piston front and 2 rear.

    Now I could be WAY wrong on this, but I've always considered rear braking to be of PARAMOUNT importance, and one lock of the front would send you over the bars. I use both front and rear, but that plan, to me, stunk.

    Hope got my money.
    Quote Originally Posted by 007 View Post
    The guys from Magura were correct. The front brake is FAR more important than the rear brake. WIth proper braking technique and even a semi-decent setup, its very hard to go over the bars from locking the front wheel. You have much less control using the rear brake as your primary stopping power. There are some really great videos on braking technique. More than any other skill in biking, its the one that EVERYONE should take the time and get better at. You WILL ride faster as a result.

    Just look at motor cycles and performance cars. All of them have far bigger front brakes and rotors than the rear
    Yep. The guys from Magura did a good job with the latest versions. I just setup some of my bikes with the new Trail MT Carbons. The front has 4 smaller pistons & the rear has 2 larger pistons. Been riding them fir a bit now and braking is great. The feeling is very balanced, you don't feel like there is too much brake in the front.

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  32. #32
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    I run XT's, 785's on my main SS, and have a set of 8000's to put on whatever I build next. I would probably go with SLX if I needed to buy a new set, based on reviews, or XTR if I had some money to spend, just to look cool and weigh less.

    Having been a long time Shimano fan (and Avid hater) I don't see any need to buy nicer brakes either, however the Hope's are gorgeous.

    The BR685's on my road disc bike are also amazing. Shimano disc brakes just feel perfect to me.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBG 18T View Post
    Yep. The guys from Magura did a good job with the latest versions. I just setup some of my bikes with the new Trail MT Carbons. The front has 4 smaller pistons & the rear has 2 larger pistons. Been riding them fir a bit now and braking is great. The feeling is very balanced, you don't feel like there is too much brake in the front.

    I am sure I'm going to love my hopes, but those Mags are pretty.

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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by charlatan View Post
    I am sure I'm going to love my hopes, but those Mags are pretty.

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  35. #35
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    Even the Shimano Alivio level BR-M445 hydraulic brakes work great. I don't think SLX price is even necessary for good brakes. SLX is still over twice the price of Alivio with little to no difference other than weight.

  36. #36
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    [QUOTE=Scotth72;13089836]
    Quote Originally Posted by not2shabby View Post

    If this reasoning was sound, you would install a foot brake on the pedals. Do you also feather the rear brake pulling out of a corner?
    No problem feathering the rear now, but it did take practice. The front brake has the majority of power, and is much more critical.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by 007 View Post
    The guys from Magura were correct. The front brake is FAR more important than the rear brake.
    I agree of course but I've never had a problem deciding for myself how much braking to apply to each. It's not like a car, where you only have one brake pedal so the machine has apportion the braking balance for you. You have a lever for each end. Having different brakes front and back seems like a solution looking for a problem to me. I reckon Magura are just looking for some kind of angle to make their brakes stand out but really, it's a silly idea.

    I was talking to a guy who's opened a new bike shop in Troon, sounded like real enthusiast. He uses XTs himself, despite being able to use anything he likes. He says Hope brakes are better but you really need to be hammering them to get the benefit. He reckons XTs are more than good enough for most people.

  38. #38
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    I have had Avids for years on my full suspension bikes, CR, XX trail and always loved them. For some reason the XX just started having problems, had to bleed them every few rides. I dropped the bleed port screw the other day and could not find it. I took the brakes off and donated them and bought some XT's. Hopefully I won't be disappointed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Having different brakes front and back seems like a solution looking for a problem to me. I reckon Magura are just looking for some kind of angle to make their brakes stand out but really, it's a silly idea.
    I can think of one reason for it (and I almost went for different brakes at both ends because of this): weight. If you don't need as much power from the rear brake, you can run a smaller, lighter caliper.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by comptiger5000 View Post
    If you don't need as much power from the rear brake, you can run a smaller, lighter calliper.
    Do you think there is much weight difference? Or you could just do when every other manufacturer has been doing for years and run a smaller, lighter rotor?

  41. #41
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    I've been on BB7s for ages and even prefer them over anything I've tried. I've got SD Ultimate levers, and know how to set up brakes (was a mechanic for some years). I think a lot of the beef people have with BB7s is that people who work on their bikes themselves generally do an awful job of making clear exit and entrance holes when cutting housing. This naturally leads to a ton of drag. Seen it on many bikes. Dedicated hydro lovers get on my bike, squeeze the brakes, and admit mine feel pretty darn good.
    undefined Absolutely must have: Black Machine Tech Zeroflex brake levers (the ones with the rotating leverage adjuster)

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    ^I'd certainly be interested in that challenge. The power of hydraulic's has been used since Mesopotamia.
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    [QUOTE=Scotth72;13089836]
    Quote Originally Posted by not2shabby View Post

    If this reasoning was sound, you would install a foot brake on the pedals. Do you also feather the rear brake pulling out of a corner?
    Ummmm, no, it's just ingrained in my brain that the right hand controls the front brake after riding motorcycles for 30 odd years. I don't think a coaster brake would work on a free hub either!
    BTW, my Husky 450 has a cable operated left hand rear brake and the right pedal too. The hand brake is nice going down steep, bumpy hills when modulating the rear with my foot is difficult when wearing moto boots. Also works well sliding around tight right handers where it's better to stick my right foot out.
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  44. #44
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    BB14 could be powerfull..

    Not to mention bb7 is half a brake...they should do a high quality bb14, actuate pistons from both sides,, and shave some weight off
    ...

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    ^I'd certainly be interested in that challenge. The power of hydraulic's has been used since Mesopotamia.
    The power of ramps and levers has been around for even longer. A technology's age in itself doesn't make it better or worse.
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    I should have added some important qualifications to my claim that BB7s are great brakes. One, I don't live in a place where there are large elevation changes. On the one hand, mechanical brakes don't have fluid that can heat up, which is a plus. On the other hand, on longer downhills, you lose some material from the pads, which means more frequent adjustments than with hydros, which self-adjust.
    Two, I don't live in a place that really wet and nasty. Water and grime can get into housing pretty easily and seriously worsen braking performance. That is not the case with hydros, whose brake lines are of course hermetically sealed off from contamination. And wet conditions can also cause more rapid pad wear, necessitating more frequent brake adjustments.
    So- if I were in a place that were wet and/ or had greater elevation changes (the first being more important), I might reconsider and get hydros.
    undefined Absolutely must have: Black Machine Tech Zeroflex brake levers (the ones with the rotating leverage adjuster)

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by J: View Post
    Not to mention bb7 is half a brake...they should do a high quality bb14, actuate pistons from both sides,, and shave some weight off
    There are dual piston mechanical brakes from TRP and Rever. Both of these are also lighter I think than the BB7. If lightness alone is a goal, Shimano CX77s are lighter than BB7s.
    I don't see why people think having just one piston is such a bad thing. It's not the number of pistons that determines braking power- four piston brakes are not somehow twice as powerful as standard two piston ones. The only minus that I can see in a one piston system is that you expend a very tiny amount of force bending the rotor into the pad. That force gets even smaller if you put the fixed pad really close to the rotor.
    undefined Absolutely must have: Black Machine Tech Zeroflex brake levers (the ones with the rotating leverage adjuster)

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by uphiller View Post
    The power of ramps and levers has been around for even longer. A technology's age in itself doesn't make it better or worse.
    Maybe as long, maybe not. The mass of levers, pulleys, and cable's to equall the moving power of hydraulic is tremendous. Each have there place to this day. Brakes seem to be dominate by hydraulic force these days.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  49. #49
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    @WHALENARD- I think the mass you're talking about depends a lot on the application. In the case of bike brakes, I haven't done the math, but I think hydros are only moderately lighter than mechanicals. And part of that is because hydros dominate the high end of the market, so they get lighter, higher tech levers and calipers than mechanicals get. Were more money put into making high quality mechanicals, the equation might change.
    Brakes in general are overwhelmingly hydraulic, that's true, although this is somewhat less true with bicycles than it is with other vehicles. Mechanicals do have inherent downsides, even in ideal braking conditions. The main one is that cable housing does squish and compress more than hydro hoses bulge, so with mechanicals, the amount of braking power that gets lost before it reaches the disc is slightly bigger than it is with hydros. I also think a big factor is that hydros come pre-bled and pre-cut, so they are actually easier to install than mechanicals. Properly cutting cable housing requires some specific tools and know-how that, which, while not hard to acquire, still require some actual work. Mechanicals aren't plug and play the way hydros are. (Unless you have internal cable routing! Don't get me started on that one!) Still, I feel that for my application, these minuses are trivial.
    Anyways, good to see that rational discussion is possible on this topic. I am a bit of an oldster, and remember how "which is better, hydro or mechanical" threads were a guaranteed way to start a flame war way back when.
    Who knows, maybe I will make a video someday on how to get maximum performance out of mechanical brakes. There's to be said for getting what you already have to work better vs. buying/ consuming another shiny new good.
    undefined Absolutely must have: Black Machine Tech Zeroflex brake levers (the ones with the rotating leverage adjuster)

  50. #50
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    Bb14

    Quote Originally Posted by uphiller View Post
    There are dual piston mechanical brakes from TRP and Rever. Both of these are also lighter I think than the BB7. If lightness alone is a goal, Shimano CX77s are lighter than BB7s.
    I don't see why people think having just one piston is such a bad thing. It's not the number of pistons that determines braking power- four piston brakes are not somehow twice as powerful as standard two piston ones. The only minus that I can see in a one piston system is that you expend a very tiny amount of force bending the rotor into the pad. That force gets even smaller if you put the fixed pad really close to the rotor.
    They need to be powerfull and squared up (not bent the rotor so much with wear). And they don't need to be heavy as bb7 is all...
    ...

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