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  1. #1
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    Is it worth switching to hydraulic?

    I'm currently running BB5s and although they stop me fine, I just feel the urge to get some hydros. Also, I hate having to adjust my brakes all the time.

    Now, regarding hydros, how often should they be bled? Is it a relatively easy process? Are they generally a high maintenance component? And how do well they perform in the cold? I live in Toronto.

    Also, what brake? J5 or XT? I plan on eBaying if I should decide to get a set.
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  2. #2
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    Once set up "properly" they shouldn't need bled till you want to change the fluid. Other than that, just wear and tear on the pistons might affect things over time if you don't keep things clean and lubed. Since there are no cables to get gunked up, you never have that issue, plus the back brake feels just as good as the front since there is no cable drag.

  3. #3
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    Hydros are no more complicated than your car or moto. Bleeding is generally simple depending on mechanical ability. There are plenty of people riding hydros in freezing climates with no more problems than cables although warmer weather is always nice for anything or one. If those are your only 2 options go with the XT's.
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  4. #4
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    Hydros are the only way to ride...and are better than rim brakes for many reasons other than weight.

  5. #5
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    Read the FAQ.
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  6. #6
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    With hydros, you will still have to adjust every so often ... after you reinstall you wheels or change your brake pads ... sometrime if your QR comes loose and you re-tighten it ... there will be some rubbing and you have to re-adjust them again ... part and parcel of mtbiking ...

    You need to ask yourself if you need the hydros ... having to adjust your mechanicals might not be a good reason to switch them ...

    I am using XTs and they are very easy to bleed ...

  7. #7
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    If you have nothing better to do with the money go for it. I've been running the original XT 4 piston brakes since first came out--I've had to bleed them once due to some first production run issues they had. I've not had to anything else to them besides change the pads. I also have a set of the original XTR disc brakes and I have never had to re-bleed them. Excellent performance in all temps I've ridden in and I live in Michigan.
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  8. #8
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    My buddy uses hydros and we live in New England. No problems. I have cables and I am plenty happy with mine. I thought of upgrading but decided against it since I can stop on pretty much anything. You can easily spend a couple hundred bucks per wheel for probably not that much more improvement in performance. With that said, we do not go 50miles per hour down a mountain neither, we basically ride rocky technical trails. I would think hard about it. You have pretty good brakes. Plus, stopping is overrated. But hey, if you got the urge, go for it!

  9. #9
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    Short answer...no, you don't need to upgrade. Cable discs work just as well as hydros do. Now, your BB5s aren't the best cables otu there, if you feel like you just HAVE to upgrade your brakes, you could cheaply go to BB7s, which are in all respects better than the BB5s (easier to set up and adjust) and will be a pretty cheap upgrade. Keep your levers, keep your cables, just swap in new calipers....easy peasy....

    Of course, if you feel like you just have to buy something new for your bike, then what the hell, go for it. Hydros are quite nice and really work well for people, and are fairly maint. free (except for routine stuff that has to be done).

    I ride BB7s and are more than happy with them, can't see myself moving to hydros unless I break a caliper (no pun intended). I've already broken one lever, and I gotta say swapping in a new one was way easier than it would have been w/hydros.....

    Tim

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sullycanpara
    Short answer...no, you don't need to upgrade. Cable discs work just as well as hydros do. Now, your BB5s aren't the best cables otu there, if you feel like you just HAVE to upgrade your brakes, you could cheaply go to BB7s, which are in all respects better than the BB5s (easier to set up and adjust) and will be a pretty cheap upgrade. Keep your levers, keep your cables, just swap in new calipers....easy peasy....

    Of course, if you feel like you just have to buy something new for your bike, then what the hell, go for it. Hydros are quite nice and really work well for people, and are fairly maint. free (except for routine stuff that has to be done).

    I ride BB7s and are more than happy with them, can't see myself moving to hydros unless I break a caliper (no pun intended). I've already broken one lever, and I gotta say swapping in a new one was way easier than it would have been w/hydros.....

    Tim
    Would you happen to know the differences between the BB5 and the BB7? Also, do they use different brake pads?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thimk
    Would you happen to know the differences between the BB5 and the BB7? Also, do they use different brake pads?
    The BB7's are adjustable in & out board pads. They use the same brake pads.

    I can understand your frustration with adjusting on the fly, that was one of the major reasons I went to hydro as well as the better feel. Usually hyrdo's are self adjusting but sometimes there is a lazy piston & it may take a few times to set up. Once set up you very rarely if at all have to recenter the caliper other than when replacing pads.

    Not every one Needs hydro brakes, some cannot tell the difference some like the "ease of adjusting" mechanicals, I love my hydros.
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  12. #12
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    I'm actually switching "backwards" from hydros to mechanical and looking forward towards a mechanical set with Avid BB7s - Full Metal Jacket - Speed Dial 7 SL levers.

    For many people hydros are perfect, especially for those who do not ride under "heavier" conditions. But when you also ride often in mud, wet and snow/winter conditions or do long downhills (Alps...), I think it's a somewhat fortunately thing wether you will get problems or not. In german forums you can find much about sticky pistons, bleeding failures, moving pressure point up to total loss of braking power because of overheated brake fluid...For example, the new Shimano XT and XTR have massive piston trouble in coldness, Avid Juicys often with sticky pistons in mud, Maguras with air in the brake system and so on.

    All the users with a mechanical setup like I have described above say this is coequal to hydros, with much more adjustment posibilities. Now I hope their right...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by trelgne
    All the users with a mechanical setup like I have described above say this is coequal to hydros, with much more adjustment posibilities. Now I hope their right...
    Hydro's set em an forget em.
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  14. #14
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    BB7 and BB5 DO NOT use the same pads. BB5 uses a round pad. The BB7 shares a pad with the Juicy series. The BB7 is much nicer than the BB5.

    Changing a bent lever on a hydro is no harder (sometimes easier) than replacing a mechanical lever. Hydros usually have replacement lever blades. Many mechanical levers do not have replacements. So you loosen a set screw, remove the pivot, dial out the reach, and the lever comes out. No bleeding required.

    DOT fluid is hygroscopic and will eventually need to be bled. Over time the fluid will absorb moisture. This will decrease the boiling point as well as increase the amount of fluid in the system.

    In theory, mineral oil brakes don't need to be bled unless you spring a leak or have to replace a component. But water can work it's way in. And mineral oil doesn't absorb moisture, so it can cause a complete or catastrophic failure.

    Bleeding brakes is easy. It will only take slightly longer than replacing the cables and housing for mechanical brakes.

    The XTs are awesome brakes, though there are no rebuild/service parts available. So if a seal or master cylinder goes out.... you can only send it back to the factory.

    I haven't had any issues with my Juicy brakes.

    Hydros are for those who do not ride under "heavier" conditions? First I've heard of this. Housing can still jam full of grit and grime. Hydros can offer more or better feel and control. Some hydros also offer more fade resistance.
    Last edited by XSL_WiLL; 01-21-2008 at 05:08 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by XSL_WiLL
    BB7 and BB5 DO NOT use the same pads. BB5 uses a round pad. The BB7 shares a pad with the Juicy series. The BB7 is much nicer than the BB5.
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  16. #16
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    I'm looking at some Magura Julie's--am currently running BB7's.

    The ONLY reason I am considering this is because I got to grab up some brake lever on a new Trek 96er the other day,,,,and they felt smooooooooooth....

    Don't ride mountains in in Michigan, but its plenty cold.

  17. #17
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    I think the BB7s are superior to the Julies. You can make the lever pull on the BB7 real smooth if you take the time to cut the housing ends nice and flat, open up the inner liner, lube the cable, blah blah.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by XSL_WiLL
    I think the BB7s are superior to the Julies. You can make the lever pull on the BB7 real smooth if you take the time to cut the housing ends nice and flat, open up the inner liner, lube the cable, blah blah.
    I'd vouch for that. People have said my BB5s feel like hydros. Clean cut cables, swimming in lube.
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  19. #19
    Meh.
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    The BB7 paired to a decent lever feels and performs better than the BB5. Think about that.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elno Lewis
    I'm looking at some Magura Julie's--am currently running BB7's.

    The ONLY reason I am considering this is because I got to grab up some brake lever on a new Trek 96er the other day,,,,and they felt smooooooooooth....

    Don't ride mountains in in Michigan, but its plenty cold.
    My first set of hydraulic brakes were Julies, and I rode them in Germany year-round. I never had to have them bled, just replaced the pads once after they got contaminated. During the winter, I made sure to keep my bike in our unheated storage unit. I didn't want any condensation to occur by bringing a freezing bike into a warm, heated apartment. I've ridden BB5s & BB7s, and the Julies outstripped the mechanical Avids in terms of braking power. The only time I lost braking power due to overheating was during a very long downhill on pavement. The speed limit was only 30kph, and I didn't want to get a speeding ticket (yes, it can happen in Germany). The Julies also self-adjusted to compensate for pad-wear nicely, unlike the Avid mechs.
    Don't get me wrong, I liked those Avids just fine, but if given a choice & disregarding the price differential, I'd take the hydros. But if a budget doesn't allow the hydraulic stoppers, you can't go wrong with some BB7s.
    It may be overkill to mention here, but my Magura Gustavs have never lost power due to overheating, air in the system, or made any sort of noise (unlike the Avid Juicy7s on my wife's FatPossum ). The Gustavs will lock a wheel on any given descent, regardless of the angle's pitch.
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  21. #21
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    You bring up some excellent points... points that I would usually bring up. Though I think the BB7s made more power than the Julie... But a number of factors can affect that. I just felt that the Julie had pretty cheap construction.

  22. #22
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    The XT 4Pots I have on the Giant Reign 1 06 model, are the original and first when they were released and I have bled them only 2 times and not including changing pads or giving them a general clean after a muddy adventure, I would say that they have been incredibly maintenence free. I hope to gain the same reliabilityfrom Hopes M4 dual Pot brakes aswell.

    Different point.

    Although it does depend on what brakes you have been using, nevertheless, I would dissagree with the whole first paragraph you wrote there. Whenever I have used my DBrakes, changed wheels, rotors, pads etc etc, I have never had to adjust anything...at all. The pads will self adjust. So unless there was a problem to begin with, DBrakes are MORE maintenence free then Rim Brakes. From my understanding, Rim brakes need constand adjusting when taking off wheels, changing pads etc etc. Somebody correct me if im wrong though


    Quote Originally Posted by chinaman
    With hydros, you will still have to adjust every so often ... after you reinstall you wheels or change your brake pads ... sometrime if your QR comes loose and you re-tighten it ... there will be some rubbing and you have to re-adjust them again ... part and parcel of mtbiking ...

    You need to ask yourself if you need the hydros ... having to adjust your mechanicals might not be a good reason to switch them ...

    I am using XTs and they are very easy to bleed ...

  23. #23
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    Double post...sorry!?

    On your wifes Fat Possum with the juicy seven's, what probs did she have...? I have just bought the 08 XO and of course they come with J7's so any feedback would be welcomed. I mean so far they are good, but they have only been in use for a short period of time, this is why I ask what probs did your wifes brakes develope ovevr time...? Thanks mate
    Sheesh, man...I keep forgeting to add what I was going to write, multiple edits rolf.EDIT:
    Oh...apart from what XSL_Will wrote about DOT Fluid being Hydroscopic and that they will eventually need to be bled, what probs were their.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bombardier
    My first set of hydraulic brakes were Julies, and I rode them in Germany year-round. I never had to have them bled, just replaced the pads once after they got contaminated. During the winter, I made sure to keep my bike in our unheated storage unit. I didn't want any condensation to occur by bringing a freezing bike into a warm, heated apartment. I've ridden BB5s & BB7s, and the Julies outstripped the mechanical Avids in terms of braking power. The only time I lost braking power due to overheating was during a very long downhill on pavement. The speed limit was only 30kph, and I didn't want to get a speeding ticket (yes, it can happen in Germany). The Julies also self-adjusted to compensate for pad-wear nicely, unlike the Avid mechs.
    Don't get me wrong, I liked those Avids just fine, but if given a choice & disregarding the price differential, I'd take the hydros. But if a budget doesn't allow the hydraulic stoppers, you can't go wrong with some BB7s.
    It may be overkill to mention here, but my Magura Gustavs have never lost power due to overheating, air in the system, or made any sort of noise (unlike the Avid Juicy7s on my wife's FatPossum ). The Gustavs will lock a wheel on any given descent, regardless of the angle's pitch.

  24. #24
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    Most issues with the J7 come from improper setup. I would suggest having your disc tabs faced and replacing the conical washers with solid flat ones. And then take the time to center the caliper correctly and bed in the pads properly.

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