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  1. #1
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    xt dual control hydro: are they good?

    I briefly had a set of mechanical xt dual levers with a bb7 front and canti rear brake. I didn't really like the feel of the brake levers but I thought they shifted fine. Are the hydro levers any better? I saw a set, including levers, calipers, hose, rotors for $149. I know that's cheap, but how about compared to, say, Juicy 7s with separate shifters?
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  2. #2
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    I have had both and i liked the mechanical the best. The hydros seemed a bit mushy to me and pad adjustment was not real good compared to the bb7.

  3. #3
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    FWIW, I have a set of dual control levers that I'm using with BB7s. I happen to like the lever feel for braking. My understanding is that the cable set-up has a huge influence on the feel. I'm using the Jagwire Ripcord kit with a continuous housing run to both front and rear calipers.

    Can't comment on dual control hydraulic levers though as I've never used them. (Will be watching this thread to see what others say though... might be something I want to try at some point in the future.)

  4. #4
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    Kevin: front and rear any different?

    I found the front to be tight but the rear seemed to lack leverage. Now, I did have a canti brake, but it was high quality XTR. I felt like I had to really vise lever the rear brake to get it to grip the rim. I went back to Avid Single Digit levers and liked it better. I do like the simplicity of the shift/brake on one lever. I love my Ultegra road levers, but I feel like maybe that concept has had more time to mature and gain refinements?
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  5. #5
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    You know cantilever brakes use different levers than Vs or BB7, right? What you describe is totally normal for using v-brake levers (such as the dual controls) with cantilever brakes.

  6. #6
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    Front / rear differences...

    Quote Originally Posted by gthcarolina
    I found the front to be tight but the rear seemed to lack leverage. Now, I did have a canti brake, but it was high quality XTR. I felt like I had to really vise lever the rear brake to get it to grip the rim. I went back to Avid Single Digit levers and liked it better. I do like the simplicity of the shift/brake on one lever. I love my Ultegra road levers, but I feel like maybe that concept has had more time to mature and gain refinements?
    As I said, I'm using BB7s on both front and rear. Your set-up with the rear canti brake is quite a bit different than mine.

    In the past, with several different hydraulic brakes (Shimano Deore, Hayes HFX-9, and Hayes Mags), I've always felt that the rear seemed a little bit mushier. I've always attributed this to the fact that brake line to the rear is longer than to the front. I think the break line expands outwards slightly as the hydraulic fluid pressure increases. It doesn't expand much, but it does expand, and the longer run to the rear causes it to feel different than the shorter run to the front.

    In contrast, with BB7s and Jagwire continuous housing, I notice very little difference in feel between front and rear. I would expect that, due to the longer cable run, there'd be a bit more give, or more lever travel, but if there is, I'm unable to detect it.

  7. #7
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    Actually I meant v brake, my bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joules
    You know cantilever brakes use different levers than Vs or BB7, right? What you describe is totally normal for using v-brake levers (such as the dual controls) with cantilever brakes.
    I think KBs discussion of cable length etc was probably partially the culprit, as well as the difference between bb7 front,vbrake rear.

    I've never run hydro brakes so I'm kind of shooting in the dark here. I'm wondering if I would save some weight/gain some simplicity/LIKE what I end up with if I go with xt dual controls instead of juicy 7s and xt shifters.

    Yeah, apples and oranges . . .
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gthcarolina
    I think KBs discussion of cable length etc was probably partially the culprit, as well as the difference between bb7 front,vbrake rear.

    I've never run hydro brakes so I'm kind of shooting in the dark here. I'm wondering if I would save some weight/gain some simplicity/LIKE what I end up with if I go with xt dual controls instead of juicy 7s and xt shifters.
    With regard to BB7 weight, see The definitive Avid BB7 weight thread...

    I think the consensus is that most of the good hydraulic brake systems beat BB7s in terms of weight. Do a search though if you care about such things because some folks have done various things to bring the weight down. (Titanium bolts, shaving material off the caliper, etc.)

    What kind of brake cable housing are you using? There's at least two types; there's conventional spiral housing which compresses a fair amount and there's compressionless housing similar to that used by indexed shifting systems. Of the two, I prefer the latter for use with BB7s. If you use the conventional spiral housing, I'd expect a more mushy response. Sheldon Brown wrote a nice article about cable housing.

    Look around for some threads which compare BB7s to hydraulic brakes. Read about the pros and cons of each and decide for yourself which features are important to you. Here's a link to one recent thread: How bad are BB7 brakes?

  9. #9
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    I own both types of XT dual control levers. I used the mechanicals with BB7's and they worked fine...(Jagwire compressionless housing) I haven't noticed a difference between them and my hydraulic versions as far as performance, etc.

    I don't like how the pad distance is not adjustable with the hydros.

    ...I guess that isn't an issue with the newer levers, though.

  10. #10
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    I have a full summer on the new-fangled XT hydraulic dual control shifters. If you can get a set new for $150, do it. I have used BB7s on a road bike and on a mountain bike, and I've also used Juicy 7s and 3s, so I have a basis for comparison.

    All these brakes will stop your bike from rolling forward, so the base functionality is there. The Devil, however, is in the details. I find the XT brakes are easier to set up, and require less fiddling to have them work well than the BB7 and Juicy 7. I took them out of the box, installed the rotors, installed the levers on the bars, squeezed each brake lever and tightened the caliper mounting bolts. That's it. The pistons in the XT caliper [and most hydraulic brakes] are self-adjusting, which means that there's no need to dial in pad adjustment. It's the same feel, every ride.

    Mechanicals aside, the feel on the XT brakes is excellent - smooth and easy to modulate. Shifting is crisp and clean, and I find it totally intuitive. If I need to tweak cable tension, I can do it while riding. If I need to adjust lever position, I can do it while riding. I should mention that although you can use a standard rear derailleur with this lever, it really shines with Rapid Rise.

    One problem I ran into was with the Shimano metallic pads. They stop well, but are unbelievably loud. I didn't have to worry about bears, hikers or horses - they all knew I was coming way before I got to them. I did the usual tricks, like sanding the pads and hosing everything down with rubbing alcohol, but it didn't help. I switched to Fibrax metal pads and the noise is gone - they stop great and are totally silent, even when wet. I wish I could say the same for the BB7 turkey warble. Going to a Fibrax metal pad cut down on the warble a bit, but after 400+ days of riding on that brake, I have come to believe that it's a design issue, and that it won't go away. The warble on my wife's bike is just starting to go away now, but it's been 4 years.

    CN: XT hydraulic brakes work very well and are very easy to set up. The dual control shifters work very well for me. I didn't like the Shimano metallic pads, stay with the standard pads.

  11. #11
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    I love mine. I have the XT dual control with BB7s and I have the Hone (same difference) Hydro dual control and have used the LX as well. Good modulation. The only issue I had was I bought a set pre-bled and they were mushy. I re-bled them and now they are stiff. Admittedly I don't ride very vertical trails, so they may not shine there, but for flowy singletrack, they work great. If you don't want the set, pm me where to find them...I'm interested.

  12. #12
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    I had a set of the XT duel controls on my Dos Niner, the brakes always worked fine the pads (as mentioned) weren't the best. The problem I had with them was keeping the shifting adjusted correctly, even with nice Teflon cables and the such the rear derailluer took more adjustment than I cared to do (this was with the rapid rise XTR derailleur). Since my Dos broke I've built up a SIR9 and decided to give Duel Controls a rest.

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