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  1. #1
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    changing brakes - what to buy

    I ride a Beargrease with SRAM Level brakes, and I want better brakes. They have either had pad issues, rubbing, stuttering, etc...just done with them. The levers are also bulky enough to cause minor issues with my pogies though thats a nuisance vs. critical. I need something that will work in cold weather (sub-zero F), don't want mechanical, so please tell me what you think I should be looking for as a solution, thx.

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    My Specialized Fatboy Comp Carbon came with the 2016 edition of Shimano Deore hydraulic disk brakes, which worked well but seemed a bit more abrupt than the TRP Slate-4 brakes I had on the iZip Sumo I owned before that bike. So I fitted a set of the Slate-4 brakes to the Fatboy and they were indeed a huge improvement, particularly when I also changed the rotors to the TRP rotors (I ran them on the original Shimano rotors until I wore out the rotors).

    After the Fatboy was stolen, I replaced it with a custom build Salsa Beargrease frame-set, and went straight to the TRP Slate-4 brakes and rotors again. They work beautifully: smooth, very controllable, very powerful, etc etc. The four-piston calipers with two different size piston sets have something to do with it, I'm sure. And the pads last a long time.

    I kept the Shimano Deore brakes ... I have a second Beargrease frame set that I'll build up soon to travel with and they're good enough for my intended use in that regard (never mind that I have them, they're good brakes, and I'd rather not spend the money up front for yet another set of TRP Slate-4s although I likely will some day in the future... ).

    G

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    I know you said "no mechanical" but good mechanical brakes just work ALL the time.

    I am going to second the TRP brakes. (I run them on all my bikes). The Slate's are more than enough for "normal" fat biking. They use Shimano pads and mineral oil, so there are no special parts or items to keep around.

    Get the TRP rotors. I'm not sure what the deal is, but TRP makes better rotors than SRAM or Shimano.

    There used to be two Slates, X2 and T4s, but I think the Slates are about to replaced with a new brake that uses the piston shape from the Trails and DH-Rs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    I know you said "no mechanical" but good mechanical brakes just work ALL the time.

    I am going to second the TRP brakes. (I run them on all my bikes). The Slate's are more than enough for "normal" fat biking. They use Shimano pads and mineral oil, so there are no special parts or items to keep around.

    Get the TRP rotors. I'm not sure what the deal is, but TRP makes better rotors than SRAM or Shimano.

    There used to be two Slates, X2 and T4s, but I think the Slates are about to replaced with a new brake that uses the piston shape from the Trails and DH-Rs.
    Ugh. I wouldn't necessarily agree. Cable discs seem to be hit or miss, much more than hydraulic brakes. The Tektro mechanical discs I have on my Norco Bigfoot are going to be replaced soon after way too long trying to get adequate power out of them.
    - New cables - Improvement in feel, not power.
    - V-Brake rubber boots to stop water getting into the cable and freezing - Well the back brake works in the winter now. More a cable routing issue (end pointing up on the back brake) but it wouldn't happen with hydros.
    - Set up as per instructions carefully several times - No change.
    - Clean rotors - No change
    - Swap pads out to sintered - slight improvement.
    - Take calipers apart, clean, and re-assemble with careful lube application - No change.

    They still leave my hands aching after a ride and if I ride my fat bike for a while I find myself braking way too hard on the hydraulic brakes on my other bikes for the first little while.
    They also seem to occasionally decide they'll deliver even less power than before for a brake application or two and then go back to normal (Like full-on death grip white-knuckle to slow just enough not to crash), this was with both original organic pads and sintered pads.

    I had a set of BB7s on a bike several years ago and while they never stood out they didn't scare me either, I basically didn't notice them which is praise, I'd buy them again. I wouldn't buy Tektro again though. I also think that, on a fat bike used in the winter, there are more moving parts than can potentially freeze up in a cable operated brake than a hydro one. Sure the fluid might get thicker but as long as the pistons and pads are free to move they'll stop you. Cable brake can get ice in the cable, in the pivot, on the "piston", and around the pad that could stop the brake from functioning.

    It would be nice to see someone make a fat-bike brake that's designed with winter riding in mind that has a cover of some sort to seal off the top of the caliper to keep as much moisture out of the workings as possible.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surestick Malone View Post
    Ugh. I wouldn't necessarily agree. Cable discs seem to be hit or miss, much more than hydraulic brakes.
    TRP Spykes. Best mechanical brake out there.

    Tektro and TRP might be the same company, but TRP products are far and away just better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikepizza View Post
    I ride a Beargrease with SRAM Level brakes, and I want better brakes. They have either had pad issues, rubbing, stuttering, etc...just done with them. The levers are also bulky enough to cause minor issues with my pogies though thats a nuisance vs. critical. I need something that will work in cold weather (sub-zero F), don't want mechanical, so please tell me what you think I should be looking for as a solution, thx.
    Hope... Excellent power, easy setup and reliable. They are hydraulic so no issue there! 2 piston or 4 piston. Entirely CNC'd and colors to add a little flair. No Chinese die cast baloney.
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    Yeah, I ran cables/mechs for a little while, they froze up, nothing is immune. If moisture gets in those housings it can be very frustrating.

    Shimano isn't a good choice. It can work, but the size of the orifice for the fluid return is too small and makes them pump up bad when it's cold due to the fluid getting thicker, they will still work down to some very cold temps IME, but the lever engagement goes way out and they become very off/on. If you already have shimano brakes, I wouldn't necessarily chuck them, but they are not a good buy for a fatbike for the cold.

    I upgraded to Hopes on one of my fatbikes this past winter and it was a revelation to have brakes working consistently in all temps. Hope DOT fluid is much better suited to low temps. They are high quality and are just good solid brakes. Although I have several issues with shimano's "disposable" brakes, they are good enough on my summer bikes until they fail. Due to their poor cold performance, there's no comparison between something like the Hope X2s and Shimano XTR. Hope all day long. Lever is way better (more adjustable and easier to adjust) too.
    You can run whatever rotors you want. I opted for some lightweight ones, since brakes overheating in the winter is not much of a concern.
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    Surprised to be advocating for SRAM brakes, but my Code Rs on my current trail bike are my favourite brakes to date. My understanding is that the DOT fluid is more resistant to freezing than mineral oil, so they seem like they should be a good choice for winter too, but I can't speak from experience there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Yeah, I ran cables/mechs for a little while, they froze up, nothing is immune. If moisture gets in those housings it can be very frustrating.
    This is a real issue, especially if you have housing gaps or open space where snow can get in and thaw/refreeze. I will say that TRP Spykes have cable boot and (removable) cover over the brake tops to reduce this issue. I will note here that a lot mechanical brake performance on fat depends on how you treat your bike. Ride it, toss it in the corner and ride it again will hurt the performance of components.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    My understanding is that the DOT fluid is more resistant to freezing than mineral oil, so they seem like they should be a good choice for winter too, but I can't speak from experience there.
    There are some interesting articles about DOT vs. mineral oil. DOT incorporates water into the fluid, whereas mineral oil separates them. (Hygroscopic) Now the water in DOT causes issues with high temps, i.e. premature boiling, but we care about low temps. Mineral oil can have issues at very low temps if (and the "if" is important) there is water in the brake system because the water can freeze (its separate). Again, the mineral oil can create issues if you a) don't do a pre-winter bleed and cleanse or b) store the bike where temps can swing thru the freeze/thaw line regularly and then have a chance to dive down when riding. But if are storing the bike in a dry location with a constant temp, the mineral oil will be far more stable.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    There are some interesting articles about DOT vs. mineral oil. DOT incorporates water into the fluid, whereas mineral oil separates them. (Hygroscopic) Now the water in DOT causes issues with high temps, i.e. premature boiling, but we care about low temps. Mineral oil can have issues at very low temps if (and the "if" is important) there is water in the brake system because the water can freeze (its separate). Again, the mineral oil can create issues if you a) don't do a pre-winter bleed and cleanse or b) store the bike where temps can swing thru the freeze/thaw line regularly and then have a chance to dive down when riding. But if are storing the bike in a dry location with a constant temp, the mineral oil will be far more stable.
    Proper maintenance of brakes regardless of type and vehicle is required, not optional.

    DOT fluid...
    1. Absorbs moisture.
    2. Absorbs air.
    3. Can damage paint.
    4. Water cleanup.
    A sealed system will rarely have issue with moisture contamination unless there is a leak in the system or contaminated fluid was used. Requires proper preparation prior to use of fresh fluid.

    Mineral oil...

    1. Does not absorb air or water.
    2. Boiling point is slightly lower than DOT.
    3. Cleanup with chemical solvent.
    4. Poor low temp performance due to increased viscosity.

    While mineral oil does not absorb water, moisture in a system can and will freeze. Again, with any hydraulic system, a sealed system is generally reliable.
    I have known many folks that will use automotive coolant in lieu of mineral oil for the low temp performance.

    All brake performance is based on the way a bike is treated and more so, how it is maintained.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thaumaturge View Post
    Surprised to be advocating for SRAM brakes, but my Code Rs on my current trail bike are my favourite brakes to date. My understanding is that the DOT fluid is more resistant to freezing than mineral oil, so they seem like they should be a good choice for winter too, but I can't speak from experience there.
    How many people drive their cars in the dead of winter at subzero temps? I had a Guide system that I changed out the master cylinders with Hope cylinders after the original masters failed. Calipers are still in service. My Codes are 2006 models and still in service today.
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  11. #11
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    I've run hope brakes for the past 15 years or so. X2 on the rear, and M4/E4 or V4 up front.

    You can swap levers and calipers, get spare parts for anything you might need.

    NOT made in China....

    The only other brakes I would consider are the new Hayes but the Hope work so well that I just can't switch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    There are some interesting articles about DOT vs. mineral oil. DOT incorporates water into the fluid, whereas mineral oil separates them. (Hygroscopic) Now the water in DOT causes issues with high temps, i.e. premature boiling, but we care about low temps. Mineral oil can have issues at very low temps if (and the "if" is important) there is water in the brake system because the water can freeze (its separate). Again, the mineral oil can create issues if you a) don't do a pre-winter bleed and cleanse or b) store the bike where temps can swing thru the freeze/thaw line regularly and then have a chance to dive down when riding. But if are storing the bike in a dry location with a constant temp, the mineral oil will be far more stable.
    Moisture gets into brakes, although they are "sealed" nothing is truly 100% sealed, so some % of water in the atmosphere makes it into the brakes. DOT absorbs it so that it doesn't turn to gas while you are braking due to heat and all of a sudden cause you to have no brakes. Not a huge issue in the winter, but DOT is far more stable throughout the temperature ranges, so again, it definitely wins here.

    For those that are saying shimano brakes are "fine", just remember "fine" will mean your lever moves out to the extreme far position, a few mm of travel and the brakes are locked with no modulation, quick repetitive braking (like for tech stuff) causes them to pump up like crazy. Yeah, you can get by with them, but there's no reason to subject yourself to that if you are shopping for brakes. There's a reason our cars don't use mineral oil. I'm not against it, I have shimano winter and summer brakes (in addition to the Hopes), but for winter, it shouldn't be on your radar.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Moisture gets into brakes, although they are "sealed" nothing is truly 100% sealed, so some % of water in the atmosphere makes it into the brakes. DOT absorbs it so that it doesn't turn to gas while you are braking due to heat and all of a sudden cause you to have no brakes. Not a huge issue in the winter, but DOT is far more stable throughout the temperature ranges, so again, it definitely wins here.

    For those that are saying shimano brakes are "fine", just remember "fine" will mean your lever moves out to the extreme far position, a few mm of travel and the brakes are locked with no modulation, quick repetitive braking (like for tech stuff) causes them to pump up like crazy. Yeah, you can get by with them, but there's no reason to subject yourself to that if you are shopping for brakes. There's a reason our cars don't use mineral oil. I'm not against it, I have shimano winter and summer brakes (in addition to the Hopes), but for winter, it shouldn't be on your radar.
    Jayem, the second paragraph is why trials riders have been using coolant in lieu of mineral oil...

    A well sealed brake system is fine until a fellow throws the bike on the Yakima and sails down the interstate at 75 mph in a downpour and drives rain water right past the seals in the levers!
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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    Jayem, the second paragraph is why trials riders have been using coolant in lieu of mineral oil...

    A well sealed brake system is fine until a fellow throws the bike on the Yakima and sails down the interstate at 75 mph in a downpour and drives rain water right past the seals in the levers!
    I'm using the Putoline 2.5wt oil in my shimano brakes right now (see big threads in the brake section). I did for the entire winter. It's better...but I still had the same issues as mineral oil...maybe to a little lesser effect. I think it works better in my XTs for summer vs. in my XTRs for winter. Lighter action on both. Not good enough for me to recommend the brakes for the winter though, as it doesn't solve the issues above.
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    I don't know, guys. If I were to go out in weather that would both slow down my brakes to the point where I noticed AND thereby present a safety issue, I'd probably freeze to death before it got to that point anyway.

    I run the TRP Slate4s with the mineral oil that they recommend. In any weather that I've ridden the bikes in, I have seen absolutely nothing out of these brakes but excellent service and performance. The question of DOT vs mineral oil, etc, is completely inconsequential to any conditions I might encounter.

    G

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    Quote Originally Posted by ramarren View Post
    I don't know, guys. If I were to go out in weather that would both slow down my brakes to the point where I noticed AND thereby present a safety issue, I'd probably freeze to death before it got to that point anyway.

    I run the TRP Slate4s with the mineral oil that they recommend. In any weather that I've ridden the bikes in, I have seen absolutely nothing out of these brakes but excellent service and performance. The question of DOT vs mineral oil, etc, is completely inconsequential to any conditions I might encounter.

    G
    Ok, but irrelevant to the OPs info? OP said -F temps. And there is a big difference. I can "get by" with the mineral oil shimanos, but I'd be lying if I said they were the "same", function is not close in those temps.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I'm using the Putoline 2.5wt oil in my shimano brakes right now (see big threads in the brake section). I did for the entire winter. It's better...but I still had the same issues as mineral oil...maybe to a little lesser effect. I think it works better in my XTs for summer vs. in my XTRs for winter. Lighter action on both. Not good enough for me to recommend the brakes for the winter though, as it doesn't solve the issues above.
    There is a reason Hope brakes are on my bikes! As for the oil and winter, understandable. The only reason i brought up the coolant thing is the fact that trials riders are resourceful folks that keenly know what arm pump is.

    G, i would think that you would be in the appropriate attire for -f temps if you were going out in that temp range.
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    I am more confused than when I posted initially. I know everyone has preferences but surprised there is not more consensus. I live in MN and have intentions of doing Arrowhead 135 and Tuscobia, for those who have done these what brakes did you run and were you happy? I realize I may not brake much on those rides, but I also commute partially in winter and ride for fun...is there really no agreement on DOT/mineral oil, hydro/mech, etc?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikepizza View Post
    I am more confused than when I posted initially. I know everyone has preferences but surprised there is not more consensus. I live in MN and have intentions of doing Arrowhead 135 and Tuscobia, for those who have done these what brakes did you run and were you happy? I realize I may not brake much on those rides, but I also commute partially in winter and ride for fun...is there really no agreement on DOT/mineral oil, hydro/mech, etc?
    People are rationalizing their experience with mineral oil in the cold. Either they haven't actually ridden in very cold, or they are rationalizing it. If you want your brakes to work in the winter at least similar to how they do in the summer, DOT fluid all the way.

    For mechs, they can work ok, just like mechs have on any other bike since the BB7s came out. Not as much modulation/feedback, heavier weight, more adjustments necessary, but probably the best system if you are riding in ultra-cold (like -40F). Lots of people have only ridden mechs on fat-bikes, because that's the only bike they own, so again, the perspective doesn't always span the entirety of mountain biking and all the possible choices/combinations. Nothing wrong with mechs, the faster and more aggressive my riding is though, the less they work for me. You mentioned commuting, which IME puts a lot more wear and tear on stuff than just riding and although you might give up a little performance, the ease of service on mechs might be better in that situation (although they require adjustments more frequently). Most people don't stay on top of cleaning and bleeding as much as they should and if you let that go too long, you might ruin a brake, vs. worse case just having to change a cable or pads on the mechs.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikepizza View Post
    I am more confused than when I posted initially. I know everyone has preferences but surprised there is not more consensus. I live in MN and have intentions of doing Arrowhead 135 and Tuscobia, for those who have done these what brakes did you run and were you happy? I realize I may not brake much on those rides, but I also commute partially in winter and ride for fun...is there really no agreement on DOT/mineral oil, hydro/mech, etc?

    What Jayem said. Mostly, it is a rider preference thing between oil and DOT other than severe cold temp operation. What in life does bring consensus these days? Mechs, I'm with Jayem on as well. While they work, is it optimal?

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    I would recommend, in no particular order....
    1-Shimano, anything
    2-Shimano, anything
    3-Shimano, anything.

    If you're dead set against Shimano, then I'd recommend, Shimano.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikepizza View Post
    I am more confused than when I posted initially. I know everyone has preferences but surprised there is not more consensus. I live in MN and have intentions of doing Arrowhead 135 and Tuscobia, for those who have done these what brakes did you run and were you happy? I realize I may not brake much on those rides, but I also commute partially in winter and ride for fun...is there really no agreement on DOT/mineral oil, hydro/mech, etc?
    I'm in MN and as said below, I run mechs, though, again as I said below I run TRPs, which are best mechs money can buy.

    Ultimately, it comes down to what you do as part of your routine. Multi-day cold races with little or now support? DOT fluid based brakes or mechanical.

    If you store your bike in >40d location and are riding or driving with bike inside a car and then riding for a day, mineral oil will be just fine.

    For DOT that would be Formula, Hayes or Hope if you are (like me) done with SRAM brakes. Shimano & TRP are mineral oil.

    Some people like what they like, but you have to get what works for you. I've warrantied so many SRAM brakes its silly, so I switched to TRP because I don't like Shimano.

    The best thing I can suggest is to take a stab at something and see if it works.

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    It sounds like Hope is mentioned a fair bit on this thread, would the go-to be something like the Tech 3 X2 brakes? Assuming something considered "XC" is the way to go here. Thanks again all for the comments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikepizza View Post
    I am more confused than when I posted initially. I know everyone has preferences but surprised there is not more consensus. I live in MN and have intentions of doing Arrowhead 135 and Tuscobia, for those who have done these what brakes did you run and were you happy? I realize I may not brake much on those rides, but I also commute partially in winter and ride for fun...is there really no agreement on DOT/mineral oil, hydro/mech, etc?
    The consensus is that shimanos don't work in extreme cold. They are not designed to. from my experience, they stop being useful somewhere around zero or 5 degrees above zero Fahrenheit. I don't ride in extreme cold that much, so I don't have a lot of first hand experience.

    Using Pogies to keep the master cylinder warmer can help, DOT brakes can help, mechanical brakes can help... but they all have their tradeoffs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Millennial29erGuy View Post
    Using Pogies to keep the master cylinder warmer can help.
    BAH, great point! I never thought about this. I do use pogies once the weather gets ~20F or so...perhaps that really opens up my options on fluids then...geez maybe it is time to just drag a foot if i need to slowdown and forget this topic altogether!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikepizza View Post
    BAH, great point! I never thought about this. I do use pogies once the weather gets ~20F or so...perhaps that really opens up my options on fluids then...geez maybe it is time to just drag a foot if i need to slowdown and forget this topic altogether!
    This is an interesting post with other observations:
    https://www.velonews.com/gear/techni...-cold-weather/
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilikepizza View Post
    It sounds like Hope is mentioned a fair bit on this thread, would the go-to be something like the Tech 3 X2 brakes? Assuming something considered "XC" is the way to go here. Thanks again all for the comments.
    Regardless of the brake, I usually go with at least a 180 front rotor to help with the massive rotating weight of fat-tires, helps decrease stopping distance. Head/fade is never much of a concern though in the winter, so the fancy 2-piece hope rotors are not needed IMO (and most hope brakesets I see on sale do not come with the rotors anyway). Even some light Ashima-style rotors are just fine. The only caveat is if you do some steep high-grade descending, like extended 30% or more, where you are crawling down the hill having to drag the brakes for extended periods, the minimalist rotors will heat up. Again, not an issue for me in the cold, but those kind of rotors don't work for my XC races or general AM/Enduro racing.

    If you are doing the steep summer riding, there's nothing wrong with beefy 8" rotors.

    Tech 3 X2 are great brakes for winter. The only way I feel they could be better would be with CF lever blades, as those are nice in the winter due to not transmitting as much heat. I make little "socks" for my blades from old glove fingers and zip-tie them in place. The shimano XTR DO have CF blades, but again, such poor cold performance that this doesn't offset the negatives.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Millennial29erGuy View Post
    This is an interesting post with other observations:
    https://www.velonews.com/gear/techni...-cold-weather/
    One thing that seems to get left out of some of those is the lever pull and "reset". They are correct that the seal retraction is one of the biggest issues, but what I've experienced on all shimano brakes, and it's magnified the colder it gets, is you pull once...then if you let go and immediately pull again, the lever locks way further out, sometimes at effectively "zero" travel. Most riders don't just hold the brakes down, they correctly "let go" and then grab the brakes again like on descents due to terrain and just to allow for a little cool-down (although cold temps help, steep grades far override the ambient temp). On the brake forum, it was hypothesized that the engagement moving out is due to the thicker (when cold) mineral not being able to backfill through the orifice, which makes sense to me. This is also why we were using the thinner and more stable at colder temps Putoline fluid. If you leave it for a few seconds and then grab, it's back to "normal sluggish and actuation point much further out than normal in the cold" operation, but it's another complication to the cold that makes them perform significantly different than warmer operation. Problem is you can't really plan brake usage that specifically and when the engagement point is at basically zero travel it's very hard to control the brakes, even though they still "work".
    Last edited by Jayem; 05-26-2020 at 10:27 PM.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Regardless of the brake, I usually go with at least a 180 front rotor to help with the massive rotating weight of fat-tires, helps decrease stopping distance. Head/fade is never much of a concern though in the winter, so the fancy 2-piece hope rotors are not needed IMO (and most hope brakesets I see on sale do not come with the rotors anyway). Even some light Ashima-style rotors are just fine. The only caveat is if you do some steep high-grade descending, like extended 30% or more, where you are crawling down the hill having to drag the brakes for extended periods, the minimalist rotors will heat up. Again, not an issue for me in the cold, but those kind of rotors don't work for my XC races or general AM/Enduro racing.

    If you are doing the steep summer riding, there's nothing wrong with beefy 8" rotors.

    Tech 3 X2 are great brakes for winter. The only way I feel they could be better would be with CF lever blades, as those are nice in the winter due to not transmitting as much heat. I make little "socks" for my blades from old glove fingers and zip-tie them in place. The shimano XTR DO have CF blades, but again, such poor cold performance that this doesn't offset the negatives.
    Jayem, I still have CF levers that were made by Hope for my Tryall/Hope brakes on the trials bike. Circa 2008/2009 I believe.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    Jayem, I still have CF levers that were made by Hope for my Tryall/Hope brakes on the trials bike. Circa 2008/2009 I believe.
    Yeah, I don't think they are compatible with the newer brakes? I remember looking into them.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Yeah, I don't think they are compatible with the newer brakes? I remember looking into them.
    No sir! They were available for the earlier models but later dropped. Subsequent models changed the fulcrum point and added the pad contact and reach screws so they aren't interchangeable.
    Shame they didn't continue with a CF option tho'.
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  32. #32
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    Guess I've been lucky or never really noticed. Thought I said it here but dont see it, I've ridden shimanos only forever. I dont have the issues that others have had. Including well below 0F. I have iced up my drivetrain and had about every other annoyance of extreme cold, except any complaints about my brakes. Other than brake levers having a "stiffer" feeling in the extreme cold never noticed a "pumping up" issue myself. Maybe I'm accustomed to it because modulation has never been an issue for me.

    I'm a big guy though so brakes take more to stop me.

    All that said, again I have only every ridden shimanos, so that's all I know. Without having any complaints, though ideas of trying something else sometimes cross my mind, I get stuck on the "if it ain't broke dont fix it". If I was to try something else, my shimanos on my trail bike would just move to my fat bike since it has entry lvl shimanos.

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    I have heard people voice concern about Shimano's in extreme cold weather, and for me the word "extreme" means about 20 degrees, I probably ain't riding in anything under that...25 is debatable even...but under 20, I'm probably tapping out. Having said that, yes my Shimano's suffer a little at 20-25, but everything on my bike that has a moving part suffers a little, including me!! I don't even take my full boinger cross country rocket off the hook at that temp because the suspension feels like doggy doo. So I find it interesting that fat bikers hold extreme cold temps against Shimano's, and for the most part seem to accept other component and physical shortcomings in the same temps. I've tried other brakes, but even Shimano Deore works better than the best Formula or Sram and Hayes I've tried, and Shimano's are cheap...SLX's last forever, work as good as XTR, and I recommend Shimano's to anyone who asks, and everyone in my riding circle always eventually pulls off their Sram's to install Shimano's. But YMMV of course.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedaddict View Post
    I have heard people voice concern about Shimano's in extreme cold weather, and for me the word "extreme" means about 20 degrees, I probably ain't riding in anything under that...25 is debatable even...but under 20, I'm probably tapping out. Having said that, yes my Shimano's suffer a little at 20-25, but everything on my bike that has a moving part suffers a little, including me!! I don't even take my full boinger cross country rocket off the hook at that temp because the suspension feels like doggy doo. So I find it interesting that fat bikers hold extreme cold temps against Shimano's, and for the most part seem to accept other component and physical shortcomings in the same temps. I've tried other brakes, but even Shimano Deore works better than the best Formula or Sram and Hayes I've tried, and Shimano's are cheap...SLX's last forever, work as good as XTR, and I recommend Shimano's to anyone who asks, and everyone in my riding circle always eventually pulls off their Sram's to install Shimano's. But YMMV of course.
    Bottom line, you aren't riding in very cold temps, just barely below freezing. I ride my normal non-fat bikes in those temps before the snow falls (shimano brakes and all). No complaints.

    Extreme contempt is reserved for significant cold, as the OP indicated they'll be riding in. I thought the TRP article was comedy, how they said they test down to about 20 degrees and there wasn't much difference. For sure, if you are going to be riding in an environment where that is the bottom line coldest you'll ever see...it won't matter which type you are using.

    I like to be comfortable in the cold, so I've spent a while figuring out what clothes to wear and bring and how to make it all work. It's not an "extreme sprint", it's where I can ride hard or lazily ride and enjoy as much time as I want to spend outside in that environment.

    I've also had the shimano problems of leaver seals failing, caliper seals weeping and inconsistent bite points during extreme braking (not related to cold). This has ended several of my shimano brake sets and is reason why I'm slowly transitioning my fleet away from them as they fail. I don't relate these to the cold, but they are reasons why I don't recommend them. They have several issues engineered into them that will cause them to eventually fail. The time it takes to do so can vary considerably though. There are definitely other issues with other brakesets. Hope tends to be lower power than most, but not a big concern in this realm of fat-biking, magura quality is fairly poor, although power wise they are excellent, trickstuff addresses many of the shortcomings of others, but at a steep price, and so on. So no, there is no "golden bb" for the most part, the brakes I choose for winter riding may not be the same brakes I choose for other types of riding due to the effects of cold temperatures.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  35. #35
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    My observations regarding Shimano brakes are very similar to Jayem, with the added issue that the pistons would leak below 25F, enough to stain snow on them yellow.

    I've run Slate T2 and they've worked really well, although the lever feel is a bit coarse to me.

    I've also run SRAM Levels, didn't care for them, for the same reasons the OP mentioned, plus I couldn't keep them from squealing in the winter.

    I've had the same set of SRAM Guide Ultimates on my fatbike for over three years now and couldn't be more happy. There's something to having 4 pistons to minimize squeal due to moisture and contamination, they've been dead reliable, and I prefer carbon levers in the winter as my braking finger doesn't seem to get cold as quickly.

    Edit: It is worth noting that I frequently ride my bike in sub zero F temps.
    Last edited by brentos; 05-28-2020 at 03:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    I'm in MN and as said below, I run mechs, though, again as I said below I run TRPs, which are best mechs money can buy. ...
    ^This!
    TRP Spyke - Dual piston actuated mechanical disc brake
    (and a lot easier to adjust and keep adjusted than BB7)

    or go hydraulic: make your best judgement on the advice, or continue looking for advice
    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    ... The best thing I can suggest is to take a stab at something and see if it works.
    Shouldn't need to say this, but in case you got lost in the above posts, make sure the advice is from someone using them under the conditions you anticipate.
    Crazy on this ship of fools...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canoe View Post
    Shouldn't need to say this, but in case you got lost in the above posts, make sure the advice is from someone using them under the conditions you anticipate.
    This is an important point to remember. Someone in Colorado saying you need some super-slack super burly endro sled for MN trails would be suspect. The same for someone saying you need to think about -15d F temps if your standard MN riding day is 15d F.

    People can get religious about some things and other things they don't care about. There are all bike components we want to declare a fatwa against. That can tough when you ask a forum, "What about X?" and suddenly you have some guy who decides that he needs to explain to you why getting X will cause the Ten Plagues to be visited upon the land.

  38. #38
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    Also beware the fanboys that say, "brand-x is the best option. I only use brand-x. I have never had issue with brand-x so you should use brand-x".

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    This is an important point to remember. Someone in Colorado saying you need some super-slack super burly endro sled for MN trails would be suspect. The same for someone saying you need to think about -15d F temps if your standard MN riding day is 15d F.

    People can get religious about some things and other things they don't care about. There are all bike components we want to declare a fatwa against. That can tough when you ask a forum, "What about X?" and suddenly you have some guy who decides that he needs to explain to you why getting X will cause the Ten Plagues to be visited upon the land.
    Frankly, pointing out a fact based on experience and usage hardly the same as telling a bloke that they should use this brand or that brand.
    Stating the features of the various hydraulics is nothing more than stating the features. As for mechanicals, while I personally do not have any interest in using them, properly setup and with the right cable/housings, they can be and are very powerful, again, a reason trials riders rely on em. Very few, if any other disciplines are as reliant on brakes that actually function exceptionally well and are reliable as the day is long.

    I can, and will share my experiences as I see fit, objectively even if I do live in Colorado, thankya very much... Sarcasm is also on tap as needed.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedaddict View Post
    I would recommend, in no particular order....
    1-Shimano, anything
    2-Shimano, anything
    3-Shimano, anything.

    If you're dead set against Shimano, then I'd recommend, Shimano.
    100% agree

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