Re: Mechanical Disk Brakes
- Hi Amos - I generally agree with others in that lever pressure
required and the overall feel of modulation is the difference with
hydraulic vs. mechanical, not so much the stopping power, given the
large rotor size.
However, when I built up my bike I chose to go hydraulic after reading
a lot of the reviews on the mountain bike sites. I also live in San
Francisco where there is a lot of braking due to the hills and my
Stokemonkey/Instigator/White Industries downhill fork/Mammoth rims are
not exactly light, along with about 30 lbs of luggage. With my body,
the total weight is right at 300 lbs.
I put a Hope on the front and a Gustav on the rear, just to try two
kinds. When buying replacement pads, be sure to specify the longer
wearing compound. They stop me just fine and last a long time. I
replaced the originals in about 1000 miles and have 2000 on the
I did have a Shimano hydraulic on a previous fairly heavy electric
assist bike and it did NOT stop nearly so well as my current ones.
Once set up properly, I've never had to touch the hydraulics, though I
plan to change the fluid every two years, which, if you've ever worked
on cars or motorcycles, is not such a huge job.
If I were building again, I'd certainly try the mechanicals after
reading these reviews, but given my constant steep hill braking and my
hands that are usually painful from getting smashed and developing
arthritis/tendonitis, I really appreciate the feel of the hydraulics.
> I put a Hope on the front and a Gustav on the rear, just to try twoI am curious about this -- how do the two types of pads differ?
> kinds. When buying replacement pads, be sure to specify the longer
> wearing compound. They stop me just fine and last a long time. I
> replaced the originals in about 1000 miles and have 2000 on the
The (resin) pads that came with my bike and brakes seemed to wear
not much at all with lots of light around-town braking, and pretty
quickly on a descent of a 300 feet (> 5% grade, I think). Obviously,
the slower the wear, the less often they need adjusting
> If I were building again, I'd certainly try the mechanicals afterI don't know what your handlebars look like, but what I ended up
> reading these reviews, but given my constant steep hill braking and my
> hands that are usually painful from getting smashed and developing
> arthritis/tendonitis, I really appreciate the feel of the hydraulics.
doing after years of fiddling and experimenting, was a set of moustache
bars, double-wrapped with handlebar tape. Assume padded gloves during
all of this. The reasons/history for this choice:
- plain old drop bars. I was spending all my time on the tops and
not much on the drops. I am not (or perhaps, am currently not, until
I get much more time on the bike again) as flexible as I was as a kid.
- mountain-bike bars. These gave me numb hands within 3 miles of
I played a bit with their length, height, etc, but that never really
worked. I tried bar ends, not that good either.
- moustache bars. This let me put my hands in a variety of positions,
with a primary one similar to drop bars, but not as low. This worked
pretty well, including on a 300 mile trip in Nova Scotia. But I
did develop some persistent numbness in the left side of my left
ring finger. so...
- double-wrapped moustache bars. I made a point of getting a "soft"
tape for the top layer. I just taped right on top of the existing
tape, with an opposite orientation. The bars are bigger, which
spreads the load a little, and softer, which also helps.
The double-wrapping seems to be the big item; I've got a cheap
used tandem, that I am renovating on the cheap, and as yet it
has mountain bars with grip shifters and bar ends. I doubled-
wrapped the part of that that I could, including the bar ends,
and it was quite helpful. (The moustache transform costs over
$100, once you a price bars (30), bar-end shifters (60), levers
(depends, see below), and tape. It can be a moderate pain to
find 8-speed shifters if you are renovating an old-ish bike and
don't also want to pony up for new chain and cluster).
I don't think I'm done with my fiddling. I think, based on how I use
them, that I need to pull them in a hair closer, so that the levers
(Turtle Creek hooded levers, splayed out so the levers are sideways)
are a little closer in and a little more comfortable to use climbing.
If-you-do-this, you either need to get linear-pull hooded levers,
(Dia-Compe makes some, they are expensive) or else install a Travel
I put up an album with pictures,make of it what you will.
The head-on shot shows a lot; the level and tilt, more or less
(the seat is directly behind, you can see the passenger handgrips)
the bar-end shifters (never had them before, a friend of mine hates
them, I think they're great) the brake lever positioning, the cable
routing, and the two layers (gray over cork) of handlebar tape.
- I too use Hydraulic Disc's... mine are a set of original (c. 1998)
Hayes disk brakes and levers. My brother gave them to me and saved me
a boatload of cash. I did have one issue with the front brake when it
had to be redone b/c of new handlebars (albatross bars from
Rivendell); the brand new fluid (less than a month old) was very
dark. It was traced (I believe, because I didn't do the work) back to
a worn out connector piece: I believe the rubber was decomposing in
the new brake fluid and becoming part of the fluid. The part was
replaced, but I'll be checking every year. I may eventually go to a
manual disc brake, but it's unlikely, as I've become used to a
hydraulics over the course of the last 7 years. The argument that
they can break and spew and leave you without a brake are weak ones:
any crash that's catastrophic enough to rupture the brake line is
more than likely going to disable you enough that you won't be riding
home anyways. I've crashed badly at least 4 times on my MTB with
Hydraulics and never ruptured a thing (except for on my own body).
Also, a cable can snap just as easy as a hydraulic line can: it's
unlikely, but it can happen. My vote? Try them both out and see which
you like better. Then consider your budget. :) Hydraulics usually
cost more, but if you like the ease on the hands (and they are
definitely easier on the hands for extended braking), they are
superior for that application.