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Old 10-15-07, 11:57 AM   #1
krimsonidol
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Worth it to replace hdyros with mechanical?

Hey guys. I am going to be purchasing a new bike this week - it's a great deal on a great bike - BUT...
it comes with hydraulic disc brakes. I don't think i'm up for the maintenance on hydros, and i'd prefer mechanical.
My question is: Is it worth the money to replace the hydros with mechs just to save me trouble later on down the road?
Also, anyone have an idea of what a shop would cost to do the work? I dunno if i'm confident with dismantling the hydraulic system and replacing it with the mechanic disc system. Anyone have exp with this and know how much of a PIA it would be?

Thanks!
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Old 10-15-07, 12:38 PM   #2
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I think you are nuts.

Depending I guess on the brake system, hydraulic disc brakes are about 99% lower maintenance and more reliable than mechanical. Besides maybe the stem top cap, my Hayes hydraulic disc brakes that I have been running for the past 5+ years and 15000+ offroad miles are far and away the most reliable, low maintenance and trouble-free part on my bike. I replace pads about annually and that is IT.

There's no dismantling necessary to remove it. You don't break open the hydraulic lines. You just remove the zip ties, remove the calipers, remove the levers from the bar, and take the whole thing off as a system.

Then feel free to send it to me, I'll swap you straight up for your "upgrade". You couldn't pay me to have to deal with the hassle of brake cables ever again. I am so stoked that my mountain bike has NO CABLES of any kind on it. Oh, the joy. offroad bicycles and cables are not a good mix.
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Old 10-15-07, 01:26 PM   #3
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Haha ok, fair enough.

I had just read when doing forum searches a lot of complains about hydraulic disc brake systems. I'm pretty dark ages myself, with old fashioned u-brakes, so disc brakes seem intimidating.
Anyway doing a google search for "hdyraulic vs. mechanical" brakes made it seem like I wanted to avoid the hydros.
But if you've had such a good experience, maybe i'll try them out for a while and see how I feel, before trying to replace them.

Thanks!
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Old 10-15-07, 02:30 PM   #4
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ok, well people who have problems with them likely either have:

A. some ultra-light weight weenie part that's easily broken, then they break it and get fluid everywhere which contaminates the rotors and pads and strips the paint off of their bike

B. crashed the bike and broke the system somehow leaking fluid, see A

C. some smart shop bike mechanic who convinced them they needed to bleed the brakes, and subsequently they leak, contaminate everything, and have air in the lines

The moral of the story is: don't ever let the fluid out and don't break the fluid seal unless you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO. If you do, have plenty of isopropyl alcohol, brake cleaner, and a bleed kit on hand BEFORE YOU OPEN THE SYSTEM. Keep the fluid in there and you're going to be fine.

I had to bleed the brakes on my bike a time or two, once I wrecked it and snapped the left side lever off and had to replace the lever, which resulted in a need to bleed that brake. I use a turkey injector with a piece of PVC fuel hose on it to force the fluid through the system and it works well, but the bleed instructions on the Hayes site are a lot more complicated and imho likely to result in error.

100% of my experience is with Hayes but some buddies have other systems (notably Avid) and don't have any problems either. Just don't get the itch to shorten the lines or just bleed the brakes for the heck of it. The fluid can be a real bear to get off of stuff and it takes paint off really easily.

So just to point out, in the time since I installed those brakes, I have gone through two wheelsets (on my third), two frames, about 10 sets of frame pivot bearings, two forks (and the current one needs a rebuild), about 10 cassettes, chains and middle rings... the only things that were built to last and be trouble free like my Hayes HFX-Mags have been my Eggbeater SS pedals and the SRAM X.9 rear derailleur, both of which were bought at the same time as the brakes. The X.9 is pretty well worn out by now, and the pedals are barely broken in. The brakes will last forever. One thing about Hayes, they have been making disc brakes for a LONG time so I trust them to do it right.
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Old 10-16-07, 07:46 AM   #5
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+1 to the "you are nuts" camp. Hydraulic are 5000 times better than mechanical. If you're intimidated, take them to the LBS and have them show you what's up.
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Old 10-16-07, 08:35 AM   #6
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i say, if you are intimidated, then just don't mess with them. most of the problems people have with hydraulic disc brakes is because they were induced for some reason to try to perform some routine maintenance. just ride, change the pads when they get worn, keep riding, and don't mess with them. maybe if they get super brake-dusty give them a shot of brake cleaner and wipe off with a rag, or just leave them alone. think about how often you fool with the hydraulics on your car's brakes. that's how often you need to fool with those on your bike. like every 50K miles.
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Old 10-17-07, 12:07 AM   #7
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Although the advantages of hydraulics versus mechanical have been grossly exaggerated...yes, it's a better brake.

Unless you plan to take it in to the shop every time it does need service, I'd invest in the proper bleed kit for your particular make and model. If you're anything like me, you'll want to be able to fix anything on the bike yourself, especially since it is not particularly difficult, and when service manuals are readily available online. Depending upon the particular model, it is also possible to make your own bleed kit with a couple fittings, some plastic tubing and a syringe...but not always. The kit typically costs less than a single brake service.

Once you service them once or twice, you'll kick yourself for being previously intimidated.
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Old 10-17-07, 01:39 AM   #8
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Although the advantages of hydraulics versus mechanical have been grossly exaggerated...yes, it's a better brake.

Unless you plan to take it in to the shop every time it does need service, I'd invest in the proper bleed kit for your particular make and model. If you're anything like me, you'll want to be able to fix anything on the bike yourself, especially since it is not particularly difficult, and when service manuals are readily available online. Depending upon the particular model, it is also possible to make your own bleed kit with a couple fittings, some plastic tubing and a syringe...but not always. The kit typically costs less than a single brake service.

Once you service them once or twice, you'll kick yourself for being previously intimidated.
Yep, get a service kit and you'll find that it's really easy to keep your brakes dialed. I think I paid $25 for my Avid kit on EBay. You can also get them through your local shop. Nothing beats a good set of hydros for stopping power, except maybe a well placed tree or boulder.
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Old 10-20-07, 11:41 AM   #9
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go bb-7's,they look nicer too.
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Old 10-20-07, 02:12 PM   #10
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I just replaced the one caliper, master cylinder resevoir cap, and bled the lines on my Hayes-9's. I am by no means a mechanic, and It was no problem really. Just follow the directions. I love 'em. And yes they do work, I tested them just this morning.
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