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  1. #1
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    Hydraulic Disc Brakes vs Mechanical Disc Brakes?

    This should be fairly easy to answer. What are the Pros and Cons of these two types of brakes? Is one easier to maintain than the other? Is one cheaper than the other? Is one easier to use?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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  3. #3
    05 Roubaix Comp Double
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    I had hydraulic and they suck.I could never adjust them and the lbs couldnt either so i went to the xtr.A great break.
    Touch every 3rd person and you'll find an idiot.

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Hydraulic - Pros: Excellent modulation, unsurpasses stopping power, Open Systems with large rotors can handle very high heat loads from heavy-duty users. Cons: Expensive, require unique brake lever system matched to brake caliper, require moderate degree of mechanical skill / experience / attention to detail to set-up properly and to maintain, closed systems can lock-up or blow-off hyd. lines/seals if overheated.

    Mechanical - Pros: Excellent modulation, excellent stopping power for most applications, compatible with most stock mechanical MTB brake levers/STI systems, only basic mechanical skills needed to set-up and maintain, price performers compared to hydraulics. Cons: May not be suitable for heavy-duty applications (and not approved for use on tandems).

    Summary: Early mechanical disc brakes failed to work well and got a well-deserved bad rap. Hydraulic discs came along and, although a PIA to set-up, when they did work they worked well. Current models of mechanical discs from Avid & Shimano (perhaps others I haven't tested) are excellent and challenge the rationale given the added expense and complexity of hydraulics which are still the only choice for the most gruelling demands (off-road tandems, DH and Super-Clydesdales).

    I presently run Avid BB's on single F/S XC MTB (165lbs) and Hope Enduro 4 pot hydraulics on tandem F/S XC MTB (280lbs). Both are excellent for their respective applications.

  5. #5
    eert a ekil yzarc SpiderMike's Avatar
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    I can only tell you one thing about hydro's.... look out for the ones that use DOT oils(Hayes). They tend to corrode the calipers. The calipers tend to be in the 60 buck range. Shimano is one that uses mineral oil. Safer on the guts of the brake, not to mention if you broke a line on the trail, the treehuggers would have nothing to say to you.

    Bad side to mechanicals, the lever that compresses the caliper is exposed on some models to the point, that a basic wreck could render you without brakes.

  6. #6
    Super Biker Mtn Mike's Avatar
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    I just installed the Hayes HFX 6 inch hydros on my XC hardtail. Here are my initial impressions.

    MUCH MUCH better modulation than V-brakes. Better modulation than the Avid Mechanical disks I demo'd on the bikeshop owners' bike.

    Gross stopping power is about the same as with the Avid Mechanicals, however, the better modulation gives more confidence. Stopping power is slightly better than a well tuned V-brake under ideal circumstances. i.e. my old V-brakes stopped well when they were new, and in dry conditions, but quickly went down hill from there, so to speak. So far after 3 weeks of use, I have been extremily happy with the Hayes hydro's, and would buy them again over the Avid Mechanical disks.

    Cons of the Hydro's are:
    1. cost,
    2. pain to set up,
    3. heavier than V-brakes,(same weight as Mechs?)
    4. DOT fluid? I don't see that as a big problem, mine didn't leak during setup, and I haven't lost any paint yet.


    I really didn't have much trouble setting mine up, but my advice would be to go to an LBS with experience in setting up disk brakes, no matter whether you go with hydro or mechs. Hope this helps.

  7. #7
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    Bah. All brakes stink. Get a track biike. They're much better for road riding than misnamed "road bikes". Besides leglocking being much more fun than braking it also works better in rain and snowy climates than brakes.

    -Andy

  8. #8
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SpiderMike
    I can only tell you one thing about hydro's.... look out for the ones that use DOT oils(Hayes). They tend to corrode the calipers.
    If/when I switch to hydraulics, I'll have to remember to get ones that use non-corrosive/caustic fluids. I have a lot of carbon fiber on my bike. I'd hate to see my front fork and rear swingarm disintergrate because of a little splash of brake fluid after snagging a line.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
    "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send." -- Jon Postel, RFC1122

  9. #9
    newbie newbie georgesnatcher's Avatar
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    Avid mechanicals cannot be beat. Bicycling magazine had a disc brake shootout/test last year. If they took the "feel" catagory out of the equation the Avids would have smoked every other brake in the test.

  10. #10
    Compulsive Upgrader cyclingshane73's Avatar
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    Hydro's are the way to go IMHO.

    I owned a set of Avids for a couple of seasons. For the money the Avids cannot be beat as great mechanical disc brake. I used them on a FS freerider and a FR hardtail. Stupid easy to work on and adjust. The biggest fault I could find with them was that after some hard and consistent braking they would fade as they heated up. Also, I didn't like the feel of the cable/lever set up. I always felt as if some of the power was being robbed from somewhere. They just felt a little soft or I had to pull hard on the levers to panic stop.

    My experience with Hydros is limited. I just switched over to full hydro set-ups on both my FR and XC bike. I like to try different things and I ended up getting a good deal on two sets of brake systems front and rear. On the FR bike I stuck on a set of Hayes, and on the XC bike I installed a set of Shimano XT's.

    First the Hayes. They came pre bled and ready to go. So I didn't have to go through the pains of filling the system with the dreaded DOT fluid. I basically just mounted them and away I went. The Hayes are a PIA to align. I never did get the front brake to set up without some drag. It would appear that the rotor was already warped from the get go. I would find out from my LBS that this is an unfortunate trait of Hayes. It is not enough to notice when on the bike, however I'm a bit of nut when it come to set up. I went nuts attempting to get these just right to literally no avail. As a last resort, I was able to "true" the rotor using a cresent wrench and slightly bending the rotor at the warped area. Now things aren't so bad. Stopping power is bang on from the start. The FR hardtail weighs in at a hefty 36 lbs. Built to take a lickin and keep on tickin. These brakes with six inch rotors are perfect for slowing this beast down.
    "No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs. We should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and love of power." -P.J. O'Rourke

  11. #11
    Compulsive Upgrader cyclingshane73's Avatar
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    Secondly, the XT's.

    Straight out of the box set up from scratch. I actually found these quite easy to do. Tedious mind you, however I was careful and followed the instructions to the letter (well almost). It takes a while to pump them up full of fluid and shimming them can be a pain but once set up, your done so there. I bought a set of aftermarket hoses which I could cut to length and were coated with a clear plastic sheathing. No pre length braided stainless steel cutting my frame thank you very much! After an initial set up and ride, I decided I wanted to trim off some excess hose so I had to rebleed them. Also I found after a couple of rides I added some more fluid to the reservoir and bled them a bit. I seems that the riding vibration helps get those little air bubbles to the top. After that they are set up nice. Lever action feels nice and because of the shimming I was able to set them up drag free.

    Shimano's require a break in period. Depending on how much you ride that could be a short break in or a long break in. I bought them in mid February and at the end of March I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I really didn't ride them all that much during that time either. Initially they feel like wet vee's in an ice storm. Now I can feel the rotors "pulse" as they start to grab and break-in in some areas. Eventually the pulsing should stop and all I should have is grabby goodness. The lever feel is better then the Hayes. The quad pistons provide a level of modulation which is good for my XC bike. I actually raced them today in minus 2 degree celcius weather with wind chill. While other peoples vee pads became ice cubes I could still stop. I am impressed by the overall look of quality and feel of the brakes so far. I'll be sure to post up after a season to let anyone know who may be shopping around for disc brakes to help make that decision.
    "No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs. We should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and love of power." -P.J. O'Rourke

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