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  1. #1
    Senior Member CanadianBiker32's Avatar
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    What type of mtb brakes you prefer? hydraulic or cable?

    A fun question what type of brakes you prefer on your mountain bike. Using the disc brakes
    do you prefer cable or hydraulic.

    I think i might go back to cable. I have hydraulic and such a pain when you have to bleed your brakes cause a brake lever was pressed when wheel was not on

  2. #2
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    You can buy or make spacers to put between the brake pads when the wheel is off so that doesn't happen.

  3. #3
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    Hydros hands down. Setup once and they never need adjusting. Cables need to be adjusted as the pads wear. Also you don't need to bleed them. Get a clean flat head screwdriver and lever the pads apart. Works every time.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Having ridden hydro discs for 10+ years and never having ridden cable discs, I'd be tempted to try cables. Some of the newer cable calipers look like they'd work very well. Cable brakes on my road bikes have been trouble free compared to the mtb hydro discs.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Im OK with my bike as it came .. 1 has Hydro Magura Rim Brakes , the other Avid BB7 cable mountain & their 'speed-dial' levers .

    both bikes can take either since the mounts are there... the pad wear adjustment with Mech discs is You, so there is that..

    and no concern about touching the lever while the wheel is out

    [hydros do an auto pad wear adjustment and wont retract to the prior clearance, again,
    without an additional effort on your part prying the slave cylinders back out]

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    For an MTB, if you are actually riding it off road, then hydraulic brakes really are the sensible option, they perform better than cable discs, as they self adjust, rarely need to be bled (if you have current Shimano) and are no more expensive than cable brakes.

    Some of this will be be country dependant, in the UK, Hydraulic Shimano are as cheap/cheaper than cable brakes, choosing the correct brakes is also important, Avids have a really bad rep, the latest ones are meant to be good, but would stay away from older Juicy models.

    For bleeding brakes being a pain, the first time you try any new maintenance technique it can be difficult, having done several bleeds on current Shimano brakes when hose shortening, the clean-up now takes longer then the actual work on the brake.

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    Even the old shimano brakes are easy as cake to bleed. I ran a set of Avid Juicy 5s for years and they work great untill they need bleed again which is all the damn time lol. Those things are a massive PITA to bleed too. I'm so glad I replaced them with a set of shimano SLXs.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canker View Post
    Even the old shimano brakes are easy as cake to bleed. I ran a set of Avid Juicy 5s for years and they work great untill they need bleed again which is all the damn time lol. Those things are a massive PITA to bleed too. I'm so glad I replaced them with a set of shimano SLXs.
    Agree. I've used Deore and Deore xt hydros. Both are super easy to bleed. Just open the upper reservour and use a syringe on the lower bleed nozzle. Fill from the bottom till air is purged. Job done. Can also be purged on the road with a bottle of oil and some pumping of the brake lever. I don't understand when people say they need a lot of complex maintenance. They work much nicer than any cable discs I've tried.

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    I can't stand hydraulic... I'm tired of the pads rubbing. If I had a dollar for every time I've reset the pistons and bled the lines, I'd be about five bikes richer right now. I've had two bikes with stock hydraulic brakes now (both low end Shimano) and I dumped the hydraulic setup on both (after some time, I tried to give it a chance). I've been told that higher end hydraulics aren't as bad, but I'm not about to invest the money to find out. Really, what's the advantage of hydraulics anyways? It's not like I go through pads in the course of a day where the auto-adjustment would be beneficial... no, the opposite, the fact that the pads automatically set themselves is the fundamental thing that I can't stand about hydraulic discs.

    The other advantage is in the feel, but I'm quite alright with the stopping power of a well adjusted cable brake.

  10. #10
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by headloss View Post
    I've had two bikes with stock hydraulic brakes now (both low end Shimano) and I dumped the hydraulic setup on both (after some time, I tried to give it a chance).
    Exact opposite of my experience. I've had seven sets of hydros,zero issues. Just curious,did you work on them yourself,or was a shop/other person also involved?

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  11. #11
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    I dumped hydros and went with cable discs... Hydros are more powerful and feel nicer but I just hate dealing with brake oil or fluid. Cable discs are adequate for commuting, they are simple and clean...If I was doing serious mountain biking or racing or downhill then I would choose hydros.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    Exact opposite of my experience. I've had seven sets of hydros,zero issues. Just curious,did you work on them yourself,or was a shop/other person also involved?

    Both. The first few times the bikes went to shops until I became more familiar with hydraulic disc brakes on bicycles and did more tinkering myself. Tinkering isn't really fair though, as I later found some problems caused by the bike shop and/or factory (such as a wheel being misaligned in the drop outs when the caliper was "aligned" to a misaligned part... you can see where that goes).

    So you know, I'm a trained industrial mechanic that has worked on fluid and hydraulic systems professionally, granted, little of that knowledge carries over in any significant way to making a bicycle work properly, besides the fundamentals. Hell, my screen name on here itself is a fluid-dynamics term.

    So, in hindsight and with a learning curve of hydraulic disc brakes on a bike spanning almost ten years now, I probably have a better grasp on setting the stuff up than your average kid in a bike shop. I don't pretend to know things, however, I've talked to friends that are bike mechanics by trade as well and never really came up with a satisfactory fix. In the end, the consensus is that the intro level stuff is junk and I should try a higher level caliper.

    Specifically speaking, I've had issues with Shimano BR-M485 and Shimano BR-M445.

  13. #13
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    Well I'll agree that most ently level bikes would be much better off with BB7s but it sounds cooler to say it has hydrualics so they come with crappy tektros or whatever.

  14. #14
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by headloss View Post
    I can't stand hydraulic... I'm tired of the pads rubbing. If I had a dollar for every time I've reset the pistons and bled the lines, I'd be about five bikes richer right now. I've had two bikes with stock hydraulic brakes now (both low end Shimano) and I dumped the hydraulic setup on both (after some time, I tried to give it a chance). I've been told that higher end hydraulics aren't as bad, but I'm not about to invest the money to find out. Really, what's the advantage of hydraulics anyways? It's not like I go through pads in the course of a day where the auto-adjustment would be beneficial... no, the opposite, the fact that the pads automatically set themselves is the fundamental thing that I can't stand about hydraulic discs.

    The other advantage is in the feel, but I'm quite alright with the stopping power of a well adjusted cable brake.

    there is a technique for your problem. It requires a good first assembly and then you can center a possibly rubbing pad with a small flat head screwdriver and it takes like five seconds to do
    1) install brake caliper without pads so that it is aligned with the disc.
    2) install pads, pump brakes until contact, correct dominant piston with small flathead by putting it behind the non rubbing pad and pumping the brake so that the pads are evenly spaced. (disclaimer, it can also be that you have to put the flathead behind the rubbing pad, but you know, trying it out is the easiest way to make sure.)
    3) ride.
    This is the kinda official hope brake adjustment method and it's the best one out there. I have never had success with the loosen bolts, squeeze lever, tighten - method since it doesn't take the inherent weakness of hydro brakes into consideration, which is the dominant piston. Every brake has one, however some brakes don't have it strong enough to cause issues or large caliper misalignment.
    And you never have to touch the caliper bolts, which is a huge plus.


    Quote Originally Posted by headloss View Post
    Both. The first few times the bikes went to shops until I became more familiar with hydraulic disc brakes on bicycles and did more tinkering myself. Tinkering isn't really fair though, as I later found some problems caused by the bike shop and/or factory (such as a wheel being misaligned in the drop outs when the caliper was "aligned" to a misaligned part... you can see where that goes).

    So you know, I'm a trained industrial mechanic that has worked on fluid and hydraulic systems professionally, granted, little of that knowledge carries over in any significant way to making a bicycle work properly, besides the fundamentals. Hell, my screen name on here itself is a fluid-dynamics term.

    So, in hindsight and with a learning curve of hydraulic disc brakes on a bike spanning almost ten years now, I probably have a better grasp on setting the stuff up than your average kid in a bike shop. I don't pretend to know things, however, I've talked to friends that are bike mechanics by trade as well and never really came up with a satisfactory fix. In the end, the consensus is that the intro level stuff is junk and I should try a higher level caliper.

    Specifically speaking, I've had issues with Shimano BR-M485 and Shimano BR-M445.
    My GF has one of those! Can't be sure which but they are a PITA to setup. However it can be done (I dun it) but if I had to choose I would buy her deore's so I wouldn't have to deal with those anymore. The ServoWave system is a lifesaver since it gives a teensy bit more pad clearance which is awesome. Actually I might do just that... I wonder if anyplace has them on sale in Europe...

    Personally I ride both.
    I use shimano M615 deore in the warmer seasons and avid BB7 when it get's cold. It turns out shimano brakes are not great in cold conditions. Not a biggie though, since the avids are sufficient for even the more hardcore winter downhill (since you don't have that much traction anyway so the brake power isn't as essential either)
    The thing I don't like about the avids is the fact that hey have a tendency to rub a bit. You have to run the pads really close to the disc to get good enough lever clearance. Although i hear the avid speeddials have some adjustment which can help with that. And I should buy jagwire mountain pro housing to get a little less "flex" in the system and more power in the rear brake.

  15. #15
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Hydraulic brakes just seem to be needless complication to me.

  16. #16
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    Hydraulic brakes just seem to be needless complication to me.
    But you ride a recumbent and a trike. So you probably don't do much riding offroad, yes..?

  17. #17
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    meanwhile

    Brakes are used to slow or stop a bike. What difference does it make where or what you ride?

  18. #18
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    meanwhile

    Brakes are used to slow or stop a bike. What difference does it make where or what you ride?
    Oh man you are a gift that just keeps on giving.

    Offroad a hydro just works better. Less possibility of clogging, dirtying, jamming (due to dirt getting in the housing). Plus a hydro is often more powerful and reliable AND you can ride your pads till depletion with one adjustment. That makes a difference on longer rides.

  19. #19
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    Hydraulic brakes just seem to be needless complication to me.
    As I said,I've never had issues with mine. Hydros have two things going for them;first,improved feel over cables,second,little to no adjusting. Set up properly(and this is important with anything),you basically replace the pads when worn and bleed them every couple of years. This is what makes them nice for commuting.

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