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  1. #1
    Senior Member avidone1's Avatar
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    Mechanical vs. Hydrolic disc brakes

    While checking the specs of hybrid bikes at various price points, it seems that the less expensive bikes use mechanical discs.
    Are hydrolic discs an inherently superior brake?
    my brother has a nice hybrid with Tektro MD-M300 Mechanical Disc brakes and they stop great but are annoyingly noisy.
    I'm looking at a bike with Tektro Auriga post mount hydraulic disc brakes, and I wonder if they are quieter or just a better brake in general
    age ... 65
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  2. #2
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    In terms of stopping, maybe not, but hydraulics have a better feel for most. They stop without using as many fingers, they are easier to modulate and, once set up, much fewer routine adjustments needed (more or less set and forget).

    When I was test riding recently I was all set to but my money down on a mechanical disc brake bike, but the I rode a Tektro hydraulic and it felt so much better, then a shimiro hydraulic.... had to have one.

    The difference may be insignificant to you, dunno.

    If you take the front wheel off routinely and touch the brake levers, you may have to spread the pads to get the wheel back on. There are little plastic wedges available to keep the pads spread.

  3. #3
    Senior Member RickGr4's Avatar
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    I have a new bike with hydraulic discs and I am still learning about them. However... I had some recent concerns about the brakes on my bike but I am now convinced it had nothing to do with mechanical vs hydraulic.

    I have no proof of this but I would think hydraulic brakes would have more power with less lever pull effort. I would also think that the hydraulic fluid might dampen out some unwanted vibrations.

    I have a strong vote for hydraulic brakes.
    Last edited by RickGr4; 06-23-15 at 01:34 PM.

  4. #4
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Hydros are generally better than mechs due to better feel and less routine maintenance. However,low end mechs can easily be upgraded by just swapping the calipers,hydros require you swap the whole system. One of the biggest differences between low and high end systems is the mounting hardware. Better systems use washer sets that allow you to fine tune the caliper's position,low end systems have plain mounts that can make it difficult to adjust them. Of course it should be noted that noise is usually just an annoyance;if it's just noise,with no other issues,there's no effect on stopping power or pad/rotor wear.

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  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You are the pad wear adjuster on mechanical Discs .. learn how to do it, its not that hard.

    squealing is dirt and glazed pads , you have to clean the discs and pads ..



    drum brakes are the way to go if you dont want to do the service maintenance.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-25-15 at 01:40 PM.

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    Our bikes came with mechanical disc brakes. We swapped them for hydraulics. Love the feel and ease. We live in a very hilly area so easy brakes were important to us.

  7. #7
    Senior Member RickGr4's Avatar
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    The owner of my LBS let me ride a bike with mechanical discs. I thought the mechanical discs were less powerful yet harder to modulate and control. You would think mechanical would have more "feel" but I didn't think they did.

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    I have mechanical discs on mine, and they work perfectly fine. If I were riding in the mountains, then maybe it would be different. I'll be honest: I might have been better suited with regular cantilevers instead. I am still pleased with what I have, though. Bullet-proof reliability, and it does everything I ask it to do.

  9. #9
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickGr4 View Post
    You would think mechanical would have more "feel" but I didn't think they did.
    Actually,no you wouldn't. Mechs have cables made of twisted wire that run through long runs of housing with bends in it. This means there's plenty of things to add slop. When I build new bikes with cable brakes,I always mash the levers hard to 'set' the cables before I do the final adjustments. Hydraulics have fluid in the lines that can't compress. You squeeze the lever,the piston pushes fluid to the caliper,the pistons move. No stretching,giving,or friction.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member RickGr4's Avatar
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    With all due respect, I don't entirely agree. Hydraulic brake lines can swell and greatly reduce "feel". It's been an issue with cars for decades. But that doesn't change that I am a huge supporter of hydrualic brakes for bikes.


    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    Actually,no you wouldn't. Mechs have cables made of twisted wire that run through long runs of housing with bends in it. This means there's plenty of things to add slop. When I build new bikes with cable brakes,I always mash the levers hard to 'set' the cables before I do the final adjustments. Hydraulics have fluid in the lines that can't compress. You squeeze the lever,the piston pushes fluid to the caliper,the pistons move. No stretching,giving,or friction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickGr4 View Post
    With all due respect, I don't entirely agree. Hydraulic brake lines can swell and greatly reduce "feel". It's been an issue with cars for decades. But that doesn't change that I am a huge supporter of hydrualic brakes for bikes.
    Really? Well maybe on some cheap set ups, (but I doubt it) but good hydraulic set ups don't swell, the fluid doesn't compress, they also don't boil the fluid, they basically never need adjustment, they feel much more predictable, they require much less effort to apply and easier to modulate, dry or wet they work basically the same (consistent)... I just love mine, had it for 15 years and never a problem, never failed, never needed adjustment, always consistent rain or shine, can lock it up with one finger... Wouldn't ever even consider anything but hydraulic disks on any bike that I will ever buy.
    He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination. I do like my beer, so sometimes I do end up leaning on the lamp-post...

  12. #12
    Senior Member RickGr4's Avatar
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    Did you miss the point where I said this??? "But that doesn't change that I am a huge supporter of hydrualic brakes for bikes."

    Just because someone throws an alternative opinion out there (based on known fact) doesn't mean that people need to go into attack mode. I own a brand new Giant bike with hydrualic brakes and I love them. I won't not buy another bike without them unless something widely better came along.

    Chillax and please be careful with selective editing of my posts. I do not appreciate it.


    Quote Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
    Really? Well maybe on some cheap set ups, (but I doubt it) but good hydraulic set ups don't swell, the fluid doesn't compress, they also don't boil the fluid, they basically never need adjustment, they feel much more predictable, they require much less effort to apply and easier to modulate, dry or wet they work basically the same (consistent)... I just love mine, had it for 15 years and never a problem, never failed, never needed adjustment, always consistent rain or shine, can lock it up with one finger... Wouldn't ever even consider anything but hydraulic disks on any bike that I will ever buy.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickGr4 View Post
    Did you miss the point where I said this??? "But that doesn't change that I am a huge supporter of hydrualic brakes for bikes."

    Just because someone throws an alternative opinion out there (based on known fact) doesn't mean that people need to go into attack mode. I own a brand new Giant bike with hydrualic brakes and I love them. I won't not buy another bike without them unless something widely better came along.

    Chillax and please be careful with selective editing of my posts. I do not appreciate it.
    Yes I did realize that you liked hydraulic brakes but I felt I had to point out that your statement about hydraulic lines swelling and that can reduce "feel" is just basically wrong/incorrect... If someone has a hydraulic system that does that, it is a faulty brake system and is unsafe/dangerous and must be fixed IMO... ( I guess I should have said that too) All the other things I said was just extra info I thought added to the mechanical - vs - hydraulic discussion...
    Last edited by 350htrr; 06-28-15 at 06:36 PM.
    He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination. I do like my beer, so sometimes I do end up leaning on the lamp-post...

  14. #14
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickGr4 View Post
    Hydraulic brake lines can swell and greatly reduce "feel". It's been an issue with cars for decades.
    And motorcycles. But they often have rubber sections in their lines(common upgrade on sportbikes to swap stock hoses for braided stainless steel). I have yet to see these on a bicycle.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickGr4 View Post
    With all due respect, I don't entirely agree. Hydraulic brake lines can swell and greatly reduce "feel". It's been an issue with cars for decades.
    Let me tell you in advance, I didn't miss the point that you are a supporter of hydraulic brakes No offence.

    Brake fluid would swell up the rubber components of braking system in the past. But now most of the rubber parts for hydraulic brake system seems to last veeeeery long (10+ years). Also, brake lines would swell if it gets overheated. It's been an issue with cars/motorcycles for decades, but it's very rare. Brake pads usually get overheated first which dramatically reduces the brake feel as well (a.k.a brake fade) and most people think that rubber brake line is the reason for that.

    I doubt someone can overheat hydraulic brake components (incl. brake fluid) of bicycles.
    Last edited by dgunay; 07-02-15 at 09:33 PM.

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