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  1. #1
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    Disc brakes & modulation - need advice

    Hey all,

    Its time for me to upgrade to a new bike. My riding is xc, and i prefer more technical rocks with plenty of rock gardens and such.

    I'd like to run rim brakes, but those days are all but over now. I'd be OK with disc except that every set i've used (bb5, bb7, juicy 5, juicy 7 and some hayes hydraulic, i'm not sure what model) have been faaaar too sensitive. They remind me of Nissan brakes, way too much braking for way too little pedal effort, which is aweful because good modulation is difficult. Nothing worse than touchy brakes on technical downhills.

    One of my problems is weight. I'm but 125 lbs, and my rim brakes, even when wet & mudded up, have offered good modulation and more than sufficient power. I'm looking for something similar in discs and would like recommendations.

    Maybe BB7s with larger rotors (larger pad area will in theory allow for better modulation if designed right) with a set of really hard pads? Anyone use a combination that required a really hefty grab of the lever to obtain serious braking? I don't want this 1 finger locks them crap, i want a hefty grab to lock them.

    Thanks for any suggestions!

  2. #2
    one less horse cryptid01's Avatar
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    Two options:

    1) grease your brake pads

    or

    2) Stop squeezing so hard

  3. #3
    Too Much Crazy
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    clean your rotors with moose piss

  4. #4
    Official Website Waterboy born2bahick's Avatar
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    I never thought I'd see the day that I might suggest Hayes mechanical disc's as an option, but if it's many shades of modulation with out the uber stopping power your looking for you might be able to pick some up on E-bay cheap! Man I have to force myself to hit the submit button............

  5. #5
    Join the BLK MRKT MulletArgyleman's Avatar
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    ok, well how about gettin' some new stoppers? Hayes strokers haven't really been out yet, but if you can afford to try them, it might be worth it, some reviews claim excellent modulation and such but not much info...
    http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Hayes-Stroker-Review.html

    Also, check out some new offerings from Hope & Magura, u never know if u like any of 'em before u try

    hope this helped (at least a little)
    "No I told you I wanted it in blue-green. Not Aqua!

    quote - Random biker

    Are you a MulletArgyleMan?

  6. #6
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    put some air in the lines..

  7. #7
    Does Not Exist
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    My can't you run rim brakes if you've always found them sufficient?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Thrifty1's Avatar
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    Mechainal disc of your choice with a bit more than recommended pad to rotor gap/clearance will result in more lever travel and and increased lever pressure to slow/lockup......adjust/maladjust to sataisfactory feel.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BLIZZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gastro View Post

    2) Stop squeezing so hard
    +1
    Your saying, you can't get used to really good brakes!
    Brakes are like horse power and money......you can never have to much.
    I'm not totally useless....I can be used as a BAD example.

  10. #10
    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    I guess I've been pretty lucky considering that every pair of disc brakes I have ever used had great modulation. I've got Juicy 7's now and they offer all of the modulation I could ever need.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by efficiency View Post
    My can't you run rim brakes if you've always found them sufficient?
    Actually that is what i wanted to do, but its just not a viable option anymore as good frames/forks don't have bosses anymore, so i have no choice but to run disc.

    Thanks for the suggestions, i'll look into them. I've even read that the moose population has be drstically increasing in ny, so that's probably a more accessible option than rim brakes haha. Not so sure about air in the lines ... Something about crappy feeling, and probably unpredictable brakes is no fun either

  12. #12
    Senior Member Thrifty1's Avatar
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    FWIW: I installed Kool Stop pads in the BB-7s on my wife's bike and adjusted evrything to "perfection".....excellent/flawless performance.........she didn't like it because, due to her small hands, she did not have appropriate/sufficient finger strength/control with her fingers extended to reach the (Avid) lever......increasing the rotor to pad gap/cleaeance enabled more effecient/comfortable braking due to increased lever travel/reduced finger extension.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BLIZZ View Post
    +1
    Your saying, you can't get used to really good brakes!
    Brakes are like horse power and money......you can never have to much.
    Power and modulation are two completely different qualities. A powerful brake doesn't need to be grabby, just as weak brakes can be grabby.

    Power is good. Grabby is bad. I can make the most powerful brakes in the world, but if they lock up the tires with virtually no pressure, then they're unusable. Being able to induce over-the-handlebar power with just my pinky is far too sensitive because if i'm going down a technical section near the hairy edge, grabby brakes makes it far too easy to throw the balance of the bike off.

    Reminds me of my days SCCA racing. Grabby brakes make too easy to throw the balance of the car off when you're driving at the limit. A good brake is firm, not a lot of pedal travel once the pads grab (solid lines with little flex), and a good push before reaching lockup. The opposite of my parents' Nissans, and the opposite of all the disc brakes i've used so far. I'd rather get used to a good design with lots of power and lots of modulation, not a grabby setup that makes it too easy to upset the balance of the bike/car.
    Last edited by vandeda; 10-11-07 at 11:13 AM.

  14. #14
    Gravity hunter dminor's Avatar
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    If you are apprehensive about getting too much stopping power from discs, here's what you do: Get a cheap set of Tektros then lube your cables with a mixture of WD40 and thin-set mortar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vandeda View Post
    Actually that is what i wanted to do, but its just not a viable option anymore as good frames/forks don't have bosses anymore, so i have no choice but to run disc.

    Thanks for the suggestions, i'll look into them. I've even read that the moose population has be drstically increasing in ny, so that's probably a more accessible option than rim brakes haha. Not so sure about air in the lines ... Something about crappy feeling, and probably unpredictable brakes is no fun either
    It is a viable option. It takes a little harder looking. The Kona Hei Hei Deluxe comes spec w/ XTR vee brakes.

  16. #16
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    I've got tons of modulation, too bad you have to pull to the bar before you feel anything

    Of course, I don't have disks...

    But can't you adjust them so the pads are a bit further away from the disk?
    http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g3...BFARSIG3-1.jpg
    ...someday I'll have money for it...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kona_stig View Post
    I've got tons of modulation, too bad you have to pull to the bar before you feel anything

    Of course, I don't have disks...

    But can't you adjust them so the pads are a bit further away from the disk?
    You can, but that's not modulation, that's just more pull before the brake pads engage

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by vandeda View Post
    Power and modulation are two completely different qualities. A powerful brake doesn't need to be grabby, just as weak brakes can be grabby.

    Power is good. Grabby is bad. I can make the most powerful brakes in the world, but if they lock up the tires with virtually no pressure, then they're unusable. Being able to induce over-the-handlebar power with just my pinky is far too sensitive because if i'm going down a technical section near the hairy edge, grabby brakes makes it far too easy to throw the balance of the bike off.

    Reminds me of my days SCCA racing. Grabby brakes make too easy to throw the balance of the car off when you're driving at the limit. A good brake is firm, not a lot of pedal travel once the pads grab (solid lines with little flex), and a good push before reaching lockup. The opposite of my parents' Nissans, and the opposite of all the disc brakes i've used so far. I'd rather get used to a good design with lots of power and lots of modulation, not a grabby setup that makes it too easy to upset the balance of the bike/car.
    i don't think the brake you are looking for exists in the bicycle world. most people really enjoy the minimal effort required to stop or slow their bikes. your arms won't get pumped up and fatigued on a long descent, which means your body will ultimately have more energy for getting you back up the hill.

    i've used all the brakes you mentioned in the first post and have never had any problem controlling my bike on a hairy descent. there is definitely a learning curve involved when switching to new technology, and it's something you can get used to very quickly. hundreds of thousands of bicycle riders use and enjoy hydraulic rim brakes every day with no problem. if you have a problem with juicy 7s being "grabby" pull the lever slower and apply less pressure. they have tons of modulation when set up and used properly. that grabbiness is a good thing when you need to come to a controlled, complete stop in a hurry. re-train your muscles and soon, you too will be riding and enjoying your new hydraulic disc brake setup.

    BTW, larger rotors will make the "grabbiness" worse. if you want something less "grabby" ideally the caliper would have 2 very small pistons, like about the size of the individual pistons on the old four-pot XT brakes), but a medium-sized pad (like an avid juicy pad), and very small master cylinder. this would give you less initial power, and allow the rider to apply more pressure to translate into more braking power.

    you might want to try something like a formula oro brake, which has a pretty small pad, but a very large piston. the larger piston will give you more power, but the smaller pad will have less "grab." they still have a very effortless feel to them though.

    here's another thought: CARS ARE NOT BIKES! brakes designed for a bicycle are not going to work the same as brakes for a car. two very different systems that are required to slow/stop two very different vehicles. your knowledge of car brake systems is impressive, however, not so applicable to the bicycle realm.
    Last edited by OneTinSloth; 10-11-07 at 05:19 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by vandeda View Post
    You can, but that's not modulation, that's just more pull before the brake pads engage
    This is true..
    http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g3...BFARSIG3-1.jpg
    ...someday I'll have money for it...

  20. #20
    pedal head
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    Quote Originally Posted by vandeda View Post
    ... I'd be OK with disc except that every set i've used (bb5, bb7, juicy 5, juicy 7 and some hayes hydraulic, i'm not sure what model) have been faaaar too sensitive...
    Really?? I don't think there is anyone else on the internet that feels that way.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneTinSloth View Post
    i don't think the brake you are looking for exists in the bicycle world. most people really enjoy the minimal effort required to stop or slow their bikes. your arms won't get pumped up and fatigued on a long descent, which means your body will ultimately have more energy for getting you back up the hill.

    i've used all the brakes you mentioned in the first post and have never had any problem controlling my bike on a hairy descent. there is definitely a learning curve involved when switching to new technology, and it's something you can get used to very quickly. hundreds of thousands of bicycle riders use and enjoy hydraulic rim brakes every day with no problem. if you have a problem with juicy 7s being "grabby" pull the lever slower and apply less pressure. they have tons of modulation when set up and used properly. that grabbiness is a good thing when you need to come to a controlled, complete stop in a hurry. re-train your muscles and soon, you too will be riding and enjoying your new hydraulic disc brake setup.
    After reading all the above comments ... 1) I'm glad you understand what I'm saying. Point of engagement, amount of pedal/lever travel, power ... none of those are modulation or grabbiness, but they keep getting associated. And 2) yeah, i'm coming to the conclusion that people like their brakes to grab hard on initial bite. I didn't really know anyone personally who liked this in performance cars and usually complained if the brakes grabbed too hard on initial application because it upsets the chassis too easily. This clearly doesn't translate into biking which is a shame (for me).

    OneTinSloth, thanks again for understanding exactly what i was/am asking. Anyway, I think I have a game plan at the very least ...

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by probable556 View Post
    Really?? I don't think there is anyone else on the internet that feels that way.
    Maybe I should talk to real people in real life then?

  23. #23
    Gravity hunter dminor's Avatar
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    I think a lot more of us understand what you are saying than you give them credit for - -they've just gotten over it.

    From my white-knuckled days of trying to get rim brakes to haul me down, the first time I grabbed a handful of lever on my son's hydraulic discs I thought 'whoa.' It felt like waayyy too much brake for my tastes. After you've trained yourself to trust discs, you realize that you don't need to grab for the lever with all that gusto like you did with your rim brakes.

    You'll learn that with a good set of stoppers, one finger on the lever is quite often plenty sufficient and that it gives you a more sensitive feel so that you don't over-apply for the given situation.

  24. #24
    Senior Member BLIZZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post

    You'll learn that with a good set of stoppers, one finger on the lever is quite often plenty sufficient and that it gives you a more sensitive feel so that you don't over-apply for the given situation.
    I have heard the term HAM FISTED use to describe someone who has trouble with modulation.
    I'm not totally useless....I can be used as a BAD example.

  25. #25
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    Thank you. This is a much more meaningful response. Hmmm ... I'm not sure where to go with this. But I guess at my weight, I don't have white-knuckle experiences with rim brakes. They require a firm pull, but always have enough power to haul my butt down.

    What I'd like is that firm pull, good power with a mild initial bite of the pads. I haven't ridden discs yet that provide this and am hoping to find a combo that does. I didn't think this was a fairly rediculous request, but apparently so haha. Or maybe I worded my desire poorly (won't be the first time, or last).

    Onetin ... A smaller pad is a step in the wrong direction. The line between sliding and stopped becomes thinner, so modulating the brake near the point of lockup will become more difficult. And car & bike brakes are more similar than we think because there are common good traits we want .... fade resistance, stopping power and controllability.

    Anyway ..... whatever.

    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post
    I think a lot more of us understand what you are saying than you give them credit for - -they've just gotten over it.

    From my white-knuckled days of trying to get rim brakes to haul me down, the first time I grabbed a handful of lever on my son's hydraulic discs I thought 'whoa.' It felt like waayyy too much brake for my tastes. After you've trained yourself to trust discs, you realize that you don't need to grab for the lever with all that gusto like you did with your rim brakes.

    You'll learn that with a good set of stoppers, one finger on the lever is quite often plenty sufficient and that it gives you a more sensitive feel so that you don't over-apply for the given situation.

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