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  1. #1
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    Question RE Hydraulic Disc Brakes

    So, I keep seeing these Rube Goldberg cable-to-hydraulic disc brake adapters in interbike coverage (see pic). I've also heard racers say that they don't run disc brakes because the only ones that work with road levers are the lower-end cable actuated ones.

    My question is this: why not run flat bars and MTB shifters/levers? Somebody must have tried this--I just don't understand why I've never seen it on a top-level racer's bike.

    I have never raced cyclocross, so I'm aware that this might be a stupid question. But think about it: with a slightly larger (longer top tube) frame and a long stem, the position would be right, and it might even be better for technical sections, etc. I don't see any disadvantage. It might even be lighter weight.

    Can anyone lend some insight?


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    Not legal in UCI races which is why no elites. A "proper" cross course doesn't have technical sections that's what MTB racing is for. On a real cross course drop bars are a better setup.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheRivet View Post
    Not legal in UCI races
    Well, that just proves it's a better setup. :-P

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    IMO it's actually a better idea to have the oil reservoir separate from the shifters, rather than integrated, even if it means the compromise of have a short cable run between the two.

  5. #5
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Why are so many companies going to so much trouble to setup cross bikes with hydraulic discs? Cable-actuated disc brakes work great, and don't require these conversion boxes or any messy maintenance. Avid BB-7 brakes are the current standard model of cable disc brakes, which I've used successfully on a few different bikes. They are easy to setup and adjust. They are not so light, but hopefully Avid will launch a higher-end version which is better in that aspect.

    Hydraulic discs are a pain to do any sort of maintenance on - who needs the hassle when cable discs work very well?

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    So far I only saw shots of a Few Trade show exhibits.. hardly a groundswell
    companies that sell at a premium price , ship around the world to find the well off buyer.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mr.smith.pdx's Avatar
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    I put a BB7 on the front of my cross bike as the fork had mounts for them and I weigh a lot.

    I love these brakes. 2,000 times easier to set up than any cantilever brake anywhere.

    CX courses in Oregon HAVE technical parts. Sometimes I feel like half the CX courses are really just Short Track MTB courses, with beer and cowbells.
    Don't be offended. This is just my opinion. It stinks, just like everybody else's opinion.

  8. #8
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    Cantilevers are still lighter

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    Why are so many companies going to so much trouble to setup cross bikes with hydraulic discs?
    Sure, mechanical discs work fine, but there are multiple advantages to hydraulic, especially on a bike that will see lots of dirt, mud, and sand.

    To reiterate my previous post, I think the parabox paradigm might win out over integrating hydraulic into the lever. Putting the hydraulics into the hoods would add a lot of bulk and make servicing difficult. And with parabox, you can still use top-mount levers. (And if you're running Di2, you might as well add auxiliary shifters to the bartops. )

    It may seem kludgey, but aren't cantilevers the definition of kludgey?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheRivet View Post
    Not legal in UCI races which is why no elites. A "proper" cross course doesn't have technical sections that's what MTB racing is for. On a real cross course drop bars are a better setup.
    Is this true? I couldn't find a rule against using flat bars, only against bar ends. I don't race but am curious. A rule prohibiting the use of bar ends seems to imply that the bars on which bar ends might be installed are OK.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    Is this true? I couldn't find a rule against using flat bars
    It's not stated explicitly in the cyclocross section, but is part of the general rules. I forget the exact wording, but there's a drawing of a bike with drop bars.

    Frischknecht rocked flat bars until it was forbidden. I think 1998 was when he won a sprint for second in Worlds on flat bars in Montreal.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    Why are so many companies going to so much trouble to setup cross bikes with hydraulic discs? Cable-actuated disc brakes work great, and don't require these conversion boxes or any messy maintenance. Avid BB-7 brakes are the current standard model of cable disc brakes, which I've used successfully on a few different bikes. They are easy to setup and adjust. They are not so light, but hopefully Avid will launch a higher-end version which is better in that aspect.

    Hydraulic discs are a pain to do any sort of maintenance on - who needs the hassle when cable discs work very well?
    Yeah, hydraulic brakes can be a pain to work on, but they also require near zero maintenance.

    Also, my cross bike is heavy enough that I'm not really worried about the weight of the braking system, I just want something that's less of a pain to deal with than Canti's or V-brakes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    It's not stated explicitly in the cyclocross section, but is part of the general rules. I forget the exact wording, but there's a drawing of a bike with drop bars.

    Frischknecht rocked flat bars until it was forbidden. I think 1998 was when he won a sprint for second in Worlds on flat bars in Montreal.
    Decided to look it up, actually took a while to find
    1.3.022 d) Structure
    In competitions other than those covered by article 1.3.023, only the traditional type of handlebars
    (see diagram «structure 1») may be used.

    It goes on a bit, but no flat bars in UCI mass start road and CX races.

    And elsewhere
    Comments on Article 1.3.022:
    Only the traditional type of handlebars is authorised for use in massed-start road races, cyclo-cross and track
    competitions (except for individual and team pursuit, kilometer and 500 time trials). The attachment of any
    additional handlebar component or extension is prohibited. The area of the point of support of the hands on
    the handlebars is defined by the diagram below:
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by zac102 View Post
    they also require near zero maintenance.
    Do bicycle hydraulic brakes have a reservoir above the master cylinder piston like a car does to automatically adjust for pad/rotor wear? The only maintenance my BB7s require is occasional pad depth adjustment.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    It's not stated explicitly in the cyclocross section, but is part of the general rules. I forget the exact wording, but there's a drawing of a bike with drop bars.

    Frischknecht rocked flat bars until it was forbidden. I think 1998 was when he won a sprint for second in Worlds on flat bars in Montreal.
    How do you explain the rule against the use of bar ends?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    How do you explain the rule against the use of bar ends?
    As far as I can tell, USAC rules do not restrict bar-ends. After all, they are allowed in mass-start XC races, right? But it's a tradition to say that mountain bikes are allowed in cross races as long as you don't use bar-ends; I think it hearkens back to the day when bar-ends were huge and pointed out pretty far.

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