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Old 08-17-12, 08:59 PM   #1
frankiejr
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Road disc brake levers and mechanical calipers: Help!

Hey everyone.

I have a Surly Disc Trucker with Avid BB7 mountain brakes / Tektro levers / drop bars. I absolutely hate the way the Tektro hoods feel. But I absolutely LOVE the way SRAM hoods feel. Unfortunately I'd have to switch brakes if I got the SRAM S500 levers since they pull a different amount of cable.

Does anyone have any experience with disc brake calipers, and/or any suggestions for disc brakes? I know Avid makes a BB7 road, but I have no idea how they perform compared to the mountain version. Is the clearance tighter?

I guess a lot of my confusion about this leads back to "why did Surly choose BB7 Mountain over BB7 Road?" My assumption is the lack of road disc lever options, so I'm also posting this thread to get input on that as well.

Sorry for the wall of text. Any input on this issue would help. Thanks!

Frankie
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Old 08-17-12, 10:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by frankiejr View Post
Does anyone have any experience with disc brake calipers, and/or any suggestions for disc brakes? I know Avid makes a BB7 road, but I have no idea how they perform compared to the mountain version. Is the clearance tighter?
I have BB7 Road calipers on my touring bike. I use them with Shimano Ultegra STI levers and they work very well indeed. I honestly can't tell any difference between the BB7 Road calipers I have now and the BB7 mountain bike calipers I've used in the past. Presumably, the Road calipers expect a different amount of cable to be pulled but other than that they seem almost identical.

Quote:
I guess a lot of my confusion about this leads back to "why did Surly choose BB7 Mountain over BB7 Road?" My assumption is the lack of road disc lever options, so I'm also posting this thread to get input on that as well.
I doubt lack of levers was the issue. If you look at Surly's line-up they offer one, and only one, disc brake caliper: the Avid BB7 Mountain. It seems likely they bought a truckload of them, at a discount price, and decided to use them everywhere they needed a disc brake caliper. All of their complete bikes are built to a price-point, so they probably can't afford to spec the ideal components on every bike...
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Old 08-17-12, 10:33 PM   #3
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Avid BB7 road disc brakes here with Cane Creek SCR-5C road brake levers. Everything works and feels smoothly.

Sstorkel's explanations sound accurate.
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Old 08-17-12, 10:44 PM   #4
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I don't think this reply will help that much, but for what it's worth, I think it's well worth just buying a BB7 road brake and using it with the hoods you like. I'm not all that sensitive to the feel of a brake hood, myself. If the feel of a hood is something you notice, though, it's going to bug you every time you ride, especially now that you know there's something better. The brakes themselves are only around $70-80 online. Even with the cost of the levers, you'll only pay for it once, rather than being annoyed indefinitely.
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Old 08-17-12, 10:52 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
...It seems likely they bought a truckload of them, at a discount price, and decided to use them everywhere they needed a disc brake caliper. All of their complete bikes are built to a price-point, so they probably can't afford to spec the ideal components on every bike...
I agree, it was most likely price. I bet Avid has 50 MTB BB7s manufactured for every 1 ROAD BB7, it's bound to affect wholesale price, even though it doesn't seem to affect retail price.

Also, there is a small chance they chose the BB7 M to keep the component color scheme all-black (BB7 R are silver).

Performance-wise these calipers are essentially identical.

I agree with the OP, the MTB-compatible long pull levers are a little harder to work and don't feel as good in the hand as the std road lever. If you compare them side-by-side, the LP levers are ~1cm longer reach-wise than the SP levers.

OP, you just need to buy a couple BB7 R calipers - about $50 last time I bought some (jensonusa). Perhaps you can sell the BB7 M calipers. Or get used to it the way it is.

Last edited by seeker333; 08-17-12 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 08-17-12, 11:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
Avid BB7 road disc brakes here with Cane Creek SCR-5C road brake levers...
I had this combination on my LHT with a disc fork a while back, it does work fine.
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Old 08-17-12, 11:56 PM   #7
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It might be a long shot but it'd only cost you $19 to buy the SRAM hood covers (which, yes, are very comfy) and see if they'd fit on your existing levers.

WRT the why of it all, seeker's color scheme theory sounds likely.


Edited to add:
If they didn't fit, there'd still be the possibility of modifying them with dental molding rubber or pure silcone.

Last edited by Simon Cowbell; 08-18-12 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 08-18-12, 05:05 PM   #8
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There's more to it than the rubber hoods.

Long-cable-pull (LP) levers are capable of pulling more cable with about the same lever movement by moving the fulcrum point lower on the lever arm. You have to reach further out and down to actuate a LP lever, and you have to apply more leverage. LP levers have less mechanical advantage than std road levers.

A standard short-cable-pull road lever, whether plain ole brake lever or modern integrated brake/shift lever aka brifter (STI/Ergo) is simply easier to reach, wrap your fingers around, and pull, requiring less effort due to it's greater leverage/mechanical advantage.

Another thought - perhaps Surly went with Avid BB7 MTB calipers because a certain number of customers remove the drop bars and switch to flat, riser or trekking/butterfly bars - all of which require mtb brake levers, which subsequently require BB7M calipers - not BB7 Road.

Or it's as simple as the mtb calipers mean another dollar profit plus it keeps all the parts black.
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Old 08-19-12, 02:37 AM   #9
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Would you like the feel of the hoods of Shimano's brifter-less aero levers better?

they are narrower in your grip on the hoods... give them a try.

I have them on 2 bikes with bar end shifters.
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Old 08-20-12, 09:26 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for all the replies. My original thought was that Surly probably buys in bulk so black is cheaper. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt I guess. Oh well.

What I really love about the SRAM hoods is that they're very wide. When I have to climb out of the saddle, the Tektro levers (different hoods than the ones on the canti-equipped LHT) are just plain uncomfortable. They almost come to a point and really dig into my big mitts.

My biggest worry was about the difference in the amount of cable pull between the two brakes and whether or not they felt the same when set up properly. Seems like they do, so I grabbed some levers the other day & ordered some BB7 Roads. I've set everything up already so it'll be a 5-minute bolt-on job when they arrive tomorrow. Thanks again!
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Old 08-21-12, 11:29 AM   #11
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Ok I just went thru this with my Fargo. I used another set of brakes with were not Liner pull. If you setup the brakes the way Avid says too you can then snug the cable up. Set it slightly tight so that there is no slack at all. In other words when you touch the lever the brake should engage. This will let you use non liner brake levers. I hear ya about the Tektro hoods they are narrow. I have the RL520's and they are not so bad but my hands are not that large.
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Old 08-21-12, 11:38 AM   #12
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The Asian contract factories that QBP contracted to build their bikes ,
buys by the pallet of cases .. its what manufacturers do. all brands.

The factories there make multiple brands of bikes , defined by the

specifics on the contract, and CAD designs submitted..

and the component build list specified by Brand's Product Managers.
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Old 08-21-12, 02:38 PM   #13
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My bike has RL520 and BB7_mtn and my wifes has Cane Creeks SCR5C with BB7_road. I like the mountain version more, somehow the modulation feels better. But honestly that could also be due to the fact that my bike sees way more more mileage and brakes are tuned and worn in very well.

I have very large palms and long fingers and Tektros fit me just right, i wouldn't trade them now for the wider top platform of Cane Creeks. I am a little peaky when it comes to being comfortable on the bike, had issues with Tektros cutting into my palms, but on the end the solution was in trying different drop bars and keeping the brake levers.
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