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BB-7 mech vs Deore hydro

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BB-7 mech vs Deore hydro

Old 02-18-17, 07:09 PM
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uRabbit
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BB-7 mech vs Deore hydro

Hey, all!

Been running these two setups through my calculator and brain for a few days now. I'm really over my Tektro Dorado HD-E710's, because every time I change the pads, I have to burp and fill the reservoir. They're good brakes, overall, except when it comes to maintenance.

I am entertaining the thought of going mechanical, but some other folks have said to stick with hydraulics and just get a better system. The Deore comes highly recommended.

I'd like to get the most performance and ease-of-maintenance for my buck. Both of these systems are going to run me about the same cost. Only problem is that my current rear cable is 2200mm. There's a little bit of room, but I think I'll absolutely need at least 2000mm.

The Deore is on ChainReactionCycles, but I would need to get Jagwire's 3000mm universal hose, plus their Shimano adapter kit, and probably their nipple insertion tool since I'm no pro. That's quite a bit of $ on top of the already bit of money being put up for the brakes, pads, and levers.

The BB-7's can be had on Amazon right now for $81 for front and rear calipers, pads, and rotors (don't necessarily need the rotors, as I don't have the tool for that). A long enough cable and housing is cheap enough, too. Levers are only $26 each.

So I'm wondering what you all think would be the most wise idea? Keep in mind, this is an electric cargo bike (see sig) that I use for bussing the kid to school, CostCo runs, commuting, everything.
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Old 02-18-17, 08:10 PM
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I've run bb7s on several mtbs for 16 years, and a set of XT Hydros for the past 4 years on one bike. These are likely very similar in reliability and feel to the newer Deore.

I run compressionless brake housing with the BB7s, which makes a huge difference. Opinions of BB7 performance based on experience using something besides compressionless brake housing are worthless, IMO. I have always used Jagwire Ripcord, I think they are now called Mountain/Road Pro.

My take:

In terms of shear performance on the trail, the XT are better. Smoother, more solid feeling, more powerful, and easier to control. BUT not by a whole lot. Enough difference that I appreciate it on a bike that I ride in demanding and technical situations. However, for a road, gravel, cargo, or commuter bike, the BB7s would be just as satisfactory to me.

In terms of maintenance and reliability, I think it is a mixed bag. BB7s take regular tweaking of the adjuster knobs on the pads as the pads wear down. This is frequent, but quick and straight forward.

My experience with hydros (mine and my those of my riding buddies) is the opposite. For the most part they are self adjusting, and between pad changes (which I have never needed to do a bleed for) you will likely never need to even think about them..... until you do. When I DO have issues with my XTs, it can be a lot more work to track down where the air bubble is and bleed it out. If the bubble is in the caliper, I have the take the damn thing off the bike to bleed it.

So for me, the total maintenance is a wash between the two, the difference being that the bb7s are always a quick and easy fix.

I'll put it this way: In all the years running bb7s I never once missed a ride because of them. I have missed several rides due to needing to bleed my XTs.

So my takeaway from this is that for my high-end All-Mountain bike, it is worth it to me to run the XT hydros. But for my new road bike build, I am going with BB7s. I would also go with mechanicals for any disc bike for touring, commuting, or cargo bike.

Others will offer different opinions for sure.

Last edited by Kapusta; 02-18-17 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 02-18-17, 08:50 PM
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Bleeding/burping is normal when the pads are swapped. But for most people that's like an annual thing, not a common occurrence.

How quickly are you going through pads? If you're using them up quickly, you might consider switching to metallic pads.

The Deore brakes are much cheaper than you think. The lever+caliper kits include absurdly long brake hoses (I have extra on a large FS mountain bike). You don't need the insertion tool. The brakes come with yellow spacers for inserting nipples so ideally all you need is a vice, although vice grip pliers work in a pinch. All you need at the brakes and a bleed kit.
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Old 02-18-17, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by uRabbit View Post

So I'm wondering what you all think would be the most wise idea? Keep in mind, this is an electric cargo bike (see sig) that I use for bussing the kid to school, CostCo runs, commuting, everything.
I was in a similar predicament. I had some Tektro draco hydraulics on my rigid 29er, changed over to a Jones loop bar, and the lines were just too short...I priced replacement lines, and wasn't confident that I could use a lot of precut kits due to the long run to the rear brake...Thought about getting a generic kit with uncut line, but the adapters for my brakes were hard to track down.

Said the heck with it and bought bb7s. I'm glad I did...With compressionless housing, they work as well as the hydraulic brakes from what I can tell. Only downside is that they do need some minor adjustments when you remove/replace the wheel, and as the brake wears down. Not a big deal.
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Old 02-18-17, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
Bleeding/burping is normal when the pads are swapped. But for most people that's like an annual thing, not a common occurrence.

How quickly are you going through pads? If you're using them up quickly, you might consider switching to metallic pads.

The Deore brakes are much cheaper than you think. The lever+caliper kits include absurdly long brake hoses (I have extra on a large FS mountain bike). You don't need the insertion tool. The brakes come with yellow spacers for inserting nipples so ideally all you need is a vice, although vice grip pliers work in a pinch. All you need at the brakes and a bleed kit.
We have two of these bikes, which we ride daily ≥5 miles each, and each set lasts about six months, or more. We've had them for a year, and we've replaced each set once.

The Deore's rear hose is 1700mm.

Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee View Post
I was in a similar predicament. I had some Tektro draco hydraulics on my rigid 29er, changed over to a Jones loop bar, and the lines were just too short...I priced replacement lines, and wasn't confident that I could use a lot of precut kits due to the long run to the rear brake...Thought about getting a generic kit with uncut line, but the adapters for my brakes were hard to track down.

Said the heck with it and bought bb7s. I'm glad I did...With compressionless housing, they work as well as the hydraulic brakes from what I can tell. Only downside is that they do need some minor adjustments when you remove/replace the wheel, and as the brake wears down. Not a big deal.
Sounds like mechanical may be the way to go. The Jagwire Pro hoses look nice. Thanks for the suggestion. Just received a $50 Amazon gift card, too!

Here's my list so far for if I go BB-7:
- Jagwire Mountain Pro/Ripcord - $28 (x2? no length shown)
- BB-7 Caliper set - $81 (x2)
- BB-7 Brake levers - $25 (x4)

I think that's all I would need. Actually, I don't need the rotors, but that kit is so well-priced. Got any better sources for these?

Last edited by uRabbit; 02-18-17 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 02-19-17, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by uRabbit View Post

Here's my list so far for if I go BB-7:
- Jagwire Mountain Pro/Ripcord - $28 (x2? no length shown)
- BB-7 Caliper set - $81 (x2)
- BB-7 Brake levers - $25 (x4)

I think that's all I would need. Actually, I don't need the rotors, but that kit is so well-priced. Got any better sources for these?
Ha...I bought the same levers and same cable kit (also from Amazon, it tells me when I clicked those links). I believe the levers are priced per pair, by the way.

I bought my bb7s from Nashbar when they had them in stock during a sale...From my memory it was still over $50 per wheel, so that deal you found seems good. My last suggestion is that if you go bb7, watch a YouTube video or two on how to set them up...I was new to disc brakes, and was unsure I made a good choice until I got them set up properly.

Last edited by wheelsmcgee; 02-19-17 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 02-19-17, 06:36 AM
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Another opinion:

Replacing the hose on hydraulics with straight fittings (no rotatable banjo at the caliper) is not an onerous job. The individual brakes, in retail packaging (so, or-bled lever/caliper), include one extra compression fitting/barb each, as well as a bleed block and split collar for holding the hose in a vise for barb installation. Buying a front and rear brake would supply you with enough fittings to attach a bare hose.

The process is straight forward, and would actually require being ham-handed to damage the hose or barb; simply clamp the hose in the block (barely snug, not tight. Better to be a bit loose), and tap the barb into the hose end with a small hammer.

I probably wouldn't recommend changing the hose from whatever the manufacturer specified, as it can adversely affect the feel/performance of the brake. Current model Deore uses model BH-90 hose, I believe. The barbs are also specific to the hose, by the way.

Shimano also sells calipers, levers, and hoses separately, for what it's worth (though you are unlikely to find deals on these...).
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Old 02-19-17, 11:03 AM
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Well, shoot. So I just discovered that there's a difference in mounts for disc brakes. IS and Post. Looks like mine are IS.
edit: Click for image. It's annoyingly large.

Does this mean these are out of the question for me?

edit: Found some adapters. How do I choose the right one? Looks like some BB-7's come with 51mm adapters.

BTW, there is a BB-7 set on Amazon for only $81, but it's 160mm. I currently run 200mm front and back. I'm wondering if I could get away with 160's...

Last edited by uRabbit; 02-19-17 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 02-19-17, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
In terms of shear performance on the trail, the XT are better. Smoother, more solid feeling, more powerful, and easier to control. BUT not by a whole lot. Enough difference that I appreciate it on a bike that I ride in demanding and technical situations. However, for a road, gravel, cargo, or commuter bike, the BB7s would be just as satisfactory to me.
I think this is spot on. If you ride in situations where you brake frequently for and extended time, the hydros will help prevent hand fatigue. If you're just stopping at stops signs every few blocks the BB7's will be great.

Regarding rotor size, you can use the BB7's with the rotors you have now and just get a different adapter.
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Old 02-19-17, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I think this is spot on. If you ride in situations where you brake frequently for and extended time, the hydros will help prevent hand fatigue. If you're just stopping at stops signs every few blocks the BB7's will be great.
I pulled the trigger on the "Yosa" BB-7 set on Amazon. Got them, levers, and Jagwire for less than half what one would pay elsewhere. Feeling good.

Regarding rotor size, you can use the BB7's with the rotors you have now and just get a different adapter.
Unfortunately, I don't think this is the case. The Tektro HD-E710's use an extra thick rotor "specially designed for e-bikes". I looked at other cargo e-bikes that weigh similar to ours, and they're running 160-180mm rotors. We should be just fine. We live in Seattle with lots of hills, but we're never holding the brakes while going down them, so I think the BB-7's will be great.
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Old 02-19-17, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by uRabbit View Post
Unfortunately, I don't think this is the case. The Tektro HD-E710's use an extra thick rotor "specially designed for e-bikes". I looked at other cargo e-bikes that weigh similar to ours, and they're running 160-180mm rotors. We should be just fine. We live in Seattle with lots of hills, but we're never holding the brakes while going down them, so I think the BB-7's will be great.
One of advantages of mechanical brakes with two adjustable pistons is that, as long as the rotor fits through the slot in the caliper, they will work fine.
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Old 02-19-17, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
One of advantages of mechanical brakes with two adjustable pistons is that, as long as the rotor fits through the slot in the caliper, they will work fine.
Roger that! Since my rotors are still in good shape, maybe I'll keep using them and replace them with the 160mm ones once I need to replace them.

Now, time to start studying how to install them.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by uRabbit View Post
Unfortunately, I don't think this is the case. The Tektro HD-E710's use an extra thick rotor "specially designed for e-bikes". I looked at other cargo e-bikes that weigh similar to ours, and they're running 160-180mm rotors. We should be just fine. We live in Seattle with lots of hills, but we're never holding the brakes while going down them, so I think the BB-7's will be great.
You may need to rig up a motor disconnect switch for your new levers. It looks like the Tektro's have an integrated disconnect switch to cut the electric motor when you pull the brake.
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Old 02-20-17, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
You may need to rig up a motor disconnect switch for your new levers. It looks like the Tektro's have an integrated disconnect switch to cut the electric motor when you pull the brake.
Yep. That being a safety feature, however, I don't think I need it to operate properly. If so, looks like I've got lots of work to do hah.
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Old 02-20-17, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by uRabbit View Post
Yep. That being a safety feature, however, I don't think I need it to operate properly. If so, looks like I've got lots of work to do hah.
Luna cycles sells retrofit kits (magnetic contacts) that you can attach to your existing levers. You'd have to splice the wires in, which isn't terrible with even basic soldering skills...or you could bring it to a hobby shop that deals with RC and pay one of them to do it. Whatever you do, use adhesive-lined shrink tubing to go over the breaks in the insulation--it will keep moisture out.
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Old 02-20-17, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
Luna cycles sells retrofit kits (magnetic contacts) that you can attach to your existing levers. You'd have to splice the wires in, which isn't terrible with even basic soldering skills...or you could bring it to a hobby shop that deals with RC and pay one of them to do it. Whatever you do, use adhesive-lined shrink tubing to go over the breaks in the insulation--it will keep moisture out.
Sounds like it's probably easier to just forego then.
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