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Replacing mech disc brakes with hydraulic?

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Replacing mech disc brakes with hydraulic?

Old 01-12-21, 11:26 AM
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sultanofsuede
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Replacing mech disc brakes with hydraulic?

Hello all - I'm shopping around for a used cx bike and have found a few contenders that have mech disc brakes. I was hoping for hydraulic, and just curious how difficult it is to replace the mech brake system. Something I (or anyone) can do? Or is it an expensive endeavor?

Thanks!
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Old 01-12-21, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by sultanofsuede View Post
Hello all - I'm shopping around for a used cx bike and have found a few contenders that have mech disc brakes. I was hoping for hydraulic, and just curious how difficult it is to replace the mech brake system. Something I (or anyone) can do? Or is it an expensive endeavor?

Thanks!
It's not cheap, and for most people it's beyond their capabilitites. You would need new shifters, calipers, hoses, etc. You'd most likely be money ahead by getting a bike with them already installed. Or you could just replace the calipers with TRP Hy/Rds.
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Old 01-12-21, 11:41 AM
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Yokozuna, Juin, and TRP are a few brands that make hydraulic calipers that are cable-actuated. that might not cut the mustard for ya, but it's an option. otherwise, you really need brake levers that are hydraulic. with all that's involved, it could get expensive fast enough to make it not worth buying a used bike.
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Old 01-12-21, 01:46 PM
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Too expensive to bother.

Make sure you have good compressionless housing, good brake pads, and rotors, and everything is adjusted properly...And mechanical should be just fine.
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Old 01-12-21, 01:54 PM
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I've have 3 bikes on mechanic disc brakes and one on hydraulic disc brakes. I've used all these bikes on gravel rides/races in a wide variety of conditions (hot/cold, wet/dry/snow) and as much as I prefer hydraulic brakes and will get them for any new bikes; I'd never consider upgrading the mechanical disc brakes to hydraulics. The only upgrade for the mechanical disc brakes that has me thinking is moving from BB7 to TRP Spyre.
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Old 01-12-21, 02:13 PM
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I would consider upgrading to hydraulics if you can sell your current mechanical system for a decent price.
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Old 01-12-21, 02:26 PM
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This is really helpful. Thanks everyone.
I'm kind of attached the old look of caliper breaks on road bikes, so up until early 2020, I didn't even know there was a difference between mech and hydraulic. I bought a decent mt. bike for my son over the summer with mech brakes, and they seem to need adjustment pretty often in order to keep there responsiveness. I was hoping that hydraulic would remedy that (on my eventual/new bike), but looks like I'm going to avoid the mech options I come across.
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Old 01-12-21, 02:41 PM
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https://www.merlincycles.com/en-us/s...ed-119868.html

I bought these for $385USD 6 months ago and havent regretted it since. I replaced the Juintech F1 calipers and my Gevenalle brake shifters. It was an awesome decision and I find that it was financially totally worthwhile.
They are $485USD right now which is a significant difference, but I would do it again, knowing the difference.

I sold my shifters for $135 and my calipers(plus compressionless housing) for $110. Both sold within 1 week with the shifters selling in a day, so I guess I could have priced them a bit higher.
In total, I was out $145 for new 105 hydraulic shifters and brakes. Installation was easy- but that may be due to my bike having external cable routing.
I think that if I could get the stuff for $245 net(current pricing), I would still see it as a good buy.
Also- its a hobby, so not every decision needs to be ROI based.
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Old 01-12-21, 02:44 PM
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IME - as I've spent more time with my mechanical disc brakes, I've needed to make adjustments less often.

One of the most important things, don't touch the rotors - oils from your fingers will cause issues with braking and can cause loud squealing. If you need to get oil off the rotors, clean the rotors with rubbing alcohol on a clean rag.

Also, I find Park Tool videos very helpful:

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Old 01-12-21, 02:45 PM
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are you racing CX on this bike? I have some powerful hydraulic brakes on my mountain bike and I need every bit of precise, strong braking for riding technical, rocky trails. on my gravel bike, I use TRP Spyres with RRL levers. I had Hylex hydraulic brakes on the gravel bike before—I traded my Hylex brakes for a mechanical setup because I hated the hood/ lever shape of the Hylex ones—and I don't really miss the hydros on that bike now. the hydros were more powerful, but I don't find a need a ton of power for riding roads and smooth trails. YMMV because the extra stopping power might be needed in your case.

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Old 01-13-21, 07:14 AM
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CX bikes are rapidly evolving; non-hydraulic could mean older 10 or 9 sp. If not 11sp, you will need to swap out derailleurs, cassettes, and chains as well; or use something like a Tanpan to convert. Even Tiagra 10sp hydraulic uses the new cable pull.
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Old 01-13-21, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by sultanofsuede View Post
This is really helpful. Thanks everyone.
I'm kind of attached the old look of caliper breaks on road bikes, so up until early 2020, I didn't even know there was a difference between mech and hydraulic. I bought a decent mt. bike for my son over the summer with mech brakes, and they seem to need adjustment pretty often in order to keep there responsiveness. I was hoping that hydraulic would remedy that (on my eventual/new bike), but looks like I'm going to avoid the mech options I come across.
I was thinking about this as I look at my Breezer Radar Pro (on display on my office wall for the winter ) This is my bike with hydraulic disc brake bike. My advice on disc brakes, adjusting/maintenance is less about mechanic vs hydraulic, it's mostly about QR vs thru-axel. All my bikes use QR, and the QR is less accurate getting a wheel remounted vs thru-axel. Alternatively, as stated above, dual-actuated brakes also will help minimize adjustments with greater tolerances (hydraulic are dual-actuated as well as some mechanical like TRP Spyre).
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Old 01-13-21, 08:23 AM
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the only hard part is running the housing for the rear and that will depend on the bike. paying a mechanic to do it is not bad. I just had my e bike changed over to some Shimano it's and it was 120 to install them.it would Abe less on most bikes. so maybe 300 or so.
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Old 01-13-21, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
I was thinking about this as I look at my Breezer Radar Pro (on display on my office wall for the winter ) This is my bike with hydraulic disc brake bike. My advice on disc brakes, adjusting/maintenance is less about mechanic vs hydraulic, it's mostly about QR vs thru-axel. All my bikes use QR, and the QR is less accurate getting a wheel remounted vs thru-axel. Alternatively, as stated above, dual-actuated brakes also will help minimize adjustments with greater tolerances (hydraulic are dual-actuated as well as some mechanical like TRP Spyre).
I've got the same on one bike -- QR with mechanical discs. As long as the calipers are mounted and adjusted properly, it really only requires a few extra seconds of care when mounting the wheel and locking down the skewer.

Some poster, in a thread a few weeks ago, referred to the combo of QR and discs using the word "disaster" or "horrible" or some such thing. Seemed odd, since I've got about 10,000 miles on just such a bike with no real problems.
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Old 01-13-21, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Some poster, in a thread a few weeks ago, referred to the combo of QR and discs using the word "disaster" or "horrible" or some such thing. Seemed odd, since I've got about 10,000 miles on just such a bike with no real problems.
I think the word was "scam" *eyeroll*
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Old 01-13-21, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I've got the same on one bike -- QR with mechanical discs. As long as the calipers are mounted and adjusted properly, it really only requires a few extra seconds of care when mounting the wheel and locking down the skewer.

Some poster, in a thread a few weeks ago, referred to the combo of QR and discs using the word "disaster" or "horrible" or some such thing. Seemed odd, since I've got about 10,000 miles on just such a bike with no real problems.
Too funny, I've logged at least 30,000 miles on mechanical disc brakes with QRs. It's NBD, never a serious issue.
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Old 01-13-21, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
Too funny, I've logged at least 30,000 miles on mechanical disc brakes with QRs. It's NBD, never a serious issue.
There are some bikes with bad QR skewers that do not bite well into the frame dropout. I have also had a QR pop out on a tandem with aluminum frame on extremely hard braking; the bike (Raleigh Coupe Tandem) was noted by others as suceptible to the problem. But still in most cases no problem.
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Old 01-13-21, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
IME - as I've spent more time with my mechanical disc brakes, I've needed to make adjustments less often.

One of the most important things, don't touch the rotors - oils from your fingers will cause issues with braking and can cause loud squealing. If you need to get oil off the rotors, clean the rotors with rubbing alcohol on a clean rag.

Also, I find Park Tool videos very helpful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmqGeLNcVIg
Yeah - I probably need to practice this one on my son's bike. My LBS showed me once, but I don't think I was quite understanding what he was showing me.
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Old 01-14-21, 04:50 AM
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Tools for the job, or a service fee, should be factored in, too. A bleed kit, hose cutter, oil, maybe a small flare nut wrench, a torque wrench...it can add up to another $100. It also irks to make the spend because once set up, you’ll not use that stuff again for years.

For my two cents on the upgrade, and speaking as someone who has both, I’ll echo those above who slightly prefer hydro performance, but have no issues with mechs and find the hydro advantages are at the margins; for road work, mechs deliver all the advantages of discs over rim brakes, and 96% of the hydros performance. Hydros have that immediate bite and feel advantage, and are set-and-forget...yeah, that’s about a 4% advantage over mechs, hardly enough to justify the expense of upgrading, in my estimation.

Now, depending on the bike, I might be tempted to throw down for a mech upgrade to some Paul Component Klampers calipers! If the bike color would support purple, yeah, all day with those!
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Old 01-14-21, 05:07 PM
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After three years on mechanical disc brakes, I bit the bullet and moved from BB7 calipers and SRAM Apex levers to SRAM S700 hydraulic calipers and levers. The latter were $300 on eBay new, and I sold the old calipers and levers for $135. Then I paid a LBS to do the installation for me. I agree with folks on here that the cost/benefit really depends on your kind of riding. I was perfectly happy with the old mechanical setup on the road and nice trails, but extended riding on more technical, rockier terrain (green and blue MTB trails) inevitably led to a lot of hand fatigue for me -- so much so that I'd have to stop on the side of the trail for my hands to rest. That's not really the case any more with the hydros, which require a lot less force to actuate. The modulation on the hydros is better, too, but reduced hand force is the biggest benefit for me. So, although the upgrade came at not insignificant cost in parts/labor, I feel like it was worth it for me because now riding on MTB trails has become much more comfortable and enjoyable. If I did it all over knowing what I know now and how my riding evolved toward rougher terrain over three years, I'd go straight for a hydro-based bike from the start.
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Old 01-14-21, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
There are some bikes with bad QR skewers that do not bite well into the frame dropout. I have also had a QR pop out on a tandem with aluminum frame on extremely hard braking; the bike (Raleigh Coupe Tandem) was noted by others as suceptible to the problem. But still in most cases no problem.
that’s a good argument for Shimano quick release skewers – the internal cam varieties.
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Old 01-14-21, 10:34 PM
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I have a bike I'd love to convert to hydraulic and just haven't wanted to afford it yet. It never occurred to me to think it would be hard, though. Follow the instructions, watch the video. I wasn't particularly worried about a mess. There's got to be what, like half an ounce of fluid in there?

Just expensive... And that's for a single speed. Hydraulic brifters are astonishingly expensive. The thing about qr/thru axle may or may not be a scam, but the aftermarket price of road controls compared to MTB controls is definitely a scam.
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Old 01-15-21, 07:05 AM
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Discs were standard on MTBs since like '00. With QRs. On downhill bikes. As an old MTBer, I have 5 bicycles with discs and QRs; all hydraulic; oldest one is a 1999.
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Old 01-15-21, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
The thing about qr/thru axle may or may not be a scam, but the aftermarket price of road controls compared to MTB controls is definitely a scam.
Oh for sure! A couple winters ago I was building up an MTB frame for one of my kids and was shocked to see how cheap Shimano hydraulic brakes were. I got some new model Alivio hydraulic brake levers, so Sora road equivalent, for about $60. And a new 9sp Alivio shifter was not even $25. Compare that to just Sora mechanical shifters that are like 2-3x more expensive.
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Old 01-15-21, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
that’s a good argument for Shimano quick release skewers – the internal cam varieties.
it’s a better argument for thru-axle.
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