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Upgrading to hydraulic brakes - Jamis Renegade S4

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Upgrading to hydraulic brakes - Jamis Renegade S4

Old 01-14-24, 09:44 AM
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Upgrading to hydraulic brakes - Jamis Renegade S4

Hi folks,

I have a Jamis Renegade S4. I'm really enjoying the bike overall.

I would like a little more braking power. Coming from the hydraulics on my Santa Cruz Superlight, the mechanical discs on the Jamis feel weak (Tektro Lyra).

It's funny, I went with the S4 over the $500 more expensive S3 because I thought the mechanical discs on the S4 would be less headaches than the hydros on the S3 (The Avid Elixir 5s on my Santa Cruz stop wonderfully but have always been finicky).

I guess the fact that they're mechanical, plus the angle for finger leverage while riding in the hoods, makes them feel pretty weak to me. Honestly, probably OK for 95% of the situations I'd be in with the bike, but I still would like some more power.

The bike has a 2x9 Sora drivetrain. From what I understand, that only supports mechanical discs? I would need to change the whole drivetrain to go to hydraulic discs? Makes me think I should have gotten the S3 for $500 more which has hydros and a Shimano grx drivetrain.

If the above is true...what are folks' thoughts on just upgrading my brakes to TRP Spyre mechanicals? I've read they are the best mechanicals you can get. But I've read conflicting reports on how much of an upgrade they really are...some say it is night and day, some say they would be a marginal improvement and still nothing like hydros.

What do you guys think?

Thanks!!
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Old 01-14-24, 10:54 AM
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- Spyre brakes are consistently viewed as a great mechanical option.
- Juintech F1 brakes are cable actuated hydraulic and would only require a caliper change. I had em for a year and they were fine. Cable actuated hydraulic brakes get you a little closer to full hydraulic.
- You could keep what you have and just use compression less brake housing which is stiffer than normal housing and reduces the 'sponginess' sometimes attributed to mechanical disc brakes.


What I would do is buy one of the groups below, sell the Sora group, and sell the road crankset new and buy a different one if the gearing didn't work for me.
Both options below offer an 11-34 cassette and a GS medium cage rear derailleur.
I have these 105 shifters and brakes on my gravel bike and they are great. No reason to think they wouldn't be, but just saying they are good.

105 hydraulic disc group- $540usd- https://www.merlincycles.com/en-us/s...ed-119887.html

Ultegra hydraulic disc group- $648usd- https://www.merlincycles.com/en-us/s...et-110281.html
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Old 01-14-24, 01:16 PM
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I have a Topstone I converted from Sora 9 speed / mech disc brakes to Tiagra / GRX etc 10 speed ***

I got the bike at a flea market - might have kept the Sora 9 speed drivetrain (at least initially) but I literally could not stop the bike

considered mech disc upgrade - there are some decent options (?) - but I have other bikes with hydraulic disc brakes and did not want to invest in mech disc upgrade that I might not be satisfied with

*** also considered upgrade to 11 speed drivetrain - which would be better option - but was concerned about 11 speed cassette compatibility with the OEM rear hub .. and I found good deal on new Tiagra 10 speed take off stuff (and dropped $$$ in the other components)

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Old 01-14-24, 05:05 PM
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I don’t see much of a difference in power between cable and hydraulic brakes, but, to me, hydraulic brakes have better modulation and feel. Upgrading to hydraulic brakes is easy enough, but of course requires levers with hydraulic cylinders, hoses, and calipers. If you are trying to upgrade inexpensively, used parts are a good bet, many people upgrade their bikes to higher end parts, and sell the original parts for cheap. I have GRX hydraulic brakes on my bike, and love them.
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Old 01-15-24, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling
I don’t see much of a difference in power between cable and hydraulic brakes, but, to me, hydraulic brakes have better modulation and feel.

.
agree - but for the most part this observation would apply to a fairly small / select group of mech disc brake systems

and even then - mech disc brake systems with just one or two exceptions (?) have calipers with just one acting piston

in many cases - out of the box low end (and mid ?) mech disc brakes systems will not provide decent braking power even with time spent on setup

to the contrary - many (if not most ?) of the lower end hydraulic brake systems work fairly and surprisingly well … the Shimano systems especially
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Old 01-15-24, 11:40 AM
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The cheapest and easiest thing to do is play with the pad compound. 2-piston Tektros all use the old Shimano standard shape so there are plenty of options. It can change the "bite" feeling a lot

It might be something like glazing too where you are just not getting the full benefit of what you own, that can be fixed by a thorough cleaning and scuffing the pads.

You can also get larger rotors, within the limits of your bike. People recommend this all the time but it seems like a 10% not 50% kind of change

"replace all the brakes" is kind of drastic for an opener
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Old 01-15-24, 11:45 AM
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Those groups from Merlin are an astonishing deal. I've had both Spyres and GRX hydraulics. IMO the Spyres worked just fine. The GRX definitely are easier to operate from the hoods but I'm usually in the drops on a descent so not a big deal.

Last edited by shelbyfv; 01-15-24 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 01-18-24, 09:31 PM
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Thank you, everyone, for all of the advice! Sounds like I have a number of options on how to go about this. I may try an incremental approach. Just changing to Spyres maybe is a low cost first try , they're compatible with my levers and rotors. Maybe compressionless housings, etc. or maybe I eventually end up with a full GRX setup. Or anything in between as folks suggested.
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Old 01-19-24, 12:09 AM
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Looking at ebay prices the TRP hr/rd are cheap enough to skip the Spyres if you can trust ebay. I have Spyres myself and haven't had any issues.
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Old 01-19-24, 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Canker
Looking at ebay prices the TRP hr/rd are cheap enough to skip the Spyres if you can trust ebay. I have Spyres myself and haven't had any issues.
To save the OP confusion, that should apparently be TRP HY/RD.
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Old 01-23-24, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty

"replace all the brakes" is kind of drastic for an opener
yes - agree - it is drastic - but after evaluating options and cost - I did the drastic

like a good tool - I cried once when I paid for it and then smile every time I use it

as opposed to going a lesser route : smile when you pay for it and then cry every time you use it
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Old 01-23-24, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Canker
Looking at ebay prices the TRP hr/rd are cheap enough to skip the Spyres if you can trust ebay. I have Spyres myself and haven't had any issues.
canít recall the specifics - but I thought the hy/rd option was not inexpensive

and one thing that turned me off was a number of hy/rd users reported excessive lever pull / travel

again - canít recall the specifics because itís been a while since I researched the options

( I was basically in the same situation as the OP )
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Old 01-23-24, 07:00 AM
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Finally looked up the two bikes mentioned in the OP's OP. The Jamis is a drop bar "adventure" bike (the term Jamis uses). The Santa Cruz is a full-suspension, fairly high-end flat bar mountain bike.

Maybe new brakes will improve stopping power for the Jamis, but well-maintained long-wheelbase flat bar mountain bikes will usually feel as though they have more braking power than comparatively narrow-tired shorter-wheelbase unsuspended drop bar bikes.

In other words, I wouldn't expect new brakes to make all that much of a difference, but a subtle improvement might be all the OP is looking for.
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