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Mechanical Disc Brake Vs. Hydraulic Disk Brakes

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Mechanical Disc Brake Vs. Hydraulic Disk Brakes

Old 04-21-16, 02:18 AM
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Bicyclehub
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Mechanical Disc Brake Vs. Hydraulic Disk Brakes

Hello,

I have my own doubts on the braking system. Mechanical disc brakes or hydraulic disk brakes. Which is easier to maintain and cost effective in terms of after sales service and maintenance. I am buying and giving it for my brother who is 14 years of age.

Please let me know.

Thanks & regards
Mojjo
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Old 04-21-16, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Bicyclehub View Post
...Which is easier to maintain and cost effective in terms of after sales service and maintenance. I am buying and giving it for my brother who is 14 years of age.
That's an interesting angle, wanting to know which is easier for a young person to maintain.

Both systems are reliable, and I am uncertain whether cost is an issue. Good mechanicals actually cost more these days than hydraulic brakes of similar quality. Service cost over time I'm uncertain about.

With mechanicals, one might need to adjust the inside pad now and then to prevent the rotor from being pushed against the caliper body during braking. With hydraulics, one might need to bleed the lines on occasion. Neither of these tasks are onerous. Bleeds can be intimidating the first time or two, but teenagers who are careful are well able to learn to bleed hydraulic bicycle brakes.

Many riders prefer the "feel" of hydraulic. This is the BIG issue. Kids catch on to that preference. I gave away a couple of mechanical sets last year, and the kids whom I gave to still occasionally express a wish for hydros. Mechanicals are perceived as second-rate. I am not saying they are second rate. I merely point out the common perception that they are so. Kids perceive hydraulics as being better. That's just the reality.

If your brother is going to be totally on his own with no future help from anyone, then maybe mechanicals. If you'll be around to help him and to gift him a bleed kit when he needs one, then maybe hydraulic brakes.

Last edited by JonathanGennick; 04-21-16 at 06:02 AM. Reason: Corrected a typo
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Old 04-21-16, 06:05 AM
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I like hydraulic disk brakes. They seem to me to be "constant" throughout the range. Plus they just feel more quality in my mind. Kinda like drum brakes versus disk brakes in cars.
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Old 04-21-16, 06:16 AM
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IMO the simplicity of mechanical brakes is hard to beat.
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Old 04-21-16, 07:47 AM
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With the advent of Youtube, there is probably not any maintenance issue that isn't explained in detail including how to bleed disc brakes. How often you need to perform them may depend upon the quality of the brake. I had Hope C2 hydraulic brakes on a 2001 recumbent trike. Over the years and many thousands of miles I rode it, most years only required tweaking the reservoir setting to adjust for expansion of the fluid with changes in temperature. A few years ago I replaced the seals but that was it for repairs other than replacing pads. The other two mechanical disc sets I used (Shimano 525 and Avid BB7) are no match for how this set worked. It stopped better than any other brake set I ever used. On the other hand one recumbent trike manufacturer uses 3rd world Alhonga brakes where you can buy a complete set of hydraulics for $75 or mechanical (their choice) for $36. I wouldn't expect these to work as well or last as long as the Hope brakes do (last price when still in production was about $800 a set).
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Old 04-21-16, 07:54 AM
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Mechanical disk brakes for touring bikes/kids bikes because of ease of maintenance. Hydraulic disk brakes for everything else because of the superior feel and modulation.
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Old 04-21-16, 07:54 AM
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Mechanicals are simple and the new generation from Tektro (Spyre, Spyke, and the HiRd) move both pads just like hydraulics. The hydraulics will definitely feel better, though.
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Old 04-21-16, 08:23 AM
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After much consideration, I went with inexpensive Shimano M395 hydraulic brakes from Jenson, around $95 for a pair of brakes and rotors. Couldn't be happier, best brakes I ever used, easy to setup, easy to bleed, and require no adjustment. Jenson has the Shimano replacement pads for $4.99
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Old 04-21-16, 09:06 AM
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biggest functional difference ... pad wear adjustment .. you or the mechanism do it. ..

in Sram/Avid BB7 has 2 knobs, BB5 has one on the back and the barrel cable adjuster on the moving pad side .


NB A cable does not go DNF from an Air Bubble .. Are you going to bring along a Bleed Kit?


cannot guess the mechanical aptitudes of your 14 year old .. reading posts here even some adults its not that great.

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-22-16 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 04-22-16, 07:42 AM
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Hydro for sure. When I was running BB7's in 2004 they seemed to constantly need adjustment. Was adjusting them difficult? No. Annoying? Yes.

I have been running Shimano hydros on my MTB's for years and on my road bike for over a year. I think Shimano hydros are as low maintenance as you can get. I never, ever have to bleed them, just replace the pads when the time comes. Also, bleeding could not be more simple. Anybody can do it. There are many great youtube videos on how to bleed a shimano brake.
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Old 04-22-16, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bigdrunk92037 View Post
Hydro for sure. When I was running BB7's in 2004 they seemed to constantly need adjustment. Was adjusting them difficult? No. Annoying? Yes.

I have been running Shimano hydros on my MTB's for years and on my road bike for over a year. I think Shimano hydros are as low maintenance as you can get. I never, ever have to bleed them, just replace the pads when the time comes. Also, bleeding could not be more simple. Anybody can do it. There are many great youtube videos on how to bleed a shimano brake.
That's not the point. On a touring bike you could be halfway to the middle of nowhere when you bust a line. how would you fix that? With mechanical disk brakes you pull out a spare cable and install it with absolutely no special tools.
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Old 04-22-16, 08:13 AM
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Hydraulic, hands down. Mechanical disc are actually more complicated and require more maintenance than hydraulics. If mechanical disc were so easy and less complicated they would be using them in the automotive and aerospace industries.
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Old 04-22-16, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
That's not the point. On a touring bike you could be halfway to the middle of nowhere when you bust a line. how would you fix that? With mechanical disk brakes you pull out a spare cable and install it with absolutely no special tools.
I've never had a hydraulic line fail on a motorcycle in over 30 years of riding, including challenging off road conditions, and its exceedingly rare on any vehicle. The odds of a hydraulic line on a bicycle just breaking like cable are likewise incredibly small to the point of not being a legitimate concern.
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Old 04-22-16, 08:50 AM
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Are you kidding? Bust a line? I have NEVER heard of a "line busting" on a MTB. Do you know how many hydro brakes are in use on MTB's? Do you have any idea how reliable they have become? How much abuse they are subjected to on a MTB?

Obvious you know little to nothing about the subject.

Besides, if one of your brakes were to break, you have one more. One good hydro (i.e. shimano 785) is almost as good as two caliper brakes.

Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
That's not the point. On a touring bike you could be halfway to the middle of nowhere when you bust a line. how would you fix that? With mechanical disk brakes you pull out a spare cable and install it with absolutely no special tools.
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Old 04-22-16, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by 2 Piece View Post
Hydraulic, hands down. Mechanical disc are actually more complicated and require more maintenance than hydraulics. If mechanical disc were so easy and less complicated they would be using them in the automotive and aerospace industries.
Really? Ever heard of the emergency brake? I'll tell you what, let's have a contest. We each get to bring one tool. You switch out a set of hydraulic brakes and I'll switch out a set of mechanical.

Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
I've never had a hydraulic line fail on a motorcycle in over 30 years of riding, including challenging off road conditions, and its exceedingly rare on any vehicle. The odds of a hydraulic line on a bicycle just breaking like cable are likewise incredibly small to the point of not being a legitimate concern.
Oh I agree. I've personally never had issues with hydraulic brakes, even on my cars. The point is you simply CAN'T fix it in the middle of nowhere. Mechanical disk brakes are solid and very hard to break. At the COOP I LOVE the cheap wal-mart bikes that come in with disk brakes. Why? Even though they're crap I can still fix and adjust them in a matter of minutes. Hydraulic brakes? Heck no. Mechanical disk brakes don't need yearly maintenance, where as hydraulic you should periodically change out your fluid, or top it off.

Now, on the other hand, I've had a quite a few friends have VERY high quality hydraulic disk brakes fail on them, multiple times. One was even a set of nice XTRs and another was a set of XTs.
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Old 04-22-16, 09:03 AM
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Judgement Questionable... if 14 someone is drinking under age in all 50 states.
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Old 04-22-16, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
Really? Ever heard of the emergency brake? I'll tell you what, let's have a contest. We each get to bring one tool. You switch out a set of hydraulic brakes and I'll switch out a set of mechanical.



Oh I agree. I've personally never had issues with hydraulic brakes, even on my cars. The point is you simply CAN'T fix it in the middle of nowhere. Mechanical disk brakes are solid and very hard to break. At the COOP I LOVE the cheap wal-mart bikes that come in with disk brakes. Why? Even though they're crap I can still fix and adjust them in a matter of minutes. Hydraulic brakes? Heck no. Mechanical disk brakes don't need yearly maintenance, where as hydraulic you should periodically change out your fluid, or top it off.

Now, on the other hand, I've had a quite a few friends have VERY high quality hydraulic disk brakes fail on them, multiple times. One was even a set of nice XTRs and another was a set of XTs.

Realistically, what are the odds of a line breaking in the middle of nowhere for no reason? Going by my experience with cable actuated drum, and rollerbrakes, its really nothing more than a personal preference issue. Hydraulic brakes require no adjustment, and no more maintenance than a cable, so they're my preference.
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Old 04-22-16, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by 2 Piece View Post
Hydraulic, hands down. Mechanical disc are actually more complicated and require more maintenance than hydraulics. If mechanical disc were so easy and less complicated they would be using them in the automotive and aerospace industries.
Big difference between stopping a bike and a 4000 pound car.

It still remains if you snag a hydro tube and break it, you will ride home with only one brake.
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Old 04-22-16, 10:08 AM
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Sure, I heard of emergency brakes, how many times have I had to use one?? Never. I'll take you up on your one tool deal, but I will not need one, but you will need one to adjust for cable stretch.
Now, the point of a hydraulic line breaking in the middle of nowhere is a non issue, it is so very, very unlikely that it beyond comprehension. But IF one hydraulic line did fail (and that is a tremendously big IF), I still have another. And I would rather have 1 good hydraulic brake in the middle of nowhere in stead of 2 cable disc. I'd worry more about taco'ing my rim, or crank breaking, rear derailleur failure in the middle of nowhere before I would worry about my hydraulic brakes.
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Old 04-22-16, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
Realistically, what are the odds of a line breaking in the middle of nowhere for no reason? Going by my experience with cable actuated drum, and rollerbrakes, its really nothing more than a personal preference issue. Hydraulic brakes require no adjustment, and no more maintenance than a cable, so they're my preference.
I agree with you, but the point still stands. If (and that's a big if) you break a hydraulic disk brake line out in the middle of nowhere, you're going to have to deal with it until you find a bike shop. That could be days if you're on a big tour. If you're mountain bike touring that could mean very dangerous descents.

If a mechanical line breaks, you spend 15 minutes replacing it and subsequently forget about it.

Mechanical line break: Short fix. Hydraulic line break: hours/days of annoying riding and possibly a ruined/altered trip because of it.

Mechanical disk brakes work fine. If I were to do mountain bike touring I'd be using them.
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Old 04-22-16, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Big difference between stopping a bike and a 4000 pound car.

It still remains if you snag a hydro tube and break it, you will ride home with only one brake.
If its good enough to stop a 4000 pound car or a 975,000 Boeing 747 its good enough to stop my bicycle. If I snag a hydraulic cable (which the odds are so low I'd probably hit mega millions jackpot 2 times before that happened) what would happen to the same cable housing? Wouldn't it get bent enough not to work? If I were a mountain bike single track rider I may be concerned with "snagging" a hydro line, but since about 99% of all mountain bikes now use hydraulic brakes, I doubt that that is an issue. And, like you stated I would still have another brake to get home on.
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Old 04-22-16, 10:37 AM
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Hyperbole alert.
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Old 04-22-16, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by 2 Piece View Post
If its good enough to stop a 4000 pound car or a 975,000 Boeing 747 its good enough to stop my bicycle.
You have jet engines with reverse thrust stopping your bike?

I've cut hydraulic brake lines on an offroading truck and my daily driver before, it is not impossible to comprehend. Then again, how often are people honestly in the middle of nowhere with their bike with a catastrophic failure they can't limp home with and need to repair trailside? If you're really worried about failure like that, maybe stick with rim brakes.
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Old 04-22-16, 10:48 AM
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I've ridden both. They're both nice. I prefer mechanical for the simplicity... and the cost factor. Road levers for hydraulic are not cheap. And I actually prefer the feel of the mechanicals, at least I think I can modulate them better. Disclaimer: I have big ol' banana hands, so leverage is not a problem. YMMV.

Oh, and my bike often sleeps hanging upside down from two hooks on the ceiling of my workshop. Hydraulics would not like this, but the mechs don't care. 2nd disclaimer: this might not be true anymore, I don't know. I was just always told bikes with hydro brakes shouldn't be stored upside down for extended periods of time.
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Old 04-22-16, 11:03 AM
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FWIW, not disc, But .. Magura RIM brakes are Hydraulic, a closed system, Meaning no expansion tank in the master.

I have them on my Koga Trekking Bike, they work well.
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