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Mechanical Disc vs. Hydraulic Disc

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Mechanical Disc vs. Hydraulic Disc

Old 10-18-17, 10:11 AM
  #1  
one4smoke
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Mechanical Disc vs. Hydraulic Disc

What are the differences in performance, functionality and cost? Advantages and disadvantages of each? Is one quieter than the other?
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Old 10-18-17, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
What are the differences in performance, functionality and cost? Advantages and disadvantages of each?
Hydraulic brakes are superior, EXCEPT when something goes wrong on a ride....then you wish you had mechanical ones.
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Old 10-18-17, 10:22 AM
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Mechanicals are obviously simpler and generally cheaper. Adjustments (caliper alignment, pad clearance) can be a bit finicky but they're straightforward. The big disadvantage is that you have to manually adjust them periodically to compensate for pad wear.

Hydraulics transmit braking force without friction or slop so they can potentially offer better feel and power, although many would argue that the differences are virtually undetectable. They're self adjusting. But you've got a hydraulic system to maintain and there is a bleeding step anytime the system is disconnected. And when something is not right, its generally more involved to fix.

I'm not aware of either system being better/worse from a noise standpoint.

It's a little like mechanical shifting vs. electronic...... do you want a simpler/cheaper system or one with marginally better performance but some extra things to worry about? The trend right now is towards more hydraulics on anything above entry-level bikes as it is considered the technically superior system. So if you want to be more on the cutting edge or like to have the latest/greatest on your bike, you want hydraulics. You're not going to find many high-end road bikes with mechanical discs these days.

- Mark

Last edited by markjenn; 10-18-17 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 10-18-17, 10:30 AM
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You can look up the differences in cost, I'm not going to do that for you ..

if you read back thru many (archived) threads, you will find a competence demand for keeping mechanical discbrakes

requires more from the rider in so far as adjustment, and maintenance, lots of how can my brakes work better threads..



Magura makes hydraulic rim brakes, I got mine on a bike from Europe..






.....

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-18-17 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 10-18-17, 10:35 AM
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I had a gravel bike with TRP Spyre mechanicals, the best mechanicals, and I just bought a MTB with Avid DB1's, the low end of the line up. I had zero issues with the Spyres, they had as much power as good rim brakes, adjustment was easy, they were pretty quiet and no rotor rub. The Avid's are way better than I expected being a low end model. Much more powerful than the Spyres, adjusted easily, no rotor rub and dead quiet so far. The lever pull is silky smooth since there's no cable/housing friction. No reason for me to upgrade them.
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Old 10-18-17, 10:38 AM
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I commute year round so I was curious about hydraulic brakes in the cold. If moisture gets in my mechanical brake lines it can freeze and make the first few brake applications iffy. From what I've read, hydraulic bicycle brakes don't freeze until well below 0F, but some systems can leak fluid in the cold, and if it gets on the discs and pads...it's not good.
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Old 10-18-17, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
I had zero issues with the Spyres, they had as much power as good rim brakes ....
Same experience. They are basically rim-brake equivalents which work instantly in the rain. A little heavier, just as easy to set up or maintain, no issue with taking wheel on or off .... but no more stopping power than well-adjusted rim brakes.

Hydro discs will pitch you over the front wheel if you use more than a finger.
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Old 10-18-17, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
if you read back thru many (archived) threads, you will find a competence demand for keeping mechanical discbrakes

requires more from the rider in so far as adjustment, and maintenance, lots of how can my brakes work better threads..
I'm hardly a pro-disc brake guy, but I am just not seeing the adjustment issues others claim. Took all of one minute after I got the bike to set them up, and 600ish miles later I have yet to touch them. I have TRP Spyres.
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Old 10-18-17, 11:13 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Same experience. They are basically rim-brake equivalents which work instantly in the rain. A little heavier, just as easy to set up or maintain, no issue with taking wheel on or off .... but no more stopping power than well-adjusted rim brakes.

Hydro discs will pitch you over the front wheel if you use more than a finger.
I have Spyres and am happy with them. Just make sure you use compressionless cables and you'll be fine. Also, as pads wear just do a quarter turn on the cable adjustment every so often.

But if I had a choice I would do hydros just because they modulate and feel a bit more smoother with less effort when squeezed. Just like power brakes in a car, if you stomp on it, you'll fly forward. A little push on the pedal is all you need. Same idea with hydros...
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Old 10-18-17, 11:28 AM
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I lean toward hydros, but I've come to see that mechanicals can sometimes be the simpler and easier path. One of my good friends recently converted back to Avid BB7s (mechanicals) from Shimano Deores (hydros). He's a strong rider, rough on his bikes, and somehow every month or two he would need a bleed. Then the seals on one lever gave way and he lost fluid from the lever. We surmise that our U.P. winters may have led to that problem. Whatever the case, he got tired of the hassle and threw on his BB7s. He was just tired of always fussing with bleeding and fluid leaks, and frankly I don't blame him.
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Old 10-18-17, 11:51 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
We surmise that our U.P. winters may have led to that problem.
I guess out (or Up) in the hinterlands the idea of the rain bike, the winter bike, the fat bike for snow ... still hasn't arrived yet.

I had never considered the effects of cold ... hopefully I will never have to.

Useful if I need it, I guess.
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Old 10-18-17, 12:04 PM
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In my opinion, there's little reason to buy mechanical discs. Hydraulics have better lever feel, hydraulics self center and hydraulics often have higher leverage ratios and thus feel more powerful. Bleeding hydraulic brakes is not difficult in my experience (I've bled both Shimano and SRAM systems, neither process is difficult). In my experience, once you set up hydraulics, you rarely need to mess with them. I haven't noticed problems in cold weather with hydraulics, even with Shimano which uses mineral oil instead of DOT. Also, there's really no cost difference between mechanical and hydraulic these days, especially on the MTB side. IMO, mechanicals are on the way out.

For hydraulic brakes, in my experience Shimano is far more reliable and easier to live with than SRAM. SRAM brakes general have very good modulation and lever feel but unreliable master cylanders and they are more prone to rubbing than Shimano.

My biases: I'm pro disc brakes in general. I own four bikes (two road, two offroad) with hydraulic discs.

Last edited by Hiro11; 10-18-17 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 10-18-17, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I guess out (or Up) in the hinterlands the idea of the rain bike, the winter bike, the fat bike for snow ... still hasn't arrived yet.
Fat bikes are a HUGE thing up here. Marquette seems be a hotspot of sorts. And I've been running Nokian-brand studded tires since around 2005 or 2006. Because what little winter biking I do tends to be mainly on pavement.
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Old 10-18-17, 01:37 PM
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I know this sounds really dumb, but aren't rim brakes just really big mechanical disc brakes?
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Old 10-18-17, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
I had a gravel bike with TRP Spyre mechanicals, the best mechanicals, and I just bought a MTB with Avid DB1's, the low end of the line up. I had zero issues with the Spyres, they had as much power as good rim brakes, adjustment was easy, they were pretty quiet and no rotor rub. The Avid's are way better than I expected being a low end model. Much more powerful than the Spyres, adjusted easily, no rotor rub and dead quiet so far. The lever pull is silky smooth since there's no cable/housing friction. No reason for me to upgrade them.
My 2015 Roam 2 has the Tektro Auriga, Hydraulic discs and have been absolutely trouble free. Nary a bit of noise comes from them. Completely quiet. Has great stopping power. My 2016 Specialized Roubaix has the Tektro Spyre, mechanical discs, and are a bit noisy. They don't squeak or squeal, but make ...not a grinding sound, but rather a light contact sound similar to that of an eraser on a chalkboard. Even though the Roubaix is much lighter, these brakes seem to take a bit longer to stop.


But the bit of noise is the nuance for me having been used to the complete quietness of my Roam.
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Old 10-18-17, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
My 2015 Roam 2 has the Tektro Auriga, Hydraulic discs and have been absolutely trouble free. Nary a bit of noise comes from them. Completely quiet. Has great stopping power. My 2016 Specialized Roubaix has the Tektro Spyre, mechanical discs, and are a bit noisy. They don't squeak or squeal, but make ...not a grinding sound, but rather a light contact sound similar to that of an eraser on a chalkboard. Even though the Roubaix is much lighter, these brakes seem to take a bit longer to stop.


But the bit of noise is the nuance for me having been used to the complete quietness of my Roam.
My Spyre's made the same kind of noise after a few hundred miles. I think it's because of the pad itself. I don't have a lot of miles on my Avid's yet. As long as they don't squeal, I can't handle that.
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Old 10-18-17, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by luddite_68 View Post
I know this sounds really dumb, but aren't rim brakes just really big mechanical disc brakes?
There are hydraulic rim brakes too.

While youíre right for a certain level of generalization, the devil is in the details.

The main advantage that discs have lies in the amount of travel needed to overcome slop and flex.
For discs, 2 mm of pad travel (or even less) is all that is required to go from brake unengaged to wheel lock.
For rim brakes, 2 mm travel would only take you from unengaged to touching lightly.
Then thereís the flex. A disc brake caliper is a small, rigid assembly. There isnít any obvious flex anywhere. Rim brakes, there are several parts thatíll flex enough to be visible to the naked eye.

Regardless of brake system, riderís hands remain the same size, so thereís the same amount of travel available at that end. With a tighter/stiffer brake system, more of the travel can be traded for greater pinch force, giving more braking for a certain amount of hand effort.
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Old 10-18-17, 03:21 PM
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There was a high performance motorcycle I saw with a disc almost as big as the rim, Buell , as I recall

the owner said its as good as double discs, but it was a large disc ring, not the rim itself.


https://tse2.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.z...wEgDY&pid=15.1
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Old 10-18-17, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
Mechanicals are obviously simpler and generally cheaper. Adjustments (caliper alignment, pad clearance) can be a bit finicky but they're straightforward. The big disadvantage is that you have to manually adjust them periodically to compensate for pad wear.

Hydraulics transmit braking force without friction or slop so they can potentially offer better feel and power, although many would argue that the differences are virtually undetectable. They're self adjusting. But you've got a hydraulic system to maintain and there is a bleeding step anytime the system is disconnected. And when something is not right, its generally more involved to fix.

I'm not aware of either system being better/worse from a noise standpoint.

It's a little like mechanical shifting vs. electronic...... do you want a simpler/cheaper system or one with marginally better performance but some extra things to worry about? The trend right now is towards more hydraulics on anything above entry-level bikes as it is considered the technically superior system. So if you want to be more on the cutting edge or like to have the latest/greatest on your bike, you want hydraulics. You're not going to find many high-end road bikes with mechanical discs these days.

- Mark
The thread could have ended right there.
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Old 10-18-17, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
The thread could have ended right there.
I don't agree with the post you quoted:
1. The premium paid for hydro over mechanical brakes is nowhere near the premium paid for electronic over mechanical drivetrains.
2. Mechanical brakes are not the "cutting edge", they've been around for many years at this point, have mature designs and are pretty easy to deal with. Mechanicals are essentially obsolete.
3. Hydraulics self center and are decidedly better from a noise / rubbing perspective.
4. In my experience, hydraulics require less maintenance than mechanicals. You might have the bleed the brakes once every 18+ months, but that takes 20 minutes tops. Between bleedings, there's literally nothing that needs doing.
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Old 10-18-17, 05:41 PM
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there is a very recent thread covering this topic
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Old 10-18-17, 07:50 PM
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My Spyres are self centering with spring pressure, and I almost never touch the adjustment due to pad wear, maybe once a year if that. Ive had them 3 or 4 years. The noise is mostly environmental. On damp days, they squeak, dry days not so much, but they always stop. It does take more finger pressure than hydro, but I like the feel and modulation. Ive never tried the TRP Hy/Rd option. Anybody else?
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Old 10-18-17, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
What are the differences in performance, functionality and cost? Advantages and disadvantages of each? Is one quieter than the other?
Are you asking about road or mtb? Because in my experience, there is a difference in the performance of mechanicals in road vs mtb.

I find the difference between hydro and mechanical to be more noticable for road bike brakes than for mtb. I think the reason is that the shorter cable pull system on road bikes is not as good for mechanicals as the longer pull of mtb systems.

However, for either application, when things are working properly, hydros generally do feel and work better IMO.

As far as maintenance goes, Iíve used both for years, and overall I find mechanicals easier. More frequent fiddling, but it is quick and nothing is that hard to fix.

Hydro require basically zero maintenance.... until they do. I have found bleeding to be a pita at times if the bubble is in the caliper.

Long of the short is that I have never had to miss a day of riding or had to finish a ride with a failed brake with mechanicals. I canít say the same for hydros.

Last edited by Kapusta; 10-19-17 at 05:55 AM.
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Old 10-18-17, 08:35 PM
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I have TRP HYD/RD (cable actuated hydraulic disc brakes). Depending on how you look at, either the best of both worlds, or the worst. I have over 2000 miles on them in mixed riding and no problems at all other than my rear caliper got lose a few times and out of alignment but it's a 30 second fix. I'm sure some thread locker would solve that. I still have the original TRP pads that most people don't seem to like and throw away.

Last edited by u235; 10-18-17 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 10-18-17, 08:53 PM
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One other issue ... mech discs weight considerably more than rim brakes and considerably less than mech discs. For the added weight of hydros, you get the best stopping power.

In five years I assume I assume the weight penalty will be marginal.
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