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BB7's vs Hydraulic Brakes

Old 09-28-18, 09:40 AM
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Witterings
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BB7's vs Hydraulic Brakes

How much difference would I notice between BB7 brakes and a set of hydraulics, I've found a 2nd hand bike I like and the cost up upgrading isn't worth it as it almost makes up the difference of buying a new bile with warranty etc. and I'd be gutted to buy it and find they weren't great wishing I'd spent the extra.
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Old 09-28-18, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
How much difference would I notice between BB7 brakes and a set of hydraulics, I've found a 2nd hand bike I like and the cost up upgrading isn't worth it as it almost makes up the difference of buying a new bile with warranty etc. and I'd be gutted to buy it and find they weren't great wishing I'd spent the extra.
I think it depends on where and how you intend to ride your bike. I upgraded from BB7's to hydro and I'll never go back to cable brakes again. I suggest you go demo a hydro-equipped bike at your LBS.
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Old 09-28-18, 12:04 PM
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I Have Both

I have good hydraulics on my mountain bike. They're wonderful. We switched my wife's MTB this year to a 27.5" with hydraulics and she absolutely loves the increased braking confidence and touch (what one might call modulation, who knows?).

I have BB-7s on my daily commuter. They're okay. I ride them in all kinds of conditions and they stop fine. I think that the stock pads aren't very good, and can be swapped out easily. Would I like hydraulics on my daily commuter? Yes. Would I spend a dime to do so? No way. Ya lives wit watcha gots...
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Old 09-28-18, 12:48 PM
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Get the hydraulics

There is no comparison.

I have 1 bike with them and 1 bike without. Both discs.

The hydraulics stop better and require less upkeep.
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Old 09-28-18, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
Get the hydraulics

There is no comparison.

I have 1 bike with them and 1 bike without. Both discs.

The hydraulics stop better and require less upkeep.
What he said.
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Old 09-28-18, 01:51 PM
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Hydro wins easily. Big difference in feel and power -- especially for those with smaller (weaker) grip strength. Add in the ease of maintenance and it's a no-brainer. I have both mechanical and hydro. Having said all that, would I pay a premium to swap out my mechanicals for hydro? No. The mechanicals are very good (TRP Spyre & BB7), good enough for me to wait until they break beyond repair or just buy another complete bike.

Spyres get the nod over the BB7, but both are quite capable. Proper adjustment and diligence with pad and rotor selection and use will have you smiling. The mid level Shimano hydros are a step above. Test ride both and see for yourself.


-Kedosto
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Old 09-28-18, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Kedosto View Post
Hydro wins easily. Big difference in feel and power -- especially for those with smaller (weaker) grip strength. Add in the ease of maintenance and it's a no-brainer. I have both mechanical and hydro. Having said all that, would I pay a premium to swap out my mechanicals for hydro? No. The mechanicals are very good (TRP Spyre & BB7), good enough for me to wait until they break beyond repair or just buy another complete bike.

Spyres get the nod over the BB7, but both are quite capable. Proper adjustment and diligence with pad and rotor selection and use will have you smiling. The mid level Shimano hydros are a step above. Test ride both and see for yourself.


-Kedosto
This too.

Hydro is unquestionably better. But probably not worth swapping out unless the system you have need to be replaced anyway.

As much as I love hydraulic brakes I have no intention of swapping out my mechanical disc bike with hydro. I'd have to replace the calipers, break lines, pads, and shifters (drop bar bike, which also means you'd probably swap out the bar tape too since you're taking it off and you can't have new shifters with old bar tape...I mean what are we? Animals?) and that gets pricey.
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Old 09-28-18, 06:52 PM
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Hydros have serious stopping power, much more than cable operated discs and much more what is needed for most riding, however with that luxury comes maintenance. Flush and change fluid every year or you will find the calipers will not function well in a few years. Wonder how I know this? Lived it. Get Spyre cable operated discs and you will be impressed enough to understand the simplicity of the mechanical disc outweighs the stopping power of the hydro brake.
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Old 09-28-18, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
How much difference would I notice between BB7 brakes and a set of hydraulics, I've found a 2nd hand bike I like and the cost up upgrading isn't worth it as it almost makes up the difference of buying a new bile with warranty etc. and I'd be gutted to buy it and find they weren't great wishing I'd spent the extra.
I once upgraded a bike from no-name cable disc brakes to hydraulic Deore and the difference was significant both in power and modulation.
the BB7 with good pads probably are a better bottom line, though. Just ride the bike as is and see if it is good enough for you. Once the time comes to replace pads and cables you may figure the cost difference to hydraulics (as opposed to the cable and pad cost) is not that great. cheap shimano sets are $80 for front and rear.
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Old 09-28-18, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
How much difference would I notice between BB7 brakes and a set of hydraulics, I've found a 2nd hand bike I like and the cost up upgrading isn't worth it as it almost makes up the difference of buying a new bile with warranty etc. and I'd be gutted to buy it and find they weren't great wishing I'd spent the extra.
MTB or road?
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Old 09-28-18, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Hydros have serious stopping power, much more than cable operated discs and much more what is needed for most riding, however with that luxury comes maintenance. Flush and change fluid every year or you will find the calipers will not function well in a few years. Wonder how I know this? Lived it. Get Spyre cable operated discs and you will be impressed enough to understand the simplicity of the mechanical disc outweighs the stopping power of the hydro brake.
I too have "been there, done that" with hydro's. You can not put the bike in extended storage and expect working brakes after.
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Old 09-28-18, 07:31 PM
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Hydros stop better without question. When i built my new touring bike I went with cable disc brakes. They stop plenty good enough and for me are easier to work on.
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Old 09-28-18, 07:44 PM
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I fall into the typical "casual cyclist" camp. Most of my riding is pavement and trails, solo or with my spouse, commuting, getting around town, and taking longer weekend rides. I have bikes with mechanical discs, rim brakes, and even one coaster hub.

I think when choosing components, there are two separate questions:

1. Is there a difference?

2. Is the difference worth modifying the bike, or choosing a different bike?

There will always be a chance to buy something different for more money. Where do you draw the line?

For me, my bikes certainly have different braking behavior, though they're all perfectly safe. But I don't feel motivated to change any of them. For my riding, brakes are to slow down or stop the bike, not for precise control as in MTB'ing. Faced with your situation, I'd be happy with the mechanical discs.
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Old 09-29-18, 03:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post


MTB or road?
It's a Gravel bike ... I have a 29er which the previous owner upgraded to hydraulics and are brilliant brakes, I got a cost of upgrading the bike to hydraulic from the BB7's and it was about 450 / 550 including labour (105's) which with the initial cost of the bike of 400 a brand new one's only 1250 and I'm sure of I wait a while the new models due to come out fairly soon after so might be able to get it at a discount so just doesn't make sense.

If however I could just pay he 400 and be happy with it that'd be my preferred option, I guess I'm looking at the worse case scenario and options if I didn't like it.

The answer would be go and ride it but if I were selling a 2nd hand bike that I'd cleaned I wouldn't want someone taking it for a test ride across where it's wet and is the only real way I'll be able to see what the difference and where hydraulics make a real difference.
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Old 09-29-18, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
It's a Gravel bike ... I have a 29er which the previous owner upgraded to hydraulics and are brilliant brakes, I got a cost of upgrading the bike to hydraulic from the BB7's and it was about 450 / 550 including labour (105's) which with the initial cost of the bike of 400 a brand new one's only 1250 and I'm sure of I wait a while the new models due to come out fairly soon after so might be able to get it at a discount so just doesn't make sense.
That's a high cost. Is it a drop bar bike? Is that why so much? BB7s are actually decent brakes. Possibly you could run fresh housing to improve the feel somewhat.
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Old 09-29-18, 06:46 AM
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My mechanical disc brakes are Hayes CX Expert. I could easily lock up either brake, front or rear, on a moment's notice. Since I try to NOT lock up the brakes, they seem to have enough power.

Hydro discs might have better modulation and feel, and my next bike will likely have them, but I wouldn't spend a pile of cash to upgrade.
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Old 09-29-18, 06:48 AM
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Hydros are superior but the only way for you to know if it's worth the money for you personally is to test them.
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Old 09-29-18, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
That's a high cost. Is it a drop bar bike? Is that why so much? BB7s are actually decent brakes. Possibly you could run fresh housing to improve the feel somewhat.
Yes it is ... it's an older Pinnacle Arkose although I think it may be my keeper for years to come so maybe I'm better off biting the bullet and making the investment now and enjoying for years to come.
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Old 09-29-18, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
It's a Gravel bike ... I have a 29er which the previous owner upgraded to hydraulics and are brilliant brakes, I got a cost of upgrading the bike to hydraulic from the BB7's and it was about 450 / 550 including labour (105's) which with the initial cost of the bike of 400 a brand new one's only 1250 and I'm sure of I wait a while the new models due to come out fairly soon after so might be able to get it at a discount so just doesn't make sense.

If however I could just pay he 400 and be happy with it that'd be my preferred option, I guess I'm looking at the worse case scenario and options if I didn't like it.

The answer would be go and ride it but if I were selling a 2nd hand bike that I'd cleaned I wouldn't want someone taking it for a test ride across where it's wet and is the only real way I'll be able to see what the difference and where hydraulics make a real difference.
For both mtb and road versions (gravel uses the road version), I think the hydros are nicer to use. However, I think the difference is greater for the road versions, mostly because the road versions of the BB7 do not work as well as the mtb version, and I suspect that is due to the shorter cable pull (and thus higher tension on the cables, which mean more flex in the cables/housing, which makes the brakes mushier).

That said, I have bb7s on my road/gravel bike, and they work fine and I prefer them over rim brakes. There is no way I am going to fork over the money for a new set of brakes plus new shifters to get hydros.


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Old 09-29-18, 08:34 AM
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Hydros are definitely better than the cables.

That said, I have cables... the hydros have the "towers" on the grips and I can't get comfortable on them, they just don't fit right.
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Old 09-29-18, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
How much difference would I notice between BB7 brakes and a set of hydraulics, I've found a 2nd hand bike I like and the cost up upgrading isn't worth it as it almost makes up the difference of buying a new bile with warranty etc. and I'd be gutted to buy it and find they weren't great wishing I'd spent the extra.
They're not great. You'll wish you spent the extra.
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Old 09-29-18, 09:17 AM
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BB7 brakes have been stopping me and my trike (roughly 200# total weight) for well over 30,000 miles with only occasional pad changes and infrequent adjustments. Like others, I can lock the front wheels if necessary. Only caveat is I live in flat country and don't ride mountains.
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Old 09-29-18, 09:40 AM
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I would go hydraulic unless doing long distance touring in which case I would do TRP Spyres or if I really wanted a single piston design Paul Klampers. Hydraulics are just getting better and better especially for drop bars, no longer do you need really odd shaped levers as they are getting more and more sleek and compact.

If you were not going to change to hydraulic then I would upgrade cables and housing to something like the Elite Link housing from Jagwire or Yokozuna Compressionless housing. I would also get some high quality pads as well. The TRP stock pads worked but the Swissstop pads seem to be better.
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Old 09-29-18, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Reco Very View Post
I too have "been there, done that" with hydro's. You can not put the bike in extended storage and expect working brakes after.
I bought a used mtn bike in 2011 with xtr hydro brakes and ride it at most a few times a year the rest of the time it sits in my garage. I've never done any maintenance to the brakes and they still work perfectly. I don't see why you would need to flush the brake fluid every year. Even on a car that's overkill.
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Old 09-29-18, 10:21 AM
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BTW, even though hydros are nicer to use, there are still arguments to be made for mechanicals.

My experience with the two types is that when everything is working correctly, hydros are less maintenance due to the fact that they self-adjust the pads.

BB7s are particularly fiddly to adjust compared to something like Spyers/Spykes does to only one pad moving. But once you get the hang of it, it takes less than a minute to adjust. On my mtb I might fiddle with them every few rides, on the road bike every 10-20 rides (I live in the hills). I could adjust them less often (and most folks probably do) but I am pretty particular about how they feel.

However, while hydros are generally less maintenance, when there ARE problems, they are generally a bigger pain to deal with.

Let me put it this way: In 17 years of using BB7s, I have never once missed a ride or had to finish a ride with a brake not working. In 6 years of using hydros, I have missed many days and on three occassions finished a ride with a non-functioning or compromised brake.

So for me, I go with hydros on my 5 mountain bike, but mechanicals on my road/gravel bike. Ive just accepted that the MTB is a very high maintenace machine. For the road/gravel bike, I like the simplicity of the mechs, and I only need to adjust the pads once every month or two.
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