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Old 07-31-13, 10:04 AM   #1
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So, Hydraulic Disc Brakes - love 'em or hate 'em?

So, Hydraulic Disc Brakes - love 'em or hate 'em?

I got my Giant brand Roam 2 that came with hydraulic brakes and I love them. While I recognize the fact that they are completely unnecessary and a good pair or rim brakes can produce more than enough stopping power - ohhh are they nice. Especially when it's wet out. They require a lot less effort on the brake lever too, grip fast and seem to produce more controllable and even stopping power. Plus, NO brake cables to adjust EVER. The guy who sold it to me might of been blowing smoke out his you-know-what but he says that in the few years he's been there he has never had anyone complain about them and that besides replacing pads they have never had to service a hydraulic system beyond bleeding them. Its nice when it comes to wheel removal too, my ham fists always had problem disconnecting the rim brakes on my other bike, not hard to do really, just a challenge getting them undone and reconnected. Not having to disconnect brakes just means one less thing to do when it comes to tube replacement etc.

So, what do you guys think about them? I didn't bother riding the Roam with cable disc brakes, are they significantly different than the hydraulic ones?
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Old 07-31-13, 10:20 AM   #2
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My Rocky Mountain Altitude has Hydraulic discs, my Kona Sutra has Cable operated discs, and my road bike has regular brakes.

The hydraulic brakes are (in my mind) the best; unmatched stopping power, and in three years of owning the bike the only thing I've ever had to do was replace a disk I bent in a crash.

The cable operated disks don't have the same stopping power as the hydraulics, but they're close. They seldom require adjustment, and when they do, it's pretty simple. I wouldn't call cable operated discs "significantly" different from hydraulic, but it is noticeable. Given the option, I'd go hydraulic every time.
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Old 07-31-13, 10:32 AM   #3
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I'll bite. It's good that this is the "general" forum, because I can only offer generalizations, having owned a small sample of all of the brakes that are out there. There are also variables in set-up, rotor size and care, and pads. These must be considered. Plus I only ride MTBs 10% of the time.

I've owned and ridden v-brakes (cheap and expensive), mechanical (cable) discs (cheap) and hydaulic discs (cheap and mid-level). Generally, the v-brakes had equivalent stopping power under dry conditions, but required greater hand strength and thus were more fatiguing on difficult, technical rides.

The only mechanical discs I've used were adequate, and had better wet condition stopping power. I also liked that they didn't chew up my rims when conditions got wet or gritty. New pads each season really helped to keep them tip-top. Again, performance was adequate for all types of riding that I do.

The hydraulics are my current brakes. I've ridden my friend's mid-level Shimano hydraulics and they're terrific. My low-end hydraulics with 180mm rotors are good. Really good to my relatively inexperienced feel. Again, plenty of stopping power with quite a bit less input force required, at least for me.

I wouldn't hesitate to go back to V-brakes or mechanicals, I guess, though, should other factors dictate.

We have v-brakes on my wife's and daughters' MTBs and I keep them carefully tuned. They get okay performance for what they need, which isn't extreme. PG
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Old 07-31-13, 11:42 AM   #4
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I don't think that's an easy question.

There's lots of different hydraulic disc brake systems. Some have vented master cylinders, some are closed systems. The fluids used have differing properties. How they perform in different temperatures and situations will vary somewhat.
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Old 07-31-13, 01:44 PM   #5
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VERY limited time on hydro's, I use mech discs; I have contemplated going hydro, but can't justify the extra $200 for what I'd want. My Avid BB7's w/ 185mm rotors are one-finger easy, even for my size (I'm a Clyde -- AND, BB7 w/ 203mm rotors has put me OTB.....).

One thing I will NOT do is go back to rim brakes.
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Old 07-31-13, 02:50 PM   #6
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Have Magura HS 33 hydraulic rim brakes on my Koga WTR.. they work just fine..

they area closed system, no expansion reservoir needed.

disc calipers tend to take up heat, so tanks have rubber gaskets in then for room for the fluid to expand,
but still not take in air when the bike falls over .

Might try the TRP Hy Rd hydraulic caliper , on my Bi Fri that has BB7's on it now.

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-31-13 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 07-31-13, 03:58 PM   #7
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A few years back I bought a new Jamis Dragon with hydraulic disc brakes. Right away changed them out to Avid BB7 mechanicals. Had no problem selling the take-off hydraulics. The BB7s are fine and low maintenance. I would have been fine with v-brake rim brakes also.
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Old 07-31-13, 05:44 PM   #8
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Like hydros as long as they use mineral oil. DOT is more of a PITA.

Only issue I've ever had with hydros was caused by a shop not bleeding them right.

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