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BB7 instead of hydros on race MTB?

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BB7 instead of hydros on race MTB?

Old 12-15-17, 05:23 AM
  #1  
lukasamd
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BB7 instead of hydros on race MTB?

Hello,
I just bought MTB from second hand. Bike will be used only for MTB marathons. It has Avid Elixir 3 brakes - not bad, but I'm not very happy and consider changes. I like simplicity so... what about Avid BB7 mechanical brakes?

I know, that modulation will be worse than in hydros, but I like these brakes (I used them on CX bike). Breaking force with 160 discs will be more than enough so... Is it good choice for bike for races?
I also consider Shimano XT M785 because I can bought them in similar price. I know that they are very, very good brakes, also without DOT but.. hydros... more complicated maintenance
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Old 12-15-17, 10:20 AM
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Canker
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What are you not happy about with the Avids? Look bleeding Avids is a PITA but you only do it every year or two and they work and feel fine. Get over your fears. Hydraulic brakes have been around for a very long time and they work great and require very little maintenance despite what all the roadies want to think. No way I'd take BB7s over Elixers, let alone XTs.

Note I have BB5s on my cross bike, Elixer 7s on my hardtail, old as hell Avid Juicy 5s on my Rigid, and XTs on my full suspension + other bikes over the years.

BTW I'd rather bleed my XTs than deal with changing the cable on those BB5. XTs are super easy.

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Old 12-16-17, 03:51 PM
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Kapusta
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I've got XTs on my primary MTB for the past 4-5 years, and have used BB7s on many different MTBs for 16 years.

I think most people are (on balance) going to be happier with the XTs.

BB7s are a little finicky to set up at first and sometimes after a pad change, and then bit of fiddling with the adjuster knobs every few rides, but nothing ever really goes wrong with them that is not very easily and quickly fixed. I find them to be extremely dependable and predictable in terms of maintenance. In 16 years I have never finished a ride short a working brake or missed a day of riding because of the BB7s.

With the XTs, there is zero to do between pad changes, which are very easy to do. Bleeding for the XT's is only needed one every year or two (for some people longer) and is not that hard UNLESS the bubble in stuck in the caliper, in which case I have needed to unbolt the caliper from the bike. Still not THAT big of a deal.

However, the couple times something HAS needed attention, I was down a brake until I could do a bleed. In the 4 years I've had the XTs I have finished two rides with one non-functional (or severely compromised) brake, and have missed a few days riding that bike before I had a chance to do a bleed and fix them.

The the way I characterize it is that the XTs are a lot less maintenance.... until/unless they are more.

On the whole, though, I will choose the XTs for a bike where I want the best performance. They feel and work a lot nicer than the bb7s (though I never had any complaints with the BB7s) Just get the stuff you need for a bleed BEFORE you need it.

If you do end up going with BB7s, get compressionless brake housing, such as the Jagwire Pro stuff. It make a big difference.
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Old 12-18-17, 06:50 PM
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The Elixir 5s that came on my bike were crap, so I can only imagine 3s are even worse. Bleeding is a breeze with a two-syringe setup but that's the only positive word I have for Elixirs.


But I concur with Canker - - BB7s are a step backward; they work but not like hydros. Kapusta's suggestion of Shimano is sound, although some people are turned off by their light-switch-like power delivery. Hayes, Hope, Shimano, even the newer SRAM stuff (I've actually heard good reports about Guides) are all an improvement over the lower-level Elixirs.
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Old 12-19-17, 07:21 PM
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I would go with hydraulics over mechanical everyday

They work much better on the trail
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Old 01-07-18, 08:16 PM
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Shimano hydro for sure. I like bb7s but hydro are great.
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Old 01-07-18, 08:28 PM
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Go with the Shimano hydros. Want to make them even better? Buy some Truckerco pads. After 9-10 years of constantly bleeding/rebleeding my Avids (...all levels), I switched to Shimanos and rarely have to bleed them. My only complaint (especially on the gravel bike) was the stock pads glazed over on steep, loose descents and the lever would go soft. Switched to Truckerco pads and the gravel bike's brakes feel as strong and consistent as the mountain bike's.
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Old 01-08-18, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by trailmonkey72 View Post
Go with the Shimano hydros. Want to make them even better? Buy some Truckerco pads. After 9-10 years of constantly bleeding/rebleeding my Avids (...all levels), I switched to Shimanos and rarely have to bleed them. My only complaint (especially on the gravel bike) was the stock pads glazed over on steep, loose descents and the lever would go soft. Switched to Truckerco pads and the gravel bike's brakes feel as strong and consistent as the mountain bike's.
+1
my only amendment would be to get larger rotors (at least 180mm front, 160mm OK for rear) before you play with new pads. Try the OEM pads that come with the brake and with large enough rotor you have better cooling to avoid most problems.
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Old 01-10-18, 08:52 PM
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I'm going to go totally against the grain here because I went from Avid Juicy five Hydros to BB7s and LOVE THEM. Yes for pure braking power, Hydros are better. For modulation, I found the Avid BB7s were way better than the grabby Juicy brakes. I had Juicy Fives on one hardtail, Juicy Sevens are still on my dual sus and I have Avid Elixer SR CF on another bike. The Elixers are better than the Juicy (almost any other Hydro is better) but I find for pure riding fun and ease of set up and maintenance, the Avid BB7s are great. I'm told that the Shimano Hydro brakes aren't grabby like the Avid hydros are so maybe that's the better set up for racing, I can't say. But compared to Avid Hydro brakes, I'll still like BB7s.
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Old 01-12-18, 01:06 PM
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^^
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Old 01-12-18, 05:13 PM
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I like to ride long distances in the middle of nowhere (Tour Divide, Colorado Trail and now the Wild West Route...). For me the Avid BB7s were the goto choice, having ridden with Shimanos on the Tour Divide, I found them lacking.

However, I think it was more of a rotor thing than the actual brake, and the problem was the pads. I was blessed with good weather so not a lot of dirt on the brakes. But the bike with the hydros was equipped with a 160 rotor on the front and a 140 on the rear (which really made me wonder what they were thinking). Those are rotor sizes more likely seen on a road bike, not a mountain bike that gets heavily loaded and then is doing descents that go for miles.

So my new build has 203s. And cable operated brakes. I need to be able to service everything in the middle of nowhere as it might be 100 miles to the next town and who knows if there's a bike shop... The 203s allow the pads to run cooler which is a good thing for pad life and also hydro fluid. I've yet to hear of anyone boiling the brake fluid on mtbs; I've experienced it on motorbikes and my 4x4 truck, and it can be quite unnerving! That's mostly my reason (paranoia) for wanting cable operated brakes, and almost any bike shop has replacement pads for BB7s.

I've been riding the new build (Jones Plus) for a while and the brakes are nothing short of awesome- far more powerful than the hydraulic brakes on my Cutthroat. But that's probably due to the increase rotor size more than anything else.
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