Disc Brakes , I will probable get some disagreements on this tip and that’s ok but maybe just try to be open minded on this one .
Mechanical disc’s ( brakes that use a cable ) and hydraulic that use fluid pressure . The first disc brakes on bike were mechanical , then hydraulic came out , Hydraulic has dominated over the years with more models and brands than you can imagine and they change every year on top of that . Hydro’s can create some pretty impressive power and they look cool too . Over the years they have improved in most cases and there light weight can be impressive .
Most of them run off DOT 4 fluid and now some use DOT 5.0 and 5.1 . Others like Magura and Shimano use Mineral oil . As we all know they are subject to bubbles in the fluid , when the bubble is in the hose it will cause loss of brake firmness and power . When the bubble get’s in the lever master cylinder it really causes brake loss on a much larger scale . So bleeding the brake system in necessary to push the bubbles out of the system in order to regain a functioning brake.
Altitude effects most all hydro systems high altitude the brake lever feels firmer than low altitude and is some cases can cause the pads to rub the rotors . If you ever get a sticky master cylinder piston it can be a costly repair that will make you consider buying a whole new brake instead of repairing your old one.
Now don’t rule out mechanical disc brakes . I have to give credit where it is due . Avid makes a mechanical brake system called the BB7 it has a full size pad like hydro’s and some pretty neat features to consider .
For instance there is a knob you can turn on each side of the caliper that adjusts the pads in or out to create the clearance you desire , you can never get a bubble and of course altitude can not effect them .
A big secret to making impressive power with these is in the brake levers them selves and running 180mm rotors or 200mm in some cases. Speed dial levers allow you to turn the little red knob on the front of the lever which moves the cable anchor barrel closer or farther away from the levers,,, lever blade pivot.
This changes your mechanical advantage at the lever greatly increasing how tight your pulling on the cable itself . If you run the adjuster out all the way if feels like a normal stock lever if you run it in all the way the lever will travel farther before the pad strikes the rotor but your squeezing power greatly increases and the pressure needed on the brake lever is greatly reduced to lock up the brake.
Now here is where people give me a hard time lol , I run these on all my personal bikes and I get a lot of heat for it and that’s ok . But I will say I have one finger braking that takes almost no finger pressure ,
I have never had a brake failure , never had a bubble , no fluids to bleed never have pad rub don’t have to worry about bumping my lever when a wheel is off the bike and the pads moving in restricting me from getting the rotor between the pads.
If I damage a cable it costs me $ 5.00 to replace no altitude problems and I can create any feeling I desire at my brake lever with a turn of the brake lever knob or a turn of the caliper knob . For my riding style I have never felt the need or want for more power . They are a little bit heavier than some hydro’s I will say but to me that’s a small price to pay for the
simplicity durability and reliability .
I will give Shimano cuddos however if I were to choose a hydro system I am impressed with SLX XT and XTR . Their pretty light have a ton of power even with small 160mm rotors like the ice rotor option . These systems are how I wished all hydro’s performed .
Sincerely Marc Hanses