Strengths: Responsive, i.e. prompt direct transmission to the brakes of the rider's request. Subtle caresses to the brake do not result in hesitation and abrupt handling do not necessarily translate into locking the brakes/tyre. Altogether it translates into a progressive smooth action. It does well what it is intended to do if properly adjusted. Easily amenable to manipulation. Reasonably good manufacturing and attractive design (only moderately important, I would say, when we are talking about the ability to either stop or become a bumper sticker on an 18-wheeler).
Weaknesses: Adjustment. The design that feeds its good virtues also impinges in the not-so-good ones. To obtain its maximum benefit the system needs to be optimally adjusted, and the tune up (even before the fine tuning) requires a person not only mechanically inclined but also with the "artistic sensitivity able to recognize the personality" of this piece of machinery.
Like with any product there is need to pay attention to the collection of elements involved for a proper evaluation. In this case, braking depends certainly on the brake design, but also, importantly, brake cables and housing, on tyres, brake pads, rims and forks, bike frame and other structural components, as well as rider weight, skills and riding style, and, of course, road or trail conditions. Not to forget price.
Of course we all want all and the best that's out there, but often we cannot or should not afford it, and more importantly, more often than not we don't really need it.
In my case I believe I have quite optimized the capabilities of my DC2s for the bike setup at hand (one of them, anyway). Some of the components would need to be replaced (fork, for instance) and some others alternatives might be tried when is time (brake pads, cables and housing) for further improvement. Nonetheless, it took a certain amount of time and dedication to get them up to tip-top shape. However I loved the task and it is more a matter of TLC and sensitivity than unattainable mechanical skills and unnecessary criticisms to the design.
Regular use with a couple of expected or unexpected jumps and crashes lead to unplanned shifting of adjustments. But also only moderate riding or barely any exposure to inclement weather for even short periods of time is enough for sneaky dirt and subtle rust to deposit on the DC2s components surfaces seemingly obliterating their capabilities, launching them into irregular pad/rim contact, unbalanced recoil, "jittery" stopping action, hesitant response, etc. Naturally, it is not exclusive to breaks but to elements of even apparently simple nature, like the chain.
More often than not, many immediately go to the LBS who may or may not carry out the best possible adjustment job after all. Unfortunately, many shop mechanics are not really qualified (or dedicated) professionals. I disassembled my DC2s, cleaned them thoroughly (removed any 'undesirable rugous surfaces') and oiled them with suitable lubricant and lots of love. Blue loctite here or there if needed. Replaced the pads and placed them with 'as perfect as I could' surface to surface contact with the rim favouring a high position (nearer to the tyre than to the spoke part of the rim) with still enough clearance. Then played with springs and adjustment screws, as well as with brake cable length. Finally, with the adjusting screws by the brake levers to accommodate to my preferences. There is nothing greatly spongy about the touch, hesitation, both pads return to wherever they are suppose to return equidistant from the rim, I can break soft enough (for trial trails) or hard enough (when desperation settles in). All this without great exploration of any additional components, ..., just pretty much the standard set up, which as it stands serves me fine to hold my own decently enough with 'the guys' who ride (believe you me) a few more hundred or thousand quids altogether on the Specialized, Santa Cruz, Yeti or the like.
Nonetheless, my riding style still tends to prefer an even shorter cable journey and more aggressive locking ability of the tyres (particularly the back tyre) as I have set up in one of the racing bikes I am using; if you look at the lever the wrong way you can bet you will get the back wheel sliding for the next 3 miles. I am not judging, request judgement or need to be judged as to whether it is better or worse, it is merely a matter of personal preference.
Please remember that 3 Flammin'Chilis in the rating does not mean "They are not that good" but actually "They are good", and I am trying to keep the evaluation on the objective away from sensationalism. Many would do just fine with the product, and I guess that you could be satisfied by it not forgetting the caveats above.
Bike Setup: Claud Butler Cape Wrath. Rockshox Judy TT. Shimano Deore: F/R derailleurs, brake levers, shifters & hubs. Truvativ 5D chainset; Cane Creek Direct Curve II - Clarks brake pads; Mavic 117 rims. Tioga Factory XC tyres. Kore stem. Tioga riser bars. Profile Boxer bar ends. DMR V12 pedals.
a Cross Country Rider
from Santa Cruz
Date Reviewed: March 29, 2001
Strengths: No noodle, east setup.
Weaknesses: Plastic parts; Side loading; Not recommended for 4 bar linkage frames; a brake booster is a must.
I bought these bikes and installed them on a new frame. I didn't like the plastic spacer but they setup easy enough Their stopping ability seemed slightly below the Avid's on my other bike. I also noticed considerable side loading on decents with heavy braking. When I checked further I saw the culprit was the unbalanced design. My Jamis Dakar has a four-bar linkage with a link on the seat tube. Due to the unbalanced design of the brakes, the small arm tends to bring the pad to the rim, while the long arm exerts uneven pressure to the other side. The longer arm also exhibited noticeable flex. I installed a brake booster which helped, but did not eliviate the problem. I eventually switched out the brakes for XTR's. Cane Creek had a great idea here but they don't work very well. A set of Avids work just as well at about the same price.
Strengths: Mud clearance, and tire clearance. Very big pluses for an industry that really seems to cater to dry west coast riders where the designers live, except of course for Cane Creek. But I'm not whining.
Weaknesses: hard to set up. A real pain, but once the pads break in and you figure out you have to play with the spacers and washers you can get it. No instant gratification.
I didn't like these until I rode them for about two weeks, then I found them to have great modulation, and the pads are great in wet and dry conditions, no annoying black crap all over the rims, and they actually last a while. i would not get the expensive version!!!!! and i didn't. I probably won't replace them with another pair.
if you ride alot of hard, long downhills very fast, go with something else, they really don't have the punch to exude confidence. For really steep technical stuff these are great because you don't over brake.
a Weekend Warrior
from valparaiso, IN
Date Reviewed: October 26, 2000
Strengths: Easy to set up, strong
Weaknesses: I thought it was made in the USA. Pads could be better.
Excellent brakes! These are the DC 2s. Will keep the pads until they wear out, then maybe get Kool Stops. No squeal and so smooooooth. In addition to riding the trails, I also ride country roads, these help me to dodge horse manuse and roadkill. I am using these with $13 Tektro levers, generic cables, and older-than-dirt housing. They work great!!!
Bike Setup: Trek 930, Mozo fork, Truvativ cranks, Gripshift, Xt rear der., Sram front der. Mavic Wheels
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 25, 2000
Strengths: Strong, high quality, unique, easy modulation. (I got the Direct Curve Two)
Weaknesses: Slight flexy, a little heavy. (But how much difference does 10 grams make to a non-olympic racer)
These brakes are great, especially at the price I paid. They emliminate the annoying and friction causing noodle, and they look awesome, Great quality. Also good bushings. Buy these if you want to be different, and if you want that slight edge in trail performance.
Ideal Buyer: Agressive trail terrorist who loves the power and modulation of high end brakes, like XTRs, but does not want the 100+ dollar price tag, nor needs the little saved weight, nor enjoys maitenance on uneeded pivots or bearings(cough, cough, shimano, cough.) Excuse me.
Worst Buyer- Person with really deep pockets who needs to save all weight possible. (Sponsored racer)
Darn it just buyem.
If you can et them for the really good price off Performancebicycle.com Hurry!
Similar Products Used: Avid 10, Avid 2.0, Avid Single Digit 3, Avid Mags, Hayes, Formula, etc.
Bike Setup: Entry level hardtail, lx/lx, custom magnesium fork.
from Blacksburg, VA
Date Reviewed: August 15, 2000
Strengths: Clever-simple design, no noodles, strong braking power.
These brakes DC-5 are simple to adjust, with plenty of options for different frames. They are strong and very quiet set up as I have them. I am using ceramic rim and pads with NO brake squeal. Like any brake out there - proper set up is key.
The DC-5 delivers very strong braking power with smooth modulation. No noodle to mess with, easy to maintain. They stay clean, but with Gore brake cables it would probably be like butter.
Favorite Trail: technical singletrack and nasty DHs
Duration Product Used: 6 months
Similar Products Used: Avids, Shimanos, Tektro... you name it.
Bike Setup: Using XT lever, teflon cable and WTB Ceramic pads on a rear Bontrager Valiant Ceramic rim with Chris King hub. Yes it IS SuhWEET! 2000 Hayes Disc up front on a Cane Creek WAM Disc.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 1, 2000
Strengths: Small company in US Unique look Don't squeal.
Weaknesses: Relatively Weak brakes. Difficult to set up optimally. Heavier than many.
Overall, adequate brakes but compared with the Avid Rival 50 which I was trying to upgrade from, these brakes have significantly less stopping power with a mushier feel at the levers. Almost as bad as the Single digits. Overall power seems to be between a good set of Canti's (i.e. Onza HO) and an average V-brake. Much more difficult to set up properly than other brakes-- more sensitive to pad distance and angle. Unfortunately I paid > $120 for the entire set. I workmanship price seems reasonable, but in performance, it's way overpriced (bite the bullet and get a set of Arch Supremes). I'll tinker with this brakes a little longer but may have to swap back to the Rivals and put these pups on my beater. Too bad.
Similar Products Used: XTR and XT V-brakes, Avid Rival 50, Avid Single digits
Bike Setup: Airborne LS, SID, Valiant Rims, XTR levers
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: May 19, 2000
Strengths: Simple design and sleek looking.
Weaknesses: not much, yes they are a little heavier but they are bomb proof.
I love this break, I use to ride only in MI but did a race in NM at 9000 lus feet and they performed like a charm. Support the little companies for they are the ones that truely love the sport. ;-) Take care and keep the rubber side down. See you out there.
Similar Products Used: 99 model XT V brakes, LX Cantis
Bike Setup: Stumpjumper, SRAM 9.0 Levers, Atom Bomb fork
a Cross Country Rider
from la mirada, ca
Date Reviewed: January 20, 2000
Strengths: extreme adjustability
Weaknesses: uneven brake-arm strength quality control
I got these to try to deal with a cable routing problem on an old, pre-V-brake hardtail. Their excellent adjustability was nice; all the important bits come apart, and can be reattached to nearly any configuration. They solved the routing problem, but....
There were two problems that caused me to dump them: 1) Quality control. The head on one small screw had been stripped in teh original assembly, and a washer was missing on one cable clamp. Cane Creek replaced these quickly, but they should not have occurred on these fairly expensive brakes. 2) Uneven brake arm strength: Because the brake arms are of differing lengths, the longer arm over-powers the shorter arm. This may not be a problem in some situations, but with relatively flexy seat stays, the mismatch made for a horrendous problem trying to dial these suckers in. The longer arm kept forcing the pad down the rim toward the hub as the shorter arm could not resist the opposing force. Nasty! No doubt some mechanical genius could solve this problem; try what I would, I could not (and I tried it all!).
Final solution: Dump 'em, go back to the V's and live with the routing problem.
a Cross-Country Rider
Date Reviewed: September 20, 1999
Strengths: Versatility, Quiet, Nice Bushings.
Weaknesses: Comes in Black only. Price.
These are my first V-type brakes and so far very satisfied with them. There is no other brakes that looks like them, which adds to it's uniqueness. Nice features such as reversible arms (for the best cable routing), no noodle, dual spring adjusters, and easy pad set-up (mounting reversible). Since there is no excessive linkage (Shimano), they are QUIET, even with zero toe-in!
Bike Setup: Merlin XLM/ Judy SL/ Crossmax & King-517's/ Avid SD Ultimates L
a Cross-Country Rider
from long island
Date Reviewed: September 4, 1999
Just dumped my 99 XT's for these beauties. Not omly are they powerful as XT's they are QUIET!! my biggest complaint about the xt's were that they squealed and squealed. they are very easy to setup and adjust, and without the stoopid noodle, they are a bit stronger than other V's. plus the cables don't rattle either. 5 chilies!