There’s power in simplicity. For years now, ball bearing disc brakes have been a favorite among riders who want control, durability, dependability and piece-of-cake adjusting. BB’s adjustment knobs make quick work out of setting the perfect distance between the pads and rotor, as well as adjusting for pad wear. This is something you just can’t do with hydraulic brakes. And when you run ball bearing disc brakes, you can match them with our Speed Dial® levers for sweet, adjustable modulation.
Strengths: stopping power, value, durability, easy to tune
Weaknesses: heavy (if you care about a few extra grams)
great break system. prefer them over cheap hydraulic systems. i've been using them (bought them used) for about 2 seasons. if you tune them (which takes about 30 seconds per caliper) every couple of months, they're golden. amazing stopping power & will take a beating.
a Cross Country Rider
from Northern California
Date Reviewed: August 28, 2011
Strengths: Well made, no bleeding, stop on the dime, what more can you ask.
I've tried numerous brakes over the years and always fancy the latest and greatest.
No matter how light and pretty some of these companies can make brakes nothing has performed better then these brakes.
They stop when you need them to, with the Ultimate levers it's effortless one finger pulling.
Once set-up properly you don't have to look back again.
I'm taking off my Magura MT8's and putting these on my Nicolai FS.
Similar Products Used: Hope, Magura MT8, Shimano, etc, tried them all.
Bike Setup: Jones Spaceframe single speed
a Cross Country Rider
from Atherton, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: January 20, 2011
Strengths: GREAT STOPPERS! Very inexpensive. I got the front and rear calipers, rotors (G2 clean sweep), and mounting hardware for $99.
Follow the Avid set-up instructions and you'll have brakes that stop on a dime. Braking power is equal to or better than the Juicy 5's and 7's I've used in the past. Buy these brakes and spend the money you saved by not buying hydraulic and put that cash towards your wheelset or frameset.
Similar Products Used: Hayes Mechanical, Tektro *cough*, Avid Juicy 7
Bike Setup: Giant Rainier 14" urban single speed, Clean sweep rotors, Avid AD-3 levers
a Cross Country Rider
from San Antonio, TX
Date Reviewed: May 12, 2010
Strengths: Cheap, ease of adjustment
Weaknesses: Stopping power not on-par with hydraulic brakes, heavy
I replaced my old Juicy 7 brakes with the BB7 brakes because I wanted something cheap and my Juicy 7s were driving me nuts because they constantly needed re-bleeding. The BB7s just don't have the same stopping power that the Juicy's had. You really got yank hard on the lever. The BB7s are also really heavy. They're adequate, but not optimal. They're a step-up from rim brakes in terms of stopping power, but a step-down from hydraulic disc brakes in terms of force needed to stop. I just upgraded to XX brakes... we'll see how that goes.
Similar Products Used: first gen xt hydros(made by italian co.), hayes hfx, stroker, mech...
Bike Setup: I was first smitten when i got my Spec Enduro and these came on them - changed over to a Ironhorse MKiii(crap...Dwlink isn't all that!), and now on my new Titus El Guapo, 4years later!
203mm rotor ft&rr! Awesome!!!! Still, Awesome!
The hayes hydros on my Spec BigHit crapped out a couple years ago so I took the opportunity to buy some on ebay. Slapped them on and have been happy ever since!
a Cross Country Rider
from huntington, ny, usa
Date Reviewed: November 8, 2009
Strengths: powerful, reliable, simple
Weaknesses: none... a little squeeky sometimes
i've had these brakes for so long and they've served me so well i have to put my props into writing. these avid brakes are the best deal in the world of mtbing... i know of no other product that delivers so much performance for the price. (except maybe the stan's system)
Bike Setup: Titus racer x , xt group, thompson, stans, flat bar and these awesome brakes
a Weekend Warrior
from Staen Island, NY
Date Reviewed: November 6, 2009
Strengths: Easy to Adjust.
These are the best investment I have made(BB7-185mm). These brakes when paired with the Ultimate lever are flawless. I have been beating the daylights out of these brakes for the past 6 years and they have never let me down. I have the 185mm on my Turner SixPack and they work better than my friends hydros. No hydraulic fluid and one can use any direct pull lever. These brakes are still working like the day I got them. I recommend using full housing either Avid or Shimano. You will not be disappointed with this purchase.
Strengths: Consistency - works great in all conditions
Durability - no problems in over 4 years
Easy to set up - takes about as long to set up as V-brakes
Stopping power - way more than I need
Modulates well - "smooth" More on this later
Weaknesses: Not as smooth as hydraulics but also aren't as much of a hassle. May possibly be at their worst less smooth than V-brakes are at their best.
I use these for XC and All-mountain riding and find them more than adequate. I weigh about 165 lbs and the bike is probably pushing 28.
These brakes are made incredibly well. I'm sure I've laid the bike down on the brake side many times. All still works well. The rotors can take a beating. I've only had to true the front one once (which is kind of scary to do). If you do not actually break a rotor or brake module, these will probably outlast your fork, wheels, and frame.
The pads will last several seasons for XC and all-mountain duty. I've only changed mine once and those probably had 25% of their life left. You can replace the pads without tools which is cool.
Pulling the lever only moves one pad which means the rotor has to bend in order to contact the second pad. I thought this was kind of a cheesy design but it works great in practice. *shrug*
"smooth". It's very easy to get just the right amount of braking. This allows very fine control over hairy descents, slippery surfaces, quick stops... really whenever you need to slow down the bike. The amount of lever you have to pull to get a certain amount of response is basically unaffected by how wet/sandy/muddy the brake is. Under heavy, continuous braking the rotors can get hot enough to burn your skin or even boil the water as you splash through a puddle (no kidding. I've had it happen more than once). Still, the braking performance is not noticeably affected even above 100 degrees C. Cool.
With my fork setup, I have to arrange my front pads kind of far from the rotor or else I'll get a little rub when I lean the bike. This may or may not be exclusive to my fork. Anyway, as a result I need sort-of a lot of lever pull to engage the brake. I don't like having that dead zone where pulling the lever doesn't do anything. I've been trying to work it out for a few seasons with no success. However, I don't see how this is a fault of the front brake. I imagine I would have the same problem with any disc system and, regardless, I still perfer these brakes over V-brakes.
Similar Products Used: Shimano XT and offbrand V-brakes. Juicys.
Bike Setup: I use these with older style shimano LX levers. Manitou Black Elite (underrated and discontinued fork). Jamis Dakota XC frame.
This is a review of the 2004 version of the Avid brake. It's the model pictured at the top of this review which seems to be closer to today's BB7. 160 mm rotors mounted to XT hubs.
a Weekend Warrior
from Marietta, GA
Date Reviewed: July 6, 2008
Strengths: Stops fast, no stinkin' hydraulics
Weaknesses: A bit hard to adjust perfectly depending on the frame, but that's just me.
I am probably the only person who has a hard time adjusting these brakes to the proper 1/3 2/3 ratio but this is probably more from my frame mounts being a mm or so off. If they would only allow a bit more adjustability I would be happier.
But still, I love these brakes after removing hydraulics from my and my son's bikes and replacing them with BB7s. What a pain in the butt those were since I could not easily adjust them myself and were both spongy after a month. I didn't see the point of hydraulics at all once I had the BB7s on.
I like BB7s so much that when I was recently looking for a full suss for my son (and me when he's not with me), I would not consider a prebuilt bike since none in the quality range I wanted came with BB7s, only hydraulics. Yeah, I know I could pull off the Juicys or Stokers that come on the prebuilts and sell them on ebay and buy a new set of BB7s, but it just peeves me I cannot buy a stock $1.5 to 2K range bike with BB7s when they are the most reliable, most easily adjusted, and reasonably priced.
Similar Products Used: Other mechs, Vs, and hydraulics
Bike Setup: Bike 1: Fisher Tass with lots of upgrades including these brakes
Bike 2: Kona Dawg built up from frame just so I could use these brakes
Bike 3: DBR suburban assault vehicle / errand bike with large front basket.
a Weekend Warrior
from sincity, nevada, us
a Cross Country Rider
from Camas, WA, USA
Date Reviewed: March 27, 2008
Strengths: Ease of installation and maintenance. No more fluids to stock in my garage. Smooth modulation and braking performance.
Weaknesses: The paper instructions that came with the brakes were difficult to follow. The online (printable) version was different and much easier to use.
I purchased a pair of the BB7's from Pricepoint a few months ago. I read the instructions a few times and then went to the SRAM website and found some I could download to my computer. They seemed to be clearer than the included set. Since this was a conversion from V brakes to disk I also installed a set of Full Metal Jacket cables and liners and new levers at the same time.
I followed the instructions carefully and did everything "by the book" including torquing all the bolts to the required values. The only modification I made to the whole setup was painting the stainless steel FMJ cable housings black to match the bike frame.
I've run the brakes through their paces quite a bit. They perform great whether wet, dry or covered in mud. I read where some have had modulation problems, but that might be a cabling issue. I've been able to apply very light pressure to modulate speed or gradually increase pressure without the on/off feeling. The brake levers return to rest without any delay. I'm very happy that I made the switch and so far haven't had to make any adjustments to the brakes after the initial setup. Occasionally the brakes "squeal" but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to when it occurs. It only happens every once in a while and can appear when the brakes are cold, hot, wet or dry. It's not a real issue and it never lasts for long.
I think if you have a complicated cable routing scheme on your bike, the BB7's will not work well and hydraulic brakes may perform better for you. Depending on where you buy, the price difference is practically negligible so it just comes down to personal preference.
Now I just need to find something to plug the V brake stud "holes" to keep them from becoming mud and moisture traps.
I rebuilt my ISX6..
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