Hayes Stroker Carbon Disc Brakes 2010: Radial design, sculpted cast aluminum master-cylinder with integrated reservoir; carbon fiber lever blade with an indexed reach adjuster dial. Symmetrical, flip-flop lever design with removable bar clamp....
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 30, 2012
Strengths: Great power and modulation
No fade on my typical ride (10km ascent, 10km descent, 15km to get to the trail and home)
Less arm fatigue than other brakes that I used (Formula RX, Magura Louise)
Weaknesses: None for now. Had a few rides, but the brakes were bought used.
One of the best AM/trail brakes. Even stronger than Formula RX (noticed less finger fatigue after same descents on same rotor size) that I've ridden in the last 12 months.
Enough power and nice modulation, lever feel is always the same, no rubbing when using proper rotors (Hayes's).
Similar Products Used: Formula RX, Magura Louise, Shimano SLX M665, Code 5
Bike Setup: 150mm AM bike, AM/Enduro wheelset, Deore drivetrain and everything else
a Weekend Warrior
from Eugene, OR USA
Date Reviewed: April 14, 2011
Strengths: Excellent stopping power, great looking, good lever adjustment, nice feel.
Weaknesses: Came with bubble in the line and misaligned pads. I had to bleed and refill, now they work perfect!
Other than the old XT discs, these are by far the best brakes I've ever owned. I have the 7" discs and they have unparalleled stopping power, look great and are ready when I am to whip around a switchback or come to a screeching halt... minus the screeching. The old Avids had a terrible tendency to squeal when wet in the mud, these make a grating noise, but nothing I can't handle. They will whine when they're getting warmed up or need cleaning, but nothing new there. Easy pad changing will make them easy to keep up to speed and installation was a breeze. I'd recommend them!
Four chilis for a value rating since they are a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Strengths: Lots of Power, easy brake pad changing, adjustability, quality USA construction, durable, comfortable lever
Weaknesses: a slight gurgling sound when engaged
After a full season racing as a CAT 1 XC rider, the Stroker Carbon was a great investment. I had been riding XT's for the last few years before upgrading to the Stroker Carbons. I had very few issues with the XT's, until I switched and realized what I was missing. The Stroker has a powerful and confidence inspiring feeling when engaged. I originally thought it had less modulation than the XT's, but after riding the Stroker for some time, I realized that the Hayes didn't have less modulation, they just had more power. The brakes will allow you to really push your handling skills on the trail.
I would advise on getting the organic pads to reduce braking noise. There is still a slight girgling sound, but it's really not an issue. The pads wear a bit quicker, but depending on the environment you ride in, they can last a full season or more.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: April 13, 2010
Strengths: Looks great, good stopping power
Weaknesses: Aluminum backing plates transmit heat to the braking fluid causing drag. Poor rubber bushings in the lever piston mechanism.
These brakes have an excellent price/value ratio. I don't know if there is on the market anything better for that price. They do have some problems that, I believe, are shared with other Hayes hydraulic brakes. The bushings in the lever piston mechanism are of poor quality and can cause problems like the lever not returning all the way on its own. To change the bushings you have to buy the whole mechanism and this is not really a bargain. Another problem is with the backing plates. To reduce weight they made them from aluminum instead of brass like on the Trail. Aluminum conducts heat more than brass causing the stock brake fluid to boil under heavy repeated braking and causing the disk to drag between the pads. This can be fixed by changing the brake fluid. You can put factory racing brake fluid (for cars), but with the same specifications. That brake fluid boils at a much higher temperature and eliminates this problem.
To increase braking power you can also replace the rotors with Shimano rotors, the ones with the aluminum core. These help with the heat transfer as well, the disc cooling quicker, allowing better braking with significantly reduced fade.
All in all, I am glad I bought these breaks. They look and feel great. If you want better brakes you have to pay more.
a Cross Country Rider
from Williamsburg, VA USA
Date Reviewed: April 5, 2010
Strengths: Nice looking, light...that is about it.
Weaknesses: Hard to bleed, lever feels soft. The rear brake still does not stop well. Had to send front to Hayes, getting ready to send off rear. Hayes said it was the hose for the front. Hope this fixes the rear.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: September 3, 2009
Strengths: Totally awesome. Really smooth feel but still strong. One finger braking not a problem. You can depend on these to stop you. Reach adjustment makes it very easy for that fine tuning when you feel like it. Carbon levers feel pretty nice too.
Weaknesses: May be slightly 'grabby'. Can skid if you're not careful. Plus carbon levers are a bit silly, would've saved my money and got the Strokers with normal aluminium, but I got them off eBay for half the price, so can't really complain. Plus, they match my carbon bars :P
Really great brakes, so powerful and easy to pull. I'm loving the added stability I can have with 3 fingers on the bars instead of 2. While they have a little tendency to be over-enthusiastic, I prefer that control to not stopping fast enough. As I said above I wouldn't have gone for the carbon version if I was buying normally, but now I have them, I wouldn't go for the aluminium, as the carbon does actually have a noticeably good feel to it. Plus it shaves that extra bit off the weight if you're into that. And if not that, carbon fibre just looks cool :D. I would highyl recommend these brakes.
Similar Products Used: Hayes Sole, Tekro mechanical something
Bike Setup: Giant Reign 3, with Marz AM3, XT front and rear, Syncros Carbon bars, Thomson X4 stem
a Weekend Warrior
from Ile-Aux-Noix, QC
Date Reviewed: July 1, 2009
Strengths: (complete front and rear 8" kit) Very easy to install, hoses are long enough, excellent brake modulation, pretty good stopping power, quieter than my old cable-actuated 6" system, carbon fiber levers look cool
Weaknesses: Not a vast improvement over my old cable-actuated 6" system, 8" rotor did not fit on the rear of my 2006 Kona Hoss, tricky initial adjustment
I got a great deal on these by sniping an eBay auction in the last 5 seconds. $135 for the complete front/rear 8" kit is an awesome price. It's a brand new 2009 kit, and it included everything I needed for the installation, even the proper caliper brackets for my IS front fork.
Unfortunately, the 8" rotor is too big to fit on the rear of my bike's frame. It rubs up against the chainstay. I've ordered a separate 7" rotor and caliper bracket for the rear.
Other than that, installation was a breeze. Until I get the 7" rotor, I'm using the old 6" rear rotor and caliper bracket with the new hydraulic caliper, and it seems to function as intended.
One thing to note, the Hayes rotor calls for a torque of 6.2nm for the 6 bolts. When I tried to torque it that high, the bolt stripped through the threads on my Shimano Deore hub. I tightened all the other ones to 5.5nm instead. The hoses are a tad too long, but nothing terrible. Unfortunately, shortening them means replacing the compression fitting and nut at the master cylinder, and then re-bleeding the system. That means I need to buy more parts if I want to shorten the hoses (compression fittings, nuts, bleeding kit, brake fluid). Some reviewers of other Stroker systems complained about the hydraulic hose popping out under hard braking. To them I say: "DON'T RE-USE THE COMPRESSION FITTING AND NUT WHEN YOU SHORTEN THE LINES!!!" They're a single-use item, re-using them is a bad idea. This is true in all plumbing.
Adjusting the brakes so I didn't have over an inch of free-throw on the levers was a bit annoying. I had to pull on the lever without any wheel installed, so that the brake pads can close against each other, and then wedge them open just barely enough so the rotor will fit between the pads with a little resistance. It took a few tries, and was especially annoying on the rear wheel.
Once adjusted properly, there's no drag on the rotor, the levers engage the pads almost right away, and modulation is perfect. I have complete control over how hard I'm braking, from barely slowing to maximum braking power, all within half the throw of the lever. This is much improved over my previous setup.
Maybe my front rotor needs a little more bedding in, but I wasn't overly impressed with the new braking power. After using my old cable-actuated 6" system for 3 years, I was expecting this new hydraulic 8" front disc to be able to flip me over the handlebars. The truth is, it's only somewhat more powerful than my old system. Definitely noticeable, but not the monstrous braking power I was hoping for.
It's worth pointing out that I kept my old system perfectly tuned on an almost daily basis, which may be why it worked so well to begin with. One of the main reasons I bought a hydraulic system is so I can stop adjusting everything to perfection every time I come home from a ride.
Some reviewers complained about "bubbling" noises while braking. I've noticed no such thing. Everything is completely silent. Also, I can't imagine the rotor vibrating, it's a pretty thick and stiff piece.
Based on the price I paid, I give this a solid 5 flaming chilis for value. If I'd paid the full MSRP (which is twice as much as I paid), I might've made it 4 flaming chilis.
As for the overall rating, I'll give it 4 flaming chilis for now due to the underwhelming improvement I noticed, even after bedding the rotors for over 30 stops.
Similar Products Used: 2006 Shimano Deore cable-actuated with 6" rotors
Bike Setup: 2006 Kona Hoss, many changes since new, none relevant for this review
a Weekend Warrior
from London England
Date Reviewed: June 17, 2009
By far the best brake hayes have ever made
Weaknesses: now superceeded bu the gram and ace brakes
the lever is not good for your fingers, avid placed the pivot the opposite way round (near the bar) much better
If you have massive hands this brake will be awesome for you!
Great if you have massive hands
Best hayes product!
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: August 26, 2008
Strengths: Lightweight (weight claimed on Hayes website is accurate - now there's a rare thing..!), savage power, excellent modulation, no fade, bling levers
Weaknesses: Very little lateral adjustment in caliper mounting. Not a particulatly positive feel to the lever (plenty of squish), a little fiddly to set up
As reported in the weaknesses - these are a little fiddly to set up. I had to pump the levers without rotors or spacers fitted to engage the pad wear adjustment (even when new) to reduce lever throw to reach the bite-point. Lever adjustment is useless when the lever could practically be pulled to the bar (particularly when using chunky lock-on style grips), needing to be set to maximum reach prior to the pad adjustment. Engaging reach adjustment is not an accurate process, so took some time to get right.
Admittedly, this could be due to running avid discs - chosen due to reduced weight (35g lighter overall), and 7mm increased diameter (185mm as opposed to 178mm for Hayes Stock). Avid discs are a touch narrower than the stock 'V' discs, and could have caused the setup issues.
Lateral caliper positioning adjustment is limited when compared with shimano systems, and I had to shim the mounting bracket (as with older IS systems) to get the rotor to run central & straight between the pads for even engagement & wear. Lever reach adjustment is useful for initial set-up once the pad engagement issues are sorted.
Performance-wise, the braking power is impressive, and the modulation is excellent - none of the classic Hayes on/off feel. Modulation improvements are probably at the cost of a positive lever feel, although with proper set-up the lever squish is minimised.
Sintered pads perform very well in the wet, are grabby but controllable. One-finger braking is sufficient to scrub speed, but there's plenty of stopping power on tap for emergency stops, supplied progressively to stop you skidding out.
Stroker Trails are better value if you are not too fussed about the weight (same system; slightly heavier due to the alloy lever, but not much) - but the carbons perform well for all-mountain use and on the trail-centre black run's.
Perfect for an Enduro style bike or XC racer; these are very versatile in application - will stand up to a little light DH use without the weight penalty of beefier systems.
Strengths: Looks great, easy bleed, awesome modulation. The fist thing I noticed is how easily they stop. No On/Off feeling with these brakes; one finger squeeze will accurately scrub just enough speed, while full-on panic stops stop on a dime without skidding out. These brakes actually helped my riding, they've seriously helped me flow my local trails better!
Weaknesses: Sintered pads which come stock are a bit too grabby. I've found that these sintered pads really like to run hot. If you're not on the steeps a whole lot, get semi-metalic pads or downsize your rotor size (I'm running 8's F&R).
Also, unless your shaving weight, save the money and get the Trails. It's the same brake and caliper without the carbon lever; which is cool but hardly any more functional than the aluminum ones
I've been really holding out writing a review on these brakes because I wanted to truly let them bed in and give them a good beating. And a beating they've received!
Bottom line is there are better brakes out there if you want to pay the money but these brakes are GREAT for the price. Upper Whistler on a hot day no worries, no fade, no overheating, one finger modulation all day, no fatigue. I would honestly recommend these brakes as an alternative to some of the more expensive Formulas or Maguras.
Strengths: Look nice, Bling Lever, Decent price, ok power. Lever reach useful at first.
Weaknesses: Bizarre bubbling noise almost all of the time, play in the lever is pretty poor, lever reach adjust is pointless after first set-up, lever squish is too much. Not very positive lever feel.
These had definite improvements over my HFX9's, better power (Attributed mostly to 8" rotors over 6" rotors) better modulation. But the awful noise's they make, the squishy lever feel that has alot of play, and the slight fade mean that i have been disappointed in these brakes. I rarely ever give anything a bad review, but these were abit f an impulse buy for my SS as they were the only thing left to buy. They were well-priced at £160 for the pair ($320) and the reviews were few as they were new out. But i can't really recommend them that much. Maybe they're just not for me.
They work, for sure, and look nice. But noise and squish ruined them for me. These are more personal preferences and niggles, as they work pretty damn well, but i'm picky and hate the noise!!
Similar Products Used: Juicy 5, Hayes HFX9, Codes.
Bike Setup: Intense SS, Totem Solo Air, DHX 5 Coil, XT, Stroker Carbons, Chris King H/Set, Chris King hubs with Mavic 729 Rims, Easton EA70 bars, Thomson X4 Stem and S/Post, DMR v12 Mags, High Rollers 60a.
Bike Setup: Sawback, Revelation air, Carbon stroker, Lo-pro mag II, shadow XT rear der Mavic ex729CD 2.3 WTB ExiWolf.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: May 20, 2008
Strengths: smooth as silk and frigging powerful, one finger braking, quick bedding in, unique looks, reach adjustment, pretty light
Weaknesses: none so far
After the new rotors and pads sorted themselves out (couple of hard rides), I was surprised how buttery these brakes feel - nice and progressive, but jam them hard and you'll sail over the handlebars. Reach adjustment is simply the best I have seen. I would recommend to anyone. Best brakeset I've had.
Similar Products Used: maguras, avids, various cable types in olden days
Bike Setup: Redline Monocog, eXotic carbon forks, Raceface this and that etc...
a Cross Country Rider
from Edinburgh, Scotland
Date Reviewed: April 27, 2008
Strengths: I got a good deal on a pair of carbon strokers nearly six months ago now and used them on a new bike build with a S-Works Enduro frame. The levers are great, fitting snugly to your braking finger and the performance is amazing - crisp and tight. One finger braking is no problem at all and I've had little trouble with overheating. The reach adjust is great, very easy to use, and the carbon effect levers look excellent too.
Weaknesses: The auto adjust can push the calipers a little far out sometimes so you get a little rub, but that's the same for most brakes. A quick push in with a brake spacer and it's sorted.
These brakes are top notch, well recommended for cross country and all mountain purposes. Mine have been running perfectly on 160mm rotors for the past 6 months and have absolutely no complaints.