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brake upgrade

785 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Hangingchads
Hi Im thinking of buying a new bike. One to just mess around on(a thrasher bike)

This bike has Avid bb5 disc brakes. from what ive heard they arent so good and have finiky setup. I was thinking once(if) i buy this bike would it be posible to only upgrade the calipers to Avid bb7s. Having only delt with hydros im not sure how mech brakes work and if it would be possible to do this.

if so should i uprgrad to bb7s(the cheaper substitute) or buy some low end hydros?


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From what I understand they bb5 are the same just they don't have the quick pad adjustment dials on the calipers. Its nice feature but not completely needed. My friend just picked up a nice used canondale with bb5's and had his bb7's put on just cause he had them on his crappy bike.

If you have the money and want to stick with a cable brake then get the bb7's but if you want to go to hydro's then stick with the bb5's and save the extra money for hydro's.

I once thought I would stick with cable brakes then I got a set of Juicy 3's on my new bike and never want to go back to cable brakes. The juicy 3's are really low end and I want to upgrade but they are light years ahead of my cable at least in feel and ability to modulate. Just something to think about.
it just depends ive heard people say that bb5s squeek alot and need a ton of adjustment all the time.

im used to hydros its just itl be cheeper to upgrade to a better mech brake
It is possible to upgrade just the caliper from BB5 to BB7, in fact that's how they are sold, just calipers. I would spend some extra money and get hydros though. Having a self adjusting brake is worthwhile in the amount of time saved in compensating for pad wear with your dials. Hydros will set up fast and not need much attention until you change pads. BBs will need you to keep the adjustments in the proper placement as your pads wear. Not the end of the world, but it's a lot of work compared to doing nothing.
Upgrading to BB7's would be worthwhile. It takes 2 seconds to adjust the brake pad distance with the BB7's. The BB7's use a different brake pad - same as the Juicy series, much easier to get setup due to the CPS system (Caliper Positioning System) and the inner/outer brake pad adjustment knobs.

BB5's are ok, but the BB7's are a much nicer brake system. BB5s use a one piece caliper that is not as beefy as the BB7's. The BB7's have a 2 piece caliper that is forged. Much stronger.

Also keep in mind that you can pick up both F & R BB7's caliper kits for the same price as one hydraulic brake kit.

I've been using the BB7's for 2 years on my XC bike. I've only had to make pad adjustments only a few times to account for wear. Not a big issue.
BB5s are fine. If you find that you NEED a better brake, I would go with the BB7s over low-end (cheap) hydros. If you can jump to Juicy 3s, that would be even better than the BB7s, but all this upgrading is going to get expensive.

Just so you know: Any brake will squeak and misbehave if you don't take the time to set it up properly. It's not that BB7s (or nice hydros) DON'T do this, or even that it's impossible to set up lower-end brakes well - it's that most of the time the people buying higher end brakes take more care with installation or spend the money to have a pro do it. If you take the same care setting up a BB5 that you would on a BB7 or Juicy series brake, it'll work just fine.
bb5's and bb7's have the same stopping power and should feel very similar, if you're having a problem with your brakes, its not the caliper, the cables need to be adjusted. i rode bb5's for 2 months problem free. bb7's aren't worth $100 upgrade. go for some hydraulics like the Hayes for $130
Yup disc's just make noise until you get them just right. I remember I had to center my hayes a couple times on my hardtail and my juicy 3's two different times to get them noise free. Then you still get that kind of metal on metal sound when they get hot but thats just disc's.

Good luck in your search but like I said earlier if you are going to stick with cable brakes then go to BB7. If you at all want to go to hydros then save the money of upgrading as bb5's are fine. Keep in mind too that peoples experience differs in that how they use the bike effects adjustment periods. Before I got my full suspension I used my hardtail for downhill and aggressive riding allot and was adjusting my pads on my hayes mechanical brakes at least once a week. You will not get this type of wear on normal trail riding or XC.

Good luck and I don't think there is really a wrong answer in what to do its just what ever you feel is best based on all our opinions and the facts about each brake system.
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