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I am looking to upgrade my stock disc brakes on my Raleigh m80 (Shimano M475 mechanical discs, 160 mm) to something stronger. I find that with my existing setup I need a tremendous amount of hand force on the levers to slow me down during steep decents (upgraded to Avid Speed Dial levers about a year ago in the hopes of gaining additional control) and sometimes that just is not enough to bring me to a stop. I am sure that a major part of this problem is the fact that I am 6'4" and ~280lbs, but I have decided that it is time to move on...

I have been debating the whole hydraulic vs. mechanical thing for a while and I really just cannot make up my mind, so I wanted to see what other folks my size are finding sucess with? In general, I am not too concerned with the whole maintenance argument because I find the greatest joy in my life while working on my bike - so, I am really concerned about performance here.

I have heard alot of good things about the Avid BB7 mechnical disc brakes, but I am hesitant to go for another mechanical setup (I know that this is irrational). I am also confused about the whole rotor size question. I have heard that bigger is better in the front and that the back does not really matter...what kind of setups are you all riding? I was thinking to go large...203's in the front and back, but is that overkill? Are the bigger rotors really harder to adjust?

Then of course there are the hydraulics. I have had my eyes on a set of the Saint brakes for a while now, and this could just be my chance. Then again, if I can get the same performance out of the BB7s, then I will probably save alot more $$ by going with the Mechncial brakes.

Regardless of the choice, this is a big investment for me, so I want to make sure that I get something that is durable and that will handle me.

Please help! Any advice is appreciated...
 

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Constantinople said:
I am looking to upgrade my stock disc brakes on my Raleigh m80 (Shimano M475 mechanical discs, 160 mm) to something stronger. I find that with my existing setup I need a tremendous amount of hand force on the levers to slow me down during steep decents (upgraded to Avid Speed Dial levers about a year ago in the hopes of gaining additional control) and sometimes that just is not enough to bring me to a stop. I am sure that a major part of this problem is the fact that I am 6'4" and ~280lbs, but I have decided that it is time to move on...

I have been debating the whole hydraulic vs. mechanical thing for a while and I really just cannot make up my mind, so I wanted to see what other folks my size are finding sucess with? In general, I am not too concerned with the whole maintenance argument because I find the greatest joy in my life while working on my bike - so, I am really concerned about performance here.

I have heard alot of good things about the Avid BB7 mechnical disc brakes, but I am hesitant to go for another mechanical setup (I know that this is irrational). I am also confused about the whole rotor size question. I have heard that bigger is better in the front and that the back does not really matter...what kind of setups are you all riding? I was thinking to go large...203's in the front and back, but is that overkill? Are the bigger rotors really harder to adjust?

Then of course there are the hydraulics. I have had my eyes on a set of the Saint brakes for a while now, and this could just be my chance. Then again, if I can get the same performance out of the BB7s, then I will probably save alot more $$ by going with the Mechncial brakes.

Regardless of the choice, this is a big investment for me, so I want to make sure that I get something that is durable and that will handle me.

Please help! Any advice is appreciated...
One of the best "sleeper brakes" is the Shimano Deore Hydraulic...8" front and 6" rear...Not the prettiest but powerful, modulate well, and probably don't cost anymore than the BB7's....I have them on one of my bikes and have never, ever had a problem with stopping and they are amazingly quiet too. I have Juicy's on one of my bikes and El Camino's on another one and the Deore's are easily just as good and a whole lot cheaper
 

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Big Gulps, Alright!
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People use smaller discs in the back for two reasons:
1. Most of the braking should be done with the front.
2. It's easy to lock up a 160mm rotor, hence there's no need for more power in the back.

The benefit of a larger rotor is more power (not needed in back) as well as better heat dissipation (which will help a lot).

I have BB7s and they're stupidly easy to set up and maintain. I'm running 160mm rotors, but I see no reason why 185s or 203s would be any more finicky. They're also cheap, which is nice.

Depends on what kind of riding you do, but if I were you I'd probably go 203/185 F/R or maybe even 185/185.
 

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Constantinople said:
Please help! Any advice is appreciated...
I had some fade and power issues with my Deore mechanicals on my HT. So much so that they were dangerous when I took that bike to a downhill resort. When I built up my full suspension I decided not to mess around with inferior brakes, I got Magura Gustavs (190mm rotors F & R). They are likely the most powerful mountain bike brake on the market. The are also very heavy, and very, very expensive. But their performance is so good that I will not do any extended downhilling with another brake. There is no comparison in power, modulation and feel to other brakes that I've tried (including Avid Juicy 7's, Magura Louise, Shimano XT).

It would seem to be overkill to put such powerful brakes on your hardtail (and they'd probably cost as much as (or more than) your whole bike), but if you want fade-free performance on steep terrain Gustavs are the best choice. For reference I'm ~285lbs with gear.
 
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Go with the saint, you wont regret it, like night and day


Constantinople said:
I am looking to upgrade my stock disc brakes on my Raleigh m80 (Shimano M475 mechanical discs, 160 mm) to something stronger. I find that with my existing setup I need a tremendous amount of hand force on the levers to slow me down during steep decents (upgraded to Avid Speed Dial levers about a year ago in the hopes of gaining additional control) and sometimes that just is not enough to bring me to a stop. I am sure that a major part of this problem is the fact that I am 6'4" and ~280lbs, but I have decided that it is time to move on...

I have been debating the whole hydraulic vs. mechanical thing for a while and I really just cannot make up my mind, so I wanted to see what other folks my size are finding sucess with? In general, I am not too concerned with the whole maintenance argument because I find the greatest joy in my life while working on my bike - so, I am really concerned about performance here.

I have heard alot of good things about the Avid BB7 mechnical disc brakes, but I am hesitant to go for another mechanical setup (I know that this is irrational). I am also confused about the whole rotor size question. I have heard that bigger is better in the front and that the back does not really matter...what kind of setups are you all riding? I was thinking to go large...203's in the front and back, but is that overkill? Are the bigger rotors really harder to adjust?

Then of course there are the hydraulics. I have had my eyes on a set of the Saint brakes for a while now, and this could just be my chance. Then again, if I can get the same performance out of the BB7s, then I will probably save alot more $$ by going with the Mechncial brakes.

Regardless of the choice, this is a big investment for me, so I want to make sure that I get something that is durable and that will handle me.

Please help! Any advice is appreciated...
 

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Making fat cool since '71
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I've not been totally happy with my BB7's because of the lack of modulation as compared to my Juicy's and XT hydros even pairing the BB7 brakes with Avid speed dial levers. The XT's had reasonable power (not more than the BB7 though...), but did not have near the "feel"/modulation of the Juicy's. The XT's also reacted to heat build-up more quickly than the Juicy's on shuttle days. Perhaps due to the fluid they use (mineral oil) and it's lower boiling point than dot brake fluid.

I loved the Hayes Stroker when I demoed them a bit ago. Hope hydros rock as well. We have Formula on a couple bikes at the shop and they are good as well.

I'm a fan of 203 rotors front and either a 185 or 160 rear (I have that set-up on all bikes, fully squished or rigid) for riders over 225ish. As mentioned earlier, it's easy to lock-up the rear and most braking *should* be done with the front unless all of your riding is on gravel roads and or rock only since skidding damages trails, but I digress...

The BB7's are a good brake and light years better than the mechs you are used to, but the hydro options mentioned already (minus the Shimanos) are even that much better. All Avid brakes are super simple to set-up. Hayes tend to be finicky, Hope and Formula are pretty easy.

Brock...
 

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OK, Everybody is right so far but I think some are missing the point of the OP request.

The M-80 is a great bike but a low level or budget model. I had the m475's on my first bike (spec hardrock pro) Plain and simple the suck and even worse for a clyde.

And becuase that's your only expirence with mech brakes you are doubtful if other mech brakes are any better. They are! BB-7 in any rotor size will be a night and day difference.

I am a clude(super) and have bb-7's (xc and my DJ) bike and also have Sram juicy-7's on my freeride bike and hayes mag's on my DH bike.

I ran bb-7 with 8" rotors and they worked great for DH and everything in between. Even on a 6" rotor (XC, park and DJ) are crazy strong.

So, keeping in mind what you are putting them on the bb-7's(great adjustablity) or even the bb-5's (less adjust) but still good.
If you plan on upgrading everything(frame, fork) down the road then maybe higher end Hydro's would be a good choice but the bb are dirt cheap and will make a night and day difference)
 

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my 2c: upgrade to bigger rotors using the same calipers you have and you'll get the most bang for the buck. The cost of two rotors plus two mount adapters (bolts on between caliper and frame) would likely be under 100 bones and get you a lot of functionality.

IF YOU WANT TO SPEND MONEY, however, there are LOTS of options, but I'd strongly advise you to get 7/7 setup (7" rotors front and rear, also known as 180's). For your weight they'd work well. The 7" on the back may not be absolutely needed, but it's comforting to have particularly if you go and ride somewhere with nice long downhill action (e.g. Moab, Fruita, etc.).

Do not go to an 8" rotor without verifying that you can safely do that with your fork. Based on it being a shorter travel fork with a QR I am seriously doubting that is safe to do.
 
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I honestly think that the part of my bike that has made the biggest difference in my riding, are the brakes, not the fork shock or weight very good powerful brakes that are difficult to lock up is what does it for me so I agree spend money here if you can at all
 

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$$$ will drive the decision

BB7s can be had on EBAY for $80 a pair. Hydros will be easily $300.

Hydros will stop you better with less hand strength - unless they are crappy hydros.

I have been on BB7s for 3 years now and love them for ease of use, adjustability and $$$.
 

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I have BB7s on my hardtail converted to street and light off road use, and Hygia (Taiwanese brand) hydraulics on my AM/Freeride bike. BB7s are strong, even with 160mm rotors. I weigh 210lb and they can easily stop me while descending steep road sections. Rear wheel locks up quite readily, while the front digs in nicely. I do, however have to squeez them hard, and then harder again if I truly want to slow down - some people may call this great modulation, so its not really a bad thing.

My Hygia Elite hydraulics however are in a completely different league. I do not need to apply any extra force to achieve adequate braking regardless of the decline or the speed that I am traveling at, I just squeeze the lever more so it travels longer. modulations is great, however as not much force is needed to modulate this brake I need more finesse. I also need to be mindful of surface conditions and the bike attitude so that I do not lose traction.

In short, if you want easy stopping get good hydraulics, if you want value, power and modulation that you need to work a bit more for, get BB7s

V.
 

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You're complaining that your brakes aren't stopping you on steep descents...are you sure it is a problem with the brake, or unreasonable expectations of a brake? With the mass that us Clydes have, it is quite hard to slow down/stop a bike with us on it. I can get my bike to slow down pretty good on some steeper stuff, but depending on speed and slope, it changes the brake distance. Saying that....

BB-7s are a great brake. I have them on my bike, I'm about 300lbs and have no problems with them stopping me. I have 185mm rotors in front and rear, and would actually reccomend you go with a 160 in the rear...I can easily lock mine up under braking, and am actually going to go with a smaller 160 mm rotor this season becasue of it. You can get whatever modulation/setup you want with BB-7s, it's all about pad setup...you can get however much modulation you want depending on pad clearance setup.

Hydros are also a good choice, but you won't get a huge difference between a good setup BB-7 and hydros...no matter what anyone says. A while back LX-level hydros were being blown out everywhere, I think they were 30-40 dollars per wheel, so definatly a good deal, and will also work well for you.

One thing to think about as well is to not go bigger than a 185mm/7" rotor on the front...most forks don't reccomend going bigger than that due to the stresses caused by the bigger rotor...and unless you're doing some serious riding the 185mm will be big enough.

Good luck with your choice mate!

Tim
 

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Making fat cool since '71
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Actually,

Sullycanpara said:
You can get whatever modulation/setup you want with BB-7s, it's all about pad setup...you can get however much modulation you want depending on pad clearance setup.

Hydros are also a good choice, but you won't get a huge difference between a good setup BB-7 and hydros...
Tim
...the "modulation" or amount of pad pressure fluctuation control in mechanical brakes is, mostly, influenced by the lever you have. The lever dictates the ratio of leverage which is applied to the brake pads themselves which in turn press against the rotor of course. Having the pads closer or further from the rotor only, only, dictates the amount of travel required before making contact between the rotor and the pads. That is, of course, a good thing to be able to control, however it's not truly controlling overall leverage or pressure against the rotor. It will, good or bad, dictate at what point your maximum amount of pressure against the rotor will occur in relation to where the lever finally stops moving (how far/close the lever is to the bar before it will no longer move). This can also be accomplished on most levers with a reach adjustment screw. Some good levers have adjustable leverage ratio controls (Avid Speed dials) which can help in getting things to your preferences. Pad type can also play into the amount of force needed to achieve rotor lock (sintered, semi-metalic, organic, etc).

I've ridden hydro and mech brakes by most of the major manufacturers (Avid, Shimano, Hope, Hayes, Formula, Tektro, etc) either on my own bikes or on customer's bikes and I can completely agree that the BB7 is easily the best mechanical brake on the market by far and properly set-up with good levers (Avid Speed dials are probably the best at a reasonable price) are plenty good for most riding. Having said that, they do not have the control or "modulation" of a good hydro (Juicy 7, Mono, Stroker, Code, Oro, etc). I would prefer a good set-up BB7 over many hydros. Take the Hayes Sole/So1e, early HFX, pre-2007 Maguras, Hone. They leave a lot to be desired...a lot.

With Juicy 7's on my RFX I've been able to get stopped, quickly..., on the steepest, gnarliest trails you can find. I'm not terribly heavy though (255-ish plus gear). Codes are insanely strong. They had to put organic (considered less grippy) pads on them to help them avoid rotor lock-up too easily. Lovely, absolutely lovely.

Whatever though I guess. Just rambling thoughts. Ride what puts a smile on your face and have fun. If there was one thing that worked best for everyone...well, you know.

Brock...
 

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I don't have as much experience as some of these riders, but all I can say is the biggest difference between my new bike (stumpjumper fsr elite '08) and my old bike(norco charger hardtail '02), is the brakes (juicy ultimate seven vs. shimano xt rim brakes). I was amazed. I started out at 265, now down to 250, my forearms don't burn at all anymore when riding steep hills, they are like butter.Even the other very experienced riders I ride with are incredibly impressed by these brakes. If I didn't have them now this is the first thing I would spend the money on.
 

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Most of the big name brakes will handle a clyde. I had Hayes MX2's (mechanical) on my first "real" bike and they did okay with 6" rotors front and rear. When I advanced a bit and got a new bike, I ended up with Hayes HFX9's (hydraulic). The hydraulics were a lot better (granted the level of brake was better too).

I've found that bigger rotors and better pads are a cheap way to get better braking. The BB7's will likely do what you need if your fork will take the punishment of a bigger rotor up front.

Hydraulics are more expensive, but you also get both pads moving (for the most part...Hayes Soles being one notable exception) which eliminates some of the routine maintenance. On the flip side, you need to bleed hydros from time to time. There are a lot of trade-offs either way.

I'd say you can likely get by with a mechanical (like the BB7's) but I've had slightly better experiences with hydros. If you're going to upgrade your frame and fork in the not too distant future, it may be worthwhile getting a better brake now and then transferring it to the new bike later.
 

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personal opinion: ability to lock up a tire does not equate to a useful brake. If that's all I needed I'd still have a coaster brake. The ability of a brake to convert motion to heat and dissipate it into the environment, without failing or cooking out (e.g.: no longer doing the slowing-you-down thing).

If the brakes are too binary, tune them, or your touch. Change levers. Whatever.
 
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bear said:
personal opinion: ability to lock up a tire does not equate to a useful brake. If that's all I needed I'd still have a coaster brake. The ability of a brake to convert motion to heat and dissipate it into the environment, without failing or cooking out (e.g.: no longer doing the slowing-you-down thing).

If the brakes are too binary, tune them, or your touch. Change levers. Whatever.
I completely agree, since switching to the shimano saints 3 mos ago I have yet to lock up the front wheel. and I have hit that sucker very hard and very fast on many occasions, what a difference it has made. Im about 217 lbs. And all with no more screeching or fade from overheating.
 
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