Hydraulic vs Mechanical disc mountain bike brakes

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Hydraulic vs Mechanical disc mountain bike brakes

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    • #111813

      I need some help on deciding which ones to get. I’ve been looking for info on maintenance of each, future cost of replacement pads, etc. Any suggestions on where to get this info or anything like that will help out alot.

    • #111814

      I run avid bb7’s mechs on all my bikes. Cheaper up front than hydros lower maintenance (no bleeding) and with the right levers (speed dials) modulate great.

    • #111815

      This topic has come up before — I suggest searching for previous threads.

      That said, in a nutshell, I have used both, and to me it depends on the tradeoffs that are most important to you. I love the simplicity, price, and easy maintenance and adjustment of the mechanicals (I had BB7s) but I also love the smooth modulation and better stopping power of hydraulics (I have Juicy Ultimates). The mechanicals were less hassle for me, but when the hydraulics are working right they have a great feel.

    • #111816

      Replacement costs for pads will vary by the make/model of brake you are buying and also the type of pad you decide to purchase (organic vs sintered metal). Its hard to make a comparison of brake pad prices along the lines of hydro vs mechanical because there are simply so many models of each and prices change with inventory.

      The only real "hydro vs mechanical" specific costs that you can compare for across all the models are the need for bleeding hydraulic brakes vs simply needing to replace cables and housing for the mechanicals. You will normally need to purchase a bleed kit and whatever type of fluid is used in the model you purchase. That has averaged about $30 for the three different make/models of hydro’s I have. On the other hand, a set of brake cables and new housing can usually be found for less than $15. How often they need repairing will depend on the brake make/model and how often you ride more than anything else.

    • #111817

      I’ve only owned a couple bikes (so far) and only one of which had disc brakes. The original brakes were hydraulic (Promax). I had so many issues with them that I finally replaced them with mechanicals, 2011 BB7s. Like one of the previous posts said, hydraulics work good when they work. Mine never worked good, maybe cause they were cheap. Based on all the research i did before i "upgraded" i went with the BB7s and am not disappointed. I like that i can adjust them with no problem with no freaking bleed kit. Pair them some Avid speed dial 7s and you really cannot go wrong….

    • #111818

      cables are cheaper and will gradually reduce in effectiveness as the cable becomes worn. Keeping in mind cables do not warn you when they are about to break. replacement parts are cheaper and easier to adjust.

      A decent brand of hydraulic breaks will offer better consistent braking power. granted the bleed kits cost a bit but that’s a one of payment as fluid is quite cheap. Bleeding them is very simple. Learning to bleed them is an acceptable sacrifice.

      This will come down to where and how you ride. I have a range of conditions and temperature so i go hydraulic.

    • #111819

      I’ve got Juicy 5’s and had to have them bled(3years old) for the first time. I was surprised my LBS charged me $50 so I figured it must be a pain in the ass job. I’m okay with that if it’s every 3 years I guess..

      I also had the Avid mechanicals which were okay. The hydro’s are just awesome tho IMO!

    • #111820
      "jmitch" wrote

      I’ve got Juicy 5’s and had to have them bled(3years old) for the first time. I was surprised my LBS charged me $50 so I figured it must be a pain in the ass job. I’m okay with that if it’s every 3 years I guess..

      They should be bleed every year, cos they use DOT, what is hygroscopic.

      On a side note: Funny that you guys consider mechanical discs. Over here, you’ll find them ony on Walmart bikes or other low end stuff

    • #111821

      I absolutely love how precise and how well the hydraulic brakes modulate compared to mechanical brakes. Hydraulics seem to stay more consistent longer in my opinion. My hydraulic brakes degraded very gradually and I eventually noticed that they started to get spongy. The next day after the ride, I changed pads, I put in fresh brake fluid, and bled them. They lasted me a whole season after that.

      In my experience with mechanical brakes, my cables started to bind up and braking went to hell in a hurry after that with very little warning. That cut my ride short for that day, and needless to say it was downright dangerous. I ended up replacing the pads and running new cables.

      I much prefer hydraulics…

    • #111822

      agree it, They should be bleed every year, cos they use DOT, what is hygroscopic.Image

    • #204324

      I know this is an old topic but I wanted to weigh in with some recent experience.

      I swapped out my mechanical brakes for hydros years ago, but after bleeding a set of brakes for what seemed like the hundredth time, I decided to go back to mechanical BB7s on my hardtail. I had actually given away the set of BB7s that came with the bike so I had to purchase new ones, and I was surprised to find they were more expensive than many hydraulic sets I could have chosen.

      I’ve been (re)running the BB7s for about a year now and initially they felt a little weak. I spoke with a friend and he suggested maybe they needed to be bedded in a bit, and while they did get a little better, they’re still noticeably less powerful than the hydros on my other bike. Still, I love how consistent they’ve stayed since installation and I haven’t had any issues. I just have to remember to pull a little harder on the levers if I want to stop quickly. 🙂

      Hopefully I’ll recoup the cost of the brakes over the next few years by avoiding having to have the brakes bled by my LBS.

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