MTB hydraulic disc brakes head-to-head: Avid vs. Hayes

Whenever my friends ask about brakes there are always two that are mentioned: Hayes and Avid. Today I am going to run a head-to-head comparison of the Hayes Stroker Trail and the Avid Juicy 7, each considered the “do-all” model for their brand. Depending on who you ask you will get different opinions about these disc brakes, some based on fact, others based on hearsay and it can be difficult at times to differentiate between the two. I’ll do my best to give facts and skip the hearsay.

Out of the box both kits come with everything you need to install your brakes: mounting brackets, bolts, a complete caliper hose lever assembly, and of course a rotor. Both kits give you ample hose length to fit all bikes out there – just remember they are sold as a front and rear brake sets.

Hayes Stroker Trail Avid Juicy 7
Pad area bigger smaller
Weight 406 gm 160mm 395 gm 160mm post
Dot 4 yes no
Dot 5.1 no (compatible) yes
203mm yes yes
180mm yes yes
160mm yes yes
Tri align no yes
Pad adjustments no yes
No tool lever adjust yes no (allen key)
Sintered pads yes yes
Organic pads yes (option) yes (option)
Recommended for XC/ All mountain /Light Freeride XC/ All mountain
Colors Grey/ White Black
Attributes High stopping power Moderate stopping
More on off like Good modulation
Release quickly Release quickly
Easy to set up A bit of fiddling
Quiet operation Not as quiet
Quick pad change Not as quick need tool
Can take a hit Levers bend easily
Tough hoses Hoses tend to kink
Ease of getting parts Ease of getting parts
No hassle customer support Keep your receipt
Upgrades Titanium bolts Titanium bolts
Change to DOT 5.1 improves modulation and increases
boil point
Changing pads can change aggressiveness Same as Hayes
Different brand rotors Different brand rotors
Carbon levers Carbon levers
Stroker Grams Juicy Ultimate

In the photo above you can see the Hayes Stroker master cylinder is integrated within the body and makes for a sleek design. The Juicy, on the other hand, has its master cylinder jutting out a bit and the overall size of the Juicy Seven is a bit larger as well.

Both braking systems work well and stop well out of the box , however you can always make them better. For example, one thing you can do that will make the Hayes Stroker modulate just as well as the Avid is to change the brake fluid in it – I recommend a good quality DOT 5.1. Just visit any motorcycle shop and look for Motul 5.1 or a similar DOT 5.1 with a high boiling point. Another upgrade that can shave some weight is changing the bolts over to titanium which can save close to 60g per set. The photo above shows a Stroker Trail that has had its fluid changed over to a DOT 5.1 as well as the bolts changed over to titanium. On the Stroker caliper there are 6 M6 bolts and installing or replacing these bolts is pretty easy – just follow the instructions carefully.

There a few things you can do to improve the performance of the Juicy Seven as well but the biggest thing is to make sure your installation is correct. Make sure you slowly tighten the bolts that hold the caliper to the frame/fork and pay attention to the CPS hardware during installation. If you’re replacing the brake pads it’s a good idea to replaces the spring at the same time. Upgrading the 8 caliper bolts on the Avid Juicy Seven to titanium you will save about 70gm per wheel – pretty big savings for such a minor tweak!

With both braking systems it’s important you torque all bolts properly and check them regularly. Over time you may decide to upgrade your rotors and both brake sets are compatible with rotors from various manufacturers. The Hayes set-up pictured above is using a Magura Venti rotor.

As you can see, both the Avid and Hayes hydraulic brake systems have their pros and cons and depending on your needs or riding style you may find one better than the other. Don’t just settle when it comes to choosing a braking system for your mountain bike – keep experimenting until you find the best set-up for you!

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