Author Topic: Great Divide Gear Questions  (Read 4185 times)

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Offline jbennett

Great Divide Gear Questions
« on: October 25, 2015, 12:03:36 pm »
Hey all -

I'm in the process of specing a bike for some dirt bike packing adventures, one of which will be the Great Divide.  My husband and I keep going back and forth about the braking system.

I'm for cable disc brakes, he's for hydraulic.  I want the simplicity of cable disc brakes and feel that the braking power is plenty adequate, especially when you consider that most of the trips I'll be doing won't involve super tight and technical single track.  He feels that the hydraulic braking would be better, that the durability isn't an issue, and that the ability to better modulate the brakes with a hydraulic set-up is the way to go.  I've never had a problem modulating the cable brakes on my cross bikes while cross racing, so I kinda feel like it's not even a consideration there.

I'm curious to get some thoughts, something like playing the devil's advocate if you will, on both sides of the coin here.

Any one have first hand experience, one way or the other, specifically on long, self supported bike packing trips?

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Great Divide Gear Questions
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2015, 01:31:19 pm »
I just bought my first bike with disk brakes and had the same thoughts as you. I finally decided to go with hydraulic because several bike mechanics told me the hydraulics are less trouble. True, you have to bleed them once a year or so. But the reduced pull force allows the rest of the mechanical parts to have less trouble. I don't know how true this is, but the other factor is that the industry seems to be going over to hydraulic. I saw several bikes with disk brakes. None of them were mechanical.

So far as I can figure out, (and again, I don't know how true this is) the downside of hydraulic brakes is that one needs some kind of kit or tool to bleed the system. If you're in the middle of nowhere and both brakes go out on you, you're up the creek.

While I love the performance of my disk brakes, there are some things to be aware of. I was told that if I change a tire, I should never squeeze the brake handle while the wheel is off the bike. The other thing is that I changed the tires on my new bike. (I'm very picky about tires.) When I put the rear wheel on, the disk wasn't centered in the brake caliper assembly. I didn't see an adjustment right off, and the wheel wasn't rubbing, so I went for a ride and I'll look into it later.

As with anything new, there are some things to learn.

Offline jbennett

Re: Great Divide Gear Questions
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2015, 02:05:26 pm »
While I love the performance of my disk brakes, there are some things to be aware of. I was told that if I change a tire, I should never squeeze the brake handle while the wheel is off the bike. The other thing is that I changed the tires on my new bike. (I'm very picky about tires.) When I put the rear wheel on, the disk wasn't centered in the brake caliper assembly. I didn't see an adjustment right off, and the wheel wasn't rubbing, so I went for a ride and I'll look into it later.

Yeah. Everything you mentioned is true as far as the things to look out for. I've already had 2 bikes with discs: one MTB with hydraulic and one cross bike with cable, and I've had many motorcycles and bled the brakes on my own (it's not hard once you know what to do). I'm aware of the intricacies like you mentioned (not squeezing the levers, etc.).  There are adjustments, many times you have to adjust the caliper on the fork (up or down, left or right) in addition to the throw of the pads.

The bit about the brakes failing is what gets me.  I keep thinking that MTBs have had hydraulics for a while now and people don't seem to run into issues with failure.  I suppose I'm just being old school on this front in my worry about serviceability and durability.  Since MTBs take a LOT of abuse and I've never had my fellow cyclists ever comment once about how they ran into an issue with the brakes failing, I'm guessing it's all just in my head. ha!

As with anything new, there are some things to learn.
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Offline beloh21

Re: Great Divide Gear Questions
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2015, 06:22:12 pm »
I've ridden sections of the Great Divide and other bike pack routes with cable disc brakes (BB7s) while my riding partner used hydraulic (Shimano) and both worked fine.  There is a lot of downhill on the GDMR and the pads will wear so you need to manually adjust the cable brakes to compensate for the wear. (Hydraulics are self adjusting.) Its not a complicated task but its another bit of on the trail maintenance you need to preform. Getting cable discs dialed in can be a bit difficult, I ended up running full length compressionless housing (Jagwire, I think) and I had trouble with loud squealing but Swiss Stop pads fixed that. Cable brakes would probably be easier to field repair if they got damaged but in thousands of miles of touring that has never been an issue for us.

Offline greenbubba

Re: Great Divide Gear Questions
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2015, 07:47:22 pm »
I recently had this exact discussion with a trusted mechanic that works on a lot or rentals in the Sedona area. My girlfriend and I are planning a summer 2016 great divide. His opinion; personal preference and don't lose sleep over this decision. If you are just more comfortable with cables then stick with it. His opinion re; on the trail repair of hydraulic was; If you bust a line, you likely crashed and bent the disc and have much bigger problems.
charlie