hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

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ludo
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Joined: 30 Jul 2012, 8:29pm

hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby ludo » 6 Feb 2020, 10:21pm

I plan to purchase a steel framed touring bike but I would appreciate advice on whether to go for one with hydraulic disc brakes or cable disc brakes. The concern I have about hydraulic brakes is that if the hydraulics fail they can only be repaired by a bike shop. If I am on a tour and some distance from civilisation then I will have a problem. With cable brakes I will have a replacement cable and can fix the problem myself. Does anyone have en opinion on this??

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Paulatic
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby Paulatic » 6 Feb 2020, 10:34pm

1. I’d question just what are the odds of something failing that so many people seem to worry about?

2. If in the unlikelihood of a failure on a well maintained bike you’d still have a brake left what’s the odds on both failing?

3. I’ve limited experience of disc brakes but my son has a bike with cable discs which are IMO poor. I’ve a bike with hydraulic and they are excellent. One finger is all you need even for an emergency stop.
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Marcus Aurelius
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 6 Feb 2020, 11:07pm

Hydraulics are very reliable now. I’ve ridden many thousands of miles, over several years on the only bike I have with disc brakes, and they are hydraulic. I’ve had no issues in that time / mileage. The hydraulics are a lot less hassle than cables, as hydraulics auto adjust, as the pads wear down. If you get a pad spreader, you can push the pistons back when you need to replace pads, very easily. I’ve got Avid DBs and I’ve not needed to bleed them, or do anything complicated thus far. In fact it’s easier and cheaper just to replace the whole shebang, than to try and service them, that’s progress I guess. These are post mount, not flat mount, and they do occasionally need re centering, but that’s just a case of slackening the bolts off, pulling the brakes on, and retightening with the brakes pulled on. Then they are recentred.

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horizon
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby horizon » 6 Feb 2020, 11:11pm

I think a lot depends on what you think about brake fluids and there seems to be quite a lot of disagreement over their handling and toxicity. Personally I don't want to go near DOT fluid again or have to dispose of it. So frankly I would go for cable. But I know people disagree with that and don't have issues with brake fluids. A lot of what I hear is that hydraulics are better but, like I say, for me it is the fluid issue, not the brakes per se.

PS Just to say that some well-regarded brakes use DOT fluid rather than mineral oil so if you don't want DOT then you cannot have the (possibly) better brakes.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

reohn2
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby reohn2 » 6 Feb 2020, 11:19pm

ludo wrote:I plan to purchase a steel framed touring bike but I would appreciate advice on whether to go for one with hydraulic disc brakes or cable disc brakes. The concern I have about hydraulic brakes is that if the hydraulics fail they can only be repaired by a bike shop. If I am on a tour and some distance from civilisation then I will have a problem. With cable brakes I will have a replacement cable and can fix the problem myself. Does anyone have en opinion on this??


I believe good quality modern hydros are very reliable,stop well,and are self adjusting.

Good cable discs(BB7'S in my case)also stop just as well,are very reliable IME in over ten years of use,though need manual adjustment.
The plusses with cable discs and my reason for sticking with them are:-
a)they can be stripped and rebuilt roadside with a small and lighweight spares kit.
b)because they need to be manually adjusted it gives the owner an idea of pad wear.
c) any brake lever with the correct cable pull(MTN or Road) can be used and which are easily available should one be broken in say in a crash situation.
From a power POV,I've never found BB7's lacking in power with one finger braking,they also have very good modulation.

My 2d's worth
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horizon
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby horizon » 6 Feb 2020, 11:45pm

reohn2: in all the disc brake wars on this forum, it is your posts that have persuaded me that discs might be worth trying (while Brucey and others have reassured me that my rim brakes are OK!). My Sardar is disc brake ready so I'm tempted to try one out (front?) if I come across a cheap wheel (that's the other problem!) and a s/h cable BB7. I really am DOT- phobic!
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

simonhill
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby simonhill » 7 Feb 2020, 3:18am

Where do you intend travelling with your bike?

Here are a few things you may want to think about from a travelling rather than technical aspect.

I've not heard of anyone having problems flying with hydraulics, but it is possible that a stroppy check in person could question them because of the fluid.

While everyone assures you they are reliable, think about your bike being hefted on and off buses, trains and boats. Cables snag and can be damaged.

Research what spares you would need to carry to be self sufficient.

Research where nearest point of help would be if you won't be able to fix.

Decide if you are happy taking a bail out if you need to get fixed. Of course, this could happen for any major problem.

A few years ago I spent a few months in India with a friend who had hydraulic brakes and I was always a little worried about possible problems, but we never had any.

I'm not saying don't have them, but just giving a few things from a different perspective to throw into your decision making process.

ludo
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Joined: 30 Jul 2012, 8:29pm

Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby ludo » 7 Feb 2020, 5:03am

Thank you for all your responses. You have convinced me to go for hydraulic brakes. Much appreciated.

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Tigerbiten
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby Tigerbiten » 7 Feb 2020, 5:49am

I started out with twin cable BB7's worked from a single lever on my bent trike.
They were a pain to setup due to trying to get both brakes working with the same power.
I now have Tektro Auriga Twin hydraulic brakes.
Very simple to set up.
In the long run I prefer the hydraulic ones.
Of the two, the hydraulic brakes are easier to modulate at low stopping power but the cable brakes didn't fade as much when stopping from very high speed with a full camping load.
With cables there is a possibility of fixing them if something fails while you have to send off for new ones with hydraulic ones. That's not really a problem nowadays with the ability to order parts online unless you're on a very time limited tour when you cannot wait a couple of days for them to arrive.
They are also filled with non-corrosive mineral oil, so if you don't want to use DOT fluid there is that option if you get the right brakes.

Luck ............ :D

Greystoke
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby Greystoke » 7 Feb 2020, 7:43am

No one ever asks whether it's ok to drive or motorcycle a few 100 or 1000 miles with a vehicle equipped with disc brakes......
The technology is proven & reliable.
The question is whether you really need discs over rim brakes.
Your choice

m-gineering
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby m-gineering » 7 Feb 2020, 8:13am

Hydraulic brakes are like all current bikeparts designed for a crowd who will only be an hours walk away from their cars. Those cars are probably fitted with diskbrakes, but funnily enough those brakes will be fitted with highly effective dustcovers which bikes - operating in a muddy environment- can do without. Appearently. Also if the car ends upside down working brakes are not a high priority anymore.

Hydraulic brakes are a luxury on a touring bike. Great if they work, not so when the problems start. Problems to expect:
Leakings seals. when the caliper starts leaking oil contaminates the pads. This causes juddering, squealing and reduces the braking power. You could try new pads, but you'll probably need a new caliper. I've got calipers in stock which took so long to deliver I've forgotten which bike they were meant for.
Pads will cease working when they are greasy so you have to take care cleaning your bike and ride around any suspect puddle (could be oil). Allways take spares, as that popular brake fitted to your bike will be unknown past the first border.
If air makes it into the main circuit it will cause loss of braking. The higher the altitude the more troublesome a small amount of air will be. The bubble might make it's way back on it's own into the reservoir, but then it might not. Not many trialcenters on the Karakoram highway!
Shimano (and maybe others) make brakelevers which are riveted together. If some dirt gets between piston and cylinderwall you'll need a new lever as the piston won't return reliably and you can''t get it fixed
If brakes get older the pads might not retract reliably anymore. If you don't like swishing noises it will drive you mad, others won't care.

Will that happen to you? Don't know, but i have a whole crate of used rimbrakes which will work fine, and only a bunch of failed disks. My current SS MTB (which doesn't get used much, too many bikes) is on it third set of brakes (Hope(less)->Shimano->Tektro), and one caliper is on it's way out again. So it all depends on how much braking you need, and how difficult getting it fixed will be for you. For a week off-road in the Alps you won't want rimbrakes, for general road touring V-s work fine, can work with drop bars and permit a more flexible fork.


BTW Magura rimbrakes used to be highly reliable (as long as some idiot didn't drag the bike on top of the bus by the brakelines) but current production uses plastic for everything included torx headed bleedscrews, leaving very little marging between fixed and destroyed.
Marten

Touring advice for NL: www.m-gineering.nl/touringg.htm

pwa
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby pwa » 7 Feb 2020, 8:14am

ludo wrote:Thank you for all your responses. You have convinced me to go for hydraulic brakes. Much appreciated.

As with any new kit you will be well advised to learn how to care for it. For example, some people remove the actual discs (which are thin and easily bent) when the bike is being transported. The fluid issue, as well. Why not buy some latex gloves and some new fluid (whatever sort is recommended for you system) and get to grips with replacing it? Once you know the routine it will hold no fears. I have changed pads on a hydraulic brake and it is fiddly but simple and takes a few minutes.

The downside of hydraulics (every brake system has at least one downside) is that on long descents it is possible to overheat the fluid and that can cause loss of braking ability. Learn about that and how to avoid it. Other brake technologies suffer from over heating, but in different ways, so it is just a matter of learning about what you have and how to get the best out of it.

Hydraulics certainly give you the most braking per unit of pressure on the brake lever, so I'm sure that will give you satisfaction from day one. Of course you do have to get used to not pulling back too hard on the levers.

Angstrom
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby Angstrom » 7 Feb 2020, 9:03am

I'm surprised no-one mentioned the cable actuated hydraulic disk brakes. I don't own any, but from what I've read, they seem to be "best of both worlds".
If I'd be onto getting a new bike/build, that's what I'd lean towards.

reohn2
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby reohn2 » 7 Feb 2020, 9:15am

Greystoke wrote:No one ever asks whether it's ok to drive or motorcycle a few 100 or 1000 miles with a vehicle equipped with disc brakes......
The technology is proven & reliable.
The question is whether you really need discs over rim brakes.
Your choice

I don't think that's the discussion,but whether to choose between cable or hydro discs.
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reohn2
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Re: hydraulic disc brakes v cable disc brakes

Postby reohn2 » 7 Feb 2020, 9:20am

Angstrom wrote:I'm surprised no-one mentioned the cable actuated hydraulic disk brakes. I don't own any, but from what I've read, they seem to be "best of both worlds".
If I'd be onto getting a new bike/build, that's what I'd lean towards.

Why?
Why not just cable discs?
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I cycle therefore I am.