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Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Brake Time

Yup, pop the beer and pump up that volume cos' monotony is just starting...

Its a luv-hate affair with maintaining brakes... The feeling of powerful sweet working stoppers when finished is just awesome. Ok make it fekking awesome. Problem is that it's just messy no matter no great some no-spill-kit has been designed for a particular system. Most don't work as claimed anyway.

Like so many other biking stuff its always small mods here and finding odd bits there to make life easier.

That's right... caliper is lashed to a good ol vibrating massager.. not much different from kinky bedroom toys if you do not happen to have something prim and proper at hand. Forget all the tappity  tap tap and flickety, flick, flick bullshit you see on instructional videos on bleeding out that last bubble from the system. No amount of tap. flick and shake will get rid of those bubbles sufficiently.

This, my dear readers--is da million$ tip.... VIBRATE.
Even if you have bled following instructions for whatever your brakes manual says-- buzz it and see how much more bubbles will escape your "fully bled" brake.

New levers...  XTR, XT and Zee but.... but what's with all these old pads and...

Still having my doubts on newer Shimano calipers, plus I didn't like the fact that they can use only factory supplied hose crimped with banjos that no other aftermarket manufacturers have made so far. Stock Shim plastic hose are crappy. Period.

Since I'm not paid to blog or write so can honestly say I'm not really convinced with all those extra stopping powers touted on of the new brakesets due to the ceramic pistons on the calipers. Have ridden a couple of bikes with those and quite frankly, whatever the dose of stopping power or modulation I need can be found in my old brakes. Properly maintained of course.

For me, braking upgrades to increase performance boils down to choice of rotors and aftermarket hose changes

Really liked the ergonomics of the newer levers though. A design that has returned (at least externally) to something that had worked well before. Reservoir aligned to direction of hose. The current rendition of short but powerful levers made a lot of positive changes to what I can do with my cockpit mods/ component placement lately. Hence have been slowly swapping them out on my rigs that has all been running on the older XT M775.

Left to right: XT M765, M775 and M785

Moreover changing just levers means I can reuse all the Goodridge hose and fittings which has been  quite costly but worthwhile upgrades over the years.

However like every generation-- not all levers are built equal. The top of the line XTR currently on one of the bike and Saints are different from the rest. Single block construction giving  a more positive feel when squeezed but a biatch to judge if the last bubbles are out as you can't really see beyond the little hole where brake fluid is dripped in. 

The rest..  only have the XT and Zee now... the XTs been used while the ZEEs are still brand new.. Now these you can tear apart which means if its overfilled, it will also tend to leak out after everything is installed. Something that freaked me out initially but have gotten used to. Usually after 1 or 2 wipe down.. no more oil should leak as that means  the oil would have gone just below the diaphragm level

As experienced in my Thailand trip this year... you don't have to have a full reservoir for the brake to work. My front spewed out its lifeforce and almost died halfway due to the fitting not properly tightened after a particularly long descent. Quick fix mid trail and for the rest of the trip the brake was only half filled at most.. Still worked.

Has anyone noticed the trend by now... when new generations are out, older components all of  sudden just but all disappears for a while and makes them harder to get...and/or somehow they just end up being more expensive than the newer stuff. Ridiculous.

Thankfully due to the Deity-of-Overstocked-Inventory there are those warehouse clearance sales aka clearing--nobody-wants-them-junk sales... and today it was at the local Shimano distro.. Being at work, as usual it means depending on good friends "live reports" to help pick up good finds.

Finally found a complete pair of my favorite XT 775 even though all I'm salvaging would be the calipers/pads at a rather good price. SGD$190 for both complete brakes.

All I need is to grab a pair of the new Saint levers and some more Goodridge hoses.. Yea it sounds stupid. For the moolah I could probably get a complete set of the newer XTR trail brakes. Then again you could say that's me and my little biking idiosyncrasies. Tried, tested, proven and keeping everything swappable across all bikes. At least won't have to be ordering different ones when buying brake pads.

A testament to things that worked: ~8 yrs worth that has seen the heaviest usage of all my calipers so far. Almost at the end of life now as wear is rather discernible at the pistons.... still one more bleed and see how much further they will go.

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