Thursday, February 05, 2009

Stepping up to the Supermoto!

I have been a fan of big brakes for ever. By this I mean that I like brakes that I can reasonably control with one finger. It's not that I'm a masher, I just like fine control. I've used Avid BB7's for almost exclusively since 2003. I love the simplicity, ease of adjustment, and power. The slightly heavier weight has never been an issue for me. The major thing I can complain about is the quality and design of the rotors. Since Avid switched to the Roundagon design I have never been happy with their performance. They squeal, they lack in power, and they just generally were a step in the wrong direction in terms of looks and performance in my opinion.

I have posted before about the new rotors JB Importers is carrying from a company called Ashima. The rotors are light, look great, and I've found them to be a serious upgrade over the standard Avids. Oh, and they cost about $16 MSRP. Yep, they pretty much rock. I've not been happy with the braking performance on my geared Rawland since I put it together. Even with aftermarket cables and housing, they were not working up to the standards I have gotten used too. After today, that shouldn't be an issue anymore.

I got in a set of Ashima rotors for it. I upped the disc size to a 180 mm in the front, and re did the cable to the rear. It is a socking difference, even without the rotors properly broken in. They should provide plenty of power for the offroading, light touring, after hours cruising and whatever gravel burning I could run into. Oh, and they look good, really good. This will be the set up for my new 2009 Rawland SS, which should be a knock out of a bike. No more hints at that though, it'll be here soon enough.

I've also had a heck of a time getting the XTR deraillieur set up properly on this bike. Whatever I did, it's just never been quite right. All of you that are mechanics know how annoying seemingly small things are. Brakes are my number one annoyance, followed quickly by shifting issues. Especially when I'm used to riding SS bikes 75% of the time, it's a big deal. I looked through the boneyard and came upstairs with a nice older Ultegra mid cage 9spd der. 5 min later, problems solved. It's all ready for the weekend. I'm thinking a nice hill ride out to Sogn Valley is in order, should be great with temps in the high 30's to low 40's!


Anonymous said...

Does upgrading to a 180mm rotor require an adaptor, or is it just plug and play?I have 2 bikes with avid mech. discs, a 29er SS and a tourer --I'm tired of the squealing on both of them

Ben said...

It does require a different adapter from Avid, they are about $10. Set up on the brake does make a big difference in squealing, but These rotors have really helped in my opinion. The extra braking power on the larger front is immediately noticeable as well.

Daniel said...

I have done some cool mods to my bb7's that I thought you might be interested in. I disassembled them and got down to the bearing races which have a satin finish to them that looks nothing like you would expect a polished bearing race to look like. I then took my dremel with a felt tip bit and the dremel brand polishing compound and polished the races to a mirror shine. I regreased everything with the recommended grease and reassembled it and the power increase was awesome. There is so little friction now that the lever feels noticeably softer. With compressionless cable housings it feels like there are stock cable housings on. Power is easily in line with hydros, maybe more than most.

Ben said...

Daniel, thank you for the tips. I will most definately be looking into that! Cheers.

jimmythefly said...

Have you noticed any difference between the older-style BB7 calipers and the newer open-back 2-piece calipers?

Daniel, thanks for the tip about the races, I'll have to try that.

Ben said...

The older calipers are much stiffer, though the new two piece ones can be set up rather nicely. I have a sneaking suspicion that the higher ups at Avid are planning a Blackbox version of the brake this fall. I have been saving a selection of older calipers as they are a little nicer in my opinion.

jimmythefly said...

OK, so it's not just me, then!

I got a new bike, and immediatly swapped to my older calipers.

Partially because new shiny calipers will be easier to resell, but also because the older ones were smaller and more elegant, IMO, and also the fixed pad was easier to adjust with my finger strength only.

I'm using 160/140 roundagon rotors, but just until I get a new wheelset built that will use XTR centerlock rotors.