Swearing is a powerful thing, when you’re taking an oath, or making a promise. And I did.
I promised myself that the next time I had any trouble whatsoever with my hydraulic brake system, I’d make it one hundred million times better by switching to a mechanical, cable brake system.
I swore it and then I did it. Here for evidence is the picture positive proof. Above is the front and below is the rear brake.
First kudos go to northwestbicycle.com for having and delivering the absolute best parts in the known mountain biking universe. The delivery was prompt, even though I chose to make an order at a difficult time of year. One of their sales associates described the past two weeks as “nuts”. Probably a good sign for their business, if they’re so busy to call it “nuts”.
I seriously hope this shameless plug for them makes it even more nuts. Do all your bike shopping through Northwest Bicycle. They’re the best!
Hopefully you’ll notice from the pictures that I didn’t have to get new discs. I used those from my previous brake system.
Second kudos go to Origin8.
(I purchased the Origin8 Slick Compressionless MTB Brake Cable/Housing Kit Front and Rear 3000mm/1500mm & 2800mm 5mm/1.5mm Black, along with the Origin8 Vise II PM MTB Mechanical Disc Brake Front or Rear Black X2)
Origin8, who made this brake system, makes it easy to install, and everything necessary was included. By the way, if you plan on upgrading to this particular system and purchase the same items listed above, keep in mind you’ll need some brake levers. I didn’t buy any because I already had some that would work with this mechanical cable brake system.
The immediate reward is this: I had the extremely happy job of trying out, or in other words, test driving, my new brakes and they are phenomenal. They perform beautifully. In fact, the difference between the stopping power of the mechanical versus the hydraulic is not even discernible. The real test, of course, will be time: How much maintenance will go into the upkeep of this cable brake system. I suspect much less, and truly my experience is this: cable systems are worth much more in the long run than hydraulics. I had some of the first hydraulic brakes when they were a new idea for mountain bikes, and though they were built well (I had Magura back then), they still failed due to aggressive riding—or should I say aggressive crashing? Hahaha!
Anyway, unless you want to carry a syringe or two, oil, and tubing with you on the trail, fixing hydraulics in the middle of a ride is not an option. When hydraulic systems fail, you have zero brakes. ZERO. These are the main reasons I wanted to upgrade to cables: they’re less likely to become completely powerless, you can inspect them and actually see any potential defects, and they’re easy to maintain on or off trail.
Remember: Less trial, more trail.