Mar 24, 2008

Front Discs

As I mentioned last week, I installed the disc brakes on my front wheel of my mountain bike this past weekend. My brother helped me with the job and it went fairly well. We had some fits and starts with trying to figure out all the adjustments but ultimately got it all set up.

We started by heading to Tolland Bike to get a new cable for the brake, the distance is longer and obviously I couldn't use the existing one. I got there pretty early and noticed that the bike shop was still closed, but I headed around to the side when I saw Dave the shop owner. He laughed at me for showing up so early, but ultimately took care of me. As a side plug, if you need any bike work go see Dave at Tolland Bike, he will take care of you and you'll get solid work for reasonable prices. We headed back to Matt's house, set the bike on his jury-rigged bike stand and got too work removing the old brake. The screw out pretty easy, and that part was pretty simple.

The directions included with the new brakes aren't great, the diagrams are a bit hard to read but we started by mounting the rotors on the wheel as directed. It's pretty hard to screw that part up!

Next we attached the caliper to the fork and here's where we had a little trouble. Dave at the bike shop mentioned that we should keep it a bit loose to allow adjust me, the squeeze the brakes and tighten the bolts with the brakes on which would keep the caliper centered while it was being attached. Our problem here was which bolts to tighten! In retrospect, it's pretty obvious that the mounting bolts we left loose were not the ones he meant. There are two bolts underneath that do the "macro" adjustment, then the red knobs let you do a "micro" adjustment after the brakes are set up. We tightened up the main bolts and discovered we had no clearance for the front of the disc, and the brakes didn't grab well. After fighting with it for a while it was clear we were missing something and finally discovered the right adjustment bolts. After figuring that out, it was a pretty simple matter of setting the right clearance and moving to the next step. Routing and mounting the cable is also easier than I expected, and we added a single wire tie to hold it in place.

As I suggested above, the only really difficult part was getting the adjustment right, and now that I know what bolts to use, I should have no problem when my rear wheel comes in this week and I can set that up.

I took a few more shots of the brake, it definitely looks much more cool than the rim brakes I had. The real test was a ride though, and I headed out Sunday AM excited to try it out. It was an ideal test, once again temps were in the teens, and it was wet and muddy. Shortly into the ride, my rear brake became fouled with ice and mostly useless, but the front stayed nice and crisp. Halfway through I got a bit of play in the cable, I suspect it either stretched a bit, or needs tightening but the good news is that since I installed it myself I'm confident in making adjustments. I also have to get used to the throw and how fast it grabs when you squeeze it hard! My v-brakes I could really yank on not have to work about them locking. This brake would have good touch on it, but also allow me to stop in a hurry if I grabbed it completely. I almost went over the front a couple times until I got used to it!

So far I'm loving them though, I'll post another review after I put the rear ones on as well.


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