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thoughts on brakes for (disc) newbie

HOME FORUM RIDING FEELS GOOD FORUM TECH TALK thoughts on brakes for (disc) newbie

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  repack 2 years, 10 months ago.

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    I’m no luddite or anything, but am new to disc brakes as of last year, and have just reached the limit of the pads and rotors that came with the bike. I replaced with the identical units, but I did wonder if there might have been others to look at. It’s XT brakes and currently set up with shimano ice tech rotors rt 81 and metal pads G04S. Compared to my old XTR vbrakes the engagement of these brakes is just instantaneous and the notion of feathering seems all but lost, so initially I didn’t like the feel at all. 54 rides later, I’ve obviously changed my mind, but still, how much are folks looking and able to fine tune the feel when it comes to hydraulics? Any thoughts appreciated.

    Also, new to tubeless. I’ve just recharged the tires with the orange sealant, and while everything seems to be airtight, the tires are bleeding liquid all over the place, including big blotches coming right through the sidewalls. Did I just put way too much of that stuff in there?



    Tubeless. Many tires will start bleeding sealant through the sidewalls once they’ve been scraped up a bit, in my experience Continental and Schwalbe tires are particularly prone to this. The only solution I’ve found is running tires with thicker heavier sidewalls & casings. I’m not saying run a DH tire, but at least something like a Maxxis EXO equivalent that’s not paper thin and has some meat on it. Personally I’ve had the most success with Vittoria and Michelin tires, they have good strong casings that don’t leak or weep sealant even after I abuse the heck out of them.

    Brakes. I like the Shimano feel and wouldn’t change anything about it so I just buy Shimano brakes and call it a day. When I ride bikes with other brands of brakes they just feel wrong and there’s not enough adjustment available to make them feel the way I want so I just live with it.

    I guess if I were really being picky I’d want my SLX brakes to feel exactly like my Saint or Zee brakes, just with less power. The 4-pot Shimano brakes have a bit less initial bite and ramp up their power more smoothly, it’s not a big difference but it’s noticeable when riding in low traction conditions. I get some accidental lockups on my SLX brakes whereas I don’t on the 4-pot brakes.




    Someone more Shimano savvy might correct me in this, but the J04C pads (finned, metal, XT etc grade) are the ones to go for. They tend to outlast and out perform the G04S. Aside from that getting your brakes bled by a qualified/trusted mechanic with some frequency tends to make a very real difference. I get someone more qualified than me to have a go at mine at least at the start, middle and nearing the end of the season. Depending on how much, where, and aggressively you ride your mileage may vary.

    Depending on the iteration of XT hydraulic brakes, you may have a reach as well as a stroke adjustment. The reach can help a lot with finding the place in your hands stroke that has the most confident control, as in not pulling too much or too little because your hand placement on the bar is awkward. The stroke adjustment relies heavily on the bleed being done correctly. Most folks I meet seem convinced it doesn’t actually do anything, but personally I’m convinced that their brake bleed was not done according to the prescribed procedure.

    TL:DR your XT’s are great, have them professionally bled, and enjoy them, spring for the finned pads next time you need to replace them.

    I’m sitting in the same boat currently with a set of minions. They weep sealant badly enough I can come home to find a few drops of clearly wept goo on my floor. I’m of two minds about this.

    On on hand I know these tires are two seasons old and have seen some arrgessive use, excessively low pressure, and less than ideal surfaces. Chances are pretty good their weeping sealant because they have passed their expected lifespan based on use.

    On the other hand, why not add more sealant! I’ve seen a few folks with weeping tires solve the problem with changing their sealant. Primarily to Stan’s “Race Sealant” for its capacity to clog up larger problems in tires. Upside their tires stopped weeping. Downside their valve stems had a tendendy to clog as well.

    To @aerius point about going with a tire with some variation of casing reinforcement it’s a good plan. It’s helping protect both the outside and the inside of your tire. I’d not move to a DH casing, but something “mid weight” is certainly worthwhile .

    Personally I’m going with a fresh set of tires and swapping over to FinishLine sealant (it’s been developed with DuPont and apparently uses more Kevlar to seal up your tire) as it’s not relying on componds that deteriorate the inside of your tire casing to keep the sealant liquid. I’ve heard it isn’t as effective as the other major players, but have no experience with it so I’ll give it a go.

    TL:DR – Check your tire wear level and replace according, otherwise, moving to a heavier grade sealant may be necessary



    Just back from a week away from the computer, thanks for your thoughts and looking forward to getting back on the bike. The tires are Bontrager XR1 they do seem quite lightweight so perhaps between some wear and thin casing to begin with that’s all it is.

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