Archive for 23rd November 2013

Road Bike Disc Brakes, Oh My!

My dislike of the Avid BB5 design is already prompting me to look for different disc brakes for the Salsa Vaya 2. While I’ve only briefly ridden it, the typical BB5 problem is already rearing its head: the pads on these brakes are separated by a single spring in the middle of the pad. When sitting retracted the pad will pivot around this spring, resulting in one side or the other falling against the rotor and rubbing. See the results for avid bb5 pad at Google Image Search to see how it looks.

This can be briefly reconciled by squeezing the brakes and letting them retract, but its so common that simply moving the bike around the house will make the problem happen. The vibration of actually riding makes it  happen pretty frequently. Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes (and Shimanos, and I presume others) don’t have this problem because they use a box shaped spring that holds the pads apart from the ends. It’s quite an irritation without a good solution and something which coupled with the smaller size pads bothers me enough to do something about.

That leaves the question of what to get. There are a number of mechanical disc brake options out there, but most of them are variants (usually weight reductions) on these four, with my personal pros/cons of each:

Avid BB7 Road:

+ Known quantity, very familiar with the mountain version of this brake.

+ Same pads as the Mukluk.

+ Can easily be found on eBay, sometimes as just calipers. I have two new compatible rotors already.

– Some reviews claim they aren’t as nice as the mountain version.

– Except for some OE versions the silver color doesn’t quite match the Vaya unless a high end version is selected.

TRP Spyre:

+ Uses Shimano pads which are easy to get, but not the same as the Shimano BR-CX77.

+ Actuates both pads at once, unlike most other mechanical designs.

– No experience, not many reviews.

Shimano BR-CX77 (PDF):

+ Shimano stuff tends to be well engineered.

+ Same pads as XT brakes on El Mariachi Ti.

– No experience, difficult to find reviews, but are the replacement for the recalled BR-CX75 and supposedly feel the same.

Hayes CX Expert (CX-5)

+ Spec’d by a few manufactures, including All City on the Macho Man Disc.

– No experience with these; do not known anyone who has them.

At this point I think the best / most cost effective option may be to simply find some BB7 road calipers for a reasonable price and use the rotors that I already have. This’d use up some spare parts, likely cost less, and allow me to use spare pads that I already have…

Used 2012 Salsa Vaya 2

Online wandering a week or so ago looking for an orange 54cm Salsa Vaya frame led me to this blog post from Colonel’s Bicycles in Fort Worth, Texas showing exactly the frame I was interested in, but posted 2.5 years ago. These are generally a bit hard to come by, and I’m not particularly fond of the current frame-only colors, so I didn’t want to get a new one, so on a whim I emailed asking if they still had any. The reply that I received surprised me: they had a used, but complete and in good shape 54cm bike in stock, and it was available for $900.

After some email back and forth where I had some pictures to look at (1, 2) and with the shop confirming that the fork recall (photo) didn’t apply to this one, I decided to go for it. Total after shipping was $1004, which strikes me as a good deal seeing as these bikes regularly go for $1300+ shipped via eBay. While the bike is definitely used and needed a drivetrain cleaning, the frame is in immaculate shape with only some slight cable rub along the head tube (which I’ll be covering with protective tape anyway), and slight marks on the rear brake mount from being bumped by the rotor during wheel insertion. All of this is typical wear that any bike would pick up in its first couple of months.

(The guy at the shop said the original owner was very good about caring for his bikes and this one likely has less than 2500 miles on it, and has never been crashed. If it has that many, those were definitely gentle miles…)

Dust in crevices of the frame and slight marks around the rack mounts indicated that it’d been used for touring / gravel road stuff, but it’s in otherwise great shape. The build seems to be pretty close to the original spec, but with different chainrings, a chain that’s in great shape, a like-new cassette, and an absolutely terrible saddle. The steerer has a lot of extra space on it, which is great for adjusting fit. The saddle is just a placeholder that’ll likely be given away (almost anyone buying a bike like this immediately replaced the saddle with one that they prefer), but I’m pretty impressed at how bad the molded plastic/rubber thing that came on the bike is. It’s even got an air vent hole on the bottom to let air with a whoosh out as its compressed. (Photos: 1, 2). Yes, that’s the stock seatpost.

The bike is now extremely clean and ridable, with a bunch of measuring and trainer / parking lot fit checks done to get it ready for me, and the initial feel is really promising. The saddle was replaced with the Specialized Avatar fromt the Jamis, fitted to the Salsa Pro Moto 3 seatpost originally from the Mukluk 2 (Photo). There’s likely some more fiddling needed and I have to cut a couple inches off of the steerer and finish fitting some accessories, but this far I’m really happy with it. Now to find a good day to ride it.