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…

Leave a comment