one cyclist's adventures through the urban jungle

Sunday, February 24, 2008

braking news - Avid BB7

So I'd heard a lot about the Avid BB7s and there relative cats-arsedness when it comes to mechanical disk brakes on bicycles. When I had my Marinoni built up I made sure I spec'd them (they were the spec anyway). The bike came fully assembled for me so I played no part in the installation. The brakes worked out of the box with no problems, no squeeling. They were awesome. Last summer when I crashed the rear caliper was loosened. I played around with them a bit and got them re-tightened on my own without putting much thought to it. I figured they were fine.

Really, by all accounts they were fine but I didn't line up the pads perfectly so I ended up wearing down the pads a wee bit unevenly and they wore out prematurely. My rotor seemed to be fine thoughout this ordeal, I was a bit concerned that I had wrecked it too. So far so good.
Instead of dumping the bike at the shop to have them change the pads, I figured I might aswell learn how to change the pads myself. I'd read that it was an idiotproof process. Enter me.
I had the old pads out, purchased a new pair and figured I was 5 minutes away from having aligned and full strength braking once again. Not quite. What I didn't realize was that I had bent the pad retention clip (not the spring, but the little clip inside the caliper) and it was forcing the outboard pad to be off center). I fiddled around with the caliper, the spring, the pads for a few hours before I took everything apart and started from scratch, complete with the help of the manual from SRAM (I find there website to generally be horrible, but they do have a good service section). Oh, I opened a beer too. That always helps, though never really speeds the process up any.

Eventually I got it, got the pads in properly then trued the caliper to the rotor, tightened the cable and I was laughing.

I have no problem getting my LBS to do work on my bike, but I really try to do as much work on my bikes as possible so that when I am stuck miles from nowhere and something breaks, I'll have an idea how to fix it. Disk brakes were a new thing to me so much like figuring out how to adjust the pads on my cantilever brakes in my early teens, I needed to take the time to figure out the BB7s. Now that I have been through it once I am confident that future pad changes and adjustments will take minutes.

The Avid BB7 disk brakes really are a dream to use. The power is excellent, the wet-weather performance is great. They pair well with my Campagnolo Veloce levers, and they really are dead easy to adjust, install and maintain, at least after you get a chance to learn how they work.