Brake tutorial

Why wouldn’t you be able to hang it upside down?

They’re sold with different brakes in different countries, so I don’t know which brake you have

If it’s the cheap shimano brake, i guess: no. For all shimano brakes from the SLX up I know they’re adjustable.

Yes. It has be an issue with Avid brakes for me, but with shimanos I never had problems.

The pads can move a bit on the cylinder when changing direction

Depends on your riding style and on the elevation. Don’t count it in tour lengths but in downhill elevation. Some have word Pads within a few downhills, mine last way over 20.000 meters in height.
Btw: The cheap Shimano brakes also have to be dismounted to change pads while you can change pads on a SLX or higher “on the fly”.

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I’m told they are a Deore level brake.

Are these adjustable in terms of how much the grab the rotor?

Just with your finger: the harder you pull the lever, the more it grabs. :wink:

You can also try different brakepads to gett different friction behaviour.

Apologies if you know all this already…

The pad position is self adjusting. On open hydraulic systems, like Shimano, there is a always more fluid in the system than will actually fit in the line and cylinders. There is a reservoir on the lever which contains the excess fluid. The reservoir is not open to the air, but can expand and contract in volume somewhat due to a rubber membrane.

The reservoir is only connected to the rest of the system when the brake lever is fully released. The very first part of the pull closes the reservoir valve, and for the rest of the lever travel it’s a closed system of the two cylinders and the line.

Over time the pads will wear, but each time the lever is released the valve to the reservoir is opened again and the system is “reset”.

So, all that said, the master cylinder (in the lever) will always be at the same position when the pads grab the rotor. But, often the lever can be adjusted to be in a different position in regards to the master cylinder. This will change the bite point, but also alter the position of the lever when it’s released.

I’m not sure which Deore brake it is, but on the more recent ones you can adjust this as shown in the attached image. If you go up one level from Deore in the Shimano range to SLX then you get the same adjustment but using a thumb dial instead of requiring an Allen wrench. The next level after that (XT) has an additional adjustment screw to adjust the bite point independently of the at-rest position.

Oh, and regarding your question about upside-down storage, it’s usually not a problem if your brakes are bled properly and there is no air in your system. If you have a small air bubble in your line then during normal use it can often travel up into the reservoir where it does no harm (remembering that as soon as you start to pull the lever the reservoir is closed off from the rest of the system). But if the brake is stored so that the reservoir isn’t the highest point in the system then the air bubble can float out of the reservoir and into the line somewhere, resulting in spongy braking. Often pumping the lever a few times once the bike/uni is upright is enough to work the bubble back into the reservoir, but sometimes it gets stuck in the caliper while upside down and is a PITA. Lesson: bleed your brakes properly.

As others have already said, nope there’s no direct adjustment possible on how much grab there is on your brake.
But there are variables you can play with: pads have been mentioned, they come in metal form with a lot of grab or in resin (with metal particules) which are not as agressive.
The other thing you can play with is the size of the rotor (aka the disc). I put a 180mm I had laying around on my 29" and it was pretty violent. I wanted a brake, not an on/off button! Since I had a 160mm one at hand, I invested a couple of € on the required ps-is adapter. What a difference it made! Much more progressive and predictable.
That 160mm rotor was removed from my 36": between its heavier wheel and resin pad, the brake was lacking power, especially on longer steep hills. It now bears a giant 203mm which suits it better.

Love your video. Forgot to put this one of Martin Charier, a portrait done at his school. Check out how he uses the brake at the very beginning of the video:

That’s Corbin Dunn. I only wish I could do that…

I am not good at using a brake but I felt the need to fit one to my 36er for long distance road riding.

My logic was to use a hydraulic brake for better sensitivity but I bought an Avid unit that had two extra adustments. In the small photo it shows the two knurled knobs, one at the front and one at the back. The front one alters the distance that the lever travels before it bites the disc, the rear knob is built “inline” and adusts the sensitivity. Both these adjustments can be done as I ride so I can adjust on the fly for whatever gradient. Finally, the other pic shows how I eventually mounted the lever “upside down” on the bars. However, I had to learn to operate the brake with my thumb that wasnt to awkward as the hydraulic brake is powerful and sensitive enough to work with the thumb


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That’s a really interesting approach. I suppose it would also make setting the uni down easier on the brake lever. How does reaching for the lever on short notice compare to the ‘normal’ setup?

Yeah, it took a little thinking out of the box but I discovered my thumb can be pretty sensitive when operating the lever. Also the whole lever is protected from UPD or when simply laying the uni down.

Under normal riding, on road, my thumb actually rests naturally on the lever whilst gripping the bars. However, it was only possible to set up the lever for my left hand; because it wouldnt clamp to the bar in the right position for my right hand. Although I am right handed this hasnt been a problem. I suspect this arrangement wouldnt be very good for MUni or off road but it works fine for distance road riding when just basically sitting there on a relatively smooth highway; and all I need it for is gradients on smooth roads.

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Another solution is to cut a bar end that has a round profile when it’s cut and to fix it on the small bar of the T bar.
If you fix the lever on this bit of bar-end (that only has about 1" left of length) you have 3 degrees of liberty to set it: two rotations and one translation, so it will be easy to set close to you fingers, and when you grab it, it can be set so that the lever is nearly parallel to the (non-cut)bar-end you chose.
It is also protected by the bar-ends.

Edit: this is a photo of my former g26 to show how it looks like:

After reading this thread I’ll repeat the advice from Walruus to lean the uni back but lean your body forward to form the “unishock” position which allows you one more trick to react to a large undesirable force.

I practice going down hills as slow as possible. Once you find out your runout speed then you can dial up the entry speed.

I am new to some of the terminology. What is runout speed and entry speed?

Runout speed is probably the highest speed at which you can stay on your feet if you bail. Entry speed would just be the speed at which you start braking.

LBJ’s bang on.

I’m thinking in a downhill sense where you have a lot of sharp 180 degree corners with elevation loss, but it applies everywhere.

On a new hill, putter down slowly (and learn the hill) then pick up your speed when you run out of hill. Next time you can start the hill with a little speed and max out at the bottom.

After a while you’ll be hitting the hill at (near) max speed while using the brake to keep your speed under control.