Disc Brake Reviews: Post what you got!

I thought there was a place where folks were posting reviews of their brakes, but I didn’t find it, so I started a new thread :slight_smile:

I currently have four disc brake systems, all are Nimbus D’ Brakes and Nimbus Disc Hubs, two are mounted in KH frames (26/29), one is mounted in an Oregon (12mm hub), one is mounted in a Nimbus Impulse (125mm hub).

My Oregon came with a white enamel Bengal Helix 3, an entry level hydraulic brake that uses DOT fluid, has a two finger lever, semi metallic pads. I didn’t end up using it on the Oregon, so it has found it’s way to my Nimbus Impulse 36er. I’m running it with a 185mm rotor, it has been no problem, easy to adjust, stays adjusted, no squeal, nice brake overall. When I leave the uni in the car and it’s hot, the brake “firms up” which may be due to air in lines, but this goes away quickly while riding and doesn’t return. No complaints about this brake.

On my Oregon I’m running a Shimano M535, it’s another entry level hydraulic brake, uses mineral oil whichis my preferred fluid, it has been a good brake, similar in performance to the Bengal, never squeaked, reliable, I’m running it with a 160mm rotor. The only issue I have had with this brake was the c-clip popped out on a UPD and the plunger came free from the master cylinder. It was a struggle to fix on the trail and led to a long day without brakes for my son. I was able to fix it off the trail and it has been trouble free since.

Next: Tektrol Comps and Magura MT2

When I was setting up my KH with the Nimbus Oracle disc hubs, I looked for some hydraulic disc brakes on the cheap…

Tektro Comps are a mineral oil system, fairly simple, I bought two sets, they come in lengths for front and rear use, the lever is an old school full hand lever. The units are all metal, very sturdy, a little on the heavy side. Both sets were squealers with the stock semi metallic pads, so I got some aftermarket pads, black hard organics and red soft organics. The set on my 29er with black pads contd to squeal no matter what I did, the set on my 26er with red pads stopped squealing. I have been told that there is an expensive anti squeal fluid that bike shops can apply to clean pads.

To replace the Tektros on my 29er I decided to try some Magura brakes, and since Magura has completly revamped their offerings for 2012, I went with a new brake in their MT series:

Magura MT2 is the entry level brake, but shares the same master cylinder and caliper design as the more expensive siblings (MT4, 6, 8), mineral oil based system, semi metallic pads. I found a complete set on Ebay for $199 with 180mm and 203mm rotors. The brakes come with eight foot lines, so they require shortening, but this is easilly done and requires no bleeding, BUT you do need new splined inserts and new olives. The lever is a modern two finger length.

I did not changed the rotor out from the Tektro brake, just cleaned it up and mounted the Magura MT2, alignment was easy, I rode hard for four hours yesterday, and not a squeal was heard, yeah! Braking power is better than the Tektro, on par with the Shimano, possibly a tad better than the Bengal. Overall these are very nice brakes, with my only concern being durability as the master cyliner and lever are a nylon composite. Only time will tell on lever durability, but having broken a Magura aluminum level in the past, I will be on guard. These are a very nice brake for the money and quite lightweight, this in combination with ease of hose shortening and the use of mineral oil, makes it a favorite :slight_smile:

KH Starfighter: I am running these on my 36er and my 29er, they work great, super easy to install, adjustable positioning is a nice improvement over the spooner. I wrapped mine with 3M rubberized cloth tape for better grip.

hi ben this thread is what i was looking for i have the kh with orical hub i wanted to know what would fit other than the standard one at udc there are loads on ebay but which ones fit are they all the same size :thinking:

Hey Rob, I thnk there are lots of other choices, some others have been tried but the reviews are mixed in with other threads. So far I have not had any fit problems except with mecahnical brakes, none which have fit. The only disc brake system that I’d avoid is Avid, mostly because they are a pain to bleed, but I ran Juicys on a bike and they were fine. It probably makes sense to buy brakes that are current and have good parts availability, so Shimano, Avid, Hope, Magura, etc… But in the end they are just brakes. MTBR is probably the best source for reviews.

Here are some set up pics:

36er, D’ Brake, Magura MT2, 203mm Rotor-

29er, D’ Brake, Magura MT2, 180mm Rotor-

thanks ben ill have to put the d brake on to hold the caliper does this determine the size of the rotor i can have as far as the leaver goes do the spooners fit all or do you have to make something these might sound like dumb questions just trying not to buy twice thanks rob

I’m curious, are Hope brakes not popular or available in the North America? They’re probably the most popular in the UK MTB and Trials scene and in rest of Europe.

^All made in-house in Lancashire, England at Hope’s factory! That particular Hope lever is arguably the best brake lever on the market- the Hope Tech lever. If you’re after the very best I seriously recommend to read up on that lever, it offers a lot of adjustments (even the bitepoint) that most levers are unable to do. The Tech lever has been acclaimed to practically be a ‘custom’ product in itself- it’s just made to suit a rider’s needs in almost every way possible a brake lever could. A true “one-size fits all”! I’ve had a few Hopes in the past and they perform better than any other disc brake I’ve ever used on my bikes. The calipers look awesome and perform at the top level you’d expect, pretty straight forward to set up too, which is a nice bonus considering the nature of disc brakes. From what I’ve heard Hope themselves have considered discontinuing the Tech lever for the reason that it’s too overbuilt/‘custom’ to justify producing on a commercial scale anymore. Sometimes when a product is too reliable it’s bad for that company’s business. For instance, a certain firearms company lost out because their guns were just too reliable. Once you buy one, you don’t really have a reason to buy another or anything else. Bit of paradox, but that’s pretty much the case for the Tech lever… Well worth every penny.
(if you’re considering a Hope brake, avoid the regular Hope Mini and Race levers if you can get your hands on a Tech lever because they’re similarly priced but the Tech just offers so so much more than anything else on the market)

Magura disc brakes aren’t spectacular by any means, they aren’t very good value for money when you look at the performance/reliability compared to others. I’ve hardly seen or heard of many UK/European bikers using them and really disliked them when I used some myself a while back. I do not recommend the Louise or Marta considering other brands that offer better brakes at similar prices.

Shimano discs these days are actually really good however. Not tried one myself, but they’ve really broken through these past few years! Only heard positive stuff about them! If I wasn’t using Hope, I’d be trying Shimano for sure. Great stuff.

Don’t take my word religiously on these, I’m just offering my own opinion and experience of various brands from bike usage. But I hope it offers some clarity for people new to disc brakes :slight_smile:

Hope Tech X2 Evo

I went with a Hope Tech 2 when I put together my Triton. I don’t have anything to compare it to since it is the only disk brake I ever had. I have not had any problems with the disk setup itself. Pics are available here:


I went with the braided line which I found tough to cut without damaging the braid, making it challenging to reassemble the brake line. If I ever need to build a brake line again I’ll probably go with the standard line.

As far as the lever is concerned… the pics I posted were when the uni was just built and reflect the “default” setup of the brake lever. Since then I’ve adjusted the brake so that the handle is super close to the seat. This way it is both easy to grab and less exposed when the nose of the seat crashes into the ground.

I felt bad grinding down the lever to fit the KH spooner. It was definitely a pain to get right but the lever with the spoon is way better than without.

It may be that the cost of Hope products are somewhat of an issue… I don’t remember what I paid but it was more than most of the others brands. It also may be that other product lines are readily available in LBSs in the US.

In general, my perception of Hope products is that they are high quality. If my Triton didn’t have the intergrated seat post clamp I probably would have used a Hope clamp. They look saweet.

Cost, availability, consumer knowledge/experience.

I have Hope seat collars, nice stuff, better design that Salsa at the same price.

I chose Magura brakes because the price was good, they are familiar to me in regards to parts and fluid (mineral), and they work well

I suppose you could put a lot of money into a brake, quad piston, braided lines, etc…, but it is just a brake and considering there are less expensive and less complicated brakes available, that’s the direction I go.

Also, Hope uses DOT fluid, which some folks (me) don’t like, also since there are many brake choices for DOT users, well, it’s just a brake system…

No need to go into pros and cons on brake fluid choices, DOT is used in most brakes, all cars and motorcycles, it works well, but it is toxic to your skin, then environment, and can dissolve paint. I didn’t like it when I worked on cars and cycles, so given a choice to use mineral oil in my disc brakes I jumped on it.

DOT and Mineral Oil both work and there are good brake choices in each fluid group.

In gen: that all being said, the new Shimano brakes are top-class and probably the best Mineral-based disc brakes currently. Magura have improved but I see that the new MT2 brakes are only £90 which is good value for any hydro disc brake. It’s also cool that you can inter-change Mineral oil brands in Mineral-based brakes depending on what kind of lever responsive you’re happy with. Magura’s own blue Royal Blood, Monty’s standard green, Halfords’ Citroen green, or Shimano’s pink. All give subtly different feels and as far as I know it’s safe to use any of those in any mineral-based brake so long as you flush out the old stuff.

If you want to spend £30 or so more- go for a Hope, and I’d only say it’s really a worthwhile step up if you get the Tech lever (not Mini or Race). Just be careful not to get DOT over your hands or your parts and wash it off with soapy water asap!.. finally avoid Avid hydros if you care about your money, time and remaining lifespan!

Three month update:

Still running Magura MT 2 on all my unis, upgraded to 200mm rotors which seems to keep them cool longer, one set of rotors are Magura wave, the others are Shimano standard drilled. Not sure if one rotor is better than the other, though the Shimanos seems to have more power.

No real issues with the brakes, though I have an off and on squeal with the brake on my 26/29, not sure if it’s bad pads or what, but it does it with either wheel set, wet and dry weather, and I’ve cleaned up the pads a few times.

It did get better recently, so maybe I finally got things seated well.

Overall the Maguras have been trouble free, pads are easilly removed for cleaning; don’t need to remove the wheel or caliper. Pads are lasting well, no leaks, holding pressure, no fade issues when hot.

A great brake for a great price.

When lookin for a set, be sure and order the calipers with the adjustable hose angle, there are some that don’t have the adjustment and you’ll want it if you use a D’ Brake.

Disc brakes… LOVE THEM.

Kay now that i got that out of the way quick question to the people running disc brakes with the D’brake adapter that UDC sells. If I dont tighten up my bearing clamps up pretty tight after a short time the D’brake adapter will loosen up causing some lovely vibration with braking. Right now I have them pretty tight so I can ride without having to tighten them up mid ride.

Anyone else have this same issue???


Have you noticed any increase in stopping power by using a larger rotor?? I talked to another rider and he said he hated how “sticky” the brakes were so I told him to go down a rotor size and he said it made a big difference.

My MT2’s had some squeak for a bit but lately there isnt any. I hope it stays that way as well :roll_eyes:


Jacob, your vibration is likely a result of the caliper mount actually touching the upper bearing caps that are welded to the frame. That’s the primary reason why we machined the Mountainuni UCM to have a 1mm gap between the flats faces. Those vibrations won’t transfer to the frame if the two don’t touch. I have many in stock, and there’s 1 easy was to proof that’s the issue, buy one and try for yourself. :slight_smile:


I checked my caps today and went for a ride… well results showed no vibrations and one side of the cap was touching the other cap. I can see there being a problem if both ends were touching but with only one I think that is realistically how many bearing caps will always be.

Best solution overall, mounts welded to the frame. Then you can easily change out parts.

I did a video review of the D Brake.
Im using an Avid Juicy 5 with a 160mm rotor. I originally fitted a 203mm rotor and it had so much bite it was unusable. It would just lock and throw you off no matter how gently you pulled the lever.

Moral of the story, bigger isn’t always better. It’s how you use it :stuck_out_tongue:

I haven’t felt vibration with Roger method msg#35

Once, I put the D-Brake in contact on the frame in the opposite side and I had some crack noise in the hub; it disappeared when I tightened the D-Brake correctly as on the drawing. Tightening the 2nd bolt of the D-Brake is not very easy, you need to pay attention not to tighten too much and I always use Loctite because tightening torque on this 2nd bolt is lower than with standard bearing cap. No issue when correctly fitted.

The bigger rotor does not have more power, it’s neither stronger nor stickier, it is still the same surface area under the pads, but it does seem to stay cooler when I use it hard, which was the purpose in increasing rotor size.

I think the brake you choose shoudl be one that modulates well, ie does come on too strong, can be varied by pressure, so one finger vs two fingers, etc…

All brakes are grabby at times, I don’t really notice the Maguras being grabby, if anything they are on the mushy side, but the work fine and slow me down when I need to be slowed down.

I could get a more powerful brake, but I’d worry that it would lock up the wheel and pitch me, so for me the Maguras are pretty much perfect.

I use the UDC method for tightening the D Brake and it works fine, haven’t had any probelms with the tensioning bolt loosening and it is not overtightened, keep threads greased lightly.

Whilst the the friction area is the same the larger rotor has greater leverage so is more “powerful” with the same force on the lever, the flip side is you lose modulation over a smaller disc as the point of lock up on the travel of the lever will be sooner than on a smaller rotor so you would have less lever movement to modulate between off and lock up.

This is why you will always see smaller rear discs on a bike / car as there is less traction on the rear wheels under braking so a less force is required to lock the wheel, using smaller rear disc rotors helps balance the brakes (although a brake bias valve does most of the work on a heavy car)

So on a Uni where we don’t want to be locking up our wheel the smallest disc we can get away with with the least amount of finger/hand pressure is optimum, but in reality sticking on the biggest rotor you can makes sense as the loss of modulation won’t be noticed by many.

There are lots of factors

Brake design/function
Pad friction material
Hand strength
crank size
body weight
Steepness of terrain
Wheel size
Traction (road/snow/mud)

On a 26" Uni with 145mm cranks a 160mm was fine with only mild hand cramps on long descents

When I switched to a 29" with 137mm my leg force with my lightish 11 stone body weight meant I was being lifted out of my seat so had to pull the saddle handle more when on the Uni above I would have just controlled my speed with my legs. I therefore changed my rotor to a 180mm which due to the large wheel didn’t change the modulation feel but brought the effort I had to exert on the lever back to around where I was on the 26".

I could have got a 203mm rotor to be honest and saved my hand some work on the big hills but I thought the rotor almost being as long as my cranks would look a bit odd

I always recommend getting a Shimano brake with the “servowave” feature (STX/XT/XTR) as this has a cam in the lever that keeps the rotor further away from the disc then when the pads hit the rotor the cam slides down giving more power. This more importantly means no annoying disc / pad rubbing. The SHimano’s are very good quality, cheap and use nice mineral oil. There are lighter or more powerful brakes but we are not riding 35# bikes down hols at 30 mph+

The real benefit with discs is they are not as effected by mud so are more consistent, are not impacted by a buckled wheel and are self adjusting so virtually maintenance free

As for fitting as NurseBen has said the UDC fitting of the D-Brake works fine, clamp the brake side down nice and tight and tighten the other enough so the wheel spins freely

Some pictures of my 180mm 2 piece Shimano rotor with an STX brake on my KH29