Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hydraulic road? Yep, employee playing with their new SRAM s700 hydraulic drop-bar setup.

 New shifter/brake/r-der day! I have been waiting for a company to make hydraulic road/cross shifters for years.  Leave it up to SRAM to pull through for me with these guys.  They are the S700 shifters/brakes which are the lower priced version (and no carbon or titanium and is 10 speed rather than 10) of their Red.  I also decided to go with SRAM's X9 type 2 mtn rear der with a short cage (made for downhill but should work swell for a cross/mtn bike).  This has a clutch it in to reduce chain slap and help keep it on the single chainring set up I am using (I have a Wolf Tooth ring up front that needs no guides).
 So my natural reaction when buying new stuff it to take it apart!!! This is all the bits from the front shifter/brake.  It's remarkably simple. 
 I don't use a front der so I kept all the shifter parts out.  This is ALL the shifter parts.  I still can't believe how simple SRAM has made this, especially considering the job it's made for and the reliability it offers.
 My frame was just made with cable stops... They didn't think someone would want to set the bike up with full hydraulic.  Sooooo, I drilled em out, 6 of them to be exact (the extra 2 where the shifter stops on the right seatstay, I figured may as well since I am on a roll).  No, I do NOT recommend doing this, its risky and could force you into a new frame purchase.  I just was willing to risk things on my own equipment.
 New shifters on the bars... may need to get used to the extra large hoods that are needed to fit the hydraulic setup inside.
 The X-9 rear der lookin all good.
 You can see here that the housing goes all the way though what used to be a cable stop.  Since the der, nor the shifter have barrel adjusters I added an in-line one on between the cable guides.  The location keeps if from having a bend and I can reach it while riding.
 All done!
 I swapped the rear rotor to a 140 since the new brakes have so much power (smaller the rotor the less the power/leverage) and I wanted the looks of the little one on the back. By switching from a Shimano 105 shifter, shimano Alfine left brake lever (matches the shifter shape without the shifter bits in it) and Avid bb-7 brakes I was able to shave half a pound off. This bike weighs just a tad under 20lbs (with pedals).
 I fell in love with the shifter shape immediately... The extra room at the top keeps my hands on the hoods when doing steep downhills and it gives a nice stable power position.  Can't fight adding an extra riding position, even if it does look a little goofy.
So, what did I think? First off you should know I am a bit biased... I have been on hydraulic mtn disks since the late 90s and would never dream about anything else.  Every one of my other bikes now uses hydraulic. I love the extra power, the smooth lever feel, the braking consistency (doesn't matter what junk you're riding in, they feel the same), the looks, the ease of maintenance, simplicity of pad removal, ease of wheel removal (no need to disconnected the brakes).  This set-up was no different from what I have fallen in love with.  While riding I am no longer thinking about braking, it just works.  The power curve to these is a little different, however, from most mtn brakes.  It's not as on-off as most but still has the same potential max power.  This is a great things since you have less traction with the smaller tire and need to modulate things a little more.  I am finding myself at higher speeds, using a controlled slide through corners like my mtn bikes, trying more difficult trails and throwing the bike around a lot more.  This is all because I know I can stop quicker every time. 

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