Hydraulics in my Future?


by Mark V on Jun 23, 2009 at 10:33 AM

I can be surprisingly conservative with my choice of cycling equipment; take for instance brakes. For a long time I have resisted the disc brakes. While it’s true that I have an mtb with mechanical discs, that configuration had more to do with searching for adequate braking for the road STI levers than a unwavering belief in discs. If cantilever brakes had been an option for the Rock Shox SID fork, I might not have walked down that path. But I did, and I have come to appreciate disc brakes. However, I really think that disc are best matched to hydraulic actuation systems.

XTR st-m975.jpeg

As far as road bikes are concerned, how long must we wait for an integrated shift/brake lever that uses hydraulic fluid rather than a brake cable? The obvious instigator would have to be Shimano, since they’re XTR M975 lever is so close in form to what a hydraulic roadbike STI would need to be. The difficulty in this is that racing drives component development, whether it be mtb or road. That means XTR gets a hydraulic integrated shifter and Dura Ace goes electric. A roadbike hydraulic STI would benefit the mid and high-end touring and roadbike commuter groups, and those groups aren’t lucrative enough to chase with expensive product development.

Still, I’d think it would have to happen someday.

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As a member of this niche, it needs to be mentioned that I’m no Rivendellian trapped in the era when Michael Jackson was black, so I can see the argument for discs.  However, I’ll need a stronger argument against mechanical than “disc [brakes] are best matched to hydraulic actuation systems.” It seems to me that mechanical delivers enough of disc brakes’ benefits, without adding complexity for self-supported riders.

i guess i took it as self-evident, having been working on and riding disc brake bikes a lot lately. hydraulics beat the pants off of cable discs in terms of power. and a cable-actuated disc on a road bike doesn’t even come close to a side-pull caliper brake in terms of modulation. hydraulics would be the way to get the most out of that form of brake.  do you cable-discs work? yes. as good as hyrdraulic? no way.