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Full Hydraulic brakes on a long-distance AT excursion bike? Yea or Nay?

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Full Hydraulic brakes on a long-distance AT excursion bike? Yea or Nay?

Old 05-12-19, 05:36 PM
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AllWeatherJeff
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Full Hydraulic brakes on a long-distance AT excursion bike? Yea or Nay?

After much searching, I am heartily considering the 2019 Trek 920.

It is odd that this particular bike has risen to the top of my list because violates three of my initial, deal-breaker requirements for an all-around/all-terrain/touring/brevet bike.

First: (and least important) The price range is a few hundred over my envisioned price range. Easy enough to get past if I'm gonna be hanging onto it for a long time

Second: I like triple rings. Always have. But the two ring set up on the Trek 920 seems like it covers the gearing ranges I need on the incline (especially with bike's relatively lighter overall weight and my continued weight loss)

Third.
Fully Hydraulic disc brakes (pardon me for burying the lead here). This is the biggest hurdle for me.


With mechanical rim brakes, and even with hybrid mechanical-hydraulic disc brakes, I am confident enough that I could jury rig a repair to get me home or to a repair shop.

But I would be SOL if I busted a hydraulic line or had some leak or malfunction with a master cylinder.

Are fully hydraulic brakes really as dependable as I've heard some describe?

Are they just smaller versions of motorcycle brake systems?

Anyone ever experience a catastrophic failure with full hydraulic brake system? If so, what caused it?


Here are the techs and specs for the Trek 920:
[edit: I do not yet have sufficient forum mojo to post links]


Thanks for any input, advice and/or shared experiences

AWJ
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Old 05-12-19, 05:37 PM
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Full Hydraulic brakes on a long-distance AT excursion bike? Yea or Nay?

After much searching, I am heartily considering the 2019 Trek 920.

It is odd that this particular bike has risen to the top of my list because violates three of my initial, deal-breaker requirements for an all-around/all-terrain/touring/brevet bike.

First: (and least important) The price range is a few hundred over my envisioned price range. Easy enough to get past if I'm gonna be hanging onto it for a long time

Second: I like triple rings. Always have. But the two ring set up on the Trek 920 seems like it covers the gearing ranges I need on the incline (especially with bike's relatively lighter overall weight and my continued weight loss)

Third.
Fully Hydraulic disc brakes (pardon me for burying the lead here). This is the biggest hurdle for me.


With mechanical rim brakes, and even with hybrid mechanical-hydraulic disc brakes, I am confident enough that I could jury rig a repair to get me home or to a repair shop.

But I would be SOL if I busted a hydraulic line or had some leak or malfunction with a master cylinder.

Are fully hydraulic brakes really as dependable as I've heard some describe?

Are they just smaller versions of motorcycle brake systems?

Anyone ever experience a catastrophic failure with full hydraulic brake system? If so, what caused it?


Here are the techs and specs for the Trek 920:
[edit: I do not yet have sufficient forum mojo to post links]


Thanks for any input, advice and/or shared experiences

AWJ
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Old 05-12-19, 05:38 PM
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Full Hydraulic brakes on a long-distance AT excursion bike? Yea or Nay?

After much searching, I am heartily considering the 2019 Trek 920.

It is odd that this particular bike has risen to the top of my list because violates three of my initial, deal-breaker requirements for an all-around/all-terrain/touring/brevet bike.

First: (and least important) The price range is a few hundred over my envisioned price range. Easy enough to get past if I'm gonna be hanging onto it for a long time

Second: I like triple rings. Always have. But the two ring set up on the Trek 920 seems like it covers the gearing ranges I need on the more daunting inclines (especially with bike's Aluminum frame and fork, and my continued weight loss)

Third.
Fully Hydraulic disc brakes (pardon me for burying the lead here). This is the biggest hurdle for me.


With mechanical rim brakes, and even with hybrid mechanical-hydraulic disc brakes, I am confident enough that I could jury rig a repair to get me home or to a repair shop.

But I would be SOL if I busted a hydraulic line or had some leak or malfunction with a master cylinder.

Are fully hydraulic brakes really as dependable as I've heard some describe?

Are they just smaller versions of motorcycle brake systems?

Anyone ever experience a catastrophic failure with full hydraulic brake system? If so, what caused it?


Here are the techs and specs for the Trek 920:
[edit: I do not yet have sufficient forum mojo to post links]


Thanks for any input, advice and/or shared experiences

AWJ
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Old 05-12-19, 05:39 PM
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I think that this is my 11th post so maybe the link will work now:

https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...?colorCode=tan
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Old 05-12-19, 06:45 PM
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Merged your three threads into one.
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Old 05-12-19, 07:15 PM
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Thanks for merging.

I have no idea how I created three separate posts.. ? Possibly when I did something edits?
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Old 05-12-19, 07:41 PM
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for riding brevets, I don't see anything wrong with hydraulic brakes. If you keep them serviced properly, that is. That bike might not be my first choice to tour Kyrgyzstan though.

The new Shimano GRX group looks really attractive for a disc randonneur, and it only comes with hydraulic brakes. That's one of my back burner projects. It might get promoted to front burner project if I ride another 600k in heavy rain

Last edited by unterhausen; 05-12-19 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 05-12-19, 07:49 PM
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I've had Shimano Ultegra hydraulics and XT hydraulics (same caliper, BTW), and both have been rock-solid for many years (5 in the case of the road bike, more for the mountain bike).

BTW, Jury-rigging is a very serious felony. Jerry-rigging I think is what you mean.
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Old 05-12-19, 07:51 PM
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Jury rigging is literally* the new Jerry-rigging due to constant misuse.

*and literally is the new figuratively.
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Old 05-12-19, 09:02 PM
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Nope. Jury rigging is what I meant. Not Jury tampering, or jerry rigging.
Jury rigging is both a noun and a verb describing makeshift repairs made with only the tools and materials at hand.

Jury rigging is precisely what I meant.

The original phrase and has nothing to do with the justice system, it's nautical in origin.

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Old 05-12-19, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Jury rigging is literally* the new Jerry-rigging due to constant misuse.

*and literally is the new figuratively.
You've got that exactly backwards.

Etymologically, jury-rig precedes jerry rigged by several centuries.
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Old 05-13-19, 06:47 AM
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okay, sorry for derailing your thread, let's talk about your bike.

How much touring do you really expect to do with it?
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Old 05-13-19, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
okay, sorry for derailing your thread, let's talk about your bike.

How much touring do you really expect to do with it?
Hey, no problem. It's wouldn't be a forum worth taking part in if threads didn't sometimes go offline.

Short answer: I don't envision anything longer than 600k brevets (but who knows). 200k and 300k are my goals for the next year. As fort touring, we are moving back to California this year, and I plan to take full advantage of the 3 day bike-packing weekends over fire trails and gravelly back-country roads. Possibly even longer excursions once I get the feel for it.

Full confession. I have a Marin 29er with full hydraulic breaks. 4000+miles and still, no problems at all so far. However, I've never put that bike to the test. 75miles is the longest I've ever taken it, and mostly on paved urban and suburban surfaces. A handful of times I've ventured with it over the groomed gravel of the Perkiomen trail between Valley Forge and Green Lane, PA. But never out far out of reach of public transit, or a bike shop.

I like the idea of full hydraulics especially in an urban setting-- the stopping power is outstanding and often necessary at a moment's notice.

I really just haven't an adequate concept of what situations, conditions might arise in far-from-civilization settings that could compromise the hydraulics.
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Old 05-13-19, 07:39 AM
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I think for usage like that I would have no reservations about using hydraulic brakes. Certainly for any brevet you might ride, properly set up and maintained hydraulic brakes pose no issue.

I feel like for an extended tour in South America or similar places, I probably would want to have mechanical brakes. I'm sure there are large swaths of the world where hydraulic brakes cannot be serviced, even in a large city. The other thing I would worry about is if the bike was going to be abused by baggage handlers. That can be controlled to a certain extent by packing, unless TSA decides they need to take a closer look.
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Old 05-13-19, 07:45 AM
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Failure, especially with Shimano's implementation, is rare. (I don't trust SRAM's version.) It is even more unlikely that you would have both fail one one ride. I've gone on tours with mine, reasoning that if my rear brake failed, I could live with it until I got to a shop, and if the front failed, I could re-route the longer rear hose and attached caliper to the front. (Most hydraulic cables are externally-routed and just attached with little zip-ties or other easy-to-remove guides.) But aside from changing pads and rotors more frequently than I would have liked, they have been maintenance-free.

If that is not enough to put your mind at ease, just think about what a typical mountain biker puts his or her bike through on any serious off-road venture. How often do you hear about hydraulic brake failure?
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Old 05-13-19, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by AllWeatherJeff View Post
Etymologically, jury-rig precedes jerry rigged by several centuries.
Sorry, I clearly should have spent more time studying insects.

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Old 05-13-19, 10:35 AM
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I don't know if I monitor mtb online activity enough to see references to failures. I wonder what crazy guy on a bike has to say about touring failures. If you look at enough touring journals there you will eventually find that everything fails.
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Old 05-13-19, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Sorry, I clearly should have spent more time studying insects.

A firmer grasp of the English language would suffice in this instance.

And also a good dictionary.

I said Etymology not ENtomology (though I suspect you already knew this).

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Old 05-13-19, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Failure, especially with Shimano's implementation, is rare. (I don't trust SRAM's version.) It is even more unlikely that you would have both fail one one ride. I've gone on tours with mine, reasoning that if my rear brake failed, I could live with it until I got to a shop, and if the front failed, I could re-route the longer rear hose and attached caliper to the front. (Most hydraulic cables are externally-routed and just attached with little zip-ties or other easy-to-remove guides.) But aside from changing pads and rotors more frequently than I would have liked, they have been maintenance-free.

If that is not enough to put your mind at ease, just think about what a typical mountain biker puts his or her bike through on any serious off-road venture. How often do you hear about hydraulic brake failure?
This is helpful. Thanks.

This is basically the p.o.v. that I've been leaning towards. I have likely watched too many video reviews in researching my next purchase. I hadn't really ever considered the Hydraulic vs. Hybird vs. Mechanincal debate until just a few weeks ago. Given the price range I'm now looking at, it seem worthwhile to get some more experienced input and opinions.

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Old 05-13-19, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by AllWeatherJeff View Post
though I suspect you already knew this
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Old 05-13-19, 12:07 PM
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The bike I use for touring has hydraulic brakes and electronic shifting. I worry more about the latter, although it, too, has been fine. A bike I recently built up for multi-day off-road bike-packing has TRP hydraulic brakes* but mechanical shifting. I thought how well the brakes work when they are working should be the deciding factor; I think the likelihood of failure is sufficiently remote to warrant having the best stopping power available.


* These are the full hydraulic Hylex TRP brakes, not the HY/RD jerry-rigged compromise.

(Actually, the HY/RD might be the ideal compromise. They have cable actuation but hydraulic pistons that are self-contained.)

Last edited by wgscott; 05-13-19 at 01:08 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 05-13-19, 01:12 PM
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there have been a number of reports of randonneurs that had electronic shifting failures because they ride too much and are too tired to keep the batteries charged. I was hoping to put etap on my travel bike, but now I'm confused because they went to 12 speed.
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Old 05-13-19, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I think for usage like that I would have no reservations about using hydraulic brakes. Certainly for any brevet you might ride, properly set up and maintained hydraulic brakes pose no issue.

I feel like for an extended tour in South America or similar places, I probably would want to have mechanical brakes. I'm sure there are large swaths of the world where hydraulic brakes cannot be serviced, even in a large city. The other thing I would worry about is if the bike was going to be abused by baggage handlers. That can be controlled to a certain extent by packing, unless TSA decides they need to take a closer look.
No plans at all to travel overseas with a bike. And only on the rarest of occasions do I fly. However, trains will be integral to my bikepacking itineraries once our western re-tranplantation is complete. I would not have thought to take baggage handling into consideration.

Thanks

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Old 05-13-19, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
.... I was hoping to put etap on my travel bike, ....
I am not familiar with electronic shifting systems, are the Li Ion batteries easy to remove from the bike for air travel?
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Old 05-13-19, 03:32 PM
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I'm done buying bikes that don't have rim brakes and a triple, so there's my vote.
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