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Brake rotors, really a difference?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Brake rotors, really a difference?

Old 05-15-19, 09:15 AM
  #51  
Bryan C. 
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Originally Posted by u235 View Post
Agree, I have a set of RT86 too no problems. End of thread
Back to my way original first post in this thread... A crappy set of pads will always suck regardless of the rotor. A good set of pads will perform good on just about any rotor and possibly better on a better rotor.
Brake pad fade is a real thing for sure. This article from EBC brakes describes brake fade pretty well. Even though it's from an automotive perspective the fundamentals are the same.

https://ebcbrakes.com/articles/what-is-brake-fade/

The better the quality of brake pad material, the better they are at absorbing and dissipating the heat they generate while stopping. Braking skills and habits play a huge role too. Braking early and easy will yield better efficiency and longevity than forcefully braking at the last minute. Once the brakes hit that critical temperature, braking performance greatly suffers.

As for the rotor itself, any additional cooling that the rotor can provide will yield better braking performance in conditions where the brakes are becoming hot or overheated.

Boiling of the brake fluid on a bike seems a bit far fetched to me, but not out of the realm of possibility. Even in my own experience of brake failure I highly doubt the fluid boiled. The blue rotor told me I overheated the brakes for sure. It was more a result of overuse than the result of a cheap stamped rotor. Rider error? Yeah, no doubt. But repeating the same ride, speed, and conditions with better brakes had a much better outcome for me.

A quality brake rotor that can dissipate heat along with a quality brake pad will always yield better braking in just about any conditions. Why cheap out on safety?

Considering how much money and time we invest in our hobby I feel the few extra bucks for the added safety margin is worth it. We all encounter the unexpected on the road and trail, the rider better be prepared for it.
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Old 05-15-19, 10:14 AM
  #52  
redlude97
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Any interesting problem I ran into on a friends bike yesterday. BB7s and ice tech rotors do not play nice together, the fins make contact. Apparently the solution is cut off the pad tab
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Old 08-22-19, 09:58 AM
  #53  
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Vsteo Quick Review

Just wanted to jump back on here and give a quick review of the VSTEO rotors that I bought for cheap from Amazon (See post above)

I now have about 500 miles on them. They stop the bike when the brakes are applied. So far I have had no issues with squealing brakes in the dry or rain. They do seem to stop better than the TRP rotors. I really have no scientific way to prove this other than feel. I also think that this is primarily because I took a bit more time to bed these rotors in with the pads than I did with the TRP's. I vaguely remember bedding the TRP's in but I am sure I didn't spend as much time as I did bedding in these new rotors.

The only noise I get is from the front rotor. The noise is a very slight "Tick Tick Tick" from the rivets touching the pads and this only happens when the rivets heat up on a long descent. I took a couple of pictures below and you can see where the rivets are touching. This is only on the front calipers, not on the rear. There seems to be about 2mm of clearance to the rivets on the rear and about 1-1.5mm on the front. I have tried adjusting the calipers but there is not really any up and down adjustment on the calipers, only side to side. I guess I could put a small washer in there to take up the difference.

No play in the rotors and they have stayed true. They have a slight bit of wear that you should be able to see in the images below. Overall, no issues with these and I am pretty happy for the 24$ I spent. I'll probably keep them on until I wear through these pads.


Outside of the front rotor


Inside of the front rotor


One of my daily routes, good amount of descents to check the brakes.


Slight wear, you can just see where the tip of the rivet touches the pad.



Rivet Clearance on front rotor (about 1-1.5mm)


Rivet clearance on rear rotor (about 2mm)
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Old 08-22-19, 12:01 PM
  #54  
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Shim the caliper out 1mm with some washers
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Old 08-22-19, 06:47 PM
  #55  
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I wouldn't use red rotors, it seems really counterproductive. Do you want to stop, or go fast?
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Old 08-22-19, 07:02 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by Wilmingtech View Post
Shimano RT 900 Rotors

Competitive Cyclist

Google Search

Seems like 80+ and tax/shipping is about normal for these.

-Sean
How much more performance are you getting out of that versus Shimano XT SM-RT81 for the money?

Because usually with specials, coupons, keeping an eye out on E-bay, whatever...you can typically find them for around $40 shipped maybe even $35.
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Old 08-22-19, 08:26 PM
  #57  
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Easily seen in the next-to-last photo in post #53 , the caliper is too low. It needs to be spaced up 2-3mm. You can clearly see the outer edge of the rotor extending past the top of the pad surface.

Left as is, the pads will eventually wear a groove into the rotor, and then they will become abominably noisy. There will also be the correct clearance for the rivet/spider with the caliper positioned correctly.
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Old 08-22-19, 10:26 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Easily seen in the next-to-last photo in post #53 , the caliper is too low. It needs to be spaced up 2-3mm. You can clearly see the outer edge of the rotor extending past the top of the pad surface.

Left as is, the pads will eventually wear a groove into the rotor, and then they will become abominably noisy. There will also be the correct clearance for the rivet/spider with the caliper positioned correctly.
Thanks! Good eye. I'll have to see what I can do to fix it.

Are there are spacers made specifically for this or should I find small washers to off set the height of the caliper?

-Sean
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Old 08-22-19, 10:42 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by Bike Jedi View Post
How much more performance are you getting out of that versus Shimano XT SM-RT81 for the money?

Because usually with specials, coupons, keeping an eye out on E-bay, whatever...you can typically find them for around $40 shipped maybe even $35.
Performance as in.... you pull the brake lever and the bike stops?

Again - haven't noticed any difference between these and the TRP rotors that came with the bike. Other than the caliper adjustment I will have to make. No heat issues or noise. I'm not heavy on the brakes on my rides. Not in city traffic with stop and go and most of the downhills I can go until the bike stops rolling if I wanted to without having to touch the brakes. These are on a gravel bike so most rides are away from busy roads.

Best thing about the 12$ rotors is when I screw these up (as I may already have) it's not a big deal to replace them.

-Sean
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Old 08-23-19, 03:22 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by Wilmingtech View Post
Performance as in.... you pull the brake lever and the bike stops?

No performance in, pound for pound, is it worth the money to spend the extra dough for the part?


I like cheap, economical, practical, ect...unless it's not the smartest choice.


I live in the mountains of Colorado and do a lot of down hill, steep descents, weighted and unweighted, and just recently switched over to the cheap $15 180mm rotor, which I have always been on 160's. I wish I had done that 2 years ago. It's like a night and day difference in stopping power. In fact, I hardly touch my back brakes now, which is something I was conditioning myself to do, but on the 180's, it's almost natural to use fronts more. I can't get over how much more control and stopping power in general I have. And that is on cheap Shimano M315's, I have never been on better brakes.


My new build has Shimano SLX with 180's all around, ICE tcch rotors and fins, on nonmetal pads. I am waiting for a wheel build now that won't be here until the end of next week, so I have no idea how great, awesome, or even descent they will be. I would venture to guess from what I am use to now, it will be another night and day difference.


When I asked you if they were better for performance, I was asking from a pound for pound question on cost. Will they get more life out of them? Will they stay cooler during use? Will they stop me faster in some way? What makes them so much more in money that the cost can be justified if I don't truly have the funds or need it?


For example...For my new build, I had to choose between TRP Spyke Mechanical (which for the all around needs, type riding, dependability, versatility, is probably the best choice), or between hydro's. The hydro's I was looking at was Shimano SLX or XT. After tons of research on the matter, and listening to what the collective voice of all of you said, was that SLX out of the two hydro's was the better deal, and here is why:


* The only real difference between the SLX and XT hydro brakes is a cotter pin on the caliber, and extra setting screw on the lever, and a tad lighter in selection of reservoir cover (or something along those lines). You change the pin out of the back of the SLX brakes to the spare screw they sell for the XT brakes, and you know have exactly the same caliber as what is sold with XT. I don't care about the extra weight it is not that relative to me as the type of riding I do. The extra adjustment screw setting on the lever I have personally been told is not that big of a deal and not worth the extra cost from a mechanic at a LBS. So for a set of SLX brakes at $125 + a $5 pin = $130 for a complete set of SLX brakes (maybe a little cheaper if you catch it right), versus paying $200 for the XT's. What are you truly paying for for the extra $75? An extra adjustment screw you are hardly ever going to use anyway? So out of the two hydro brakes, the SLX is the better choice if you don't need the best stuff constantly. And pound for pound, the SLX brakes have proven the test of time and trials, and there is not really anything that close to them on reliability and quality at that price point or the next one down.


When it came to choosing between Hydro and Mechanical, the TRP spykes would have cost me about $225 when all was said and done with pads, rotors, calibers, compressionless housing cables, etc... So do I want an incredible set of SLX brakes that have past the trials and are known to be reliable once any kinks are worked out for the most part, and serviced normally for $130'ish or mechanical for $225 while doing U.S. riding that I can still pretty much get anything shipped into me usually within 2 days or even picked up at pretty much any LBS in any U.S. major city, and have much better and reliable stopping power when working appropriately? At almost half the cost no less? Yes.


The mechanical brakes might have been the better choice for reliability and/or versatility, but I am skilled enough to fix a hydro repair out in the field if I am prepared short of a major line malfunction or being torn off. I don't personally do enough of that kind of technical riding to worry about a line getting yanked off, so anything else I do, I can fix myself probably, and if not, I can ride out of any terrain one on brake till I can get to an LBS. So ultimately, the SLX was the best choice for me pound for pound on costs and reliability long term, arguably depending on which camp you are in hydro vs mechanical.


So the question was, is it worth the extra $30 bucks for something compared to what I was showing? If so, why exactly?


To take it a step further, I picked up the Shimano XT SM-RT81 and I don't honestly know if they will make a huge difference between the $15 ones, but from what I read, they should and will. If I come to find out that the $15 rotors are more cost effective long term for life versus what I am really getting out of them, then I didn't make the best decision now on my purchase, and I would like to know that and learn from that. Eventually then I will know if the SM-RT81 or RT86 is truly worth it if I ask because I won't be riding a bike weighted that has the $15 ones to really know the difference. The $15 ones are on my hybrid bike, but not on my Surly Ogre. The Ogre has the good build on it.


I was actually throwing the question back out there in general for anyone to respond to it that knows, because I just don't know and would like to on the topic of rotors. I saw the ones listed above that are actually the next step up from what I have I assume, but I don't know why someone would pay another $30 bucks a piece for them unless they are even that much better some how.

Last edited by Bike Jedi; 08-23-19 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 08-23-19, 04:26 PM
  #61  
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The RT81s are no better than stamped rotors in terms of performance. Where they excel is they are less likely to get bent out of true if used on say a commuter or thrown in the bed of a truck/suv a lot where they may get banged around.
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