How To Get The Best From Your Brakes | Mountain Bike Disc Brake Set Up Tips

How To Get The Best From Your Brakes | Mountain Bike Disc Brake Set Up Tips


– Brakes may well be a
vital component on a bike as far as as safety’s concerned but there’s so much more to them than simply being able to stop a bike. Now, modern mountain bike
brakes are immensely powerful. And you can set them up in
a variety of different ways to suit your riding style,
the terrain you’re riding on, and, of course, all the other
stuff that goes with them. Now, Magura have just launched their new customization program which means they’re the perfect brand to work with for this video to demonstrate all the different things that you need to take into account when putting brakes on your bike how you put them onto your bike and, of course, all that custom stuff that really makes them different. Ever since mountain biking got technical Magura has been involved. In fact, 30 years ago they made the first hydraulic rim brake and popularity grew
immensely from the beginning. Didn’t take long until
you saw those little neon yellow calipers and brake levers popping up everywhere. Fast-forward to 2019 and their brakes are once
more in the limelight. Loïc Bruni, of course, used their brakes at the first round of the
World Cup to take victory and Danny MacAskill, the world’s
most famous precision rider he trusts Magura brakes for
his mind-boggling stunts. And so many of the XCO riders
are relying on Magura brakes for their lightweight and immense power. Something that all of
those riders have in common is the fact that they have
completely different setups and in fact, it’s actually
Danny MacAskill and Loïc Bruni that we have to thank
for this custom program because they’re the ones
that identified the fact that they wanted to have custom setups from what was available on the market. Now, no matter what brand of brakes you’re putting onto your bike you have a lot of setup options. There’s different powered brakes there’s twin pot designs there’s four pot designs there’s different rotor sizes brake pad compounds. There are lots of ways
to set your brakes up to get the most from. So, let’s take a look at the
most fundamental things first. Now, levers first. Now, when you wrap your
hands a brake lever and you engage your finger on it. The way it feels can
really make a difference between wanting to use that brake and perhaps wanting to use another one. Now, typically, for example Shimano brakes have quite
stout, short levers. SRAM brakes tend to be a little
bit straighter and longer. Now, some people have a
preference to either of those but, when you have those
brakes, that’s what you have. Nothing wrong with that,
it’s just a feature. Now, Magura brakes, again, they
have a certain lever feature depending on the model you pick but you do have that customability to change the lever design enabling you to actually
get the specifics down of what you want from your brake. Now, typically, brakes
orientated towards downhill will be, mostly, made of aluminium. They’ll have a slightly heavier duty build whereas those more biased to cross country or lighter duty trail riding could have a carbon lever blade like these and will have a, generally,
lighter construction to them. Of course, lightweight is
a fantastic thing to have but if you’re the sort of
rider that crashes quite a lot they might not be the right ones for you. Down at the caliper end is the pistons that do all the actions. So, the pistons are responsible for pushing the brake pads in and, essentially, closing
it around that disc rotor which slows you down. Now, some brakes will have a
two piston design like this which are ideal for weight
saving and lighter duties. Whereas other brakes, like this one here has a four piston design, also
know as a four pot design. Now, these have lot more power to them but they’re also a lot heavier and they also help aid heat dissipation. However, you don’t always
want this amount of power. It’s a fine-tuning duty between picking which one suits what you want to do. If you were to have a
big four piston brake on a cross country bike,
for example you’re gonna be accidentally locking up
your wheels all the time and if you lock up your wheels they’re skidding, you’re not in control. So, for a cross country bike a regular two pot brake
is a much better idea. Now, something Magura offer off the shelf is what they call a trail combination which, essentially, you get one of each. You get the four pot for your front wheel and you get the two pot
for your rear wheel. Now, when you’re braking you think you’d load up the
front wheel of the bike. That’s where your weight bias is that’s where the traction
is, so accordingly you do most of the stopping
with the four pot brake and the wheel, essentially,
has less weight on it out back, you have the single. Now, you can achieve the same thing if you were to buy other
brand brakes as single items but I think it’s a really smart move to have this included in the range. So, you can a four pot, you
could have a regular two pot or you can have that mix so, it really is another part of the customization process. Now, disc rotors are up next and there’s various different
options on the market ranging from the more XC
biased 160mm style rotors the trail-friendly 180s and the big downhill ones, 200mm plus. Now, the bigger the disc is the better it’s gonna dissipate heat because it’s a much bigger surface but it’s also gonna be a lot heavier. Now, opposite applies, of
course, with the smaller disc. It’s gonna get hot quicker,
but it’s much lighter so, it is very suitable
for certain applications. You just have to pick what
really suits your bike. Now, you don’t have to have the same size rotors front and rear. As I explained with the pistons of a brake it’s quite good to have
slightly more power on your front wheel. So, if, for example you were gonna have, say,
single pot brakes front and rear it’s a good idea to perhaps
have a 160 and a 180 rotor or a 180 and a 200, just to
increase your power slightly without having a different brake. Now, point is, it’s another
customizable part of your brake so, don’t just take them for granted. Now, choosing the right brake pads for the conditions you ride in and the way you want to ride is also A, a very good idea
to make sure you get right and B, another way of customizing how you want your bike to feel. Now, typically, there are three main types of pads on the market. You get the sintered metal type you get the organic resin type and you get this, sort
of, combination of both like semi-metallics, for example. Now, metallic pads, or
sintered metallic pads are the most powerful brakes they deal with heat the
best, but as a downside they have to be run at
slightly higher temperatures to get the most out of them and they can be quite loud. Now, the resin and organic
pads have more initial bite they’re much better for general riders they run a lot quieter but they’re not as good in wet and they do wear out slightly faster. And the semi-metallics, you guessed it there’s an element of both in there. Magura’s offerings, again,
apply to the same rule of thumb. They’ve got three different types of pads. They’ve got the comfort ones they’ve got the performance ones and they’ve got the race ones. Now, the difference between
these pads is fairly similar likable to the sintered, organic resin, and semi offerings out
there on the market. So, we’ve looked at all
the details of the brake the two piston design,
the four piston design the big, the small rotors,
the different pad compounds these are all ways that you
can customize your own brakes whatever brand you’re working with. But now we’ve identified that let’s look at the setup tips and this is the stuff where
you can really customize how well your brakes work for you. Now, the first one is a really simple one. Thread lock. Now, this is vital with brakes especially when you’re
looking a disc rotor bolts so, your bike might have
six disc rotor bolts that’s the traditional method or it might have center lock. Now, it’s a really good idea to use some medium strength
thread lock on those bolts. The reason for that is
there’s a lot of power and there’s a lot of vibration
that goes through brakes. Shouldn’t need to spell
it out really, should we? It is a safety related
product, so do yourself a favor get yourself some good quality thread lock and make sure your disc
rotor bolts have got that. Whilst you’re at it, do your
disc caliper bolts as well. That’s where the actual
brakes bolt to your frame to the brake mounts that are
on there, or to your fork. And whilst you’re at it it’s a good idea to check
the bolts are up to torque. Now, it’s not essential to have
a torque wrench of any kind it’s a very good idea to have one. You can, of course, just
use your common sense but just take care. The next setup point
is all cockpit related so, this is your lever position. Now, this is absolutely vital to get the most out of your brakes. Now, anyone can do this whether you’ve got an old set brakes that are already on your bike or you’ve got a brand new set of brakes and you’re setting them up. Get this right and your brakes
are gonna feel really good. Now, there’s a few
adjustments you can make. There’s the that angle
of your brake levers and then there’s the in and out. Now, firstly, we’ll look at the angle. Now, the general rule of thumb is when you have your saddle
at full effective riding height your brake levers should, in theory follow the line of your forearm that’s the best place to start. If your brake levers are too far down they might feel really nice
when you’re in the saddle but the downside is when
your off the back of the bike descending on steep terrain you’re putting your wrists
at a slightly weaker angle so you’re straining your wrists so that’s not a good thing. So, you really wanna help yourself here. However, by having your brake levers at that angle, quite down what that does mean is
they’re gonna feel really good when you’re sprinting out the saddle so, if you’re an XC biased rider it might serve you more
to have your brakes a little steeper down and sacrifice the overall
descending performance but that is up to you. The general rule of thumb is to start with them
following your forearm. Another option to you, if
you’re a gravity biased rider and what I mean by that
is someone who likes bike parks or descending,
all the fun stuff like that having your brakes
slightly higher is better because you’re gonna be spending more time off the back of the bike you might want to focus that
straight line with your arms when you’re on that descending position hanging off the back of bike. It’s a stronger position
for your wrists to be in and you’re gonna have less strain going through to your hands. Now, some downhill racers have
the brakes almost horizontal to compensate for that
off the back of the bike when they’re really railing it around turns and steep terrain. Now, of course, these are setup guidelines and this is where you form your base setup but, there is a comfort
factor that you’re not gonna find out until you
have some decent saddle time. And what I mean by this
is numbness in your hand. Now, you will never know this without doing a seriously big ride and there’s two main types you can get. You get carpal tunnel syndrome and you can also get ulnar nerve pain. Now, the ulnar nerve runs
up the outside of your arm from the outside of your hand,
the heel of your hand here. It effects your small
fingers, and, of course effects your forearm
and your elbow as well but you can get numbness
in this part of your hand. Now, the carpal tunnel one
affects your index finger, your middle finger, and your thumb and it basically runs up
the center of your hand and up the inside of your wrist here. Now, if you get any of
that sort of numbness you’re gonna have to experiment with different handlebar grips different bar roll positions and, of course, your control positions because this is something
that takes time to figure out. For you to be spending
a long time on your bike make sure you take the time
to dial those things in. Next up is deciding where you want your brake lever position to be when you’re actually
holding the handlebar grips so, your brakes in and out as such. Now, this will depend on how
long your brake levers are and if you wanna use one
finger or two finger braking maybe more than that. Now, if you’re using one finger braking you really want your finger to be the nearest to the end of
the brake lever as possible to get the maximum amount of leverage. These days, brakes are pretty
powerful on the most part. Even the weaker brakes are
still more than adequate to come to a decent standstill
just using a single digit. Magura and many other brake manufacturers offer one finger levers, but, like I say you can also use two
fingers, or three fingers. Now, when you’re positioning
the lever in and out you have to take into account how much lever travel there is. Now, this is the next
preference we’re gonna get to. Now, for example, if you like the feeling of using one finger on the brakes but you wanna use it in
this position on the lever you have to take into
account that the lever travel could make the end of the brake lever foul on your other fingers. Now, if this happens this could stop you coming to a standstill and, of course, it
could be painful as well so, these are all things
to take into account. Another thing to take into account is where you’re gonna mount your shifters whether you’ve got a front
shifter or a rear shifter maybe you’ve got lockouts,
maybe you’ve got a dropper post. You need to take into account
how you use these things and whether you’re stood, or
you’re seated, when you do so. So, for a dropper post, for me I like the lever to be further away because typically, I’ll
be getting out the saddle as I start using this thing,
so, I want it to feel natural as I make that transition. So, I’ll slam it, and
I’ll jump out the saddle and again, it’s in the right position when I want it to pop back up again. Now, with the shifters I actually like to swing
my shifters quite far round and I don’t tend to use the direct mounts that you can get from Magura,
SRAM, and Shimano brakes. The direct mount, however does look much neater on the bars and, of course, is one
less thing on there. Something additionally
to take into account is when you are angling these things make sure they’re in a position where something bad’s not gonna
happen, like your shorts hooking on your shifter
when you’re sprinting. Now, your lever reach adjustment is also another vital thing to get right to get the most from your brakes and also the most mechanical
advantage from your hands. So, this bone here, know as the
third phalanx of your finger actually is the optimum place to have your brake lever rest and to use if you’re using single finger braking. Now, some people like to
naturally rest towards this joint and other, myself included would naturally rest towards here which gives you that slightly more mechanical feeling from your brakes. Now, again, this is a preference thing. I know some people that want their brakes to barely move when they touch them and others want them to travel nearly all the way to the bars and all they’ve got to do is just naturally squeeze them a bit. That is entirely up to you there’s no right or wrong, but just think the further away from your
bars you brake lever is the harder your hand has
to work in order to stop. In addition to reach adjust some brakes also offer
a bite point adjustment. So, that is nothing to do
with the actually distance where your brake lever is from the bars it’s, effectively, the pad travel. So, this can be different on varium brakes but, accordingly, it means
how much the lever travels before the pads operate on the rotor. But again, that’s one of
the more advanced features you don’t see on all brakes. Now, one final thing to bear in mind is how tight you have your brake levers on the bars themselves. Now, some levers like these are made with a bit of construction. They’re lighter weight, so you
don’t wanna overtighten them ’cause you could risk damaging them. The same applies to handlebars. And one other factor to bear in mind is if your brakes are vice-like on the bars when you have that big crash that’s inevitable at some
point when you’re riding you could well snap your brake
levers clean off the bars. If they’re loose enough
to move under hard impact there much less chance of that happening. But, of course, you must make sure that it can’t move up and
down under normal operation because common sense dictates that is not a safe way to
have your brakes set up. Now, once you have all the basics set up you’re in a position, you can
do the final customization to really tailor your brakes
to make sure they are your own. Now, the first port of
call for that is, of course tidying up all your cockpit area making sure your hoses are
as short as they need to be. You don’t want them to
be additionally long hanging out everywhere. A, they can snag on stuff B, they look horrible and C, they can be really noisy as well so, make sure to trim down to the relevant lengths
that suit your bike. Something else we like to recommend is using shrink fit around
the hoses, or cables ties because hoses can actually bash
around on top of each other making unnecessary noise. Of course, that is just a little personal preference of my own I like my bikes to be as quiet as possible but it might not bother you. And just to top off on
top of all of this stuff this is where the Magura
customization program really comes in. So, you’ve got your brakes set up you’ve got everything dialed in but perhaps you don’t quite like the way your brake levers
feel to where your friends do. So, Magura offer four
after-market brake lever blades so you can actually tailor
the feel of your brakes. Now, this is really cool and it’s something that Loïc
Bruni and Danny MacAskill actually really, sort of,
brought to the program when they signed up as
sponsored riders with Magura. They didn’t just want to use their product they wanted it to feel
the way they wanted it to. Now, Danny likes a one finger brake and his particular levers you can actually dial in
the amount of leverage that they offer on the brakes you can increase the braking
power on that one finger lever. Now, that’s something I
think I might try out myself that really appeals to me. I’m not that fussed about carbon levers technically, they’re stiffer they feel a bit nicer in cold weather but I actually quite like
those little one finger levers. You can choose between one finger levers you can choose between two finger levers. Now, what Loïc wanted was
actually a longer lever for more leverage, he’s got bigger hands he wanted that straight feel that he can run his
brakes quite far in board and just hang off the ends of those levers for maximum purchase. Now, of course, that’s
not what I like at all but this is the beauty of
a customization program is you can do it exactly
the way you want to. I think this is really cool. So, there we go. That is how you get the
most from your brakes. Now, if you wanna see how Danny MacAskill runs his brakes on his one-off chance bike click up there for that video. And if you like what Magura are doing with their customization program gives us a huge thumbs up and don’t forget to share and subscribe.