Avid BB7S Mechanical Disc Brake Review
Avid first released the Ball Bearing mechanical disc brake back in 1999. Because of their power, reliability and serviceability, they were pretty much instantly deemed the industry standard for disc brakes. SRAM acquired Avid five years later and wisely continued to produce the brakes under the Avid moniker without significant changes, other than separating the line to include an entry level product, the BB5, and the flagship BB7. Once there was a demand, along came road versions of the BB5 and BB7, which were optimized for road brake levers (which pull less cable than mountain levers).
Avid recently unveiled the BB7S, a sleek, black version of the venerable BB7 with stainless steel hardware. Like its predecessor, the BB7S features tool-free inboard and outboard pad adjustment, organic compound brake pads and Avid’s “tri caliper positioning system”. This system primarily consists of a series of concave and convex washers that allow for precise alignment of the caliper. I’m sure there may be a few people who disagree, but in my opinion the BB7 makes for the easiest brake setup on the market.
The new BB7S brakes ship with the HS1 rotor, which is said to be an improvement over the classic G2 Cleansweep rotor in that it displaces heat a little better and works better in wet weather. It certainly looks the part, and likely weighs a hair less. Speaking of weight, the BB7S caliper weighs just 197 g as opposed to the classic BB7′s which eclipsed 212 g.
I have to confess, I’m totally spoiled because I have the luxury of using Avid’s Speed Dial Ultimate levers ($263 per pair) to actuate these brakes. It could be argued that such high end levers would make any brake seem better, but I prefer to think that they just don’t interfere with the inherent power and modulation of the BB7S.
The Avid BB7S brakes retail for $120 per wheel. Choose between road and mountain versions, and 140 or 160 mm rotors. Check out www.sram.com/avid