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
Alleycat Insights is a series of interviews about the evolution of alleycat culture that took place over the course of putting together the Urban Velo #38 feature story, Alleycat Explosion. In this installment we catch up with Billy Sinkford. Sinkford began working as a bike messenger in Boston in 1999, and spent a collective 10 years on the road between there and his time spent working for Godspeed Courier in San Francisco. In 2007 he was one of the key organizers of the North American Cycle Courier Championships in San Francisco. Today Sinkford is a partner at Echos Communication, where he works with cycling-oriented businesses, including Chrome Industries, Bern Unlimited, and Levi’s Commuter Series.
When did you first get involved with alleycat races?
I started in 1999 on the road in Boston; I was a bike messenger there off and on for 6 or 7 years and then I moved to California and worked with Godspeed—probably a collective 10 years out on the road.
What are some of the big alleycats that you’ve been involved in organizing?
The biggest one would the North American Cycle Courier Championships in San Francisco, I believe that was in 2007. And then for a couple years after that I ended up in some way either helping or advising.
What was that like?
My role was to deal with the police and the city. I went to the city council meetings and got street closures, and police detail. My main partner, Fergus Liam, who was a messenger in San Francisco for a long time—he dealt with mapping out the race course and I dealt with the logistical backend, making sure that we paid the right people the right amount of money that would get the streets closed.
NACCC’s is one of the few alleycats that was ever kind of sanctioned, or had the streets closed. Most about of the time it’s about really knowing the streets, but this one was more about what you could do.
How have things changed since NACCC’s in San Francisco?
The biggest change I saw happen would be that when I first started there was no such thing as a non-messenger showing up to an alleycat. They were smaller; there weren’t a plethora of sponsorships. It was more about folks just getting together and having a good time. People weren’t really that concerned with the financial aspect of it; the prizes were not what they are now, but it was more of a tight knit community. Read more →
It’s tradeshow season in the bike industry again, with Eurobike 2013 being the kickoff for product introductions across the company spectrum. Check out a gallery from the first day below, with more detailed posts of the latest and greatest from Germany to follow.