Hayes El Camino '05 Disc Brake ReviewHayes Disc Brakes 2005 El Camino Disc brake - Initial Review 14 October 2004
I had the good fortune of Hayes Disc Brakes recently sending me a prototype version of the new Hayes El Camino 2005 Disc brakes. They popped me a pair in the mail to test as they know that the massive downhill mountain bike rides here test any and all equipment -- especially brakes! We've run Hayes disc brakes here for many years (you'll see my review of the Mag Disc Brakes in our Reviews section) and run through about 1,200-1,600 disc brake pads a year... so yup, we're doing a lot of braking out here.
This is a preliminary review as I've only had one good day of singletrack riding to test the brakes so far... I'll have more opportunity this weekend while we are scouting out a new urban assault DH race course, and after a couple of Downhill and Freeride training days on our singletrack routes.
Coming from a 2004 Hayes Mag with a custom machined aluminium "fatty" 1-finger lever (made in Bolivia) two main things were obvious:
Firstly, the lever has a noticeably nicer grip and fit than the Mag 2-finger levers; and secondly, the travel of the lever makes it feel like there is flex in the last part of the pull of the levers.
Running-in time was pretty standard, although I did notice that the "burning" smell lasted a bit longer than usual (I'm not sure if that was because the pads are of a different material, or just that something had been spilt on them during transport/installation).
Once the brakes had burnt in there was absolutely no reason to think twice about the brakes. They worked awesomely with no fuss or fiddle. Again, coming from a 1-finger brake set-up "trigger sensitive" it took a little while to get back in to the softer more graduated feel of this brake and of the 2-finger set-up. The last part of the piston movement seems to be almost bottomless -- well beyond the point where the brake has locked ... this took a little getting used to and initially meant I was locking my brakes more often than I am used to.
I am also working on changing my riding style at the moment to a "look ma -- no brakes" approach up until the last possible second, rather than using brake drag to achieve control through sections. These brakes seem to be well suited to this as you can really throw the anchors on at the last second (much more so than with my custom 1-finger levers -- where finger strength sometimes isn't good enough to really slam the brakes on).
On the kinds of descents we have, heat build-up is a huge issue, and while I can't say that the brakes seemed to run any cooler than the Mags (they seem just as hot under the spit test), there was definitely no question of brake fade. I would like to check this a bit more on a day when we are doing race training, where we stop a lot less frequently. Our 30-minute continuous downhills with 5,000 feet of vertical loss are going to be the final say on this.
I need to experiment a lot more with the "power adjuster" to get a feel for the practical application of this.
The brake sent to me had an allen tool adjustment for the lever reach, rather than the tool-less one that had been talked about ... and which will be on the production model.
The nylon bushing used to hold the lever to the lever reach adjustment looks like a significant improvement over the previous one and I am holding my breath to see that this lasts ... if it does I need about 200 of them for the hfx-9s on our fleet bikes as they are always rattling loose on long downhill descents!
Lighter, reliable, great feeling, good looking, and more adjustable ... what's not to like?
Over the next couple of weeks I am going to experiment with these brakes under a number of different scenarios and provide weekly updates.
After another two weeks of use I will pass these on to one of our other DH riders to get his opinion on them as well.
(I'd really like to say thanks to Jason at Hayes for the opportunity to play with these -- they're fun!)
Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking> Going Down's Never Been Better
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