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Posible to Upgrade Mechanical Brakes to Hydraulic Brakes

Started by rsghowellnj, April 01, 2022, 10:23:16 AM

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Quote from: Altema on April 22, 2022, 08:27:40 PMI may try that. I contacted Bolton and they said they would do an exchange for their full hydraulic system, so that offer is on the table. Thanks for the info!

I saw that Bolton has a full-hydraulic system with motor cutout switch etc, but in the event I ever want/need to fold my MiniST2, I don't think running a hydraulic line inside the frame would be a good idea.

That being said, have you seen the new Lectric bike?  Similar in concept to their previous small folders, it has mid-drive, two batteries, front suspension, beefy rear rack and hydraulic brakes (with all lines including electric run outside the frame) and it's also a folder.  Still only 500w nominal, but with two 10Ah batteries in parallel it'll have great range.  $1799 pre-order intro price seems pretty good unless the components are junk - might give the Rad product managers a few sleepless nights if it's a good bike. 

Ryan just uploaded a YT vid on it.
Shucks Ma'am, I'm no "Hero Member", I just like to wear this cape.


Quote from: rsghowellnj on April 01, 2022, 10:23:16 AM
I'm wondering if it is possible to upgrade the mechanical disc brakes on the Rad Expand 5 to hydraulic disk breaks?  If so, has anyone had any success?

Yes - You can use a set of 4 piston Avid Code mtn bike brakes and 203MM rotors front and back - with some basic ish mods....These are WAY better than the Hydraulic cable pull (Jusi or whatever they are called) Amazon brakes. Get a long rear cable off Amazon and then bleed. 203MM SRAM rotors are on Ebay and Amazon too. Now this tank stops on a dime....


Quote from: Altema on April 02, 2022, 05:08:03 PM
Cable-pull hydraulic calipers can be a good way to upgrade. Avoid the Catazer calipers on Amazon. I'm still recovering from injuries due to them. The Juintech brakes look good, and I may order a set to try them out. Bolton (now renamed to Area 13) carries full hydraulic brakes for Rad bikes.

I agree!  I have two identical RAD Mini 2018 folding ebikes, both with original mechanical brake calipers. To be sure, the mechanical brakes are functional *when properly adjusted*.  The proper adjustment is the issue. The mechanical brakes require frequent adjustment, and for many this adjustment is beyond their expertise. The mechanical brakes require an adjustment to the stationary brake pad holder in the back of the caliper, so that the traveling brake pad won't have to move so far (and won't have to bend the disc as much). I consider myself pretty skilled at bike maintenance and adjust frequently, as needed with the mechanical brakes. With almost 5,000mi on the two bikes, I've replaced all pads once, and noticed a significant (2mm) difference in brakes pad wear from one side to the other. The mechanical brake calipers do not provide smooth pressure application, and cause excessive disc wear. 

So...I tried two different hybrid-hydraulic caliper upgrades, one from Bolton ebikes/Area 13 ($119), and one from Amazon/Catazer ($42).

They are functionally similar, but very different.
Price:  Unit13 Juintech M1 hydraulic calipers $119 ($149 at time of writing this review) for front and back calipers.
          Catazer hydraulic MTB Road HTB-100 $42
Wow - with such a big price difference, I wondered what was different.

Looks:  Advantage Catazer.  They have a spiffy paint job that is reminiscent of upgraded brake sets on a Porsche or other high end performance car.

Weight:  The Unit13 Juintech M1 calipers weigh about 5oz.  The Catazer weighs 5.9oz.  They have clearly different castings, pistons, and cable adjustment pieces.  They are NOT the same calipers.

Performance:  Both Catazer and Unit13 brakes improve the braking smoothness by providing a more even pressure distribution to both sides of the brake pads.  The smoothness in braking is noticeable over the old mechanical brakes. PLUS, no bending of the disc when applying the brakes, even after many miles. The 3rd adjustment to the back of the mechanical calipers is not needed at all. Both brake calipers apply pressure to both sides of the pads, and self-adjust to the disc. 

Braking Force:  Unit13 brake calipers are significantly better here.  The Catazer brake calipers require 50-75% (my estimate, not measured with a scale) more brake handle pressure to lockup the rear wheel. I have strong enough hands and I could use either effectively. However, my child and girlfriend both struggled to get full braking power from the Catazer calipers.

Fitup:  Both Unit13 and Catazer brake calipers bolted on to my 2018 RAD Mini folding bikes easily by using the OEM hardware for the mechanical brake calipers. The manufacturer-provided spacers were not needed. The whole project can be done in 20-30min.  However, the Catazer caliper has a different angle to the frame, and causes excess friction to the cable at the bend made by the angle of the mount on the rear wheel. (See pic).  The brake handle will still snap back, but slower and you can feel it is rubbing on something when you work the brake handle.

My Conclusion:  If you want the best brakes, go with Unit13.  Better alignment with the brake cable and less brake pressure is required to lockup the wheel.   If you have strong hands and an eye for price-performance, the Catazer functions okay, though I expect you would need a new rear brake cable housing in a year or two from the friction.