SRAM Road Hydro Disc Install & Review (New) & Pinarello Dogma F8 Frameset Unveiled

I thought I would write a review of how to install and adjust / bleed the newest road hydraulic disc components from SRAM (the SB700 series).  They just arrived at the shop a few days ago and I was anxious to see what the differences were and how they would perform once installed.  As normal, there were some easier parts and more difficult ones and I am sure I will encounter new challenges with it for each new frame it’s installed on.

This review is based off of a popular frame — the Specialized SWORKS Crux.  It’s cable routing was designed to use road hydraulic brakes (or mechanical) and was the first one in the shop to be updated.  Here goes.

This is the group right out of the package.  This is the SB700 series and it also came with Zipp Service Course SL tape (black), new rotors/pads, and caliper bleed blocks.

The Shipment New SRAM Hydro  The S Series CaliperThe S700 hydraulic road lever

The front and rear setups were in separate boxes and packaged well.  The only thing that I would have liked to have seen would be a printed copy of the bleed procedure.  However, I did find it easily online here

This bike stayed in the shop from the initial recall and so removal of the recalled hydraulic brakes was fairly quick and easy.  I cut the lines for the rear brake because of the internal routing and pulled the line through after installing this little connector and hose plug to avoid DOT fluid dripping through the frame.

The first thing I did was to clean all of the surfaces the components would be installed to with isopropyl alcohol.  This leaves no residue and provides the cleanest contact surface.  Before this, I also disconnected and removed the old derailleur cables.  Installation of the brake/shift lever is next and was mounted using a small amount of grip paste behind the handlebar mounting bracket to ensure stable placement and zero movement while riding.  Photos below.

Installed rear lever Old lever marking for replacmentInstalled rear lever

 

Once the lever was installed, I checked out the caliper to notice any differences.  These next photos are of the caliper installed and on the bench.  I figure it is more useful to know as many things as possible before the install and some of these things were discovered throughout the installation.

The caliper beside the diagram of parts The removable hose / barb/ olive for trimming 92 Caliper brake pads Bleed block

 

In the above photos, you will notice that the caliper looks about like any other hydraulic caliper out there with a few minor differences.  First, the hose can be cut and sized for the frame at the banjo.  Where older style brakes seemed to always have the crimped metal cap on the hose where it meets the banjo on the caliper, there is a standard 8mm fitting bolt that compresses an olive and barb into the body of the banjo.  Secondly, the pads are uniquely shaped compared to other SRAM/Avid brakes.  Lastly, the safety retainer clip for the bolt that hold the brake pads in the caliper is clipped on the inside of the body, where the edge of the pick is pointing in the second photo.  As a side note, I just realized the potential to use the bleed block as a tool to hold the hose while installing a barb by squeezing the end of the bleed block that is slotted.

Next, the front caliper was installed and appropriate measuring for the hose was fitted for the frame.  I used the smaller cylindrical caliper mounting spacers and found it to look sleek and minimal while providing a stable “post” for the caliper to mount to.

Brand new rotors Installing the front caliper  Installed caliper and rotor on front wheelEasy hose cutting and sizing

 

Cutting and sizing the hose for the front brake was relatively easy and required about the same time as it does for a mountain hydraulic brake.  With no internal routing for the front brake, it simply passes in a nice arc in front of the head tube and follows by a retainer clip on the fork down to the caliper.  Pivot washers and new mounting hardware were all included (a 12mm top spacer and a 7.5mm bottom spacer for a 140mm rotor)(A standard adaptor was also included for a larger rotor).

Now, I’ll cover the installation for the rear brake and then go over the bleed procedure last.  The rear brake hose, as mentioned earlier, is routed through the frame, below the bottom bracket to the non-drive side of the bottom bracket cable guides for the derailleur cables, and out of the rear non-drive chain stay to the caliper.  The caliper mounts directly to the frame mounts along with pivot washers.

One of the important factors in internal routing for hydraulic hoses (and full-length housing) is being able to wrap cushioning around it to prevent rattling in the frame every time the bike hits a bump.  Specialized had provided a spiral foam insulator that was wrapped on the excess of the hose and pushed into the frame where it passed below the bottom bracket (shown below)

The bottom of the photo is where the insulator is pushed into the down tube.  It is incredibly helpful to use some sort of snaking light to illuminate the inside of the frame so the derailleur cables can be checked for crossing when installed (also internally routed).  It’s an easy thing to miss with all of the other focus points of the install and will definitely lead to terrible shifting.  I left the hose for the install as long as possible (cutting it about two inches from the banjo on the brake caliper) so there would be plenty to use for correctly sizing to the frame.  I would note that gloves are definitely useful and necessary while routing the cable so no DOT fluid contacts the skin.

Cable liners routed for derailleur cables Hose plug and tool for routing through the frame Installing new barb and olive onto the cut and sized hose The installed caliper before attaching the hose Rear rotor (and still works for racks on bikes)

The routing through the frame wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be since the hose was fairly rigid and could be easily seen with the light shown into the frame. Using the little red plug also marginally helped to prevent lots of air from entering the system while installing, which made bleeding the brake quicker and more effective afterward.

The pads lined up to the rotors well for the front and rear.  The pad spacers were held in place well and resisted falling out (great for packing and transporting).  Before bleeding both brakes, I went ahead and installed the derailleur cables back onto the components and adjusted as necessary.

Once the rotors, levers, shifter cables, hydraulic hoses, and calipers were all installed, it was definitely evident and expected that one or two bleeds would be required to get the correct actuation of the lever.  Initial pulls on the lever yielded solid piston movement in the caliper — even with air in the system.

The bleed procedure is quite normal and easy.  The bleed port on the lever is located at the topmost section of the grip, underneath the rubber.  A standard T10 fitting right in the center connected to a 1/4th filled bleed syringe with DOT 5.1 fluid and a hose clamp.  The inner part of the caliper body bolt is the second fitting (also T10) for the 1/2 filled syringe of DOT 5.1 fluid with a hose clamp.  Past this, the bleed procedure is described in depth, step by step at the link mentioned at the start of the article.

Lever bleed port T10 Caliper bleed port T10 Remember this clip! Bleed manual off of website for Road Hydraulic

 

A few things to remember — clean the entire caliper with isopropyl alcohol after bleeding the brake and before reinstalling the brake pads.  Use the included bleed block.  Do not forget the clip for the retainer bolt on the caliper that holds the pads in place.  While not critical for the brake to function, it is a safety clip so the pads do not vibrate out and cause the pistons to contact the rotor in the event of a failure.  Lastly, always go through the bleed procedure step by step.  As noted in the manual, it may be necessary to bleed the brake more than once for the initial install.  I bled the rear brake twice and the front brake once (due to less air exposure than the rear and great results after the first bleed).

I checked the position of the brake pads in relation to the rotor and centered them on either side by loosening and tightening the mounting bolts and placing a white sheet of paper below the caliper (which makes it incredibly easy to see the space between each brake pad and its respective side of the disc rotor).  Once fine-tuned, I test rode it around the area outside our shop and was noticeably impressed.

The shifting performance felt better than the original hydraulic version and slightly better than the mechanical 22 groups.  The brake pads were burnished to the rotors with about 40-50 hard stops and responded quickly to fast braking and slower modulation.  The reach can also be adjusted for quicker pad contact and shorter distance to the handlebars.

All in all, I thought the install took an appropriate amount of time and was well prepared for by SRAM.  The bleed procedure is quite like their mountain brakes, which is easy and was convenient to perform with a brand new bleed kit included with each set of brakes.  The braking power was solid and adequate.  I’ll be awaiting real ride feedback from riders picking them up as I finish installing the others.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments regarding this article or in your own install as I am always looking to expand the knowledge base to provide accurate instructions and review.  Thanks for the support!

– S.N.C.

As a final note, we also just got a shipment of the new Pinarello Dogma F8 — an incredibly light frame with post hardware rolling in at about 980g!  Below are photos of the frame before the build and I’ll have build photos in the next week as five are already getting ready to head out to the road for takeoff!

 

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Dura-Ace 9000 Front Derailleur Setup (with updates)

**** This article will have updates over time due to the popularity of viewing (thanks) and some good tips and setup methods that have been refined over time. Updates will be noted with a * at the beginning of the sentence and at the end.  Important updates will now be placed at the top.

*I am not a fan of the Ultegra/105 level polymer cables.  The individual circlets of polymer coating frayed even with precise installation and over time, clog cable housing (of all types including sheaths in the new Venge VIAS) badly and increase friction horribly.  I highly suggest you install the Dura-Ace polymer cables as they perform exponentially better since the polymer strands are a spiral and do not ever seem to clog the housing under proper installation and maintenance.*

*When installing the front derailleur cable, I wrap the extra length around in my hand (before anchoring it) and pull hard while actuating the shift lever to aid the housing in settling in.  At this same time, I like to use the dull edge of a 3-way hex wrench against the inside curve of the housing.  This creates a nice V oval shaped channel for the cable to run.  With the addition of SP41 grease during installation, that cable is the smoothest shift on the market.  I would even suggest using the cables and housing on other brand’s systems.*

*The loctite (and somehow grease?, which shouldn’t be used) on the support bolts for both Dura-Ace and Ultegra (and 105) front derailleurs is not nearly enough to support the high force pressure of the front derailleur over any decent length of time.  So, take the time and immediately remove this bolt, clean it, and apply blue loctite all over it.  It will help to ensure the front derailleur shifts exceptionally well over time.*

*Chainrings matter!!! Shimano rings work best, followed by in order of our shop experience: FSA, SWORKS, Cannondale SI spiders, ROTOR, SRAM (only Yaw rings, the regular ones do not perform well for racing conditions), Praxis, and then whatever other chainrings are out there including oval rings (I think personally – “You just chose the best shifting system on the market and now want to use it with chainrings that travel up and down under the front derailleur by almost 2cm?  Sure, that’ll work beautifully.?) Just saying that there are probably other options that save you those watts without destroying a great mechanical design.*

Also, please note that the new 6800 Ultegra and 5800 105 level front derailleurs from Shimano are also setup the same way except the Ultegra and 105 models use a slightly different converter tool and instead of a pivotal washer, the pin position that the cable passes before the anchor bolt can be removed and flipped for the recommended setting from the converter tool.*

So, I’ve just recently finished learning and training about the new drive-train group from Shimano, Dura-Ace 9000.  It is a more complex system than last model (7900) and requires some different tools and setup procedures that I’d like to discuss and bring to light.  In particular, the front derailleur is quite different and features extra trim functions (allowing there to be no chain rub) that the Dura-Ace 7900 doesn’t have as well as a great setup tool (TL-FD90) to account for the difference in frame shapes so the derailleur is set up with the same features in all applications.  The new front derailleur (FD-9000) sports a longer “arm” to which the cable attaches, providing a smaller swing of the shift lever, which both decreases rider fatigue and produces quicker and more accurate power.  Lastly, the feature that surprised me at first is the addition of a frame support bolt for the braze-on FD-9000.  It is part of the same design used on the 10-speed Dura-Ace Di2 front derailleur that stiffens the action and equates to a much more “positive” shift.  Onto the setup!

Dura-Ace 9000 Front Derailleur

The first thing you’ll want to examine, of course, is which front derailleur will work best on your frame.  I recommend always going with the braze-on type and using one of three adapter sizes (34.9mm, 31.8mm, and 31.8mm with a 28.6mm shim).  This way, you gain the advantage of having the support bolt as well as the option to use it on a different size frame.  Once you’ve selected the correct adapter, attach the derailleur to the adapter using the conical washer and bolt included and torque to the value of 5-7Nm.

Install the adapter onto the frame and lightly tighten the bolt so that you can slide and move the derailleur into position.  Line the bottom edge outer plate of the derailleur cage within 1-3mm of the large chainring and position the tail of the derailleur cage 0.5-1mm inward from being lined up with the chainring.  This will give you a little room to use the support bolt, which will conveniently and accurately line the cage up parallel to the large chainring.

Using a 2mm allen key, turn the support bolt (located right above the top of the cage) clockwise until it just touches the frame.  *Always remove this support bolt and apply blue loctite.  The support bolts have been found to move over time when settling in and as the derailleur ages. The loctite already on the bolt is not sufficient to keep the bolt in place.*  Then, you’ll remove the derailleur in order to adhere the little metal plate that comes with the component.  It comes with two plates.  One is curved and one is flat.  Use whichever seems to fit better to the frame and make sure the adhesive part is not positioned behind the support bolt.  Using isopropyl alcohol, wipe the area where the support bolt touched the frame earlier so the adhesive patch on the plate has a good clean surface to stick to.  Once this is done, reinstall the derailleur as mentioned in the prior paragraph and turn the support bolt counterclockwise until the outer plate of the cage lines back up with the large chainring.

It’s on the bike! However, that was the easy part.  the next part is critical to setting it up right and making sure all the advantages of the new design are tuned and accurate.  Like I mentioned earlier, the FD-9000 features 4 positions (two normal positions and two trim positions – one for each ring) called “low-trim” position, “low” position, “top-trim” position, and “top” position.  The start of the adjustments begins with the low-trim position.  The anchor bolt for the cable has two different routes that the cable can pass through and the tool mentioned earlier (TL-FD90) will allow you to see which route to choose for the washer (The cable routes the exact same in both cases, but the washer will either be positioned to the left or right).   First, remove the anchor bolt from the derailleur and insert the TL-FD90 into the same hole the anchor bolt was in.  Route the cable into the slot on the tool and observe if the cable is to the left of the indicator line on the tool or the right.  If it is on the left, the anchor plate washer will point towards the left side (off position) and if the cable runs to the right of the indicator line, the plate should be turned to the right (converter or “on” position).  The washer behind the anchor bolt is the only piece that changes position based on the converter tool setup.  This setup allows the shifting performance is be at its best for each frame design.  *I have found, over time, that there is almost no possible way to correctly hold enough tension on the cable when anchoring it to the derailleur.  Hold as much tension on the cable as possible (usually best with small pliers) and be sure an inline barrel adjuster is installed in the cable routing by the handlebars or a frame barrel adjuster is set completely in.*  While all of this probably sounds pretty confusing, the tool shows a small diagram on each side (on or off) in which to position the anchor bolt washer correctly.

Dura-Ace 9000 Front Derailleur “Converter” Tool, TL-FD90

Onto the adjustments!  Once the cable has been torqued to 5-7Nm, we’re ready to get tuning.  Ensure that the derailleur is in the low-trim position and shift the rear derailleur to the low gear (the biggest cog).  Use the downtube barrel adjuster or inline barrel adjuster and turn counterclockwise until the inner plate of the derailleur cage is within 0-0.5mm of the inside edge of the chain. Then, turn the Low limit screw clockwise until it begins to move the chain and then back it off by an eighth of a turn.  Now, we’ll adjust the cable tension by shifting the derailleur into the top-trim position (Shift to the large chainring and then click once on the shifter and notice the derailleur shift back by a small degree).  While in the top-trim position and the chain still in the low (11) cog in the rear, use the barrel adjuster to bring the inner plate of the derailleur cage to 0-0.5mm of the inside edge of the chain.  Once this is done, shift the front derailleur into the low position.  Shift the rear derailleur into the 5th, 6th, and 7th gears to check for rubbing on the inner skid plate of the cage.  If there is no rubbing in these three gears, shift to the 4th and 8th cogs and turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise or clockwise 1/2 turn, respectively to finish the tension adjustment.  If there still is no rubbing on the 5th, 6th, and 7th cogs, change the converter position of the washer to the opposite position and repeat the setup.  Last thing is the top adjustment.  Shift the rear derailleur into the top gear (1) and turn the top limit screw until the outer plate is within 0-0.5mm of the outside edge of the chain.  Then, shift through all the gears and check your work.

It’s a lot more complex than derailleurs of the past, but I feel like every adjustment will be what makes this the best front derailleur by Shimano yet (of course, except the Dura-Ace Di2 9070).  All of these steps help to ensure against dropping the chain, missed shifts, and less chain rub.

Since that was all a bit dry and technical, renew your flavor for the group by watching this video…

If you are a local cyclist to the area of Northern Virginia, stop by the shop and ask questions.  If you’re abroad, comment or email me for clarification or questions.

– SNC