The Hayes Bicycle Group - Factory Visit

Feb 11, 2014
by Richard Cunningham  

Hayes Bicycle Group
WORDS: R. Cunningham
IMAGES: Paris Gore

Hayes factory visit 2013 lead
  (Clockwise) VP and General Manager Darren Campbell virtually grew up at Hayes, Suspension Tech Eric Nelson assembles a Dorado fork. Lee Peeso is one of a handful of men who understand the intricacies of Wheelsmith's spoke machines.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a blue-collar working town that happens to be the birthplace of both Harley Davidson and Hayes. Hayes invited Pinkbike to visit its headquarters there, which is the nerve center for Hayes Brakes, Answer accessories, Manitou suspension, SunRingle’ wheels, and Wheelsmith spokes. If that seems like a handful of divergent brands, it definitely is. There is, however, method behind that apparent madness.

The story goes, that Hayes was originally a made-in-USA manufacturer that was happily making disc brakes for mountain bikes and for its core business, which catered to Harley Davidson, motorsports and heavy industry. Sales quickly outstripped the factory’s bicycle manufacturing section. That, and pressure from Taiwanese bike makers to open a factory close by in Asia to directly service the OEM market there, led to the creation of Hayes Asia, where all of its cycling components, with the exception of Wheelsmith spokes, are now made. Hayes is not unique to this business model. SRAM was compelled to make the same move for the same reasons in its early years.

Hayes factory visit 2013 brake history
  (From left) Hayes' first bicycle brake was delivered to Schwinn in 1972 for its 'Orange Krate' Stingray models. Little known at the time, was that Hayes built Dia-Compe USA's ground-breaking SpeedCheck disc brake system. The Hayes HFX was the first successful hydraulic braking system for mountain bikes, and it launched the brand into the OEM market. Hayes' current elite level brake - the Prime.

Seen in the R&D department: a Manitou MRD in-line
shock with a high volume air can and remote damping control.
The storyboard used to name the new Mattoc fork. Wall
sculpture: an un-machined magnesium fork slider casting.
More Than Brakes

Sometime around 2005, after enjoying a run of exceptionally good business making disc brakes for most mountain bike brands, Hayes came under fire from Shimano and SRAM. At that time, Shimano and SRAM were beginning to produce good brakes and OEM customers were under pressure to one-stop-shop their drivetrain purchases to include brakes for special pricing. Rumors were circulating that Shimano was also tooling up to make wheels. Hayes management could see the writing on the wall. The only way to compete was to diversify. By selling a component package, Hayes too, could offer attractive pricing packages and hopefully sway OEM customers to cherry pick Shimano and SRAM for their drivetrain components and to choose Hayes to fill out the rest of their bikes.

Hayes, however was a heavy manufacturing company, not a slick design and marketing firm, so a buyout was arranged, led by Rand McNally and other key Hayes managers, to buy out the previous owners and change the name to HB Performance Systems Inc. The key aspects of Hayes's business were separated into marketing divisions , and the new cycling wing was named Hayes Bicycle Group (better known as Hayes Components.) At that moment, Rand McNally’s new enterprise could not have been better timed, as there were a number of globally known component companies that were on the edge of collapse for various reasons – so they went on a shopping spree. One month after forming the new Hayes, they bought Sun Ringlé. In 2006, they purchased Wheelsmith spokes and later that same year, the Hayes group acquired Answer/Manitou.

Hayes' Shopping Spree

By the end of 2006, Hayes Bicycle Group had a pasture full of horses that needed a lot of work before they would be able to pull a wagon. Darren Campbell, who became the General Manager in 2009, said that they were committed to invest heavily to bring each brand to full strength as quickly as possible, but nobody there anticipated that the US economy would drop into a recession within months of their spending spree. At that point, most businesses would have cut and run, selling off the least promising members of their recent acquisitions. Instead, the Hayes team bolstered their resolve and stuck with the original plan.

Perhaps the best outcome of this difficult setback was that Hayes was forced to identify its target customers and then focus the product development programs for Answer, Manitou, SunRinglé and Hayes Brakes exactly on point. That point, by the way, is the middle section of the enthusiast mountain bike market, where riders expect elite performance from affordable equipment.

bigquotesWe are not a glitz and glam company. We want our parts, even if they are on a 400-dollar bike, to outperform anything out there.
- Darren Campbell, VP/General Manager

Hayes factory visit 2013 people
  (Clockwise) Meet some of the people at Hayes. Blake Buckley - Materials Engineer, Ed Kwaterski - Chief Engineer for Manitou Suspension, Joquine Duarte - Assembly Tech, Josh Pallison - Assistant General Manager, Jon Wells - Sponsorship Liason, and Doug Klinski - manufacturing Supervisor. When you walk the factory floors, the impression is clear that you are surround by men and women who feel they have a stake in the success of the operation.

To make headway in the enthusiast market, however, requires substantial commitments from OEM customers, something which was slow in coming. Surprisingly, it was Manitou suspension that gave the Hayes team its breakout year, posting the division's best return to date in 2012, and leading all of its divisions with strong sales in Europe. More recently, when the Manitou Dorado was the only downhill fork that could adapt to the mid-sized, 27.5-inch wheel, many riders and product managers rediscovered that its performance was competitive with the top offerings from RockShox and Fox – which further boosted Manitou’s credibility at a key moment.

Manitou DH and Freeride forks throughout history 2014
  The history of Manitou's commitment to gravity riders is self evident in this retrospective lineup.

Manitou’s initial recovery precluded the development of any new fork or shock platform, which was the reason for its adherence to the old-school 32-millimeter-stanchion format for its single-crown forks. The new Mattoc long-stroke all-mountain fork, however, has broken the curse with its DH-damping sophistication and stiffer, 34-millimeter stanchion tubes. While we were visiting, we also took a look at a new in-line air-sprung shock design that is scheduled for 2014 release. Both suspension items are targeted at the long-travel AM/trail segment. It seems that Manitou is once again on the move.

Manitou Dorado 27.5 DH fork and Mattoc AM FR fork 2014
  Manitou Dorado DH forks, with their inverted stanchions, ushered in the mid-sized wheel to the downhill arena. Greg Lambert photo. The first major fork development for AM/gravity riders to follow the Dorado is the new160mm Mattoc. Mike Kazimer photo

Falling on the heels of the big-travel trend, one would think that the handlebar and stem offerings of the Answer brand – the first name in high-performance cockpit items - would be doing a smashing business, but Hayes indicated that it intentionally held back on its marketing plans for Answer in order to prioritize efforts for SunRinglé and Manitou. It doesn’t help that the market is presently saturated with boutique bar and stem makers - each with a cult following - but surely, with the Answer’s reputation for exceptionally strong and lightweight handlebars and stems, there is much potential for the brand in the present OEM and aftermarket.


SunRinglé wheels are on a sizable chunk of OEM mountain bikes from prominent brand names, which can’t have hurt the Hayes Group. The continuing trend towards more aggressive riding styles and the all-mountain/trail segment of the market has fallen into their laps, as one of their first pushes into the wheel market was with its heavy-duty Charger wheelset that featured 28-millimeter rims that were wider than the accepted norm at the time and featured Stan’s tubeless BST low-profile rim-flange technology.

Hayes Manitou
Hayes Manitou
  Eric O'Gallagher, walled in by stores of wheel components, is doing quality control checks on SunRingle wheels inside the massive building that once housed an engine manufacturing operation.

Hayes Components’ head-first dive into factory-built wheels created a demand for high-quality spokes, which was the reason that the team purchased Wheelsmith. The initial success of the program easily outstripped the production capability of the two machines that came with the Wheelsmith deal, so they took a trip to Japan and bought out Asahi – the spoke maker that once made the lion’s share of Wheelsmith’s spokes in their heyday – and brought the entire operation to Milwaukee. Using secret stainless steel wire from Japan, and set up in the old Evinrude outboard motor factory, skilled workers coax millions of spokes from a handful of Asahi spoke forging machines that date back to the 1960s, when the Japanese company copied the original Swiss built forging and threading devices. Watching the machines work is a trip back in time to the age of steam and opportunity.

Hayes Manitou
  Todd Vance inspecting some of the dies used in the Asahi spoke making machinery. Every part of their mechanisms must be custom made, or salvaged from two spare machines that were purchased for that purpose. Each of the boxes in the aisles represents 100 or 1000 spokes of a specific diameter and length. There are literally millions in stock.

Wheelsmith spokes 2014
  (Clockwise) Wheelsmith spokes begin as special high-quality stainless steel wire. Butted spokes are hammer-forged into shape in the jaws of a rotary swager. The Asahi machines then cut the spokes to length and cold-form the heads and threads in a continuous operation. There is always a wrench or two handy to fine tune the Japanese-made wonders as they pop spokes out about two per second.

Wheelsmith also builds a small amount of wheels on site for special customers and applications, but for the most part, Sun Ringle’ wheels are manufactured in Asia where they can be shipped, just in time, to OEM customers. Ironically, Wheelsmith spokes are one of the few manufactured items (jobs excluded) that are made in the USA and exported in large quantities to Asia.

Hayes Sled brakes awaiting bleeding and final assembly 2014
  Snowmobile brake calipers awaiting final assembly. Like bicycle systems, they will be delivered fully charged and ready to use to the manufacturer.

Hayes Disc Brakes

Ironically, Hayes is lagging in most in its founding business. Shimano has kicked every brake maker’s butt with its ICE rotor and pad technology, which has forced even the mighty SRAM to play catch up. Shimano brakes are not so far ahead that another maker could not pull alongside. The gap that Hayes must close is not the lack of power or control – but mainly because the industrial look and external adjustment features that once were the key attraction to brakes like the El Camino, have been eclipsed by new sleek and super-compact designs for both lever assemblies and calipers. That said, Hayes has extensive resources waiting to be tapped within its factory walls with which to prototype future brake, and the sharp looking Prime model indicates that they are already in the hunt. The fact that their competitors are facing the same challenge makes it a level playing field, so it will be interesting to see Hayes’ response to this industry wide challenge as its future disc brake lineup takes shape.

Hayes Manitou
  The advantage of shipping complete systems to OHV manufacturers goes further than economy and efficiency. Hayes controls the quality of the build and the system's performance from its doors, directly to the end consumer.

Hayes assembly cell Harley brakes bled and ready brake lever
  The Hayes factory assembles, charges and tests its brakes in dedicated manufacturing cells, manned by only two or three technicians. The practice was invented to control quality when its bicycle brakes were manufactured here.

Inside the Factory

Touring the manufacturing facility at Hayes is a treat. They build braking systems for Harley Davidson motorcycles and a number of ATV and snowmobile brands – many models of which, were present at the factory for ongoing testing. Interestingly, Hayes invented a cell-manufacturing system, a method that isolates the assembly and testing of each brake model in a unique production line, to ensure quality control for its bicycle brakes. After bicycle production was moved to its factory in Taiwan, the cells were converted to assemble motorsports brakes. Taking a step learned from OEM bicycle sales, Hayes was able to ship completely assembled, bled and tested brake systems, with hoses made to length and all the hardware in place to its customers – which turned out to be a game-changer for the motorsports industry as a whole. In this manner, Hayes can control its quality from the raw cast and forged metal components, through the customer’s first ride on the vehicle. Bow down to the power of the bicycle.

Hayes factory visit 2013 testing
  Testing is one of the aspects of manufacturing that defines Hayes. There are separate areas for fatigue and destruction testing; for measuring parts and evaluating materials; and an area used for caustic and accelerated environmental tests.

Their newest division, located in the research and development bay of the Hayes factory, is developing automated traction, braking and power-steering controls for OHV applications. Most of what we were shown was still in the secret phases, but we did get to test-ride a four-wheel-drive OHV that was wired to a computer, which featured a Hayes-designed proportional-input power-steering system. The feel was steady and sure when driving in a straight line, and the assistance kicked in to ease maneuvering when the handlebar was turned beyond a certain distance. There was a dramatic improvement when the system was tuned on. Will we be seeing power steering on bicycles? "Definitely not," was the consensus at Hayes.

Hayes tiny CNC machine RC testing Hayes prototype ATV power steering 30-pound calipers for excavation machines.
  There are CNC machines, and then there are CNC machines. Hayes owns some big ones. RC test-rides an ATV wired up to assess its prototype Hayes power steering system. A batch of 35-pound steel calipers intended for excavation equipment.

Hayes factory visit 2013 production

bigquotesFor sure, it has been a rocky road for Hayes Components to get its five brands up and running, and there is still some work ahead. As a whole, however, their hard work and perseverance seems to be paying off. Manitou and SunRingle are on the move, Wheelsmith is selling as many spokes as it can produce worldwide and Answer is in the blocks, ready to sprint into the emerging enduro segment. If Hayes Components continues at this rate, and can manage to deliver a cutting-edge brake system to go up against Shimano, they could pull off the comeback story of the decade. - RC

See the cover photo full size.

Posted In:
Industry News


  • 67 5
 Pics with the Manitou forks is PORN.
  • 13 5
 Totally. I've got a collection of sherman forks hanging on the wall of my bike lair. Despite being nearly 10 years old, they are on par with the performance of modern forks. The main difference is weight. It's awesome to see them back in the game!
  • 19 0
 That dorado SC....Seriously rare and totally awesome.
  • 4 2
 Pinkbike, why don't you include the cover photo! I want to see it.
  • 8 7
 Has anyone, anywhere, ridden the Mattoc? How does it stack up against the Fox, Pike, Boss, etc.?
  • 2 1
 Yeah I heard it was coming out for this past Dec, so maybe some time to log some miles before we actually see "reviews" but Id love some first impressions, it looks promising.
  • 2 0
  • 11 21
flag idrinkpabst (Feb 11, 2014 at 10:11) (Below Threshold)
 haha, Hayes? Right. I'll install Hayes parts right after I order a new Mr. Dirt chainguide, profile bmx cranks, 5th Element shock, Monster T forks and the new Korn CD.
  • 1 0
 I really think they should have gone with Rouge Hoe on the name though
  • 4 0
 They need to fire their graphics team and start over
  • 4 18
flag SlodownU (Feb 11, 2014 at 17:28) (Below Threshold)
 Why are you dipshits neg propping me? I'm in the market for a fork, and want to know how the Mattoc stacks up before I pull the trigger. Bitches.
  • 2 0
 Funny thing is, nobody actually neg propped you.
  • 4 0
 Wanna know how it's gonna stack up against other forks? Well its a modern fork, with modern construction, modern technology and modern adjustment. It's going to perform on par with any other modern fork and it will be mostly up to you and how well you know how to set it up that dictates how well it performs.
  • 23 1
 Hayes is top quality, top people, to service, top money savings……… but……….. the world wants what the media think is good (fox RS and other C..P )!!!!!!!! damn it. BIG UP to HAYES
  • 19 1
 This is cool to see, I was just in contact with them last week as I recently damaged my Dorado in a crash at Bootleg and knew it was damaged and wanted them to look at it. They gave me an RA #, had me send it in and told me once they got it, they would let me know within 2 days what's up. So, they got it end of day Wed. and had it torn down on a thursday, let me know what needed replacing and had the parts swapped out, and the entire fork rebuilt and shipped by Friday afternoon. They were able to take care of the right Fork tube and lower crown/steerer as crash replacements for a really reasonable cost. The labor is also included. Having great products is obviously key to success, but the support for customers who invest in them is a huge deal to me and I really appreciated how they handled it for me.
  • 1 0
 Great story, thanks fro that.
  • 1 1
 Great story, too bad this isn't possibly anywhere else in the world..
  • 1 0
 Valid point. I do live in the continental US, so that should be considered.
  • 14 1
 It has to be incredibly hard for any brake manufacturer to take market away from SRAM and Shimano. Answer makes plenty of cheap, decent products, bars and pedals especially, and ditto for the value with sun ringle - crazy strong for their weight.

I couldn't see myself buying hayes brakes though - buy a bike from a bike shop, that's's going to come specced with slx, xt, elixir...there's a few models of spesh running magura OEM and loww end ones running tektros, but I don't see the primes on too many bikes, even though they're pretty cheap. When you can get zee's and slx/XT for less than 140/side new, how are you supposed to compete with that for your new set of brakes?
  • 18 8
 Personally I'd rather run Formula or Hope over Shimano or SRAM. Hayes...not sure. Their new stuff might be good but I hated the HFX-9's.
  • 1 5
flag DimS (Feb 11, 2014 at 0:36) (Below Threshold)
 Well, you've put Formula or Hope out of the conversation... Innovation is the only thing that could put them back in production but it seems that they mostly focus on what Works for them. To get a NEW innovative product so that you gain Market share again, requires R&D which according to my opinion needs a large Capital. After that, maybe a CNC automated procedure could put costs in lower levels. It's not that competitive to have cast items nowdays. Losts of wasted Energy and work time to finish the product. CNC could make much faster production and increase quantities.
Straightline makes all its work at night when everybody is asleep, due to robotics and cnc integration into production.
Maybe someone in the Companies GROUP should consider these options.
  • 30 4
 Shimano achieve so much with mineral oil, I hate the super corrosive, hygroscopic, nightmare substance dot 5.1. Please everyone stop using that stuff and I will look at your brakes again.
  • 2 1
 the new R&D money will be in additive manufacturing or 3D printing. There's less waste as you're building up the product not cutting away material that goes down the drain or takes additional resources to recover. if they can make parts for aircraft then why not recreational bicycles???
lets see what this will do for our little hobby industry
  • 6 1
 the new brakes are amazing. very consistent and tons of stopping power. and you barely ever need to service them
  • 1 9
flag thisguyalex (Feb 11, 2014 at 5:38) (Below Threshold)
 so empty them out and flush them with denatured alcohol than refill with mineral oil or silicon based brake fluid of your choosing.
  • 1 0
 @WasabiJim I think 3D printing is a long way off creating a stressed component. The aircraft components made were panels and none loaded components, I don't see a brake caliper or lever being manufacture in this method for some time.
  • 3 1
 additive machining will never be viable for large scale production. the energy cost is too high and there are too many inherent problems with it.
  • 3 2
 I have Hayes Prime Pro on my FS bike and XTR trail on my SS and they are both really good! Not a huge gap at all.
  • 2 1
 You just can't beat Shimano's bang for buck. If they break, which they don't usually, you just buy another set without breaking the bank. Otherwise they run for years. I'd never run another make of brake.

Overall I thought the article was great. Really interesting and informative, especially the stuff I didn't know like about the spokes. I remember when I first got into mountain biking back in 1991, Manitou were the forks I really wanted although I guess a lot of that was down to Tomac. The TPC forks of the mid 90s were really good performers too. They kind of lost their way somewhere along the line hey. I had a ten year break from the sport and when I came back Manitou was a laughing stock pretty much. Now I know about the Mattoc, I'd certainly consider it for my next fork if I can pick one up at the right price (and 20mm).
  • 1 5
flag jaame (Feb 11, 2014 at 20:56) (Below Threshold)
 I take it back about the Mattoc. Too expensive and air spring only. Got to be a 55R.
  • 3 0
 Air is the way to go.
  • 2 1
 @ locoola: Please tell us more about the corrosive behavior of 5.1 fluid that millions of cars have been using for decades for brakes.
  • 1 1
 @abzillah you heard of google?

Tell ya what, leave some on your car paintwork and let me know how you get on. Wink
  • 1 1
 I will now interrupt this wonderful argument to give a little insight to hayes group's tactics - providing (not so good) riders (like me) with grassroots sponsorships. I might end up trying out those brakes...looks like I spoke too soon.
  • 2 4
 @locoola: The wikipedia didn't say anything about DOT fluid being corrosive, it said that WATER was corrosive!
  • 3 1
 Abzillah, get a brain.
  • 16 1
 Is is sad that I'd love to work in a place like that?
  • 9 1
 Not at all ! I would rather work there than the shit hole company I work for , at least I would be making products that interest me.
  • 1 0
 Check their website. They are usually hiring quite frequently.
  • 9 2
 Pinkbike please fix your website for proper mobile rendering, ridiculous thst your type font is so mis-sized, it's 2014. The continual need to resize and then still miss some text makes your site unreadable on mobile devices. Hence the articles don't get read. Seriously and also what's this sh*t I saw that the whole country of Canada's GDP isn't equal to the state of California's gdp? C'mon Canada!
  • 2 1
 must be your phone bud. mines grand and i only have a heap of dirt galaxy ace one
  • 5 0
 First off, it's definitely your browser. The only problem I get with viewing PB on mobile is the photos get cut off, and that's on 4 year old technology.

Secondly, California's agriculture industry is worth something like 20% of the U.S.A.'s total GDP. That's massive. I can't think of even one other place in the world with the climate suitable for production like that on such a large scale (not to mention all the illegal labour). Ag is the powerhouse of that economy...until the water runs out.
  • 1 0
 California is ostensibly the most important state in the union. Its GDP ranks as number 11 globally, and its population sits at well over 38 million (and growing) which is currently #35 globally.
  • 5 1
 And perhaps more crucially, most of the people there are cool, not myopic twats like in most of the other states!
  • 2 0
 I use Chrome on a samsung phone, and l have this problem. What browser should l get?
  • 1 0
 I use Opera Mini on Symbian. It's fast, caches previous pages (means you don't use data to reload when hitting the back button which is perfect when checking your dash), and is overall more data efficient. Opera Mobile is less efficient, but still more efficient than other browsers and can display flash & HTML5 on phones that support them. You'll have to deal with cut off images.
  • 6 0
 I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Crosshairs alignment feature. Some days I with my XT's had this.,3598/Hayes-Crosshair-Alignment,33192/bturman,109
  • 1 0
 Totally didn't see that. My Primes are pre crosshair, but that feature would definitely make initial set-up, or after a hose change or pad change less of a pain for sure. I hear you wishing my other brakes had this sometimes, especially when you really just want to get the hell out there and ride and that last bolt just keeps creeeeeping the caliper over ever so slightly. Grrrrrr.
  • 7 2
 I've run HFX (terrific at that time) 9's (very good at that time) El Camino's (TERRIBLE IN ANY ERA) Stroker Ryde, Trail, and Ace (all very good, modulation before most people really knew they wanted it, Ace has tons of stopping power) and have Prime Pro's on my DH and DJ bikes, and they've been flawless on the trails and I'm a 6'2", 230 geared up former BMX and DH racer. They have tons of power, incredible modulation, and I love the ease of all the adjustments. Had one rear brake (out of 3 sets front and rear) leak at the piston seal as soon as it was installed and compressed, but Hayes had a new brake to me within 2 days with a paid shipping label to ship the old one back to them in the box the new one came in. THAT is customer service right there.

I'm not going to tell you that the Saints and Zee brakes aren't great, because they are. I used the new Saint 820s on a Norco Aurum rental at Whistler in September and loved everything about them: 1 finger lever, the power, the modulation, the heat management, the tool free reach adjustment, and bite point adjustable with a phillips, it is the total package. The Zee's are the same except you need a 4mm allen to adjust the lever reach, and no bite point adjust.

However, and this is the BIG catch: The Prime Expert at $100 and the Pro at $125 are about 1/3 the price of the Saints and just more than 1/2 the price of the Zees. That is a HUGE difference, and with tool free reach and bite adjustment, power and modulation for days, and great CS, you simply cannot beat it for the price. The only thing you don't get is the 1 finger lever, and anyone who is a little creative with a torch can get enough curve in the lever end that it doesn't touch the other fingers when pulled only with the index finger.

Basically, if you're on a budget, or just want something new, and you're not a 1 brand only type of person, try the Primes, they won't disappoint.
  • 2 0
 How about if i have the Aces, and i only buy the Prime master cylinders and levers, and put them on the Ace calipers??? Smile
  • 2 0
 I'm pretty sure the reservoir on the Primes is a different flow and leverage rate than on the Strokers, but honestly don't know for sure. You should call Hayes tech support, I'm sure they'd be able to answer that in 2 seconds.

That being said, I've ridden the Aces and the Primes and I can't find any more power in the Aces, and the modulation and adjustment on the Primes is head and shoulders above. Additionally, the cost is $75 for the Prime MC and $50 for the lever if you buy them separately, so it is actually $25 cheaper total to just get the whole Prime Expert for $100, or the same price for the whole Prime Pro ($125). Makes more sense just to get the whole system.
  • 1 0
 Well, Hayes said in their ads about the Primes that the master cylinder had different internals which allowed for a 15% less effort in the lever or something.
As a person that has ridden both brakes, which one do you find more powerfull - the Ace or the Prime? The adjustments and modulation are obvious to be better on the Prime. Smile
  • 3 1
 Truthfully, I didn't find any difference in total power between the Ace and the Prime, just that you get the power in the Prime with less effort to pull the lever (so less hand fatigue for the day), there is more modulation, and the power comes a little bit later in the pull (depending on how you have the bite point set). I found the Ace required a bit more effort at the lever, and the power was a little more on/off. The old Saint M810 feel (on/off, stiff, power near the top of the lever pull) compared to the new Saint M820 (great modulation, light lever pull, power comes later in the lever pull) is a good comparison if you've ridden them. Another minor thing to be taken into consideration is the shaping of the Prime lever, which is a bit wider across where your finger rests, making it much more comfortable than the Ace lever, which is a bit narrow and digs into the fingers a bit, IMO.

Basically, the total power is the same, and the other differences are more preference, comfort, and functionality. If you love your Ace's and they don't give you arm pump, and it doesn't annoy you that you can't adjust the bite point as the pads wear in, you should stick with them. However, if you've got $200 burning a hole in your pocket, want a more comfortable lever, less effort to pull the lever, more modulation, ability to adjust bite point to compensate for pad wear, and no power loss, the Prime is the way to go. The Prime is my 1B to the Saint's 1A if cost were no object, but since it comes in at 1/3 the price, it is a no brainer to go with the Primes, at least for a normal bloke on a budget like me Wink
  • 1 0
 I loved my Stroker Ace. The price was right, and the power was insane. Right now stopping power for sure, with pretty good modulation. Adjustment and lever shape left something to be desired, but couldn't beat the performance-per-dollar
  • 1 0
 Hmm, thanx for the qiuck review! Smile I-m OK with the Aces, i find their modulation enough, stopping power is good. But they don't have the bite point adjustment and the lever adjustment on the rear one keeps going down and down (the lever goes nearer and nearer to the bar) on rocky courses - after a more serious ride i need to wind it up a bit to pull the lever away from the bar.
Here in Europe the Primes are not that much cheaper than other brakes, infact i can get XTs with ICE Tech technology for less. but i am a heavy (heavy as in nearly 90kgs) brake dragger, so was thinking about Saints 820 which are ridiculously priced. Thought about Prime levers as a cheaper variant to have what i need - to ghetto-modify my brakes to become sort of Hayes Prime Aces. Smile Speaking of which, weren't Hayes supposed to be releasing a 4-pot version of the Prime, something like a next Ace or something? Smile
  • 1 0
 Don't drag those brakes, let it fly baby! Wink Seriously though, if your rear brake is fading to the bar it probably needs a good bleed. The stroker are a little weird to bleed at first but once you get the procedure down you can do it quickly. 100% do not use the Hayes bleed kit, it sucks, in every way shape and form, and the squeeze bottles squirting DOT 5 all over you will have you wanting to put your whole bike in a trash compactor. Get the Avid Pro bleed kit, the syringes and screw on bleed fittings are excellent.

Here is a video of the stroker bleed procedure:

This is one for Prime, which is pretty much the same procedure, and a little quicker moving (5 minutes instead of Cool :

Watch those both, and you're set to bleed. One thing that I would add to that is to take at least your brake lever, if not the whole brake, OFF of your bike and put it on an old set of bars you don't give a damn about like the guy in the second video, and mount those into your work stand, that way if you have a brake fluid disaster you aren't cleaning fluid off your grips, bars, shifters, droppers post trigger, forks, tires, rims, hubs, fork stanchions, and brake caliper and pads. DOT fluid suuuuucks to clean. Also, spray bottle with alcohol. Nuff said. Go bleed some brakes.

I honestly haven't ever faded an Ace to the bar, even on some pretty burly runs, and 2 other friends still ride them, one who is a Cat 1 DH racer, and they've never had that issue either, unless the brake had air in the line and needed to be bled. Once they are bled, you're golden again. Hope this helps!
  • 2 0
 You misunderstood, mate! Smile
The brake doesn't fade and doesn't have air in the system, honestly they are hands down superb on track with enough power and modulation to stop my big butt! Smile
I think i have explained very poorly. What i meant was that during hard rocky terrain the rear brake's lever adjustment winds down the lever closer to the bar on its own, because of all the vibrations. Sometimes, if it's pretty gnarly and the run is longer than usual, the lever is winded down completely and the brake stops working properly because the lever touches the handlebar before grabing the rotor. That's the only thing that's bugging me and i was thinking about putting something on the adjustment, like for example the blue or grey substance on bolts to prevent them from going loose. Don't know if this would help.... Smile
  • 1 0
 WHOAH, that must be a terrifying feeling for sure! Now I understand, I was wondering why only on rocky descents, didn't totally make sense to me Smile
Yeah, I think some blue loctite on the threads is in order for sure! I'd coat the whole bolt and work the adjuster knob back an forth a few times so it is in every nook and cranny and then set it at your prefer position and let it dry. Yeah, vanishing brakes on a DH run can be good times gone terrible pretty quick!
  • 1 0
 I'm able to stop every freakin time to fix it manually (i do have another brake at the front, you know Big Grin ), but from time to time it gets a little... crazy. All this plus the wrists' fatique has put me 2 times in unexplainable and uncontrolable acceleration that could have ended in hospital, but all is good. Smile
The easiest way (but not the cheapest) is to get Saints. But i kinda had my fingers crossed about a real 4-pot Prime from the moment Hayes released the first news about the new model. Still wondering what's going on with that. Do you US people know anything about it? Hayes is not very famous here in Europe...
  • 1 0
 The prime lever with a 4-piston caliper would be ideal!
  • 1 0
 I thought when the Prime first came out there was talk out a 4 pot being in the works, but that was years ago, and not a peep since, so I dunno. A 4 pot Prime would be amazing… ah, all this bike talk is giving me dreams of not having a foot of compacted ice on the ground and 6-10 inches more on the way tomorrow. ugh.
  • 1 0
 Well, i thought about buying 2 Primes and switching their levers on the Ace calipers, and vice versa. But it will cost me some dough. I am wondering if it will be worth it instead of just buying Saints. And can't stop wondering if the Prime Ace ghetto-version would be the most powerfull of all present Hayes brakes, including the original Prime system. Smile
And that:

all this bike talk is giving me dreams of not having a foot of compacted ice on the ground and 6-10 inches more on the way tomorrow. ugh.

Sorry, i didn't quite understand what you mean. Smile
  • 1 0
 Oh, 6-10 more inches of snow on top of the foot we already had that is hard as cement. Not too much fun to ride in, though I did go last week because I had crazy bad cabin fever!

I think you should shoot the Hayes guys an email, they're great about stuff like that and would tell you in a sec if it would work, because, yeah, that would be sick Smile
  • 1 0
 Yeah, i've written on their facebook page regarding the issue, all they told me there was that a combination between a Prime lever and an Ace caliper would be possible. But no words on how it will affect the system as a whole - would it be more powerfull, would it have better modulation, would the adjustments work as they should be. All these questions remained unanswered. Frown
  • 1 0
 Hmmm… exploratory mission needs to be undertaken!
  • 1 0
 The prime master cylinders move a good bit more fluid than the original strokers, and at the end of the day it's still just a simple hydraulic system. I could see the ace levers having issues with the prime calipers maybe, but not vice-versa. I'd bet my bottom dollar that prime master cylinders on ace calipers would work like a better-than OEM product. Just wish I still had my ace to try it on!
  • 3 0
 I know many people dislike Hayes brakes on here because some of their older brakes were terrible but I recently serviced a friends Hayes Strokers and have them some Kevlar pads and a proper bleed (shimano discs too) and after a good bit of testing to make sure they worked, I've got to say how impressed I was with the brakes, may well get a set for my on-one as haters basically give them away in the buysell.
  • 4 0
 I've had Hayes strokers on my Kona 08 Dawg and they've been great, never let me down even in the mountains where the rotors turned blue. Recently had to change and I bought some low end shimano and I hate them.
  • 7 1
 You know what I see a lot of in these pictures? Muricans. And that's awesome.
  • 4 0
 I've extensively ridden current gen XT, XO, Magura MT6, and Hayes Prime. Hayes Prime are by far my favorite. Every other brake has some weakness, while the Prime has adjustability, ergo, modulation, power, and no fade.
  • 2 0
 I ride a pair of hayes stroker ryde and they feel as good as shimano slx ones. One of the handles had to be serviced because of piston wear but apart from that i'm 100% satisfied with the purchase. I'm sure there are superior alternatives in the market but these ones are cheap and do their job efficiently.
  • 4 1
 I've never had any other brand but hayes brakes. I just wish they put the arch on the single crown fork on the front like everyone else, it's always looked weird to me and always kept them off my short list.
  • 3 1
 Ive always had the same pet peeve with those forks too. The funny thing is the bottom fork is like you are referring to but in the top picture that shows like 4 of them the single crown has the arch out front like normal. Maybe they are trying to get away from that...(hopefully)
  • 1 0
 but look at the pic of the new mattoc, it's on the back again...
  • 3 0
 The only downside to the reverse arch is when loading the bikes into racks like the T2 or Holdup... The rack brace rests against the stanchions instead of the arch, like on a Fox, etc... Otherwise, the reverse arch creates a noticably stiffer fork than the standard arch or the competition.
  • 1 0
 @naadams2: The forks shown with the forward facing arch (X-Vert Carbon and X-Vert Nova) are about 15 years old.
  • 1 0
 @mattsavage, little known fact - you can safely load a bike on a T2 with the rear wheel secured by the hook on most bikes.
  • 2 0
 I learned a couple things today. Im completely uneducated when it comes to Manitou products but they do look rather retro now that you mention it. The bit about the reverse arch adding a noticeable amount of stiffness to the fork is interesting and something important. Thanks for the info.
  • 1 0
 No big deal. The interesting thing is that it shows just how much Manitou was at the forefront of the sport back then.
  • 1 0
 I was thinking the same thing. I remember back when i was first getting into the sport Berrecloth was always rockin the Manitou gear. Seems as though they have dropped off in recent years.
  • 6 0
 i like the name Mattoc, but the Manitou Pizza Slut would've been epic...
  • 1 0
 agreed. If they'd actually called it that i might consider buying a manitou fork. wondering if anyone else saw that...
  • 1 0
 I did! I only ready through the comments to see if someone else saw it as well - because if not I was going to highlight it haha.
  • 6 0
 My Purple Hayes (circa 2000) were the best brakes I have ever owned.
  • 1 0
 Yup...I used to love my purple hayes and my regular hfx9s...way way better than the shimano brakes at the time.. I recently bought a pair of SLX and I cant say Im a fan..inconsistent lever feel when pushing it hard on long descents..Im tempted to try out some of the newer hayes models...
  • 6 0
 bring back the camo sun-ringle rims!
  • 2 0
 Cool to look back at that wall of DH forks. It was something that I got to be a part of WAAAY back in the day. That wall is missing one earlier fork, we called it the Maico fork since it had extensions that went well below the drop outs. It was 4" of travel and everyone thought we were crazy to build such a long travel fork. I helped develop and tune all but the newest Dorado fork. Dorado SC, something like 50 made, Mellenium, 2000 made. I just got #1 returned to me, it has my signature on it. Dorado 180 was with the first TPC+ fork. I fabed up the TPC+ concept and it worked amazingly well and still does! X-Vert Carbon was a handful! It was before stanchion seals worked well, we made mini boots for added lubrication, since it was a grease fork originally, then we added splash bath and oil wouldn't stay put. After every race we'd have to completely rebuild the entire fork so it worked. Thing had dual rate spring too. Don't see that very often anymore. I remember personally building every Pro rider fork back then for guys like Tomac, Palmer, Shandro, Ronning, Vories, Kavokic, Carter, Tanner, Beneke... all the big hitters!
Glad to see they're doing well!
  • 5 0
 Not sad at all mate I was thinking the same thing.
  • 4 3
 Hm, so that's what Jon Well's looks like. I've known the guy for about 8 years now through having a sponsorship with them but never actually met him in person. FYI, if you're applying for sponsorship from them, he will grill you pretty good on the reasons WHY you want a sponsorship and what you'll do for them if sponsored. Again, FYI.
  • 8 0
 Seems like a normal thing for a company to ask when sponsoring somebody.
  • 2 1
 Im starting to gain more respect for all these companies. I mean I ran Hayes 9s all the way up until about a year and a half ago. They werent the best but they did the job. I would guess those formulas would give anyone a run for their money. Ive never ridden them but i know you never see them much, as far as marketing goes. As far as I can tell they might be the bomb. What we really need is a side by side comparison of all these brakes so we know which one is the best or at least so we can establish some differences between the bunch. Then again maybe they did that and i just missed it. All that aside, im glad to see a company stickin to their guns through tough economic times. Thats when you find out what you are made of. Keep up the good work Hayes!
  • 6 1
  • 1 0
 Been rocking Manitou forks for many years on so many bikes its crazy. Ringlé hubs on a few of them too.
Riding a Brooklyn Machine Works Racelink with a Dorado fork and a Ringlé rear still representing.
Keep up the good work!
  • 1 0
 It's really good to see Manitou making a comeback. Once, right around the time of the original Answer buyout of Doug Bradbury, anything with "Manitou" on it was the absolute duck's nuts - thinking here of the original Manitou FS, and before that the Bradbury-era hardtails with their "non-standard" dropout and BB dimensions. Cool stuff, but it all got flushed away when the CNC era came to a close. And didn't Hayes make 747 brakes, once upon a time?
  • 1 0
 It's really amazing how many wheel design companies contract with SunRinglé to have their rims manufactured. I've been using SunRinglé rims for close to a decade and have only managed to fold one rim due to loose spokes. I'm currently riding on 26" Inferno 31's and have several 31's sitting as backup!
  • 3 0
 Love the factory visits! And never had issues with Hayes brakes. They're consistent and predictable.
  • 1 0
 At the risk of sounding like a local fanboy...I love Hayes, and they are an awesome company. Running a set of Primes and some Answer gloves. Their services is great and friendly and the products have been fantastic too.
  • 1 0
 If they are gonna have that many companies they should just make a 1x drivetrain and try to actually compete directly with Shimano and Sram. There is room in the market for another drivetrain manufacturer.
  • 1 0
 I've met some passionate people that work for this company, I am not a huge fan of their products, but the employees definitely make me think twice about considering them. I like the article, great job.
  • 2 0
 I was wondering when the word Enduro would show up.. Great article though, love to read these factory visits!
  • 3 0
 That intense with Dorados !!! Im in awe of it
  • 1 0
 As an aside for this article I have a Hayes Prime on my KTM for a Left Hand Rear Brake mod and it is Money in the Tree's!!!!!
  • 3 2
 personally I feel like shimano has breaks that work, heat manage, and are so easy to bleed, and use mineral oil, I don't know why anybody else considers any other brand.
  • 3 0
 I run Stroker aces now..Cant imagine running anything else!
  • 3 5
 I used to own a pair of MAG's and they were awesome but it was like 10 years ago. Now I'm not buying Hayes and and probly won't, coz they do not brake. I bought manitou minute a couple of years ago and after landing clean a dirt jump the fork shot me in the eye with oil and its internals, yeah it was sweet...
  • 13 0
 Not that this is a good excuse for such a catastrophic failure but the Minute is an XC fork, which is probably why it blew up on you.
  • 2 0
 OK, no joke with the "Wheelsmith"?
  • 3 0
 Yeap! And they're awesome as Will Smith too!
  • 2 0
 PS love wheels smith stuff the best though!
  • 2 0
 That inventory is ridiculous
  • 3 2
 just bought Hayes Ace Stroker sick. Selling my AVID CODE R NEW 2013 !! PM if anyone interested
  • 1 0
 Has anyone seen a review of the Mattoc? They are for sale now, but I haven't seen anything about how it performs.
  • 1 0
 For sale, but not shipping for a couple more weeks. Ride reports should start coming in after they ship.
  • 2 0
 What is OHV? overhead valve? am i missing something?
  • 1 0
 Off-highway vehicle. Mostly quad bikes like the green one under the OHV reference.
  • 2 0
 Totally agree. You should write the full word for the first instance then use an abbrevation afterwards, especially with an abbreviation that's only used in certain countries. Seriously, why the hell are random people on the internet teaching professional journalists how to write?
  • 1 0
 Love my new manitou fork but the TA set up frustrates me often. Performs great and they have plenty of tuning options
  • 1 0
 None of the forks on the wall had 1.5 steerers. Revisionist historians I suppose.
  • 1 0
 I have a Dorado SC in mint condition.
  • 1 0
 How much?
  • 1 0
 Ditto...asking price?
  • 1 0
 Maybe you can update your website on mobile version oneday ???
  • 2 5
 If they want their products to be installed on 400$ bikes and still outperform everything else... It will never work out!
I had both HFX9's and Strokers and both were rubbish. I won't give them a 3rd chance. Sorry Hayes.
  • 3 0
 I think they mean other $400 bikes but, ok. I owned Stroker Ace's for a bit and thought they were great. Powerful, reliable, not as good as top tier competitors but for the price, best value at the time. I was satisfied.
  • 3 0
 you are doing it wrong karoliusz, you either, are way to brand loyal, did not bleed them right, or ride an endure bike. hayes nines (mags and hfx) are some of the most reliable braking systems. I am using brakes that are from 2000, maybe late 90's still with zero problems. I like the hfx more due to power over the mags. the good part about you not liking them, is I can get a used set for $40. the stroker line is equally great, my friend got a new pair for the price of one saint, and that was with rotors.
  • 2 1
 Manitou forks!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 1 3
 Not sure if Hayes comeback or too much promotion from pinkbike to them

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