Tech Tuesday - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup

Dec 28, 2010
by Mike Levy  
Avid's BB7 cable disc brake is an economical stopper that is a great low cost alternative to more expensive hydraulic brakes, but like any other component, it needs to be setup correctly to get the best results. Inside you'll find some helpful pointers to dial in your BB7, as well as a great setup video showing you the process from start to finish.

Read on,

Some pointers before you begin...

• It should go without saying that if you're not confident with a tool in your hand that you shouldn't be tinkering with your brakes, but I'll say it anyway: Your risk injury or death if your brakes are not setup correctly. If you doubt your skills, take the bike to your local shop and have them do the work for you.
• As always, clean your work area before beginning this job. This is especially important when working on disc brakes. Any grease or lube that you get on the rotor or pads will quickly make them useless.
• Cable disc brakes are all about leverage. Setting them up too tight by rotating the caliper's actuation arm too far forward will limit the power you have on tap. Likewise, having your lever pull to short will also result in less bite. Have a look at Tech Tuesday #16 where we covered cockpit setup for more information.
• Avid uses a nifty system consisting of hemispherical washers that compensate for any misalignment that may be found in the disc brake tabs. I've seen these CPS washers stacked incorrectly all too often which can not only make it hard to get the brake to run drag free, but also possibly sit the caliper at the wrong height. Take a minute to be sure they are orientated the right way.
• The T25 torx screws used to hold the rotor on should have blue Loc-Tite on the threads and be torqued to 55 in/lbs.
• After installing the rear wheel into the bike, put it on the ground and loosen and then re-tighten the axle or quick release. This will ensure that the wheel is in the frame straight, something that can be hard to do when the bike is in the work stand.
• The red inboard pad adjustment dial can sometimes be hard to turn with your fingers. You can use a T25 torx wrench to make turning it easier.
• Use new housing and a new cable to have your brake work at it's best.
A new brake will require being broken in correctly before hitting the trails. Spend some time outside test riding the bike and breaking in the new pads and rotor.

If you've never worked with Avid's BB7 brake you'll be doing yourself a big favor by taking a few minutes to read the instructions found on the RockShox site before watching the video below. Better yet, print them out to have them on hand in case you get lost.

What's needed: hex key set, T25 torx wrench, cable cutter

Watch the video to learn how to setup your Avid cable disk brakes:

Have you done this job? Want to add a tip or hint of your own? Put it down below!

Past Tech Tuesdays:

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals
Technical Tuesday #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
Technical Tuesday #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
Technical Tuesday #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
Technical Tuesday #7 - Tubeless Conversion
Technical Tuesday #8 - Chain Wear
Technical Tuesday #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
Technical Tuesday #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
Technical Tuesday #11 - Chain Lube Explained
Technical Tuesday #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
Technical Tuesday #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
Technical Tuesday #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
Technical Tuesday #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
Technical Tuesday #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
Technical Tuesday #17 - Suspension Basics
Technical Tuesday #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
Technical Tuesday #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
Technical Tuesday #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
Technical Tuesday #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
Technical Tuesday #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
Technical Tuesday #23 - Shimano brake bleed
Technical Tuesday #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
Technical Tuesday #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service

Visit to see their entire lineup of tools and lubes.


  • 5 0
 I've had BB7's for 3 years now and they're still going strong. I've got a spare caliper in my tool box so can't see me getting rid of them any time soon. The people who poke fun at these brakes don't know what they're talking about! with a 185mm clean-sweep rotor they have bags of stopping power and modulation. I've tried hope mini pro's (spongey) and formula k18's (wooden) in comparison. You get two adjustment wheels at the rotor so you're never pulling the lever all the way to the bar and with speed-dial levers you can adjust the feel at the lever. Only the top-end hydraulics on the market have this level of adjustment! And if you break them on the trail there's no mess, just take the whole unit off and put it in your bag and carry on riding. Simpl, no fuss and they just work..
  • 2 1
 i really want a set but cant afford them yet!! cant say bb5 are all that good though, better than some but not amazing
  • 1 0
 Trust me theyre worth saving for, just make sure you get 185mm clean-sweep rotors front and back, speed dial levers and some good quality cables. Gore ride-on sealed brake cables are the best, the one i've got on the front i've had for 3 years and never had to change it. the rear needs changing a bit more often, i've got an XT on there now and it works well. If you don't fit the cables cleanly they let mud and water in and then they're useless.
  • 4 0
 Use a BMX linear cable for cable and housing, almost no cable stretch and they come in cool colours. Just make sure you use metal end caps, if you don't the linear steel strands will push through the cable stop and you will wonder "Why can I pull my brake lever to the bar again?"
  • 2 2
 "Linear cable" is a fancy name for a brake cable with derailleur housing. Wink
  • 2 1
 Not quite. Compressionless brake housing differs from index housing in that it's reinforced. For instance, the Jagwire stuff has a kevlar weave built into the casing. Running standard index housing could leave you without brakes when you need them the most.
  • 1 1
 I'm not sure how you think that using derailleur housing could "leave you without brakes." If it doesn't catastrophically fail when you're shifting, why would it do so when you're braking.
  • 2 0
 Braking puts considerably more strain on the cable and housing than shifting. Hard braking puts a LOT of compression force on a cable. With unsupported index housing, the individual stands that run along the housing can blow outwards, at which point the brake no longer is functional.
  • 4 0
 I don't know if I am being pedantic here, but...

... before I tighten the rotor bolts, I hold the rotor with clockwise force so that the rotor butts up against the bolts THEN I tighten the bolts (working in 1, 3, 5, 2, 4, 6 pattern). This ensures the rotor can never rotate under the bolt heads.
  • 3 0
 I have these on my SC Bullit and they work fine. obviously hydros wud be better for a big bike like that, but when ur running short on $$, nothing beats bb7s. What i'd ideally do is (when i have $) get a dj'er and put the bb7s on that, and put the hydros that wud come on the dj'er on the bullit. BOTTOM LINE, BB7s stop u fine, but hydros are definitely ideal if u have the cash.
  • 3 0
 Sweet brakes Wink got em on my NS.. and getting them for my trail bike. Note I used BMX Odyssey Slic-Kable. Made a world of difference and a lot cheaper than MTB higher quality cable 5$ a cable/housing Wink
  • 7 1
 is not inch/pound, but pound/inch
  • 3 7
flag tom-cuthbert (Dec 28, 2010 at 5:08) (Below Threshold)
 Oh no! The whole tech tuesday will be totally unuseable now! Whatever will we do!
  • 4 2
 your stupid
  • 6 6
 you're* stupid


And i'm sure no one will mind that they mixed the 2 units, i've never heard of any using the tools outside of a bike shop.
  • 1 1
 Are you joking and I just don't get it or is it just different in Croatia?
  • 3 0
 That's my fault. Maybe I am stupid, but the basics of physics are the same all over the world. But regardless of my stupidity pound / inch and still no good, because it should stand lb * inch, Since it is a torque
  • 4 0
 exactly. i beleive im the dumb one here Big Grin
  • 5 4
 inch*pound = pound*inch; multiplication is commutative bitches Razz
  • 3 1
 Pound/inch means Pounds per Inch. Inch/Pounds would mean Inches per Pound. Its a division statement.

I'm pretty sure division isn't commutative.
  • 3 0
 hi 5 to any1 tht has brains, understands physics and agrees with castbreeder
  • 3 1
 I love my BB7 mechanical brakes. Only downside is the weight. At this point a worthwhile compromise because I prefer the feel on wet or icy terrain.
  • 2 0
 I would also give the lever an almighty squeeze to seat the housing and/or for cable stretch (whichever your belief), and then recheck pad distance.
  • 1 0
 these brakes arent all that economical often costing as much as some hydros wouldnt mind a set though as they are much easier to maintain
  • 1 1
 dude u can get them for $50 (USD) from the internet, thats like half the price of some of the cheapest hydros
  • 1 2
 "often costing as much as some hydros" please tell me where you find hydros for less than 150€ a pair ?!
  • 2 0
 have a look on crc mate
  • 3 4
 its awesome when people buy their parts online and then have to come to a shop and ask for help. why should a shop support you when you dont support them. bring on the negative props, but internet shopping is sh*t.
  • 2 0

i know a lot are on sale but still all well below 150euro and you can get a good set for that price anyway

yeah thats a bit harsh really, when i do go to the shop i buy something but do all bike stuff my self anyway, internet shopping is shit your right, but it is cheaper and thats what puts the internet shops ahead. it is a shame that the small time guys are going down as theyre usually more experienced/friendly and open for face to face!
  • 1 0
 is that $50 a set or for just a caliper?
  • 1 0
 @immacaroni, I always buy stuff from bike shops when I can, but the internet is way better when u don't have the money for anything more expensive. Next time You only have $100 in the bank and need a set of brakes, lets see where you go.

@cyfa89, Its 45.99 per bb7 (caliper, rotor, and all the mounting stuff) at last time i checked, but I just checked again and they went up to $71, so nevermind.
  • 2 0
 im pretty lucky in the fact that i get mates rates but the lad doesnt listen o well and i bought everything but the frame elsewere
  • 1 1
 @immacaroni thats what bike shops are for.... an internet site isnt a real shop, (usually) just a warehouse, with cheaper stuff, and usually bike shops dont have such wide sellection for lower prices, buying on the internet is the bomb not shit, butbuying used is even better, way cheap prces, and jsut cuz u buy somehtign brand new doesnt mean it wont get scrastched..
  • 1 0
 well next time you have a job i wont go into your store and support you and your family if you have one.
  • 1 0
 ok so its like the online websites dont have people working there? just like robots or something?? i mean really could u think local shops are the only ones ran by people???
  • 1 0
 these are awesome for a small bike when you give them avid levers, and you can get bb7s for nothing used with cheap pads too.
  • 1 0
 this is awesome to have. I just upgraded from bb5's to bb7's on my hardtail a few days ago and I've been looking for tips on setting them up for best results.
  • 3 0
 yeah dude, "linear cables" + BB7's = best non-hydro brake, period.....
  • 1 0
 if i dont have a thing to measure the torque, to like 55 inch pound for like the rotor , do u think i should bring it in the shop or try to do it my self without the tool..
  • 2 0
 what the hell is this. where is the other guy!
  • 46 49
 My steps for adjusting the BB7s are a lot easier:

Step 1.) Put down the box for the BB7s. Don't even take them out.
Step 2.) Sell the BB7s to some kid for $75 or whatever.
Step 3.) Spend a little bit of extra money and get a Shimano SLX or Avid Elixir 5 hydraulic disc brake.
Step 4.) ????
Step 5.) Profit!

I'm not saying you can't get BB7s to feel really nice [for a mechanical brake], but honestly if you want stopping power, even a relatively inexpensive hydraulic disc brake is going to way out-perform a mechanical one.
  • 72 5
 have you ever used a BB7? You are so wrong
  • 13 1
 second this
  • 15 0
 i rode bb7 long ago and thought they were great on power, actually could get modulation , and were way easier to set up the proper pad and lever adjustment than any hydro... not to mention cheaper and easier to fix when broken. and you can thread your front brake through the fork easier. and brake cables never ate through my paint like dot fluid does... not for dh of course but most people would be fine with these brakes
  • 4 0
 BB7's are definitely very nice. The modulation and adjustability was pretty sweet compared to my old hayes mx2's and felt as good as my hayes 9 hydros, but the modulation on my current strokers, my old shimano deores, and my wife's juicy 5's all convinced me that hydro is better for modulation. When I was still using my bb7's I endoed once coming down a technical descent and pinched my cable housing clear through. I was able to finish my ride and when I got home I just cleaned it up and greased it again before taping the hole and it was good to go. No need to buy hydro hose. The bb7's are awesome for low maintenance reasonable performance. If I were a distance xc guy, or lived in a less technical flat area I would probably prefer them just for the lack of maintenance.
  • 3 0
 +1 Way better in modulation and adjust-ability Smile
  • 8 5
 Modulation on mechanical disk brakes = cable stretch.
  • 3 0
 new cables (maybe every year?) £1.50 if you look around. hydro fluid = £10 (approx).
not much difference really
  • 6 20
flag seraph (Dec 28, 2010 at 12:05) (Below Threshold)
 Yes, lel-95 I have owned and used BB7s. They aren't very powerful or reliable when compared to even a cheap hydraulic disc brake. For anything other than dirt jumping and possibly street (with linear [derailleur] housing and organic pads) I would take even the most simple hydraulic disc brake over a BB7.
  • 6 14
flag seraph (Dec 28, 2010 at 12:23) (Below Threshold)
 Furthermore, if you're going to dispute someone's claims, please have some semblance of evidence in the contrary with which to back up your statement. kthnxbai
  • 5 3
 i'm rather sad that somebody who works at a bike shop (supposedly) has so many negative things to say about the BB7s. The stopping power on the BB7s are fantastic. A lot of Pro Class Downhill riders still use BB7s on their bikes. I've even seen guys that are considered "Clydesdales" running them.
the single biggest advantage a hydraulic disc brake has over a mechanical? FEEL.
  • 2 9
flag seraph (Dec 28, 2010 at 17:48) (Below Threshold)
 If you expect people who work in a shop to not have extremely strong opinions about bike parts then you're naive. Show me a pro running BB7s, please.
  • 2 2
 I wouldn't call it strong opinion, it's more about who gives you shoppies the best discounts because let's face it brand loyalty can be easily swayed when you have reps giving you stuff all the time just so you can push their products.
  • 2 3
 Reps really don't just give stuff out for free. Everything still costs money, and honestly a lot of brakes at the same performance levels have very similar wholesale prices. The Saint M810 costs about the same as the Code Mk.II, the XT M770 costs about the same as the Elixir CR, and so on. It's still very much about personal preference, same as it is for non-shop employees.
  • 1 1
 it's easy to install bb7. how about crappy bb5 or shitty tektro? It's impossible to adjust them correctly and they always move from side to side when you braking hard and damage your rotors and brake pads. If someone is looking for a set of not expensive but decent brakes, buy bb7 or hydraulic juicy 3.5 Smile
  • 4 2
 Thanks for the name calling. What I was implying is that as a shop mechanic, you have the ability to try out a lot of the brakes on the market (at a FRACTION of the cost). I think we can honestly say that BB7s have fantastic stopping power. They are easy to set up, great actuation, etc... Like any other disc brake on the market, they require upkeep, whether that be bleeding or changing cables. Also as a mechanic, you can definitely be a testament to the ease in changing brake cable length (& housing), ease of install, and ease of setup.
About the Pro Class: lemme show what I typed again earlier. "Pro Class Downhill Riders." You can ride Pro Class, be fast, and be without a brake sponsor and still rock mechanical brakes. We see a lot of good Pro Class riders rocking them at Parkfield, Fontana, Northstar races here in California.
Lastly, from all those videos of Shandro, Simmons, Weir, testing out those new Shimano brakes, it looks like they are either on or off anyways, and those guys are undeniably outstanding riders.
  • 8 0
 lots of redundancy going on here, but at least nobody spelled it 'break' yet haha
  • 1 0
 i paid 21$ for my bb7 (brand new from jenson usa) and then 7$ for shipping to england, works out at like 19£, then 8£ for a liner cable and 15£ for the lever, truth is i spent 50 quid on a brake and it is amazing when set up, to be fair the latest brake i have is a shimano slx, and it was amazing, but worth the extra 70£ at the age of 16? i think not
  • 1 0
 My BB7 was ALOT more powerful then my juicy 5's and is on par with my codes i have now. for the record i know how to set up brakes properly, all were bedded in correctly and they were all using a 185mm rotor and fully bled. I can honnestly say i have never been so impressed with a brake before, when my codes die im going back to BB7's
  • 1 0
 BB7's are the best you can get for a mechanical brake, no doubt. I definitely prefer the feel of hydros, though, and in my experience I have gotten more stopping power out of my hydros than mechs. Still, there are lots of reasons to go with the BB7s. I say ride what you like/can afford and respect rule #5. Great vid. I really dig the Tech Tuesdays.
  • 3 2
 My Avid BB7 has more grab then my old Hayes HMX 1 Mech .
  • 3 0
 Thank you for that pointless comparison. Facepalm
  • 4 0
 to be fair, anything has more 'grab' than a hayes mechanical
  • 1 0
 i changed a shimano deore lx i got on a bike for my BB7 awesome brakes really...
but why is there a video for this they are so amazingly easy to set up ! which is part why i love em so much, powerful, adjustable, no need for servicing and sh*t, much cheaper and SO EASY TO USE !
  • 1 0
 nice and easy adjusting....
  • 1 0
 I love these, got em really cheap. They are pretty heavy though
  • 1 0
 :46 t0 :49

Just look at that sense of humor
  • 1 0
 Never mind
  • 1 2
 These are on chainlove right now for 39.99$ haha, Ironic.
  • 5 0
 How is that ironic?
  • 1 0
 I think he meant "coincidence."
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