An amazing thing happened this week. It stopped raining. Now, it would be incredibly selfish of me to complain about the delay of the start of mountain bike season, while there are those who are truly affected by the flooding in the Midwest, and my heart goes out to them. With record breaking rainfall for Ohio in the month of April, things are still plenty wet, but finally starting to dry out a bit.
In order to get my first real trail time in on the new Hayes Primes, we decided to make the drive to the guaranteed dry trails of Brown County State Park, though the dry trails were a stark contrast to the flooded lowlands of the nearby Monroe reservoir. The drive was well worth it though, as Brown County’s fast, dry trails are an excellent testing ground for brakes due to its many long, fast descents.
After the initial buzz of being back on the trails for the first time in ages wore off, I was surprised as I overcooked it into a corner, and had a hard time slowing down, but this turned out to be a good thing. How is that possible?
Find out after the break!
While riding the trails at Brown county was my first experience with the Primes on dirt, it wasn’t my first time riding the Primes. Previously, I had ridden a few training rides on some gravel, pavement, and dirt paths along a local bike trail. It definitely wasn’t mountain biking, but I was able to get in some good miles and break in the Primes at the same time. The fact that I had gotten the Primes to the point that I thought were broken in, and working great was what confused me as I blasted into that first corner at Brown County, feeling as if the brakes were fresh out of the box.
As mile after mile ticked away, it hit me that I had changed wheels just before the ride, meaning I had new brake rotors on the bike now, that hadn’t been broken in as the ones on my other set of wheels had. Shortly after this realization, I noticed that the brakes were now working much better and by this point had plenty of power.
Why is this a big deal? Well, just about every brake manufacturer has a recommended break-in procedure that doesn’t involve actually mountain biking. In fact, by riding new brakes immediately on trails, more often than not you can glaze the pads and rotors, semi-permanently affecting their performance. When it comes to break-in procedure, most companies recommend riding at a moderate pace, and using one brake at a time to slow the bike down, but not bring it to a complete stop, with the idea being not to overheat the brakes during the process. Even though just about every brake will benefit from this procedure, it is not always communicated effectively to the end user resulting in poor performance. Some brakes seem to be affected by poor break-in more than others, especially when compared to riding the Primes on brand new rotors.
Honestly, I completely forgot about the new rotors on the wheels, which apparently was easy to do with the excitement of the first big ride of the season. What’s important here, is that even without breaking in the brake rotors properly, the brakes appear not to have suffered at all. While I wouldn’t recommend skipping the break-in on your set of Primes, it does give you the idea that these brakes are not finicky. They just work.
Towards the end of the ride, braking power was stellar while easily kept in check via the Prime’s silky smooth modulation. Even though my handlebar set up only allows the tip of each index finger a perch on the lever, I never once felt that I could use more power after the brakes were up to speed. Speaking of handlebar set up, the Primes were extremely easy to find a position on the bar to my liking and could easily be set up for one or multiple finger operation. Also, due to the fact that the reach adjuster and the Poppet Cam adjusters work extremely well, fine tuning the Primes to your particular liking is a simple affair. Just in case you are wondering, my Primes came out of the box with a near perfect factory bleed. No need to mess around with bleeding that should have already been done, just bolt on and go!
Even with great power, awesome modulation, and easy set up, perhaps one of the best features of the Primes is their silence. Slam on the brakes from high speed, and the only sound you’re greeted with is the comforting whir of the rotor coming to a stop. Even after multiple creek crossings with plenty of flowing water, the only time the Primes ever made a peep, was before the new rotors were broken in and after a particularly muddy creek crossing. Regardless, there was never any “turkey gobble” sound that so many people seem to complain about on some brakes. Keep in mind that my Primes are being tested with one stamped 7 inch rotor up front, and a two piece floating 6 inch rotor on the back, neither of which seem to make any more noise than the other.
While a few rides are certainly not enough to validate the Primes 100%, they are already proving to be much improved over my last pair of Hayes brakes, the El Caminos. In fact, it was the very first ride on my El Caminos, that the reach adjuster started coming apart leading to a long and drawn out repair process while in the middle of a road trip. I’m happy to say that the Prime’s reach adjust is completely different and shows no signs of any issues.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with the new Primes, and I am really excited for there to be what appears to be another top quality brake on the market. If you are looking for a new set of brakes to keep things in check, I would highly recommend the Primes.