Questions about the Klamper mechanical disc brakes? Paul Components has the answers

The Paul Components Klamper Disc Brake. It’s cable-actuated, beautiful, beautifully simple, re-buildable, comes in purple, and it’s handmade in Chico, California. Apparently, Paul Components gets many, many questions about these brakes. So, Paul Price himself sits down in the video to answer…*drum roll*

THE MOST COMMONLY ASKED KLAMPER QUESTIONS!

Just to let you know, I am in the middle of a review of these brakes on both my mountain bike (in a special configuration) and my drop-bar, all-road bike. Stay tuned!

Plus, check out all the beauty and craftsmanship that is Paul Components here.

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nooner
nooner
5 months ago

OK, here’s my question: Why in the world would anyone want to run mechanical disk brakes?

Angstrom
Angstrom
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

I’d think serviceability/repairability in the field. It’s a lot easier to replace a cable than tubing, and no need to refill/bleed. No seal issues or master cylinder issues. True, those are rare with modern hydraulics, but if you’re going to be many days and miles from the nearest bike shop It might be a good tradeoff.

Dink
Dink
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

Hydros are super prone to branch rip outs while trail riding then fluid will be all over the trail but that does not happen with a steel cable running through housing

Tigger
Tigger
5 months ago
Reply to  Dink

Thirty years in the bike industry and I have to say I don’t recall ever seeing this. This is in the PNW too which tends to be branch grabby.

That being said anything can happen. More likely master cylinder, caliper leaks, or a host of other issues can arise. Especially on multi day scenarios. These calipers are gorgeous, durable, and simple to service. They certainly have a place. Just depends on the need.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Tigger

I believe your experience, but need to remark that it’s been only in the past fifteen years at the very most that hydraulic brakes have been more popular (excluding of course department store bikes) than mechanical ones. Hydraulic discs stopped being a rounding error in sales in 1997 or so, when Hayes came out with its Mag brake. It wasn’t until 2003 or so that Shimano came out with its first XT four-piston brakes.
Still, point taken. Lines getting ripped out of brakes by branches is barely a thing.

Dink
Dink
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

i dunno

syborg
syborg
5 months ago
Reply to  Dink

Super prone is super exaggeration.

Dockboy
Dockboy
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

Some people are constantly futzing with their setup, and hydraulic brakes make that harder. New, taller bar? Add two bleeds to the job. Want to switch between drops and flat bars? Better have the right brake systems.

Mechanicals can also be fixed with parts from Wal-Mart, however bodgy those cables may feel, it’s better than the feel of hydraulic brakes with no fluid.

Sometimes it’s environmental. You break a cable, chances are you’re going home with 100% of what you went out with. No way you’re not spraying DOT or “mineral oil” all over the trail if your line fails.

Some bikes are built to follow “rules” like No Carbon, or All MUSA, or Only Companies That Don’t Start With S, and some of those mean mechanical discs.

I’m sure there are other reasons.

Costello
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

travel bike

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

Everyone who makes this comment thinks they’re saying something super clever, when in reality it’s just “wisdom” received by others. It’s true that overall hydraulic brakes are better, but the margin is much smaller than most suppose- leverage is leverage, regardless of whether it comes from a ball and ramp or hydraulic cylinders.
There are two main problems with mechanical brakes:
1. Most people are TERRIBLE at cutting cables and housing, and leave a ragged end on the housing, which makes massive drag. Gotta make sure you’ve reamed the hole open, this makes an enormous difference! Makes a huge difference if you use compressionless housing, too.
2. Most mechanical brakes are low-end products, with crummy calipers, rotors, pads, housing, cables and levers. Ride a Paul or Growtac with good components and you’ll change your mind. Heck, ride BB7s with cleanly cut housing and 8″ rotors and you’ll have more than enough power!

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

Another reason: your bike has drop bars and cable brifters; cable brakes let you use discs without getting new brifters.
Now, you could ask why you’d get these particular mechanical brakes, why you’d spend that much when BB7s or whatever are so much cheaper- but that’s not the question you asked. (I’ll answer it anyway.) It’s because these brakes are better made than BB7s or any other mechanical disc other than the Growtac Equals. Yes, a well-made mechanical brake works better than one with mediocre construction works better than a cheap one.

whatever
whatever
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Had BB7’s on a bike a few years ago. Hated them. Hopefully they are better now.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  whatever

They haven’t changed. My experience with them has been good, though. What were the problems? And what was your setup (levers, cables-housing, rotor, pads, cable routing esp. on the rear)? Did you ream the housing end wide open after cutting it? Did you use full-length housing all the way to the rear brake? I know that’s a lot of questions, but I am curious because I’ve always had success with BB7s! Answer to what you can.

whatever
whatever
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

First was road version of BB7. Routing was external, and basically the “standard” routing, with sections exposed to reduce drag. No hard tunes etc. Housing was Jagwire compressionless brake housing with teflon inner coating. Levers were Shimano 105. Pads were stock BB7, so whatever they were. Performance was OK after bedding in, but certainly not impressive in any way, and somewhat inconsistent, and prone to rubbing, especially so on the front. The front caliper was just in a general problem though. Hard to describe. Only thing that seems to help it would be new pads for about 2-3 rides, and then it would start squealing and just not sound or feel right with noises that made me nervous. Never could find anything “wrong” with it. Nothing loose etc. Eventually sold the bike due to neck issues while riding it. Lastly, the adjustment wheels on the calipers were all but impossible to turn, and when you did, they would break. I realize this isn’t the best information, but it has also been a few years. take it FWIW.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  whatever

Re: adjuster dials. Hm. I don’t doubt your experience, just never had this issue myself. I’ve had a total of three Avid cable discs, one very early one (2000?), and a pair from 2004 or so. My dials always turned super smoothly and easily. It was one of the things I liked most about them.

whatever
whatever
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Oh and yes, there was no crimping at the ends where housing had been cut. And to be clear, the problems developed over time.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  whatever

Thanks for the answer!
-What generation 105 was it? Shimano has changed the cable pull on their brakes several times in the last 20 or so years, which makes it hard to make a cable brake that works with any given set of levers. I’ve never used cable discs with road brakes, though, so I can’t say for sure that this was “the issue”. But too little cable pull/ too high leverage def. leads to mushy, vague feel.
-Jagwire housing is not compressionless, despite the name. I put some on my MTB with Avid cable discs, and found the housing was a bit squishier than the regular Shimano stuff; I actually put the Shimano stuff back on because it was better. I doubt that your use of Jagwire’s housing caused any problems, but it almost certainly wasn’t doing you any favors.
-No sharp bends- good. No crimps- this is harder to verify. I worked for several years in a shop and virtually every bike that came in the shop had improperly cut housing. It generally wasn’t DISASTROUSLY cut, but the only bikes I ever saw that had really well finished housing cuts were ones I worked on. After cutting housing, I always used the cable cutters to squeeze the hole open wider, then stuck a sharpened spoke into the housing end and reamed it around, opening it to the max. Massive difference in cable feel. Not saying you didn’t do this, but in my experience, people generally don’t.
-Two sections of housing means two entries and two exits (remember how badly people cut housing), and two points where cables may rub on housing stops, which in turn scratches off any smooth coating the cable may have. There may also be little rubber rings that stop the cable from rubbing on the frame, those also add a bit of friction. There are also more points of entry for friction-inducing water and filth. In other words, two cable housings = loads more drag. By contrast, a single housing running uninterrupted from lever to caliper has one entry and one exit hole, and the cable inside it rubs on zero housing stops; it also stays cleaner because of less exposed cable. Sure, there’s more surface area between cable and housing liner, but that is massively outweighed by the other benefits.

whatever
whatever
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Version of Shimano 105?: Been long enough that I don’t remember any long.
Crimped ends at the cuts?: Ends were opened and rounded out with a pick tool, Also all parts were there that should have been (i.e. ferels, adjusters etc).
Lastly, again, they were a road version of BB7, and issues developed over time and just were never that great. One thing to add, I did not ride in the rain or bad weather. I live in the southern US, and there is no need to ride in inclement weather. Cold and heat, sure. But rain… wait for a better day. Maybe it was a bad set, or improved soon after. Just.not a fan of them or STRRAM in general.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  whatever

I see. So it was unlikely to be cables, but levers and/ or the calipers themselves could have been problematic. It’s not the first time I’ve heard bad things about BB7 road brakes, it does seem like there could be QC issues. But people are usually so bad at setting up their cable disc brakes that it’s hard to say how much is bad setup and how much is bad calipers. I had good luck with my 2004 MTB calipers, but I’m not everyone…

Mike
Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

Never tried BB7’s before hey. You’d get it after that.

Kelvin
Kelvin
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

I’ll let you know this. I’m planning for a bike packing trip and the only thing that I’m not going to be looking forward is hydro failing me on flight to the destination (it’s a thing) and on my ride out in the middle of nowhere. The fact that mechanical brakes are serviceable as long as you bring spares, give me assurance that i’ll be fine. If we’re talking Rim brakes, I wish they could accommodate wide tires but unfortunately there’s none in the market. There’s the ee brakes that cane creek is experimenting with Rob English but so far we don’t have any in the market

blahblahblah
blahblahblah
5 months ago
Reply to  Kelvin

gee what about Paul components cantilever brakes

Patrick Taylor
Patrick Taylor
5 months ago
Reply to  blahblahblah

The Paul Motolite v-brakes are the cat’s ass! Most powerful and easiest to adjust and they’ll let you run 650b’s on a vintage 26er no problem. This was a popular setup for racing on the HPR velodrome.

Gabriel
Gabriel
5 months ago
Reply to  Kelvin

I’ve only recently started flying with my bike. Are hydro brakes failing a common thing? Anything that can be done to prevent it?

Edward Scoble
Edward Scoble
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

They’re pretty powerful, more than my SRAM AXS hydraulic.

It’s quite nice having a smooth sharp engagement, like how v brake feel with flat bar

(I ran Klamper with Yokozuna reaction compressionless cableset and sram AXS red shifter).

Anders
Anders
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

Well-installed high-quality mechanical disk brakes with stiff cable/housing is not too bad. When you realize the performance is not too bad, the advantages in simplicity can sometimes outweigh the performance gap. They are popular on long distance touring bikes, and café bikes too. For racing MTB, not so much. I use mechanical discs on my tandem due to legacy a legacy 3x groupset. I’ve upgraded to Yokozuna Reaction cabling and JuinTech GT hybrid brakes, and I’m satisfied with the performance despite the rather long cable run to the rear brake.

Adam
Adam
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

I do. I prefer them over hydraulic systems. As a mechanic and mountain bike rider for over 30 years, I find a WELL adjusted pair of discs are more than enough for my riding style. I suppose it all depends… different strokes for different folks!

Bergsteiger
Bergsteiger
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

One other reason is in less than ideal conditions and muck/wet sand mechanical are superior for pad life.
Working on a theory and have talked to people doing epic stuff in sometimes terrible conditions. So far the experience agrees.
What I think is happening is with hydraulic brakes the self adjust themselves, so they keep advancing the pads into the grit and muck leading to wearing out pads faster.
I have a set of pads in bb7s that are 2.5 years old and have been through the hell of the crusher in 2020 in my 225 attempts.
Some people with hydraulic brakes wore through pads in less than one go at the event.

Still a working theory but so far the thoughts line up.

Bernardo
Bernardo
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

Upgrading rim brakes stuff to discs without dropping 2k on it

Alex
Alex
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

Simpler. No liquid mess. No regular bleeding. No special tools needed. If you squeeze the brake with no wheel in place, not a problem.

tireburp
tireburp
5 months ago
Reply to  nooner

I have cable actuated cross sram brake shifter hoods and want to go disc

chris c
chris c
5 months ago

this is one of the most informative video about disc brakes I’ve seen. Good job and thank you.

D Lucas
5 months ago

Bought a set klampers , fought with them for about a year , never could get them just right . I’ve been working on my own bikes for years , only brakes I found as finicky were Magic M-8s . Sold them for a good price though

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  D Lucas

What were the symptoms? How was your cable routing? Which levers, pads, cables and housing?
I don’t know why at least one person downvoted D Lucas’ comment- he had a bad experience. Instead of downvoting him (maybe because he doesn’t like the same brakes as you), why not get to the bottom of it?

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  D Lucas

That BTW is another advantage of the Klampers- if you don’t like them, you’ll get a big chunk of your money back, especially if you have a limited edition color.

Danenetics
Danenetics
5 months ago

Adjustability

Tim
Tim
5 months ago

I own two sets of Klampers and love them to death. However, Paul comments in one point in the video that the Klampers’ pad adjuster dials are much easier to turn than the plastic ones on some other brakes (I believe he’s referring to those on the Avid BB7). I however found the opposite to be the case- Paul’s fixed pad adjuster dial is easy to turn, but the outer one on both brakes is so stiff it requires me to get out a rag. It also lacks super clear indents. Both of the BB7s’ dials on the other hand turn very easily and have clear indents. I can however imagine the BB7’s dials melting on a long, hot descent, although I’ve never heard of this happening.

OriginalMV
OriginalMV
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

The indent resistance is adjustable.There’s a grub screw for both adjustment wheels with a 2.5mm Allen interface at the top/forward end of the calipers. I’ve never personally owned Klampers, but I have assembled 25-40 custom bicycles with them.I’ve never felt compelled to adjust the resistance for a customer before delivery, but from my experiences I bet that the hands that assemble the caliper probably do it by feel. Thus there are probably some outliers that are a little stiff.

In fact I am installing some on a bike RIGHT NOW. In this case, the grub screw for the fixed pad seems pretty stiff compared to the articulating (outboard) wheel.

While I’m talking about Paul Components, I want to say that I rather dislike all their other brakes, IE cantilevers and center-pulls, but that’s a different topic.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  OriginalMV

I adjusted those little bolts all the way out and the effect was minor.
What do you dislike about their other brakes? I always had good luck with them.

G McKay
G McKay
5 months ago

Just completed a round the world trip using Klamper brakes. They work.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  G McKay

That’s amazing! What roughly was your itinerary?

OriginalMV
OriginalMV
5 months ago

Okay, I assemble custom Ti frames for a smaller, but well-established framebuilder. I have installed many, many Klampers. Usually this is for a customer who wants to be self-sufficient for maintenance or wants an expedition-grade adventure bike. Klampers are pricey, they’re chunky, they’re easy to adjust, they are robust AF.

However, some feedback:

1) Klampers come in 3 actuation ratios: Long, Short, and Campy. Long is for linear-pull cantilever brakes (aka V-brakes) levers only. Such levers pull much more cable than normal cantilever levers or dropbar levers. Short is for ostensibly for road/dropbar levers, but I find that it is more optimal for Shimano road levers that are 2nd-gen 10sp or newer (IE levers after the 7900/6700/5700 series, including all 11sp). These later Shimano levers pull more cable than previous road levers, though nowhere near as much as V-brake levers. The Campy version is a better match for most other levers INCLUDING SRAM.

2) The cable housing path of Klampers is abysmal for for most internally routed carbon forks (and I suspect many internally routed frames). The housing path is even worse when you consider that practically all mechanical disc brakes benefit from “compression-less” housing from the likes of Jagwire and Yokozuna. Such housing is much stiffer than conventional brake housing, let alone hydraulic hose.

This is a consistent problem. If I could ask for one change, this would be it. However, I don’t presume to know how this could be done. The new Growtac brakes imported by Velo-Orange are somewhat better in this aspect, but I’ve only tried them with Shimano levers. And I still think that the Klamper is superior for in-the-field servicing.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  OriginalMV

Thanks for the detailed info! I always thought it was awful how Shimano changed the cable pull/ mechanical advantage on their road levers. Super SLR, SLR EV, what is all this stuff? It’s impossible to find any solid information on how much cable these different levers pull or what their mechanical advantages are. Any claim Shimano makes about why they did this- “10% increase in braking power/ reduced friction/ etc.” is pure twaddle. They do it just to force people into buying new stuff when anything breaks down; it also means you can’t be sure how well any mechanical disc will work with what road levers you have.
One thing I wish mechanical discs had is self-adjusting pads. Not sure if that’s possible to do given space constraints. Then again, I never found twiddling some dials to adjust the pads to be the least problem for me.
While I’m at it, couldn’t someone produce a housing endcap with a couple rubber o-rings to seal out as much filth as possible? That would be very easy to do.

Benedikt
5 months ago
Reply to  OriginalMV

Do you by chance know what Version is the best for the Gevenalle Break/Shift Levers? (They are basically Tektro Levers)

Joe
Joe
5 months ago

I’m still braking with rim brakes, even cantilever on some of my bikes. Just don’t need disc brakes, sorry world. If somehow I would lost all of my current bikes, and there would be no chance(coming soon) to buy rim brake bikes anymore, I would choose those. It would be more then enough. It seems that most people want only new stuff regardless environmenral issues or need.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Not buying stuff you don’t need for environmental reasons is indeed laudable- hats off for minimizing your impact. But if the time for a new bike has come anyway, why choose rim brakes? The only reason I can think of to get them is that you ride on rather smooth and rather flat surfaces when it’s dry, in which case they do bring little to no benefit and cost you more.
Also, you’re not going to change many people’s minds or habits on a site like this one which is dedicated to new gear.

Josh
Josh
3 months ago

Except for hardtail party website, i can not find a single resource explaining what to purchase for my modern suspension fork. Why cant they just break down their products using cleaner language. All this short, long, canti, flat, post, IS, love etc. just call it: “Mountain bike brake group set.” Put it all in a box. Put a price tag on it. Done.
Same for road. Same for gravel.