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Over The Bars

Gear Review: Quad Dime XC Disc Brakes
By Rob Manning

To stop on a dime...

Stopping on a Dime.

There's nothing fancy about Quad's top of the line Dime XC disc brake. There's no carbon levers, no fancy titanium fittings and no stratospheric price tags. What Quad has done with it's new weight conscious disc brake is to pack a lot of features into a small (and similarly light) package.

Out of the box, onto the bike.
The Dime XC discs arrived in our offices with the usual fanfare accompanying any new product. They were passed around for all to admire and for all to enquire about. Ultimately, the question began to circulate who would be the guinea pig, and the new offerings found themselves mated nicely to my race bike. Before installation, a cursory examination was of course necessary. The Dimes felt incredibly light in hand, even moreso than the previous brakes that came off the bike. Off to the scale they went, and came back with a respectable 432g average (front and rear, lever, hose, post mount caliper, 180mm front rotor, 160mm rear rotor) which is impressive for a brake only costing around $120 per wheel. Sure, they won't win any weight weenie awards, but for the price and the amount of brake you get for that price, this is a damned respectable package.

Installation went very smoothly, with split clamp levers making installing the levers a simple affair. The only snag I ran into was the need for a post mount to post mount adapter for the front 180mm rotor, but this was quickly rectified by a rummage through the spare parts bin. The levers mated up quite nicely to both Shimano and SRAM shifters, which can be quite a headache with some brake systems. The caliper is a one piece unit, which is very nearly unheard of at this pricepoint. Pistons are phenolic heat stopping bits, and the caliper uses a nice stainless steel banjo fitting which can be rotated to accomodate different mounting positions. As an added bonus, Quad includes a hose barb and olive in their brake kit, so shortening hoses can be done at installation, with minimal need to purchase extra bits. Good on them, bonus points awarded.

The gloss white finish on these oozes class to all but the most cynical mountain biker. Sure, it's not every-day practical and it'll get quickly covered in slop, but wipe it clean and it'll be showroom quality in no time flat. Unfortunately, these are only offered in white, so if you're a stealth fighter, you're out of luck.

Hit the trail, Jack.
Out on the trail, bedding in the pads took longer than I had anticipated. It took a couple rides to get the full bite out of the pads, although this can be rectified by the purchase of EBC's green organic pads. Don't misunderstand; the stopping power offered by the stock pads wasn't bad, but it did take a while for them to get a good bite, and the EBCs are known for a solid bite with little bedding in. Of course, it all depends how impatient you are, and if you're planning on screaming down a mountain the day after installing these.

Quad Dime XC Disc Brake
Lever Reach Adjust? External, "tool free"
Fluid DOT 4/5 Brake Fluid
Rotor Size 160mm, 180mm, 203mm (pulse)
140mm, 160mm, 180mm, 203mm (standard)
Pistons Phenolic Heat Dissipating
Fittings Stainless
Color (lever/caliper) White/White
Contact Quad Technology

Other than the long bed in for the pads, the rear brake did need a bit of bleeding to firm up the lever feel, but this was minimal, and the softness of the lever never presented a problem. The tool-free reach adjust performed very nicely, and was quite easy to operate, with or without gloves. Most importantly, the lever shape was spot on. And I do mean spot on. The curve in the lever is absolutely perfectly placed for single finger braking, which made these exceptionally comfortable on the hands even after horrendous long days in the saddle. After bedding in the pads and bleeding the rear system, one finger was more than sufficient to lock up rear wheels wearing even the stickiest rubber. Modulation was excellent as well, easily on par with brake systems costing twice as much. There was never a wooden feel or on/off feeling to the Dimes; progressive braking was the order of the day. The wavy "pulse" rotors did a great job of clearing muck and mire, and there was never any odd wobble or warble from them either. Squealing was at a minimum, and only really became a problem when riding in extreme wet conditions (which have the ability to make ANY brake squeal.)

On fast descents, the Dimes were money in the bank. Locking up a rear wheel to whip the rear end around a dusty corner was easily commanded by a single squeeze of the right finger (although I don't run moto style, it's easily done with the split clamp design.) The 180mm front rotor provided bucket loads of stopping power when it was really needed, and it increased the ability to modulate to front brake even further. There was no loss of feel with long descents; those phenolic pistons lived up to their billing and kept things cool enough to preserve the Dimes' excellent modulation. After a couple of uncertain rides on the stock pads, I found them to be more the capable of the task at hand. Like I said earlier though, if you're the impatient type, perhaps look into some organics that break in faster.

Even after more than 6 months of brutal treatment in all kinds of conditions including mud, sand, rain, freezing temperatures and beyond, the Dimes look and perform as well as the day I installed them (after bedding in pads, of course.) Even my penchant for falling down a lot hasn't ruined them yet, and that's really saying something about their durability.

So, what's the verdict then?
While the Dime is a budget priced brake, it certainly isn't a budget type brake. Scouring a few sources, it looks like the hydraulic systems near the price range of the Dime is the Avid Juicy 3 and Juicy 5 series brakes. Yet, you're still not getting phenolic pistons, one piece caliper and tool free reach. Weight is nearly comparable, and price is still better than Avid's offerings. Given the feel of the Dimes, the features offered, and the price, there's no reason to find anything else on anyone's bike if this is their budget.

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