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Hayes HFX-9 Carbon

Product Reviews - Bikeman's Product Testing

ImageThe end of the lever is hooked and very comfortable for one finger braking, which is all that is necessary with these babies. More than a few other riders have noted how comfortable the levers are. Hayes sells the carbon levers as an upgrade. After a year of solid riding the levers haven’t developed any play like the old metal ones did. Any HFX-9 brake can be upgraded with the HFX-9 Carbon Lever Blade.

I’m not a small guy at 190 lbs and I’d say these brakes are pretty darned powerful for an ultra-light system. The levers and Caliper are 420g rear, 390g front, whereas Hayes new El Camino design comes in at 420g front or rear. Just the caliper on the XT system is 350g (lever weight not given on website), and the XTR caliper comes in at a surprisingly light 100g (that’s what the website says). An optional Ti hardware kit is available for the Hayes that will save you another 70g on the whole system (that’s 4.375 carbon brake levers worth of weight savings). The lightweight design minimizes the amount of fluid within the system, which is necessary to reduce weight, but compromises how well the system reacts to temperature changes. The brakes do tend to pump-out slightly on long descents when they heat up, but they don’t lose their power. Interestingly, the brakes also pumped-out in cold weather as well (I noticed it in temperatures under 25F). This was slightly more annoying because they would stay that way for the whole ride and wasn’t fun riding with lobster mitts.

The two pot carbons definitely have the classic on-off feel of Hayes brakes with little modulation and no modulation adjustments available. I’ve been riding Hayes so long now that I’m used to the on-off feel and I actually kind of like it. I also like my digital music instead of old analog records too, so maybe my whole life is turning just that much more binary.

Doing a little research for this article I noticed on the Hayes site that there is an “anti-rotation reach adjustment bushing” that I definitely haven’t played with yet, although I might try because the reach is a tad bit further out than I want it to be. The lever reach adjuster screw (carry over from older models) on the armpit of the lever just never does the trick for me, and in fact, if you unscrew it too much, there is some interference before the master cylinder gets actuated, resulting in a loss of power. Overall I find that Hayes brakes aren’t that adjustable to begin with, which I think is why they designed the El Camino.

I haven’t bled this system yet as there hasn’t been a need to, but the bleed set up is the same as the old Hayes designs, which is a little bit of a pain in the butt and requires a few special tools and a bike stand, but how often do you have to bleed them anyways, right? My suggestion for bleeding Hayes is to just take your time, do it right, don’t get aggravated at the little bubbles, and in relatively little time, you’ll have brand new feeling brakes again. I wish Hayes would get away from the DOT brake fluids. They are corrosive, toxic, and I think other fluids have been proven effective.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on other brake brands, but I do know that these brakes are pretty high performance and low-maintenance. I am surprised at the amount of power they offer as compared to how the Hayes Mag DH with 8” rotors felt.

The levers, power, and that there is no fade in power on long downhills are definite positives. The slight lever pump and lack of adjustability issues are negatives, but negatives that are drown out by a system that is refined and just plain works well. Overall I give the system 4 Bikeman-heads and think that they are a great brake package for XC race and light all-mountain use.

Tom Lambert

Rated: Image
Hayes HFX-9 XC

 $121.95

 Buy / Details

Hayes HFX-9 XC: Black, Front V6, 2-pc Clamp. The Hayes HFX-9 Hydraulic Disc Brake Set features a universal left or right lever. Adapters available for all major disc-compatible forks. Rotor fits 6-hole bolt pattern. 2005 brake kits all include new V-rotor except HFX-9 carbon. Kits include lever, caliper, black hose, rotor, semi-metallic...
Hayes HFX-9 XC

 $121.95

 Buy / Details

Hayes HFX-9 XC: Black, Rear V6, 2-pc Clamp. The Hayes HFX-9 Hydraulic Disc Brake Set features a universal left or right lever. Adapters available for all major disc-compatible forks. Rotor fits 6-hole bolt pattern. 2005 brake kits all include new V-rotor except HFX-9 carbon. Kits include lever, caliper, black hose, rotor, semi-metallic...
Hayes HFX-9 Carbon Lever Blade

 $48.95

 Buy / Details

Hayes HFX-9 Carbon Lever Blade:
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