Look before you leap is a great motto to live by, especially in mountain biking. Not only does this apply to your trail riding and being aware of upcoming obstacles, but also when buying parts. Any part / component that you can change or replace on your bike will have many manufacturers all fighting for your pennies.
My first attempt (some time last year) at any sort of bike upgrade was to change my troublesome AVID Elixir 5 disc brakes to something that provided me with a little more confidence. For a while I was having trouble with the “Devil’s Brakes”, as a friend of mine called them; the front brake was leaking and after a brief attempt at bleeding them I decided to stop fiddling and change them.
As is the norm for newbies to this “sport” you ask your peers and those that generally have their own experience or informed opinion what you should replace them with. There will be a resounding favourite, a close second, a few wild cards and someone who is more than happy to take the ones that you are not satisfied with because they “have never had any trouble with them”.
With mountain biking there is always a battle between what you want and what you actually need. The more you spend, in general, the better quality you end up with. However, as with any product, it is possible that are going to pay for a name. While there can often be a very good reason why a product has a good name, there is also a chance that you are paying a higher than necessary price for consumer level products because that manufacturer is a recognised professional component manufacturer. this is no bad thing but just becareful you don’t by too much technology for your level of riding. This is something that you will learn when talking to your friends, reading magazines and visiting bike shops.
In this instance (upgrading my brakes) I went for a well-known brand. Shimano SLX products are safe bet components for the discerning bike enthusiast. They are reliable, inexpensive and readily available in most bike shops and online retailers. You may not be able to buy spare elements (Hope for instance will sell you screws and washers and caps etc) of these components but at a wallet friendly price, it isn’t too painful to replace the whole set if you have to.
I am no expert but the Shimano decision hasn’t let me down yet and I would recommend SLX to anyone who asks and doesn’t have a bottomless pit of funds.
(By the way the main reason for this post was to show off some of my nice black & white photography..)