Hayes Stroker Gram Review – Impessions

by Brian Mullin on August 25, 2009

I have been out cranking on a pair of Hayes Stroker Gram disc brakes for a couple of months now on my Ibis Mojo. Although they are not the lightest pair of brakes I have used in the ever expanding weight weenie disc brake worlds, they are quite powerful, and they don’t seem to fade like some of their competitions.

I was lazy and decided to not bother cutting the lines for now, so I have a sort of silly bunch of brake line sticking out on the bike. It really hasn’t been too bad except for the rear line, which likes to pop out of the top tube inserts at the most inopportune moments. I will get around to do a cutting and bleed of the system in the future.

My long term brakes have been the Magura Marta SL’s. I have a set of the 2007 Marta SL’s and recently got a brand new set of the Marta SL Mags, which use the larger Louise brake pads and much improved caliper system. The Marta SL’s will be my main brain comparison and cross referencing brake.

The Stroker Grams is the lightest of the Hayes Stroker series, and comes with carbon levers, alloy backed pads and a full titanium bolt kit. Hayes removed as much of the already minimal lever body as possible, and on the master cylinder, they used finite element analysis, removing as much non-structural material as possible.

Measured Specs
Rear (line, caliper and lever) – 57 inch line: 247.4 grams
Front(line, caliper and lever) – 34 inch line: 231.1 grams
180 Hayes rotor – 151.7 grams
160 Hayes rotor – 114.7 grams

180 Hayes adapter – 10.1 grams
180 Hayes adapter bolts – 15.8 grams
Rotor bolts (titanium) – 7.2 grams

The Stroker Grams are very easy to install since they use a split clamping system, and have a symmetrical flip flop design. The flip flop design means you can put the brake levers on either side of the handlebars, which is great if you like to have your front brake in the motorcycle mode (on the right). One pain with the Marta SL’s is they lack the split clamp system, so to swap out brakes I have to remove the grips and shifters, which is a royal pain in the wazoo.

The levers have a small adjuster knob that allows you to easily alter the reach, although it was a bit difficult to adjust them on the fly. The brakes performed admirably, and they were very fade resistant, even on extremely long downhills.

I did find that the levers were just a bit flexy, and it took a long stroke before the lever actually engaged, which made them feel a bit spongy until you really pried hard on the lever. Their modulation was moderate, and the brakes were not grabby, but as I said you sometimes really needed to grab a good handful of brakes to get the power coming from the system. And they are powerful when you need them. One thing that they seem to lack is an ability to lightly feather the brakes, something that is nice to have in some technical terrain.

The brake pads are easy to take out, even with the wheels still on the bike. However, during re-installation I sometimes had some issues getting the little spring to pop back in properly on the piston. If it doesn’t pop back in just right, then things won’t line up, and you’ll get rubbing on the rotors. So the re-installation is currently a hit and miss for me, which is a bummer, since I regularly like to clean the pads. I might just need some more practice or the proper technique?

I have taken a few good diggers, and twisted handlebars in some strange contortions, and the levers have survived without a scratch. I think the flexy levers might help protect themselves, since they can subtly move, which prevent them from breaking or getting damaged.

Final Thoughts
The Stroker Grams are a moderately light brake in comparison to their weight weenie competition, and they are powerful, and seem to not fade on long downhills. The levers are a touch flexy, and along with a long throw, they have a spongy feel, but a robust handful makes the brakes work just fine.

Updates to follow!

Hayes spec
Titanium hardware
Carbon Lever Blade with tool free adjust
Radial, Symmetrical; Aluminum Master Cylinder
Two-piece aluminum caliper, Caliper positioning window, titanium bridge bolts
Semi-metallic pads with aluminum backing
Kevlar wrap hose
Hayes high temp DOT4 hydraulic fluid
535 sq mm pad size
6-bolt T-25 rotor bolt pattern
Rotor sizes 140 (rear), 160, 180, 203
Published Weight: 355 g(160mm rotor), 339 g(140mm rotor)

Hayes url: www.hayesdiscbrake.com

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