Review: Zoom HB850 Hydraulic Disc Brakes (2014)

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Because until recently it dealt only with forks and different types of accessories, doesn’t mean that Zoom can’t up its game. The proof lies in the HB850, the manufacturer’s first hydraulic disc brake, which we didn’t exactly cut any slack during testing.

With a lever shape like that, the HB850 instantly reminds us of older Shimano models, or even some of Hayes’s past products, the oil reservoir tank sitting perpendicularly on the handlebar, featuring an easy to undo top. We soon realised that these brakes weren’t conceived for extreme riding, mainly by looking at the less than ergonomical shape of the levers. However, you can adjust the distance between the grips and lever thanks to a screw, which is a real bonus considering this price class.

Even though Zoom picked the right colors for the levers, it didn’t use the best possible materials at all, and neither did it pay to much attention to details and finishing touches. As for performances, the HB850 are very similar to Tektro’s Mota HDC-300 and Draco, even managing to top them in terms of braking power. But you won’t be able to control very well this power since modulation virtually doesn’t exist, so you’ll have to do with an on/off type of brake. Of course, on longer descents fading occurs, which we expected given the level of the HB850, which were probably designed to be efficient in uncomplicated situations like forest trails or light mountain ones. And you might want to keep in mind the fact that we used the brakes coupled with a pair of Shimano XTR Ice Tech rotors, which surely enhanced their performances.

Better than Tektro’s correspondent models, the Zoom HB850s also include an unbeatable price, with performances that are specific to the price range. As for our own take on them, we see these brakes as excellent upgrades from mechanical disc brakes because they simply offer beter braking at a not so big price difference.

Weight: 473 grams

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