Integrated cable routing with mechanical discs

I am looking at some gravel frames, some of which have fully integrated/internal cable routing. Ive never used these before and see it as a reasonable option for hydraulic brakes and electronic shifting where cable routing and bends in the housing don’t effect performance. I have mechanical shifting and braking and dont want to buy a new groupo. Wondering how much the integrated bar/stem with internal routng effects performance of mechanical shoftimg braking?

1 Like

No firsthand experience, but I’ve heard reports that it can work fairly well. I think the key is to use very good housings (compressionless for the brakes) and get the routing as smooth as possible through the headset. I don’t think it’s something that I would try though as it could be tricky.

Mechanical discs are terrible… upgrade your brakes before you even bother with the frame.


Not true. I’ve got Juin Tech GT-F mechanical/hydro brakes on the summer bike which have 4 pistons per caliper and they’re nearly as good as the hydraulic brakes on my other bikes. I was in a similar situation to the OP, spare rim brake gruppo, cheap disc frame, limited budget and part availability. I’m very happy with this solution.

A couple of things to consider, compressionless cabling is a must and no tight bends with the routing which may be tricky with a fully internally routed bike.

Also, there needs to be a decent distance between the cable hole on the chainstay and the caliper otherwise it’ll be far too tight a bend with the cable.


Regarding the “Mechanical discs are terrible”. I’m in the same camp as Joe is. Not true in my opinion. Juin Tech 4 piston version, Shimano DA polymer cables (good for sharp bends), Campagnolo 160mm rotors, SwissStop D-27 + Sram Red eTap 11s. My S-Works Venge 2019 is fully integrated and it’s just great setup. The only thing I’ve skipped was the very sharp bend on the stem so the cable goes from the handlebars directly to the headset.

I mean this 90deg angle is too much:

On the other hand on my second bike I ride TRP Spyre SLC mechanical brakes, Jagwire keb-sl compression-less cables, SwissStop pads and 160mm Campagnolo rotors. I think the best I could get to make the mechanical brakes work at it’s best. Well, it can stop but I would stay away from them.


You’re welcome to your opinions of course, but it’s really not debatable… mechanical discs are trash and worse than hydraulics in every possible way. Better off just sticking to rim brakes if you’re going to run mechanical brakes.

There is no doubt hydraulics are better. 100%. I wouldn’t buy new rim brake group set with a plan to run it with mechanical disc. But if I have a good groupo and I’d like to run it for a couple of seasons with the Juin Tech it can done very well. Btw, James is about to do a review of the brakes (different name, same thing). Login • Instagram


What groupset are you on? Bar, Stem, and frameset routing is all going to vary significantly based on model and layout of the frameset in question. Best way to tell is just by throwing some TRP Spyres on whatever you buy and seeing if it feels right. Personally I’d just bite the bullet and buy some hydro shifters/brakes in the brand/series you have and do it right. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about those Juin Tech 4 pots but they’re not exactly cheap. If you’re running Shimano 11 speed you can find R7020 Shifter brake sets for the price of those mechanical GT-Ps that’s not even counting the money you’d get back from selling your old shifters on ebay.

1 Like

So it sounds like there is one setup that is acceptable. That does make it generally suck. Obviously if you can get acceptable that’s fine and I get wanting to reuse the group set…. But if you are getting a new bike sometimes it’s best just to actually get a new bike.

1 Like

Thanks for the replies. I was trying to do this as cheaply as possible - read, direct from china frame. Selling my 105 stuff and upgrading to GRX at least would be reasonable. I don’t know that I want electronic shifting and I may regret not doing that too but I hate the idea of batteries on bikes. Again - cheap is the operative word here. The bar/stem is one piece and has pretty smooth cable routing so mechanical shifting may be just fine. I’ll report back once I have my abomination.

Electric shifting is awesome and the batteries are way less drama than you think they may be… but electric shifting also isn’t a game changer as far as your riding goes so you won’t miss it if you don’t have it.

1 Like

I’ve purchased several bikes in the past 18 months - I like to get the frames and build
up the bikes myself. Parts, of course, have been problematic. Waiting months and months, etc…. These bikes are all disc-brake bikes, which I had intended to run hydraulic (some SRAM, some Shimano). Out of 5, I have only been to get one running with hydraulic discs - I am using HopeTech disc brakes with 2x 12 spd Shimano Di2 - a sweet setup. All the others I am still waiting for hydraulic compatible shifters and/or brakes. So I am running some of these with TRP Hy/Rd hybrid mech-hydro calipers and some with TRP SLC mechanical disc. The SLC mechanical brakes - in my opinion - work about 90% as well as hydraulic but do not have a brake feel nearly as nice as full hydro or the TRP hybrids. So I think we cannot have the same expectations of mechanical disc brakes as we do of full hydraulic. Adjusted for that, I think the mechanical discs can work pretty well. A ton better than not being able to ride a bike at all due to no brakes. I mean, just ride what you got. Will I eventually upgrade my four bikes with mechanical or hybrid mechanical disc brakes? Probably 1 or 2 (mostly because I might want to upgrade those from 11 to 12 speed drivetrains)…but not all.

1 Like

I was looking at trek gravel bikes and noticed that all the carbon versions route the cables into the frame similarly. The cheaper bikes without integrated bar/stem and with mechanical shifting still route the cables under the stem and then directly down behind the headset. The overall cable routing is actually worse than a fully integrated bar stem.

The guys in the shop say they have had no issues with shifting despite the crap cable routing. If trek can make it work, i guess ill give fully integrated mechanical cable routing a try. I can’t find any grx groupos anyways.

Anyone have any experience with the Juin Tech F1 cable / hydro brakes? After some issues travelling with my primary road bike last week, I am looking to build up a semi-cheap travel bike that is easily serviceable wherever I go…the GT-F brakes look nice, but are double the price of the F1’s…

I havent tried those but if you want something that is servicable all over the world, i wouldn’t buy rare brakes that would be dificult to get pads for or bleed on the road.

As a side note, i picked up a set of clarks mechanical brakes for cheap from crc. One of the brakes started stickimg after a month and i threw the rotors away as the braking surface was uneven and they vibrated like crazy.

In short, i always pay for reputable brakes.

I wired up my TT bike using the Shimano OT-SP41 polymer cables. I naively tried to use the generic cables and housing that you can get away with if you have smooth routing - and that didn’t work. This bike has really tight bends through the bars into the shim stack. It changes well.

They are cable / hydro hybrids, nothing to bleed….just string a cable and good to go. Almost zero chance of me needing spare brake pads suddenly on the road, so not too concerned about that.

LBS owner runs TRP cable actuated discs and loves them, so may take his bike for a spin and see how those feel.

They use Shimano Saint pads, pretty easy to get hold of. Bleeding should never be needed as it’s a closed system. Only if there’s a fault with the seals and air has somehow got in will bleeding be needed.

I’ve no experience with the hydro/mech brakes but i assumed that there is still the possibility the unit would need to be bled. I guess without the long brake line the chance of getting air in the system is lower?

Im using trp spires and would never say the feel is great but the power is fine and modulation is also ok. They just dont have the bite of a hydro. Its more like braking with a sponge.

If your looking at mechanical disc you generally can do enough adjustment with the pad placement at the caliper that with quality housing you shouldnt notice a difference. Just have to stay on top of adjusting pad placement as they wear