Decades ago, my first hydraulic disc brakes were the legendary Hayes Mags. I can remember how much better they worked than the V-brakes on my previous bike. I can also remember thinking I was going to need a heat guard similar to what motocross bikes run. My three next bikes all had Hayes Mag brakes and I was hooked.
After those first few Hayes-equipped bikes I ended up on some bikes with Hayes Stroker Ace brakes in the late 2000’s. If you rode those brakes too you probably understand why I immediately took them off my bikes and switched to another brand for good.
Those memories were in the back of my mind while installing the Dominion A4 brakes on my new bike. I was excited, hopeful and honestly, a bit skeptical too. I wanted them to work and reignite my nostalgic love for Hayes. The time was now.
Installation is straight forward. Hayes included everything I needed to bleed the brakes after cutting the hoses to match the other cables on my bike. Hayes has loads of information online to make cutting and bleeding easy for even the novice bike mechanic.
The Dominion A4 lever is comfortable with or without gloves and has incredibly smooth operation. As stated above, the lever rolls on ball bearings and it really makes for smooth actuation. The lever also includes an integrated reach adjustment dial that is tucked into the lever to protect it in the event of a crash. The lever adjustment is easy to use with or without gloves.
Hayes did a really great job with the Dead Stroke, lever feel and the lever action. The brakes start to engage as soon as there is pressure on the lever and modulation is great. Increased pressure means more braking power until the brakes lock up. As soon as the lever is released the brakes release and there is an audible click that can be heard when the lever returns to its original position.
What really surprised me about the Hayes Dominion A4 brakes during the course of my review is that the brakes feel the same today as they did on my first ride. The lever contact point and modulation has remained the same time and time again. Every time I have pulled these brakes they feel the same: Same lever contact point, same pad contact point, same pressure, same braking power… This makes the Dominion A4 extremely predictable brake, which is something that I really enjoy in a brake, and as a rider over 200lbs who likes riding steep trails in the woods of British Columbia, that is not something I find in all brakes.