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Mech disc brakes no longer work very well
#1
2008 C'dale Bad Boy; 4500 miles; original brake pads; yeah, they're worn; and yes, I keep them clean w/alcohol soaked pads. Originally, they worked great, but are slowly losing their effectiveness. Now, if goin downhill to a stop sign, I gotta use 3 fingers on each lever; squeeze like crazy; and that will only slow down; not really stop. Sup?

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#2
Because the pads wear down, the gap between the pads and the rotor will increase so gradually more of the brake lever's travel is taken up by making contact with the rotor. It sounds like your pads are worn to the stage that by the time the pads make contact you've almost run out of travel, and therefore have very poor braking.
Solutions:
1. Check the pads. If they are worn past the wear mark (usually noticed by two circles appearing in the middle of the pads) then bin them and replace. The method of replacement will vary with each different pad design so I can't be terribly specific but it usually involves pulling a pin out and then the pads just fall out. Assuming you haven't fiddled with the brake cables they should work like new (though bear in mind you will get cable stretch with new bikes so it may be a good idea to adjust it (See below))
2. If the pads are OK then the cable has either stretched (this is normal for a new bike) or the pinch bolt wasn't tight enough and the cable has gradually slipped over time. To fix this undo the pinch bolt that holds the cable in place and then move the arm with the pinch bolt along the cable until the pad is close to (but not touching) the rotor, then tighten the pinch bolt. This will mean less of the lever's travel is used to make the pads contact the rotor so more braking force can be applied with the rest of lever's travel.
Hope this helps!

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#3
thx 4 the reply
but, I keep them adjusted, and I think the cable is finished stretching.
I've taken them out; they're worn, and I've ordered new ones. But, I don't think they're worn out; they don't make any noise. It's just impossible to make a panic stop...

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