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Question about brakes
#1
hello, some of you may remember me, i posted a while back about my gears on the forum relevant to that. ive had some problems with my brakes, though, and finally decided to do something about it.

for those who dont remember, ive got an old fuji road bike refitted with hybrid tires.

for a long time, ive felt that my brakes are not all that effective. i mentioned this once when having a repair done, and he told me that theyre not really 'brakes' theyre just to slow you down. (as opposed to stopping you.)

so the first question is, what exactly did he mean by that? i didnt think about it much at the time, but ive since realized that there could be a few ways to look at that. did he mean just my particular brakes arent meant for full stopping? (although its hard for you to know that without seeing em...) did he mean that the brakes on road bikes in general are not meant for full stopping? or what i think is most likely based on experience, though i havent seen anything to confirm this, did he mean that the 'upper' brakes are for slowing not stopping while the 'lower' brakes are for stopping?

which leads into the most recent problem. in the past, while they didnt work great, even the uppers, they did work. now, especially after an incident where some idiot locked his bike up next to mine on a pole and i wrenched the brakes getting my bike out from under his. (luckily he didnt lock up to or through my bike, just on top of it. amazingly enough, he did it twice! wow, just wow...) since then, (or so) the upper breaks do almost nothing at all and the lower ones slow me, but i often have to 'wobble' the front wheel to bleed speed so that i stop. not very safe as i have no way to stop short if need be. its also a real hassle to have to drop down to the lower breaks whenever i need to stop, as i dont ride like that.

btw, ive tried replacing the brake pads, but i wasnt able to because of the wider tires, they wouldnt fit. i tried to loosen the brakes to make space, but it didnt seem to be working and i didnt want to totally mess up my brakes.

so the second question is, espcially if road bike brakes are not meant for full stopping, or at least not the upper ones, is it possible to completely revamp the brake system and install mountain bike style brakes on the 'upper' part of the handlebars? theoretically, i cant see why not, as long as theyll fit there, but i figured i would come ask the experts. is that correct, can that be done?
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#2
Disregard what someone said about brakes not being for stopping. That is just patently wrong. Of course, they are meant to slow you down as well. You probably took his response a little too literally and his remark was not thought through as to how you might interpret it.

You are potentially messing with your life by not having the brakes working properly. Loosening them is not the solution. Since you have modified with wider tires it would be hard for any of us to make proper suggestions. You may need to replace the current brake assembly to accomodate the wider tires.
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#3
we need pictures to be of assistance to you.

modern bicycle rim brakes with good pads working on aluminum alloy rims are capable of deceleration in the 1G range - race car/race motorcycle range - and will bring a bike to a quick stop.
Nigel
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#4
Yep, I'll go with, some old brake sytems don't stop very well, or downright poorly, but your bike guy is incorrect.
At worst, once you post pics, we can tell you which pads will fit & you'll just have to let a bunch of air out of the tires to get the wheels on & off, but I doubt it.
Nfmisso has a ton of experience with brakes & upgrades on older bikes. Your bike will be fine, don't sweat it, post good pics.
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#5
(01-21-2014, 02:09 PM)RBurrelli Wrote:  Disregard what someone said about brakes not being for stopping. That is just patently wrong. Of course, they are meant to slow you down as well. You probably took his response a little too literally and his remark was not thought through as to how you might interpret it.

You are potentially messing with your life by not having the brakes working properly. Loosening them is not the solution. Since you have modified with wider tires it would be hard for any of us to make proper suggestions. You may need to replace the current brake assembly to accomodate the wider tires.

well, obviously theyre for stopping in some fashion, but thats why i was thinking maybe he meant the upper brakes werent for full stopping, since i find they dont work as well as the lower ones, currently not at all.

and yes, i know its very dangerous to not have working brakes, thats why i want to fix them. Wink

i dont think the brake assembly (wheel part) is the problem, it was working fine with the wider tires for a while. its the squeezie part that got messed around trying to get my bike out from under that other guy's. maybe i stretched/damaged the wire?



(01-21-2014, 04:58 PM)nfmisso Wrote:  we need pictures to be of assistance to you.

modern bicycle rim brakes with good pads working on aluminum alloy rims are capable of deceleration in the 1G range - race car/race motorcycle range - and will bring a bike to a quick stop.

pictures of which part from what angle?



(01-21-2014, 09:00 PM)1FJEF Wrote:  Yep, I'll go with, some old brake sytems don't stop very well, or downright poorly, but your bike guy is incorrect.
At worst, once you post pics, we can tell you which pads will fit & you'll just have to let a bunch of air out of the tires to get the wheels on & off, but I doubt it.
Nfmisso has a ton of experience with brakes & upgrades on older bikes. Your bike will be fine, don't sweat it, post good pics.

well, as i said it WAS stopping good. its not the tire that gets in the way of the pads, though, its the rim itself. there just wasnt space to put in the new pads, at least not without taking off the tire. (was in a bit of a rush the day i tried replacing, so i didnt try taking off the tire, but i could see there wouldnt be space.)



i definitely wouldnt mind replacing the dual road bike style braking system with a single mountain biek style system if its possible. the only time i ever drop down to the lower handle bars is to brake.

lmk what to take pics of and ill get that tomorrow.
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#6
pictures - lots of pictures, we do not know anything about what you have except a few dozen words - a picture is worth a thousand words, so give us 10K worth of words. Include the brakes, the brake levers, and overall off the bike.

GUESSING that you have "suicide" levers. Like this:
http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpeeds_1/Bicycles_Table/Canadian_Bicycles/Peugeot_Bicycles/Peugeot_Sport_B4H_56_Black/PeugeotSportB4H_56_BarsTQFront.jpg
which are appropriately named.

A very good solution to the problem is cross levers with aero brake levers:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/images/BR7312.jpg
which is what I have on my Miyata 310
Nigel
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#7
Judging by his comments, ("the only time i ever drop down to the lower handle bars is to brake") I think we should get him into new handlebars, flat or mountain bars with a 2 1/2" rise, top thumb shifters and new (long levered) levers (or lever/bottom shifter combo).
If the existing shifters are on the stem I guess you could leave them, if they're on the drop tube & he doesn't use the drop bars they should be moved.

Pics of the bike from both sides. Closer pics of the handlebars from the front & the top.
Close up pics of the shifters and the brake assemblies from the front back & both sides.
Pics of the new pads you tried to put on.
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#8
Ah, so this is what he meant with "upper" brakes. I was pretty confused about that...
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#9
Yep, that's why I think he needs to change bars and levers. He likes to ride more upright.
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#10
wow, i cant believe its been almost a month since i posted this. my bikes been covered or caked in snow, making getting pics difficult. (see pic below) i finally brought it into work and let it melt off so i could take some pics.

[attachment=4900]

(01-22-2014, 05:00 PM)nfmisso Wrote:  pictures - lots of pictures, we do not know anything about what you have except a few dozen words - a picture is worth a thousand words, so give us 10K worth of words. Include the brakes, the brake levers, and overall off the bike.

GUESSING that you have "suicide" levers. Like this:
http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpeeds_1/Bicycles_Table/Canadian_Bicycles/Peugeot_Bicycles/Peugeot_Sport_B4H_56_Black/PeugeotSportB4H_56_BarsTQFront.jpg
which are appropriately named.

A very good solution to the problem is cross levers with aero brake levers:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/images/BR7312.jpg
which is what I have on my Miyata 310

yeah, those suicide levers look similar to what i have. and the cross levers you posted look much more appealing to me. im gussing those work much better? about how much would it run to have them installed?

attached is various pics of my bike and brakes. as you can see, the right-hand brake is lower than the left one, it doesnt stay up very well anymore.
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#11
Aero levers (required for cross levers), cross levers and new cables (required) will set you back about $50- thru Amazon. And you should install bar tape - figure another $20-

I think that Jeff is correct - you would be happier with flat or riser bars, and moving the shifters to the handle bars.

That seat look painful to me.
Nigel
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#12
(02-20-2014, 01:03 AM)nfmisso Wrote:  Aero levers (required for cross levers), cross levers and new cables (required) will set you back about $50- thru Amazon. And you should install bar tape - figure another $20-

I think that Jeff is correct - you would be happier with flat or riser bars, and moving the shifters to the handle bars.

That seat look painful to me.

ouch, so we're probably talking 75-100 to have someone do it for me. the gears and stuff i dont mind messing with so much, but im leery of touching the brakes until i know what im doing better.

of course, i couldnt make em much worse than they are now...

the different style handlebars i could take or leave. i might be a bit happier with them, but i dont mind these, except when i need to drop down for the brakes. if i fixed that id be fine with em, not really worth the extra expense to change em.

the seats not bad. Wink not as comfy as i hoped it would be, but its not the worst ive had, either. definitely better than what i upgraded from, which was a broken seat.
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#13
4th picture down(3rd of the thawed out pics.), Is there a spring missing from the right side(from riders view) of the brake set on the front?
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#14
(02-20-2014, 01:53 AM)RiceBurner Wrote:  4th picture down(3rd of the thawed out pics.), Is there a spring missing from the right side(from riders view) of the brake set on the front?
Yes - great eyes you have Smile
Nigel
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#15
(02-20-2014, 01:53 AM)RiceBurner Wrote:  4th picture down(3rd of the thawed out pics.), Is there a spring missing from the right side(from riders view) of the brake set on the front?

weird. it does look like its missing in the pic, but i checked and its there. what would that do if it had been missing tho?
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#16
(02-21-2014, 03:15 AM)RetFor Wrote:  weird. it does look like its missing in the pic, but i checked and its there. what would that do if it had been missing tho?
The brake pad with the missing spring would not retract properly from the rim, and probably rub.
Nigel
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#17
(02-21-2014, 04:22 AM)nfmisso Wrote:  
(02-21-2014, 03:15 AM)RetFor Wrote:  weird. it does look like its missing in the pic, but i checked and its there. what would that do if it had been missing tho?
The brake pad with the missing spring would not retract properly from the rim, and probably rub.

ah, ok. im having the opposite problem, theyre not rubbing enough!


so, anyway, what can i replace my brakes with? and would everything including pads and levers? or is it enough to replace the part on the handlebars? (or can you not tell over the internet...? Wink )


i like the look of what you posted, in that the ones on the horizontal part of the handlebars are like mountain bike style brakes. the picture you showed had another set of brakes as well, though. is that really necessary? i doubt id ever really use them and its just one more part to break. its also probably more expensive.

also, how complicated would replacing the brake system myself be? still not sure if i want to, but i suppose if i mess it up i can always bring it to someone.
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#18
Just saw this thread for the first time and I have several comments.

First, the problems with the OP's braking should be obvious, and are mostly fixable.

1. The rear brake housing at the brake lever is too short, and the housing is kinked at the ferrule. That introduces friction which robs braking efficiency.

2. The front housing is routed in front of the handlebars, forcing a bend at the hanger, and the housing is a bit too long - again introducing friction/inefficiency.

3. There is absolutely no sign of lubrication at the brake pivots - the nylon bushings are greyish in color - they would be darker if any lubrication had been applied.

4. The brake pads are cheap ones, nowhere near the quality of the original Weinmann pads.

5. The bike is old enough that it is likely to have unlined housing (no inner liner) meaning more friction and metal to metal contact. Unlined brake housing MUST be greased when the cable is inserted to avoid friction and especially rust. Doubtful there is lube of any type in the housing.

As for "old brakes not working so well" the Weinman centerpulls were some of the best brakes for the time, and are not functionally that different from modern dual pivot brakes. I used them on a bike with 35 lbs of gear on a 10,000 mile tour with no problems.

As to fixing the problem I'll cover the general fix first and then what I would recommend for the OP.

For this type of situation all cable/housing should be replaced, including using lined housing properly sized. The pads should be replaced with good quality ones, Kool Stop salmon pads generally being recognized as the best. One generally will have to release the brake cable to back off the arms enough to fit a new pad, but turning the adjustment barrel on the hanger all the way down could be sufficient in this case. Pivots on both the brake levers and calipers should be lubricated with a heavier lube, due to riding and outside storage in winter.

The extension (suicide) levers are indeed no good for stopping quickly - in fact it is dangerous to depend on them, as one can't decide in an emergency to shift to the other ones. They also make it impossible to use the levers from the hoods, which is where most riders brake. They should either be removed and the pivots sawed off and sanded smooth so the OP can use the hoods or bars and levers replaced.

The aero levers plus cross levers may be an option, though cross levers still will not offer full braking power, and steering/control is more difficult in that hand position. They are really intended for low speed maneuvering. But the OP has steel bars, which have a 22.2 grip (brake lever) diameter, so he would need to replace bars as well, being careful to match the diameter of the stem clamp. That is going to take the total $ up, especially if he does not do the work himself.

The final point is that the OP needs to determine what else the bike may need, in order to determine if it is wise to invest that much in just the brakes. The frame has been in a front-end collision, and judging by seat height may be a bit on the large side for the rider. The lack of maintenance and lubrication may indicate other problems in the near future which will take more money and time to resolve. It may be better to look for a replacement bike in good condition.

Bottom line:

Least expensive fix: Replace cables and housing and pads, remove extension levers, saw off pivot extensions, and brake from the top of the hoods.

Ideal fix with same bike - Aero and cross levers, alloy bars, new cables, housing and pads.

If there are other problems with bike (worn chain, gritty bearings, etc.) replace the bike.
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#19
(02-21-2014, 03:51 PM)cny-man Wrote:  Just saw this thread for the first time and I have several comments.

First, the problems with the OP's braking should be obvious, and are mostly fixable.

1. The rear brake housing at the brake lever is too short, and the housing is kinked at the ferrule. That introduces friction which robs braking efficiency.

2. The front housing is routed in front of the handlebars, forcing a bend at the hanger, and the housing is a bit too long - again introducing friction/inefficiency.

3. There is absolutely no sign of lubrication at the brake pivots - the nylon bushings are greyish in color - they would be darker if any lubrication had been applied.

4. The brake pads are cheap ones, nowhere near the quality of the original Weinmann pads.

5. The bike is old enough that it is likely to have unlined housing (no inner liner) meaning more friction and metal to metal contact. Unlined brake housing MUST be greased when the cable is inserted to avoid friction and especially rust. Doubtful there is lube of any type in the housing.

As for "old brakes not working so well" the Weinman centerpulls were some of the best brakes for the time, and are not functionally that different from modern dual pivot brakes. I used them on a bike with 35 lbs of gear on a 10,000 mile tour with no problems.

As to fixing the problem I'll cover the general fix first and then what I would recommend for the OP.

For this type of situation all cable/housing should be replaced, including using lined housing properly sized. The pads should be replaced with good quality ones, Kool Stop salmon pads generally being recognized as the best. One generally will have to release the brake cable to back off the arms enough to fit a new pad, but turning the adjustment barrel on the hanger all the way down could be sufficient in this case. Pivots on both the brake levers and calipers should be lubricated with a heavier lube, due to riding and outside storage in winter.

The extension (suicide) levers are indeed no good for stopping quickly - in fact it is dangerous to depend on them, as one can't decide in an emergency to shift to the other ones. They also make it impossible to use the levers from the hoods, which is where most riders brake. They should either be removed and the pivots sawed off and sanded smooth so the OP can use the hoods or bars and levers replaced.

The aero levers plus cross levers may be an option, though cross levers still will not offer full braking power, and steering/control is more difficult in that hand position. They are really intended for low speed maneuvering. But the OP has steel bars, which have a 22.2 grip (brake lever) diameter, so he would need to replace bars as well, being careful to match the diameter of the stem clamp. That is going to take the total $ up, especially if he does not do the work himself.

The final point is that the OP needs to determine what else the bike may need, in order to determine if it is wise to invest that much in just the brakes. The frame has been in a front-end collision, and judging by seat height may be a bit on the large side for the rider. The lack of maintenance and lubrication may indicate other problems in the near future which will take more money and time to resolve. It may be better to look for a replacement bike in good condition.

Bottom line:

Least expensive fix: Replace cables and housing and pads, remove extension levers, saw off pivot extensions, and brake from the top of the hoods.

Ideal fix with same bike - Aero and cross levers, alloy bars, new cables, housing and pads.

If there are other problems with bike (worn chain, gritty bearings, etc.) replace the bike.

thanks for the great (and detailed) response. (out of curiosity, can you tell that it was in a front-end collision or did i mention that in my last thread and you remembered?)


assuming a relative noob can do it without too much problems, replacing the cables and cable housing should be pretty easy, as i have them already from when i replaced a gear-shift cable - i bought a pack that came with all 4 cables. i also have one set of new pads (the kool stop salmon, i think) but i was having trouble getting them on last time i tried. granted, i tried to do it the easy way, just using the adjuster, but when i held them up next to it, it didnt look like they would have had enough room, even if i had been able to get them in, as i had wider tires put onto the bike at one point, so theres less leeway there. unless thats fixable with the adjuster, but that didnt seem to change it much, if at all. im not sure if i was adjusting the right thing tho (although i think i was) or if maybe the adjuster is broken, or if it just doesnt adjust as much as i thought it would.

really, i probably should have just bought a new bike a long time ago, but thats expensive, and at this point ive now replaced quite a bit of the parts, so itd be a shame to throw away previous investments into it. although if its worthwhile to its worthwhile. just not sure whether it is or not. the only other thing which could use fixing is the gear system, but i have most of the parts for that already, i just havent gotten around to doing it yet. despite being in a collision, the frames in pretty good condition, i think.

as for the levers, why is it necessary to use aero levers with cross levers? mountain bikes, for example, have only one set of levers not two. why do i need two? as i said, i never ride down on the lower bars, so i dont need a set of brakes there. id definitely rather not replace the handlebars if i do keep this bike, though. is it not possible to find levers that will fit them?

when you say the brake housing is too short/long, what do you mean by that? and how fixable is that?

lubrication i can apply. im definitely negligent in general maintenance...

thanks again.
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#20
(02-23-2014, 05:09 AM)RetFor Wrote:  1. ...can you tell that it was in a front-end collision or did i mention that in my last thread and you remembered?)

2...assuming a relative noob can do it without too much problems, replacing the cables and cable housing should be pretty easy,

3. at this point ive now replaced quite a bit of the parts, so itd be a shame to throw away previous investments into it. although if its worthwhile to its worthwhile. just not sure whether it is or not.

4. the only other thing which could use fixing is the gear system, but i have most of the parts for that already, i just havent gotten around to doing it yet.

5. despite being in a collision, the frames in pretty good condition, i think.

6. as for the levers, why is it necessary to use aero levers with cross levers?

7. when you say the brake housing is too short/long, what do you mean by that? and how fixable is that?

1. In a front-end collision the top tube and down tube are bent/stretched, breaking the paint, and then later rust at that point, evident in the side view pic of your bike.

2. Can't assume it would be easy for you, as you found changing brake pads challenging.

3. I assume you've heard of the saying about "throwing good money after bad?" The shift cables, lock and saddle can be used on any other bike.

4. I have no way of knowing what you have for the "gear system," but there's a good chance your chain and some of the rear cogs are worn, and you can't do that work without specialized tools and more expense. You need to have the entire bike evaluated so you know what other problems remain.

5. The frame will not break, but frame/fork could be bent sideways as well affecting handling. Certainly your ability to resell the bike will be greatly affected.

6. You actually could just replace the bars with upright and use mountain levers, but would need to get compatible bars and handlebar grips. Again - need to know if other problems exist before putting in more money.

7. I explained that above - look at the way the front housing loops way up and the back housing is forced to leave the lever at an angle. When installing new cable/housing you would need to make sure there's a smooth bend.

I strongly suggest you find a bike shop where you can get an evaluation of what the bike needs, or better yet if available find a bike co-op where you can get advice and assistance - or lean on a knowledgeable friend if available. Nothing is better than in-person help.
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