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Brakes worn out after 1 months use
#1
To begin with, I know nothing about repairing bicycles. I am here to learn what I need to do in my current situation. About a year ago, I purchase a Huffy "Stone Mountain, 18 speed" at Kmart to ride around. I really had not ridden a bike much since I was a teenager (I am now 50), but with the price of gas being what it is, I decided to begin riding the bike to work. After a week or so, I noticed that the brakes became less and less responsive. I took it to a bicycle shop(where the bikes are quite elaborate and expensive) in the Birmingham, AL area for repair. I paid about $70 for a "tune-up" that included adjusting the brakes and replacing the brake pads. They told me that the brakes were originally assembled incorrectly, and, as a result, the brake pads were worn out. About a month later (and about 130 bike miles later), the brakes had become unresponsive again. I took it back to the bike shop where it was originally repaired and the bike mechanic told me that the warranty was of no benefit because the brake pads were worn out again. After such a short time, this seems unbelievable to me--I was not abusing the brakes or even riding fast and braking. What do you all suggest? Why would brakes wear out so fast after such a short time? (The shop mechanic told me that this is what happens with "department store bicycles.")

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#2
It does seem strange that the pads are wearing out so fast. My guess would be that they are very cheap pads, and you might do well upgrading to some higher quality pads. What kind of pads did the bike shop replace them with the first time?

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#3
I am looking at my receipt and the description given is Brake Pad, Avid 2OR STD Pair priced at 9.99--does that give you an indication?

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#4
What kind of pads would you recommend that I buy?

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#5
Those pads should be fine... weird. Are you able to upload a photo or two of your brake setup?

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#6
Attached are some pics of the back and front brakes. Thank you for your help.

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#7
I'm not sure I was successful in sending the pictures--here they are again. Also, one other possible hint to this problem—when the brakes were working effectively and I would apply the brakes, I could hear a very loud screeching noise (much louder than anything I ever heard on the 10 speed I had growing up).

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#8
It's hard to tell from looking given either the angle that you took the picture or the fact that you engaged the quick release. The only guess I maybe have is that the brakes are adjusted so the pads are in contact with the wheel and are wearing down as you ride the bike. V-brakes usually are very good as long as the brakes are adjusted correctly...

Why is it that they make adult bikes that'll generally work for 5'9" or above, yet when you pedal these same bikes they only work for someone who is 5'4" or so?
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#9
To be honest, I'm baffled as to why they would wear out so fast, but Skyguy may be right about the incorrect set-up (seems weird that a shop would do that poor of a job, but I guess it is possible). As for the noise, this is sadly common with v-brakes, because they are not set up with toe-in like the old style brakes. V-brakes have to be set up with the pads flat on the rim, which causes the noise you're hearing. You could try re-surfacing the pads with some sandpaper... but often the noise can only be fixed with a different set of pads, or a new set of brakes.

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#10
"(seems weird that a shop would do that poor of a job, but I guess it is possible)."
Anything is possible, really. I was riding with a neighbor once and he had a brake problem. I looked at them (cantilevers) and found that the bike shop he just took it to (yep the bike shop looked at it no less than a week ago) had the brakes locked down so tight you couldn't remove the quick release. He really didn't know what was supposed to be, I guess.
In a way, these videos are great for that purpose too, to educate what is supposed to be able to happen. Knowledge is always power. I know I keep saying this every once in a while, but thanks Alex for doing this site and for being willing to share some knowledge as you have!

Why is it that they make adult bikes that'll generally work for 5'9" or above, yet when you pedal these same bikes they only work for someone who is 5'4" or so?
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#11
Thanks Skyguy... it's always a pleasure Smile

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#12
The screeching sound is usually fixed by "toeing in" the brakes meaning that you adjust the pads so the front end hits the rim just before the back end. V-brakes do have less room for this adjustment, but they are made to do it. You can see the bevelled washers in the photo that allow it.
You might check the surface of your rim to see if there are scratches or rough spots that would wear the brake pad especially fast. You can use fine steel wool to smooth out any rough spots.
Also, you might try cleaning your brake pads with a little sand paper and your rims with some rubbing alcohol (don't use anything soapy that will leave a residue). The "unresponsiveness" could be due to build up of oil/grime on the pads and rim and not that the pads themselves are worn out. It looks like you still have some rubber left in the photos.

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#13
I think I see another problem:
Your braking style. Those front pads are barely touched, yet the back ones are almost gone. Are you relying mostly on the rear brake? If you are then this is not as effective as the front. Engage the front first (remember to shift your weight backwards a bit to avoid flying over the handlebars (I think most of us have probably done that at one time or another), and then use the back brake to help slow you down.
Don't worry, that's how I used to ride, and I ate through pads like there's no tomorrow (My new MTB is only 6 weeks old and it's half way through it's second set of pads (I only re-learned by braking stye a few weeks ago, and stopping distances are much shorter now).
As for "department store bikes," the cheap cheese on the front of my Apollo from Halfords (The British equivalent of "department store bikes") hasn't been changed for two years, even though I used it when I was introduced to mountain biking, and it's still got a bit of life left

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#14
"Engage the front first..." Maybe that's why the front brake lever is on the left and the rear derailleur shifter is on the right -- so you can brake and shift simultaneously, such as when approaching a stop sign or a sharp curve, and be ready to accelerate in a lower gear. I never really thought about it before but now it makes sense to me.

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#15
Not in the UK it isn't. It's the other way round (Front on the Right, Rear on the Left). The Deralliers are however the same as in the states.
To add to what Skyguy said about anything being possible I helped a friend with her bike (it was only £40 from Toys'R Us, that's what $70-80 tops), but their mechanics were useless. They set up the brakes so weak that I was able to apply full force with my little finger. I only found this out when I was trying to free up the seized up drive train (no oil for about a year...and she brought it to Wales, one of the wettest parts of the UK) and found myself unable to stop when it was lubricated properly. Quick question, the front derallier wouldn't shift (it's a super-budget 2-speed), even when I put both hands on the gripshifter. I suspect that because of how much rust was on it and the quality of the components it may be game over, as I implemented what I could from Alex's videos but nothing seems to have changed. Any short-term ideas or just give up and assume it only has one speed with 6 gears?
I would just like to testify to this site and Alex. Because of techniques I learned through your videos I am not only able to almost all my own maintenance (I now have hydraulic brakes, but if they get to the stage of maintenance within the next few months I want my money back!) but I was able to breathe life into my friends bike and save it from the skip (at least until she gets a new one). Thanks a million Alex!

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#16
I personally like to apply both front and rear brakes with the exact same amount of pressure, so the work is evenly distributed to both brakes.
@JonB - I'm glad to hear you are getting a lot out of the tutorials... awesome! As for your friends bike, if it has been used in the rain for a year, I suspect the front shift cable may be the problem. You can try lubing it and all the pivot points on the derailleur... if that doesn't work a replacement cable may be in order.

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#17
I was one of the guys that I thought I knew it all at one time lol.After I started riding bicycle again I found out just how stupid I was lol.I now think like this you are never to old to learn something form some one no matter how old they may be either.At my age now I need all the help I can get.And I try to get help where I can too.With out Alex help on his videos I would have been lost a few times.A few weeks back I had a heck of a time putting on a new kind of chain on it took me about one hour to get it on the right way.The old bicycle chain it took me maybe 5 min and I was set to go.But with 21 gears on this bike these chain are different it had some thing I was not use to.And my touring bike has 27 gears on it and the same kind of chain too.Hope I remember how to put it on when time comes.
My dad always told me a Sledge a matic can fix any thing.
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#18
(11-28-2008, 08:40 PM)Alex Ramon Wrote:  I personally like to apply both front and rear brakes with the exact same amount of pressure, so the work is evenly distributed to both brakes.
@JonB - I'm glad to hear you are getting a lot out of the tutorials... awesome! As for your friends bike, if it has been used in the rain for a year, I suspect the front shift cable may be the problem. You can try lubing it and all the pivot points on the derailleur... if that doesn't work a replacement cable may be in order.

DItto. Both brakes simultaneously for safe and effective braking on dry, level pavement. Other conditions (steep down grade, loose surface, slippery surface, etc.) may call for more rear braking bias or cautious use of the front.

I generally find cheap brake pads to be hard as rock and last for forever. The expensive ones are more responsive, softer, quieter and wear faster. I think Shimano has a chart posted to describe brake pad compounds and characteristics.
...j
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#19
On dry roads I brake mostly with the front brake, since the rear is quite useless. Look at the angular momentum to understand why...
< physics>
Basically: If you brake in the front, the angular momentum will cause the rear wheel to be unloaded a bit. Since friction is directly proportional to the normal force, reducing this normal force will reduce the effect of the brakes quite a bit. Also note that sticking friction (when the wheel rolls, the contact surface does not move vs. the road surface) is larger than sliding friction (when the rear wheel skids). So: in order to achieve maximum braking efficiency in the rear, the rear wheel must just not skid. But if I apply lots of braking force in the front, the normal force of the rear wheel on the road is (close to) zero.
< /physics>
On wet cobblestones and on trails or on ice it is a bit different. There, you would not want to brake too much with the front because the front wheel might start slipping. Good luck catching that...
(actually, at the moment I brake almost exclusively with the front brake on ice, since I have a spiked tyre in the front but not in the rear, won't fit inside the frame)
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