Brakes Not Stopping Well

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by rcrampton, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. rcrampton

    rcrampton New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm going over a bike given to a friend. A Windsor from the 1970's. It's in good shape and rides quite well except for the brakes. It uses Dia-Compe center pull cantilevers. I've adjusted the cable so that the brake pads grab the rim very soon as you pull on the brake lever but I can bottom both brake levers against the handle bars and the bike just doesn't stop well at all.

    It seems like a mechanical advantage issue more than brake pad friction but I'm not sure. I also don't know how old the brake pads are though it had tires, tubes, and rim tape replaced a year ago. The brake pad material doesn't look or feel bad but I'm not sure I'd be able to tell.

    The cables and housing are very old.

    Thoughts? Pics below.


    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
     
    Tags:


  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    Well you've got several things working against you but you should be able to improve the braking quite a bit.

    I suspect those are vintage steel rims which were never known for great braking performance but add old hardened pads and old cable housings and everything gets worse. I'd:

    - Replace the pads
    - Replace the cables and housings opting for the heaviest gauge brake cables you can find that fit your brake levers and some good quality low compression housing.

    Start there, they may no brake like modern brakes on alloy braking surfaces but you should be able to improve the braking quite a bit.

    -Dave
     
  3. rcrampton

    rcrampton New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Dave, thanks. I forgot about vintage steel rims and braking. I tested this with a spoke-mount speedo magnet and found something interesting. It sticks strongly to the spokes, sticks weakly to the sides of the rims (where the brakes contact, it will *just* keep the magnet stuck without falling off) and not at all to the "inside" of the rim. By "inside" I'm referring to the exterior area between the spoke nipples. It appears to be a rim with a hybrid of materials (though there's no visible indicator of this).
     
  4. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    2,292
    Likes Received:
    139
    No.

    You haven't got folding tires, have you?

    The magnet is sticking to the brake tracks b/c immediately on the inside of that is the steel hoop reinforcing the bead of the tire.

    So, new pads (Kool-stop Salmon comes highly recommended), clean the brake tracks thoroughly. Squeeze the levers and inspect the cabling runs, any big bights that flex and sway at brakes engaging should be trimmed to their functional minimum. A name brand housing, and die drawn cables.
     
  5. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Messages:
    11,945
    Likes Received:
    1,038
    The front brake has to take up slack or stretch in the cable housing (compression), the brake cable, itself, the center wire/saddle and the flexible hangar on the headset/stem. It's a recipe for mushy braking. Follow Dave's advice and install new housing/cables/pads.

    And please, tell me more about the cars in the background...Factory Five kits?
     
  6. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,723
    Likes Received:
    126
    FWIW. daveryanwyoming & dabac ARE correct that the best option is to replace the brake pads ...

    But, in the interim, if there has been limited maintenance on the bike in the past few years, then a glaze may have developed on the brake pads (think of how useless the eraser on the end of an old pencil often is because it appears to have hardened, but the glaze on a pencil eraser can be removed & the underlying eraser made usable) ...

    • temporarily removing the wheel(s) and sanding the contact surface of the brake pads with some either a piece of emery cloth or ~100 grit sand paper can remove the glaze & will probably help with their ability to grab the rim(s)

    As daveryanwyoming & CAMPYBOB noted, replacing the cable(s) and housing will probably be beneficial ...

    • 'I' recommend lubing the cable with thin layer of grease even if the cables-and/or-housing are teflon coated ... simply run the cable through a dab of grease between your thumb & index finger ...
    • the benefit of the grease is even more evident on non-stainless (i.e., galvinized) steel cables, BTW

    BTW. If you are going to change cable housing and/or cables, then you may-or-may-not want to consider changing the brake levers, too, to a pair of "aero" brake levers ... DiaCompe & Shimano are "okay" ... the Tektro levers whose shape is a copy of the previous Campagnolo levers are better, IMO.

    • Tektro makes a brake lever which has MORE pull (almost 2x ... which may-or-may-not be too much) because they are designed to be used with V-brakes ...
    • BUT, they are NOT comfortable (to me) because the top portion of the handle body where your (as in, 'my') hands rest is poorly shaped (as in, NOT flat)
     
  7. Dave Cutter

    Dave Cutter Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    27
    I have an old Peugeot with Weinmann brakes like that.... and I don't have a third-hand cable puller. So first I used a clamp to pull the brakes together. Then I removed the remaining cable slack by pressing the cable release on the brake handle. That made it easy to pull the cable tight [enough] using only a pair of needle nose pliers. After tightening the set screw.... a quick pull of the brakes resets the release and the brakes felt solid.

    Of course... my Peugeot is an office wall decoration so stopping isn't a huge issue.
     
  8. rcrampton

    rcrampton New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for all of the replies. I'll toss new brake pads and cables/housings in and that's probably about as good as she'll be.
     
Loading...
Loading...