Can I increase my braking power?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by CyclinYooper, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. CyclinYooper

    CyclinYooper New Member

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    I ride a lot of hills/mountains in NM. I'm finding that I can't really slow my bike down quickly ... and, I'm actually kinda scared to tackle more windy/steeper hills as a result.

    I have a GT GTR Serie 4 road bike (specs just say dual pivot brakes). Is it possible to increase my braking power? Is it more an issue of the shifters/brake levers? Or the brake calipers? Or the pads? I currently am using Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels (don't know if that makes a difference).

    I definitely saw some improvement after cleaning and gently sanding my pads. But, I've read that higher end brakes can almost "lock up" a wheel. I can't even imagine that kind of braking force! Scott
     
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  2. CyclinYooper

    CyclinYooper New Member

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    Should add: the bike has Shimano STI shifters/brake levers.
     
  3. BHOFM

    BHOFM Active Member

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    Sounds like old pads, they get hard long before they wear out. Or that
    is my findings.

    I use Azetic pads from the LBS. The cheap ones at Wally world cost more.

    http://www.bikesomewhere.com/bikesomewhere.cfm/product/62/5363/32485?g=1
     
  4. davereo

    davereo Well-Known Member

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    I am riding on Mavic Equipe wheels. My bike has Tektro 520 brake calipers. The Tektro pads had terrible stopping power so I replaced them with Shimano BR7900 Dura Ace pads for 29 bucks front and back and my braking and confidence in braking has increased dramatically.
    Hope this helps.
    Dave
     
  5. jpr95

    jpr95 Active Member

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    Are they adjusted properly? I don't think I've ever had a bike that I couldn't lock up the wheels on...

    Jason
     
  6. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    It could be an issue with the brakes or the braking surface on the rim.

    Take a clean white cloth or paper towel and rub it hard and fast against the side of the rim. If you see any black residue then it needs a good cleaning. Dish soap with get most of it off, a good degreaser may be faster (some like the Park chain cleaner leave a residue all of their own and should be avoided) but I find that brake cleaner for car brakes works the best. Pop on a pair of rubber gloves, spray some on a rag and clean away. If you have painted rims don't spray the brake cleaner directly on the rim as it may kill the finish. This stuff is pretty cheap and you can pick it up and all auto parts stores and even Walmart/Target. Gloves are pretty much a requirement and although the stuff smells really good, outdoors is best. ;)

    I used to have a set of 'el cheapo' Tektro dual pivots that I got years ago and noticed a massive improvement after upgrading, not just in ultimate stopping power but also in brake modulation. The difference in braking on long descents is amazing. Some of that is from the pads (Shimano quoted a significant difference even between the old and new Dura Ace - 7800 vs 7900 pads) and some is due to the change in the design of the caliper itself - rigidity, lever arm, bushings/bearings etc etc.

    You also have to factor in tires too, as they're ultimately what contacts the road. No grip = brakes lock. More grip = less chance of brakes locking. If I go out in the hills with the cheap tire on the back of the bike that I used for the indoor trainer then there's sometimes the odd "whoa" moment when the back wheel locks up unexpectedly. That rarely happens with the Conti GP4000S on the bike though.
     
  7. OldGoat

    OldGoat New Member

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    You could ditch your rear brake pads & shoes altogether, and install a set of these instead. They probably won't fit on the front (where most of your braking power actually comes from), but odds are they'll fit nicely on the rear.

    http://www.koolstop.com/english/thinline.html

    The larger pad should provide increased grip. The salmon-colored ones are supposed to be exceptionally good in the wet.
     
  8. ZenCyclery

    ZenCyclery New Member

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    Sounds like a pad issue to me. Take a file to the pads in order to take off the top "filmy" layer. Once you get to the fresh rubber underneath the braking should be as good as new. Also, try adjusting the toe on the pads. This will have a drastic effect on braking in all conditions.





    Roland @ Zen Cyclery
     
  9. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Are you talking about windy conditions OR winding roads (i.e., switchbacks)?

    If you are concerned about the wind, then you may have to move to another part of the country OR try to finish your rides before 10am ...

    OR, are you talking about coming down from the Crest? South 14? Elsewhere?

    WHERE are your hands normally placed when you are using the brakes?

    • post a picture of your bike as it is currently set up

    What is the gap between your brake pads & the rim's brake surface?

    • post pictures which show how your brake pads are set up relative to the rims

    How close are the brake levers to the handlebar when the brakes are fully closed on the rims?

    As already noted by others, BOTH the actual brake caliper AND the pad compound can make a difference -- Shimano brake calipers & pads have probably set the benchmark for other manufacturers for the past 20+ years ... but, I have to say that I feel that almost ALL calipers which have been available in the past several decades can adequately slow-or-stop a bike if they are set up properly ... only some of the weight weenie calipers may be suspect ... so, IMO, not only should Campagnolo (!?!) and Tektro calipers work well enough for most people in most riding situations, I even chose to install a set of 70s vintage MAFAC Racer calipers on one of my bikes because I think that I am familiar with their limitations after having used a set for about 10 years + I think-or-hope I know how to set them up so that they will slow-and-stop the bike how-and-when I want them to!

    On the other hand, the best brakes & pads can be handicapped if they are not set up properly ...

    • BTW. I think most people set up their brake pads with too much toe-in -- the less brake pad contact, the stopping resistance.

    [SIZE= small]Regardless, if you feel as though you are having problems adequately closing your brake calipers then one thing that you can do which may remedy the problem would be to simply LUBE your brake cables (it doesn't hurt to lube the derailleur cables, too, at some point) EVEN THOUGH the housing may theoretically be pre-lubed. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= small]You can use a thin layer of WHITE LITHIUM grease applied directly to the cable as the lubricant.[/SIZE]

    • [SIZE= small]you can test to see how much resistance is in your cables by disconnecting the brake cable from the caliper, holding the disconnected end with one hand and pulling on the lever with the other -- resistance should be minimal to non-existent.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE= small] [/SIZE]
     
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