Installing Recessed Brakes on an Old Frame

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Harris, May 21, 2003.

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  1. Harris

    Harris Guest

    I want to install "recessed" brakes on my Classic SL frame. After reading Sheldon's article on the
    subject, I see there are a couple of options.

    Since I can't bear the thought of drilling out "Big Blue's" fork crown, I'm leaning towards using
    the rear brake on the front, and atttaching the short recessed nut inside the steerer.

    Has anyone experienced problems with this method? Is the nut more likely to loosen or fail when
    used this way?

    BTW, I've been using Dura Ace (single pivot) brakes for 20 years and never had a complaint. This is
    until I tried dual pivots on another bike. Now I'm spoiled.

    Art Harris
     
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  2. Art Harris wrote:
    > I want to install "recessed" brakes on my Classic SL frame. After reading Sheldon's article on the
    > subject, I see there are a couple of options.

    [http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_r.html#recessed]

    > Since I can't bear the thought of drilling out "Big Blue's" fork crown, I'm leaning towards using
    > the rear brake on the front, and atttaching the short recessed nut inside the steerer.
    >
    > Has anyone experienced problems with this method? Is the nut more likely to loosen or fail when
    > used this way?

    I haven't heard of anybody having a problem with this.

    > BTW, I've been using Dura Ace (single pivot) brakes for 20 years and never had a complaint. This
    > is until I tried dual pivots on another bike. Now I'm spoiled.

    It is true that dual-pivots are more powerful, but that is not the only part of the system that is
    superior to your old brake system, and just replacing the calipers won't make all that much
    difference.

    Here's some boilerplate I wrote on this topic:

    A caliper brake system consists of 4 parts:

    •The levers •The cables •The calipers •The brake shoes

    All of these parts are upgradable. Many people think first of replacing the calipers, but, in fact,
    this is the least likely part to make any real difference. A caliper is a simple leverage unit, and
    there's not all that much to one.

    In the case of older bikes, it can be difficult to find a new caliper that will even fit.

    The other 3 parts are much more likely to yield real improvement.

    •The levers

    Older designs had the cables exit up from the front of the brake levers, arching over the
    handlebars. The newer style, where the cable exits out the back of the lever and runs under the
    handlebar tape is referred to as "aero" because it eliminates the wind drag of the exposed cables.

    Aero levers are generally a major improvement over the older type. The pivots are located
    differently, making it possible to get fairly serious braking from the position where the rider's
    hand is on top of the lever hood. Traditional levers would permit the use of this position for
    gentle deceleration only.

    Additionally, the better aero levers have better internal cable routing, so there's less cable
    friction. I particularly recommend the Shimano Tiagra units we sell for $39.95, including cables.
    See: http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/brakes.html#leversdrop

    •The cables

    Older cables used metal-to-metal contact as the inner cable slid through the spiral-wound steel
    housing. Lubricant was by grease, if the mechanic was conscientious.

    Modern cable housings have a Teflon or similar lining. The better inner cables are stainless steel,
    and are "die drawn" to make them smoother. The result is greatly reduced cable friction, so more of
    your finger strength is transmitted to the caliper, rather than wasted overcoming cable friction.

    •The brake shoes

    Modern high-performance brake shoes also make a considerable difference. The very best is the ugly
    salmon-colored material originated by Scott-Mathauser, and now sold under the Kool Stop name. See:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/brakeshoes.html

    Sheldon "Stop!" Brown +--------------------------------------------------------------+
    | If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he | will not bite you. | This is the
    | principal difference between a dog and a man. | --Mark Twain |
    +--------------------------------------------------------------+ Harris Cyclery, West Newton,
    Massachusetts Phone 617-244-9772 FAX 617-244-1041 http://harriscyclery.com Hard-to-find parts
    shipped Worldwide http://captainbike.com http://sheldonbrown.com
     
  3. Harris

    Harris Guest

    Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote:

    > [http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_r.html#recessed]

    > Here's some boilerplate I wrote on this topic:

    > A caliper brake system consists of 4 parts:

    > •The levers •The cables •The calipers •The brake shoes

    > All of these parts are upgradable. Many people think first of replacing the calipers, but, in
    > fact, this is the least likely part to make any real difference. A caliper is a simple leverage
    > unit, and there's not all that much to one.

    Roger that. I've already switched to STI levers and Kool Stop pads. And I plan on replacing the
    cables/housings when I switch to the dual pivots.

    But it seems to me that the springs on the old single pivots are a lot stiffer than most dual
    pivots. That combined with the mechanical advantage makes a big difference. At least that's my
    experience based on my two bikes. (The dual pivots I'm using on my other bike are the 105 SLR model;
    they may have less spring tension than other dual pivots.)

    Art Harris
     
  4. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Sheldon Brown wrote:

    > It is true that dual-pivots are more powerful, but that is not the only part of the system that is
    > superior to your old brake system, and just replacing the calipers won't make all that much
    > difference.

    After a recent experiment, I disagree. I swapped a Weinmann 610 centre-pull front for a Campagnolo
    dual pivot and the difference was huge, and this was with crappy old levers: much lighter action and
    more sheer stopping power than ever before on this bike. I've now upgraded the levers, but not the
    rear caliper yet. Yes the modern lever improves braking power but changing that alone is not as
    satisfactory as the changing caliper, IME. But upgrading both is the best thing to do anyway,
    IMO.

    ~PB
     
  5. Art Harris

    Art Harris Guest

    Jon Isaacs wrote:

    > My experience mirrors yours. Had some Suntour Superbe brakes on my '84 Sequoia. Put on aerolevers,
    > new cables and KoolStop pads. They were OK but nothing special but were not good in the wet.
    >
    > Bought some RX-100 "normal reach" Dual Pivots from Sheldon and slapped em on there and it made a
    > big difference. Sure that 40% mechanical advantage is nice but it seems to me there is more to it
    > than that.

    I just installed a pair of "600 Ultegra BR-6403" dual pivot calipers on my bike. Took a test ride
    yesterday, and the improvement over my single pivot Dura Ace calipers was like night and day.

    And that "ultimate recessed" mounting technique (with the rear caliper installed on the front) is
    truly elegant!

    I found that I had been riding my backup bike more than my good bike, and came to the conclusion
    that the reason was that the backup bike had better brakes. I just didn't feel comfortable with the
    single pivots on my good bike, especially when braking with hands on the hoods.

    Art Harris
     
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