New Rider With Questions About Upgrading Shifting And Brakes

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Tennjed, May 8, 2015.

  1. Tennjed

    Tennjed New Member

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    New biker here. I bought a Diamondback Kalamar from a Big Box Store and rode it a few weeks then decided to upgrade via craigslist. I gave the Diamondback to my 16 year old son and got a 2010 Specialized Secteur Sport for the road and a new Trek Marlin for off road.

    I love the specialized. It makes riding so much enjoyable compared to the heavy hybrid Diamondback. I do not lake the breaks. They seem "rough" and "loud". They do not stop the bike nearly as quickly as the Diamondback or Trek.

    I did have a local shop give it a tune up and he said everything was good, but I can't help but wonder if upgraded brakes would be a worthwhile investment. I figure that if I am going to spend money to do the breaks that maybe get a whole new gear shifting setup (everything involved, I am a newbie so my terminology may be off, but I guess the actual shifters on the handle bar and the derailleurs) at the same time. The shifting on it is what seems good, but not great. Occasionally it is "clunky"

    So my question is, would it be possible to get both upgrade to a more enjoyable product for around $300 or so? If so, is it something I just buy the parts on my own and take it to the local shop and have them installed, or have them pick the parts out too.

    Thanks for helping a new guy
     
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  2. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Road bikes rarely have as powerful brakes as MTBs.
    Looking at the spec, there's nothing actually bad with the stuff you have.
    Sensible things you can do is:
    - clean the rims. I use a scouring pad and rubbing alcohol
    - replace the pads. Kool-stop Salmon has a good rep. Shimano for severe conditions aren't bad either.
    - have the bike recabled with compressionless housing. Jagwire is supposed to make a good one. And some nice die-drawn cables.
    An all-out upgrade is rarely financially sensible, particularly if the stuff you have doesn't really need to be replaced.
     
  3. ABNPFDR

    ABNPFDR Member

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    It always amazes me when people want to upgrade the one component on the bike that does the opposite of what everything else on the bike is designed to excel at... The brakes.

    Yeah, you have some unbranded road brakes, probably made by shimano, tektro or suntour or whatever truck backed up to the factory the day your bike was built. They are not great and 105 brakes would probably pull smoother but braking power? Probably not a huge difference. Probably where you would notice it most would be if you're riding in a group and you need to check your speed and are just barely touching on the brakes.

    If you are going to invest in your bike, do it on wheels or shifting or comfort (fit). Don't waste the money on brakes.
     
  4. Tennjed

    Tennjed New Member

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    Keep in mind I am new to the sport, so dont be "Amazed" at the questions I ask, but I understand your point.

    90% of my riding is done in neighborhoods with a lot of 90 degree turns, speed bumps, and have circle coves where it seems like I use my breaks to slow down ALOT. Seems like an often used component that I would notice and appreciate an improvement
     
  5. BobCochran

    BobCochran Well-Known Member

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    If you are in a large city, there is probably a local bicyclist's association that you can join. The club might conduct courses on traffic jamming with a bicycle. I suggest that you join a pretty big club in your area and take a course similar to that. I live in the Washington, D.C. area and I know the Washington Area Bicyclist's Association does indeed have course aimed at improving a rider's street riding skills -- also known as traffic jamming. I too could benefit from such a course -- but based on your descriptions, I think a class might be even more helpful to you.

    If your employer has very experienced cyclists among them -- you could seek out one or all of these folks and talk to them and get advice from them. Doing exactly this has been a huge help to me. I'm lucky to have been helped by an extremely experienced cyclist -- with many years of commuting and long distance touring behind him. Getting his advice, riding, riding, and riding some more is what helps me. And I think I'll join the local association and take their course on successful traffic jamming.

    Bob
     
  6. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Brakes are important, don't let the speed freaks tell you otherwise especially if you don't feel comfortable with them. I like the suggestion of switching the pads to Kool Stops Salmon, you'll notice a huge difference with those. I'm sort of neutral about the Jaq wire suggestion, I think that Shimano Dura Ace 9000 cables will work better and smooth out the feeling of the brakes better than Jag but probably not by much. And if you replace the cables just do the whole system meaning derailleur cables as well because they will really change how those components operate and feel.

    I would try those two things first before investing in a set of brakes, if they don't take care of the problem then upgrade the calipers to 105, people haven't been happy with the Tiagra brakes though. 105 brakes aren't that expensive either, about $30 each, you could just buy a front caliper and leave the back one alone since most of your braking power is from the front, I doubt you would notice much of an effect going with 105 on the rear as well except for looks.

    If you want to improve the snappiness of the rear derailleur then you could upgrade that to Shimano Tiagra.

    The speed suggestion...well if you're not racing why spend a bunch of money on wheels? and on a lower end bike yet! You can make some dramatic weight reductions simply going with lighter tires and tubes for a whole lot less money.

    But those upgrades would be as far as I would suggest to take it and even then if it were my bike I doubt I would change the rear derailleur unless it failed.

    Keep in mind you could go upgrade nuts on that bike and spend a gob of money, but by the time you did that you could have bought a new and better bike! So be sensible and don't go overboard on it, some things you're just going to have to accept until the time comes you decide you need a new and better bike.
     
  7. Tennjed

    Tennjed New Member

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    thanks guys
     
  8. ABNPFDR

    ABNPFDR Member

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    I'm not "amazed" at the question, so much that in my dealings with folks online and with customers at the shop, very frequently the question of brakes comes up. Manufacturers skimp and save on brakes simply because they can. It gets the bike to a lower price point and has, for the general rider no impact on performance. Despite this, every week someone walks into the shop and wants to upgrade the brakes.

    I agree with Froze in that brakes are important. But I've done 45mph winding mountain descents on sora brakes, and I've done them on dura ace and I can't say I never lacked any level of confidence in braking with either. Even low end brakes give ample braking force.

    I find the performance difference between high end and low end to be most noticeable when you're riding in a very tight group (like your local CAT5 race) when you are forced to constantly check your speed. The lighter pull and better modulation are not such an advantage but a necessity.

    BTW, I never suggested the OP buy wheels. I was again making a generalization about people spending their upgrade dollars on stuff that has a benefit instead of stuff that doesn't.
     
  9. BobCochran

    BobCochran Well-Known Member

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    That is why I think a class is good...it builds braking skills.
     
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