Old bike brake improvements

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by psilos55, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. psilos55

    psilos55 New Member

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    I've just picked up a 198(?) Raleigh Technium 460 for $50 on Craigslist. I'm unhealthily in love with it (it's my first road bike). I've been riding it around constantly for a few weeks doing errands and recreational riding and I have questions:

    1. The tires look original (they have Raleigh stamped on them) and the sidewalls are shredding. They're 1 1/8" width tires on 1 1/4" width, 27" rims (also original I think). Is there any issue with sticking with the narrower tires? Will I notice any difference if I go to 1 1/4"?

    2. The brakes suck. They are Weinmann 550 side-pull calipers and have the original non-aero levers (and old cables/housing). I'm no bike mechanic but I cleaned and greased the calipers and adjusted the brakes pretty well. I put new cheapo pads on the front and that improved things a little bit but even if I lean back and really mash on the lever I can't get the front brake to lock up on dry pavement. I have to brake from the drops--trying to brake from anywhere else is ergonomically difficult and doesn't provide enough force. Is that normal? What's an economical upgrade path here? I'm likely doing KoolStop continental pads and new cables/housing, but since I'll have everything apart anyway is there any value in new levers (probably Cane Creek SCR-5)? I've read they have noticeably better mechanical advantage and allow some brake use from the hoods, but I've heard other people say aero levers actually make things worse on older calipers? I can't tell if this is serious advice or just folks being aesthetically offended by the lack of brake housing sticking up from their handlebars.

    Thanks for the advice!
     
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  2. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    look at interruptor levers.
     
  3. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    You can get levers and calipers pretty cheap, especially if you shop on eBay. Iffin' I were you, that's the route I would go. The best upgrade you can make in braking is with new brake pads. With more modern calipers, you'll be able to take advantage of the best pads available.
     
  4. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    If you go looking for new brake calipers, I suggest that you get dual pivot brakes rather than the single pivot like you have with the Weinmans. As for the tires, you probably won't have any issues with the 1-1/8 " tires on the rims that you have, but there will not be any real noticable difference if you go to 1-1/4" tires of the same brand. What will make the biggest difference is the quality of the tire and the air inflation pressure that you use.
     
  5. OldGoat

    OldGoat New Member

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    Agree that some dual-pivot calipers will give you more stopping power, as will the Kool-Stop pads. In fact, you might consider a pair of Kool-Stop thinline pads on the rear.

    My big concern is that those original tires should be replaced immediately with new rubber, lest they fail you at an inopportune time (like descending at 50+mph).
     
  6. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Well, you might want to look at which clearances you have, while you have the chance. But it'd surprise me if there were any issues.
    What difference you might notice is hard to predict. It's not only width you're changing, but probably also brand, age, inflation pressure etc etc. Tires can vary a lot, even in the same size bracket. It is unlikely to be anything major though.


    If it was the rear I'd be kinda concerned, but locking up the front on a good surface does take plenty of power. I'm not even certain if I'd consider that inability a bad thing. Front wheel skids are quite scary.

    For older stuff what you are experiencing is fairly normal.
    Changes in the curvature of the bars, and in the design of the base of the levers makes it reasonably possible to brake from the hoods on more current models.
    As suggested by another post - look at interrupter levers to be able to brake from the flat portion by the stem. Would require going to aero brake levers though. Running the cabling from your current levers down to interface with an interrupter lever is unlikely to work well.

    I doubt that. Mechanics on this level isn't particularly open for discussion, and what you gain in force you have to pay for immediately in loss of travel.
    One lever can be stiffer though, losing less in flex. Another can fit your hand better, providing better braking by anatomical advantage. But when it's down to pure leverage there isn't room for much difference.
     
  7. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    First off you don't need new brakes unless you just want new brakes. I would try replacing the cables with modern teflon cables, the old cables you now have are stretched out and the old style housing cables were not slick enough to allow the cable to run virtually friction free like modern teflon cables, thus they required more pressure to get the brakes to stop. Once that is done you simply adjust the cables to get the thing to work better and you will notice a major improvement.

    And don't forget to lube the pivot points on both the levers and the calipers.

    If you keep these brakes, you need to buy better pads, but wait till these you have now are worn out. High quality pads will make the brakes respond better too and take away that mushy feeling. See: Some Vintage Brake Parts from Yellow Jersey OR: Cane Creek Gray Matter Brake Shoes Bag/4 B76GX, Cane Creek Bike Brake Pads Not sure which pads yours will take but a little research, especially at the Yellow Jersey will turn up exactly what you need.

    As far as seemingly difficult stopping, I have several 80's and even a couple of 70's era bikes and all them I can stop from the hoods and they all have original brakes, the 70's models are the only ones that if your not use to it could present some minor issues. But the early 80's they started coming out with more from the hood friendly brakes. The only brakes that really sucked were the center pull brakes, while they worked it took a lot more effort to make them stop.

    Dual vs single pivot is not an important factor. The difference is like going from power assist (note I did not say non powered) brakes on a car to full power brakes, they both will stop you just as fast just the single pivot will take a bit more hand strength...which to tell you the truth I like better! Because I have dual pivot brakes and their just too sensitive. Also you don't want either brakes set so tight you can flip yourself over anyways. I have mine set up a tad looser so that if in a panic stop and go smashing my brakes I won't end up doing an endo.
     
  8. CdnRider

    CdnRider New Member

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    I remember swapping a set of old dia-comp brake levers for some nice 105 SLR aero levers on one of my mid 80's rigs. There was a definite improvement! Brake feel was smoother and more powerful. I did keep the Original sidepull calipers.

    Why not try finding a set similar to them? SLR variant by shimano. I'm sure you'll be able to find an old set somewhere. If that isn't enough of an improvement....then find some newer style calipers-dual pivot style.
     
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