General Cycling Discussion - Making front brake stronger
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We purchased a bmx style bike for our little one - she's nine. This is her last bike before the purchase of geared bikes and she liked the colour :) anyway - the rear brake works just fine, I can lock up the rear wheel without issue, the front however possibly due to a rotor neck (you can spin the handlebars 360°) is impossible to lock. This greatly impedes her stopping ability - how do I fix this?
05-20-11, 07:25 AM
The Potts mod setup seems to reduce braking power by running the cable down through the stem bolt but there are a few things you can do to help:
Pull the cable out of the housing and grease it up or better yet, replace it with a high quality cable that's smooth wound and has a lined housing. While your at it, lube the brake and lever pivot points. Cleaning the rim with alcohol and installing better quality brake pads will help too. Running the cable directly from the lever to the caliper will help but you lose the capability to rotate the bars 360 degrees.
If we're talking about something from Toys R Us or a Wal-Bike, keep in mind that many of these come through with cheap flexy brakes with plastic levers and there isn't much more that can be done there to improve the stopping power.
Unless she's going to be pulling off flatland tricks, you don't want to have a brake on a kids bike that can lock the front wheel. That's just asking for trouble.
05-20-11, 07:27 AM
First of all, I don't think a 9-year-old locking up the front wheel sounds like a good thing.
I don't have any experience with rotor necks, but I'd suggest closely observing all the parts of the braking system while you operate the brake to try to identify where the play is. Once you've identified that (there may be more than one place), see if there's a way to secure/tighten things to reduce the play.
In the meantime, ride with your daughter and help her to understand safe speeds and braking distances for the bike.
We do ride together weekly - she complained about the brakes that's how I know they're too weak. When we're heading downhill towards a stop sign, I'm the one that's worried :( There is no fear of her wanting to do any tricks with the bike as she's not the sporting type and is quite content riding in a (mostly) straight line.
I think I'll just replace the cable to a shorter one that goes directly to the brake as this sounds like the simplest fix.
05-27-11, 11:05 PM
My Trek 1200 has a subpar brake. It works fine and gets the job done. Only reason I know its not all that good, is that i used to have a Next mountain bike and it had such a good front brake I could practice endos on it.
Didnt expect that level of performance from a Next. But do from the Trek. Things are backwards sometimes.
05-28-11, 01:44 AM
Oceans of un disclosed specifics.. take the bike to a professional bike shop,
they can offer specifics.
I cannot see a thing, from text.
a few parts, like, grippy pads and proper adjustment.
05-28-11, 01:58 AM
When my youngest daughter started riding on two wheels I added a front brake to her little coaster equipped bike and we practiced panic stops repeatedly as my deal was that when she could stop her bike quickly and on cue from me we could take longer rides and to this day, when I say STOP both my daughters will automatically hammer on those brakes.
So when my littlest was all of 7 she would race down the front walk and hammer that front brake and shift her weight back and at times would cause the front wheel to come to a skidding stop. She practiced this over and over and over so she could show me that she knew how to use her front brake.
Tektro levers and Kool Stops... with two finger braking action. :)
Neither of my daughters works that rear brake that hard as they have learned that proper stopping technique comes off the front of the bike and not the rear and they have worked at developing strong riding skills.
One of the best upgrades for my daughter's bikes has been the addition of Kool Stop pads and have also installed better quality levers and brake calipers... the cheaper pressed steel v brakes that come on many kids bikes are inadequate so my daughter's mountain bikes run upgraded and better quality V brakes and Kool Stops.
You just can't put a kid on a bike and expect them to figure things out... we'd do drills in empty parking lots and practice everything from panic stops to low speed handling, to laying down mad rear wheel skids.
05-28-11, 06:01 AM
the front however possibly due to a rotor neck (you can spin the handlebars 360°) is impossible to lock. This greatly impedes her stopping ability - how do I fix this?
It would help to see a photo of what you're calling a "rotor neck". If the bike is equipped with a so-called "detangler" device, then have a bike shop remove that device and run cable straight to the brake.
Another good idea is to replace the brake pads. By some Jagwire- or Koolstop-brand pads, or some other reputable brand. Pop those on. I've had people think I've worked miracles on their brakes when all I've done is to put on decent pads.
05-29-11, 01:03 AM
The front brake should not be connected through the gyro. (rotor/detangler/whatever) The front brake cable should be running uninterrupted through the steer tube, coming out either the bottom of the crown, or through an opening in the right hand fork blade. I'd check the toe angle on the shoes. Might want to make sure it doesn't have one of those ridiculous modulators anywhere in line on the brake cable. If it does, remove it. The whole point of those is to reduce the amount power in the brake.
If all else fails, Coolstop salmon brake shoes should prove grippier than the stock shoes. Just stay away from clear BMX brake shoes. They're designed for painted rims, and offer no modulation on bare or anodized aluminum. Not something you want on the front wheel. :twitchy:
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