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Old 08-19-08, 09:56 PM   #1
peanut_man
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Tektro brake, need more braking power

Hi,

On my old bike, the Ironhorse Excelsior Comp, I have Tektro brakes on them. I thought they are stiff on the brake levers and offer so-so stopping power. Until I got a deal on the Specialized Roubaix Pro that comes w/ Ultegra brakes. The Roubaix's brake is a totally different world. The stopping power is simply amazing. Now I know how bad the Tektro brakes are.

Question is, is there any way for me to improve the braking performance of the Tektro brakes? I tried different pads (even using Ultegra pads) w/o any real improvement. What makes the Ultegra brakes so much better than Tektro? Is the Tektro return spring just so stiff that it make it hard to put enough pressure on the rim?

If the only way to improve the braking performance is to change the brakes, then would 105 be a fair improvement over Tektro?

Thanks
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Old 08-19-08, 11:01 PM   #2
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Are these the new style dual pivot brakes or the old single pivot ones?

I just fit two pairs of Tektro dual pivots to replace old single pivot calipers on two of my older bikes. I couldn't be happier other than with how the Tektro pads seem to dissolve like cheap soap in the wet. I've replaced one set of pads with Koolstop salmons and found that they give a little better braking (reduced effort to get the same stopping power). The other set still needs to be done.

If the Ultegras work that much better I suspect it's more to do with a slight difference in the measurements of the dual pivoting geometry that provides a slightly better leverage ratio instead of harder or softer springs. The leverage ratios of the typical systems means that it takes very little system pressure to move the pads. Pull out your wheels and work the two systems over a longer travel to see what I mean. I'll bet there's very little difference in effort needed to move the levers.

It could also be related to the brake levers. The brakes work as a system with the mechanical leverage ratios at both the lever and the caliper working for or against good performance. Both ends need to be tuned to work best with the other end. Without that you may have some issues as you seem to have with your Ironhorse.
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Old 08-20-08, 09:40 AM   #3
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+1 to Koolstops. I have old Tektros (vintage 2003), and the stopping power was frightening (as in, I was scared I wouldn't stop). I replaced them with Kool-stop BMX pads as per recommendation from Sheldon Brown. They're incredibly long, which creates more braking surface and thus stopping power. The spherical washers also make them easy to get dialed in. Believe me, stopping is not a problem. I could endo with 1-finger braking if I wanted to.

They won't work with every road bike, as they require decent fork clearance, but they're fine with my Giant OCR2. If your current pads would still fit if they were about twice as long, then you're OK.
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Old 08-20-08, 10:03 AM   #4
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You could also try dismantling, clean and relube of the Tektro brakes. They can get a little stiff after a while and really perk up with a little attention, and decent fresh pads. Also clean off your rims with soapy water and one of the dish sponges with a scrubbing pad.

Oh, and be sure that the return spring on the brake still has the little plastic sleeve intact on it's end, this really helps get a smooth action. You can replace it with a small piece of insulation from some suitably sized electrical wire if it has worn through.

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Old 08-20-08, 10:17 AM   #5
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You could also try dismantling, clean and relube of the Tektro brakes. They can get a little stiff after a while and really perk up with a little attention, and decent fresh pads. Also clean off your rims with soapy water and one of the dish sponges with a scrubbing pad.

Oh, and be sure that the return spring on the brake still has the little plastic sleeve intact on it's end, this really helps get a smooth action. You can replace it with a small piece of insulation from some suitably sized electrical wire if it has worn through.

Ed

+1

A cheap caliper should have close to the same stopping power as an expensive one... the determining factor is going to be rough pivots and sleeves in the cheaper caliper - esp. if it is old. Rebuild, change the pads, you will probably notice a big difference.

Also, a lot of the stiffness might be in your cables! They are cheap - replace them!
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Old 08-20-08, 04:10 PM   #6
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Some pics of the old brakes would be great.

I just put some Kool-Stops on my Tektros and it's fantastic. Not only do I have a lot of stopping power, but modulation of that power is really easy.
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Old 08-20-08, 07:14 PM   #7
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Koolstop salmons and thread over.
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Old 08-20-08, 09:59 PM   #8
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Ok, i'll have to take pics maybe tomorrow. What I noticed tho, is that I recently changed the wheel set to Xeros XR-1. They are slimmer than stock Shimano rims. I'm not sure if that slimmer rims means the calipers needs to be set in closer position and thus the spring is more compressed? It's distinctly harder to squeeze the brake levers (they are 105 brifters) than on my Roubaix.
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Old 08-21-08, 02:40 PM   #9
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Pop the wheels off and squeeze the brakes, just to see if there's any stiffness in the calipers or cables. I used to find, especially after a winter's riding in the UK, that the calipers would get stiff due to corrosion, such that the return spring couldn't open them up again. This also saps the braking effort when you operate the lever.
Service is easy if you have a full set of allen keys, small adjustable wrench, some grease and maybe some fine emery paper to remove gross corrosion from the pivots. Often there are locking/set screws that prevent the outer pivot bolt from turning. Reassembly needs a little care to set things up to move freely with the minimum play in the pivots.

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Old 08-21-08, 03:27 PM   #10
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Also make sure you don't have excess cable-friction. That robs A LOT of power from your brakes and you gotta squeeze the levers like a mutha just to come to a stop. Ultimately what actually determines stopping-power is your tyres.

It's the tyre-to-road interface that generates the friction that slows you down. The brakes really just slows down the wheel to generate the friction on the road. The only difference between brakes then is just how much hand-force is needed in squeezing the lever to generate the maximum-friction possible on the road-surface.
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Old 08-21-08, 03:32 PM   #11
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i have tektro rx40 calipers on my 2007 ironhorse victory. i swapped out the tektro pads with koolstop road pads within a week and the stopping difference with better. this week i upgraded it even more and stuck koolstop mountain pads on the front and the stopping power is dramatic. i installed it in the wrong direction on purpose because the long side of the pads dont fit under my fork.

now my tektro's are squeaking (not the pads) and its a bit hard to figure out where it's coming from, but thats for another day to figure out.
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Old 05-31-09, 07:54 AM   #12
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Tried a few pads, nothing matched my Roubaix's Ultegras in terms of stopping power. So I got a pair of used Ultegra calipers off ebay and now I'm in braking heaven. Simply awesome.

My tektro RX40 is now for sale...
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Old 05-31-09, 02:26 PM   #13
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i have tektro rx40 calipers on my 2007 ironhorse victory. i swapped out the tektro pads with koolstop road pads within a week and the stopping difference with better. this week i upgraded it even more and stuck koolstop mountain pads on the front and the stopping power is dramatic. i installed it in the wrong direction on purpose because the long side of the pads dont fit under my fork.

now my tektro's are squeaking (not the pads) and its a bit hard to figure out where it's coming from, but thats for another day to figure out.
Adjust the toe in on your pads.
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