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  1. #1
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    Converting to recessed nut calipers

    I am the original owner of a late 1980's Specialized Sequoia with Dia Comp Royal Grand Comp long reach nutted brake calipers. I am planning to do some touring and find the braking performance way below par--even without the extra weight of paniers on it. I have already tried many different brake pads through the years with little or no change.

    In researching changing the calipers, I came across the problem most of you are familiar with--my nutted type calipers are not made anymore (at least I havent found any newly designed ones) although long reach modern calipers are made, but in recessed nut form only. I want to use these modern calipers to upgrade the braking performance of my bike.


    I came across Sheldon Brown's cnversion procedures:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ra-e.html#recessed


    Because the trend toward recessed mounting and toward short reach calipers happened simultaneously, most short-reach calipers come set up for recessed mounting. Medium- and long-reach calipers usually come with longer centerbolts for conventional mounting.
    Mounting recessed calipers on older frames
    Rear: Front calipers for recessed mounting have bolts that are long enough to mount in back, if you substitute the appropriate washers and a 6 mm nut.
    Front: Here are 3 options:
    1. Drill out the back of the fork crown (8 mm or 5/16 drill bit). This is actually quite easy to do with a handheld electric drill, since you're only enlarging an existing hole.
    That's it if you can get two front calipers. Sometimes, you may have to deal with a pair of brakes, with one long and one short bolt. If you used the long one in back, you can use the short one in front two different ways:
    2. Drill out the back of the fork crown and use an extra-long recessed nut. These nuts are commonly available for use in carbon fiber forks.
    3. Use the short recessed nut, but don't put it through the back of the fork. Instead, push it up into the inside of the steerer from the bottom. You can reach a 5 mm Allen wrench in through the hole in the back of the fork, and poke the short caliper bolt in from the front.
    You may need to shorten the recessed nut slightly to get it to fit inside your steerer.


    My questions are these: Have any of you used this procedure? Were there any difficulties in drilling out the fork crown as described or any other part of the procedure? Do you have any pictures of the finished product? Did you find the upgrade worthwhile--did you have significantly better stopping power?

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    I did this procedure pretty much word for word. I am completely satisfied with the result. I even counterbored the back of the fork crown so that the recessed nut mounted flush.

    I don't have pictures, but could possibly post some later.

    The braking was much improved, even before I upgraded to Kool Stop pads. I used Tektro 421AG calipers, which aren't even top of the line, but worked great.

    Another thing to consider. Converting to Aero brake levers will make a bigger difference on your braking than converting to dual pivot. I changed to Tektro aero levers and the dual pivot brakes at the same time. My girlfriend only upgraded the levers on her bike and still saw a world of difference.
    The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare. -Juma Ikangaa

  3. #3
    Senior Member TimJ's Avatar
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    I've drilled out brake crowns and it's lot less work and lot less anxiety inducing than I thought. Verdict: no big deal.

    As for the other issues- I just bought just like, 30 minutes ago a pair of those tektro 556's to put on a 70's bike. The cheapest I could find for 2 front brakes was on amazon.com - niagra cycle works. $29 each. I decided rather to go ahead and get a pair- front and back- for $47 and then a $7 30mm problem solvers recessed nut. The idea is I should be able to use the rear brake up front (hopefully) with the long nut if I drill out the back. I'm taking a chance but I needed a couple other things and it worked out significantly cheaper to order the pair rather than the 2 fronts, but of course if I can't use the rear and have to by another front it won't, so...
    fun facts: Psychopaths have trouble understanding abstract concepts.
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  4. #4
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    I've drilled out the back of the fork crown on several older bikes using a 5/16" drill bit and never had any problems. As Sheldon noted, you are removing very little metal. Be VERY careful not to forget what you are doing and inadvertantly drill through both sides of the fork crown!

    I've also "drilled" out the front of the hole in the rear brake bridge (you don't have room to use a regular drill) by clamping a short sharp 5/16" bit in a pair of vise-Grips and turning it a fraction of a turn at a time. It's laborious but it works and let me use a regular pair of front and rear recessed nut brakes instead of two fronts.

    The upgrade was very worth while since I was replacing mediocre single pivot brakes with good quality double pivots.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for your replies.

    My bicycle has Shimano 105 Aero levers from many years ago. Do you think I still need to upgrade to more modern aero levers?

  6. #6
    cab horn
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    Does the cable exit off the top of the lever?
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenSproket View Post
    Thanks for your replies.

    My bicycle has Shimano 105 Aero levers from many years ago. Do you think I still need to upgrade to more modern aero levers?
    No, your levers work just like the current ones. Keep them clean and replace the cables every so often and your levers will do just what the new ones do.

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    Thanks again for your replies.

    Can you recommend a replacement based on your experiences. My brake pads measure 57mm (center of bolt to center of pad at the rim), just where some calipers end and others begin. Would it be better to get the medium-long reach and have the pads at the bottom or the long reach where the pads would be at the top?

  9. #9
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    Sorry to unearth this thread but... can anyone recommend where I can get the longer nut that is "commonly used in carbon forks" ? Thanks.

  10. #10
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matterbator View Post
    Sorry to unearth this thread but... can anyone recommend where I can get the longer nut that is "commonly used in carbon forks" ? Thanks.
    Most any bike shop can get parts from Quality Bicycle Products. Problem Solvers is a QBP house brand:
    http://harriscyclery.net/page.cfm?Pa...and=312&type=T
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  11. #11
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    Thank you all for your help. I just ordered 2 front Tektro R556 brake calipers from Amazon (through Niagra Cycle Works) for $28.88 each (total cost $64.75).

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ref=cm_sp_item

    Being able to order 2 fronts will negate the need for the extra long recessed nut.
    Last edited by BrokenSproket; 08-22-08 at 09:45 AM.

  12. #12
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    Have any of you used Sheldon's method 3?

    "Use the short recessed nut, but don't put it through the back of the fork. Instead, push it up into the inside of the steerer from the bottom. You can reach a 5 mm Allen wrench in through the hole in the back of the fork, and poke the short caliper bolt in from the front.
    You may need to shorten the recessed nut slightly to get it to fit inside your steerer."

    THat looks to be my simplest option. But will the caliper be held securely?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waychel View Post
    Have any of you used Sheldon's method 3?

    "Use the short recessed nut, but don't put it through the back of the fork. Instead, push it up into the inside of the steerer from the bottom. You can reach a 5 mm Allen wrench in through the hole in the back of the fork, and poke the short caliper bolt in from the front.
    You may need to shorten the recessed nut slightly to get it to fit inside your steerer."

    THat looks to be my simplest option. But will the caliper be held securely?
    I've never used it and I'm a bit leary that a front brake supported at only one point will be rigid enough. I trust Sheldon's recommendation so I assume it works but I'm not real enthusiastic about it from a theoretical standpoint.

    Also, it will only work with older steel forks or some modern forks with steel or alloy steerers that are open at the bottom. Most carbon forks have the bottom of the steerer closed so there is no way to insert the nut and line it up.
    Last edited by HillRider; 10-08-08 at 07:34 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I've never used it and I'm a bit leary that a front brake supported at only one point will be rigid enough. I trust Sheldon's recommendation so I assume it works but I'm not real enthusiastic about it from a theoretical standpoint.

    Also, it will only work with older steel forks or some modern forks with steel or alloy steerers that are open at the bottom. Most carbon forks have the bottom of the steerer closed so there is no way to insert the nut and line it up.
    Thanks, a lot. I worry about it, too. I guess I'll just have the bike shop drill it/install it. I'm only going to be running one brake, so I'd like some peace of mind!

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