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  1. #1
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    Side-pull versus center pull brakes

    As indicated beneath my username, I'm a noob and admittedly so. I humbley ask the gurus here: is there an advantage to having center pull brakes instead of side pull? I bought a low end Miyata sport ten to ride around while I work on building a Peugeot Iseran. I didn't notice when I bought it, but the pads are rubbing against the rim. Yes, the tires definitely need truing, I can tell just by watching them spin. But the side pull callipers just don't seem to center properly around the tire. One arm seems to set on one side of the wheel and eventually rubs against the rim, a problem I've had before. Should I go for center pull brakes? Will I avoid this problem with them? Are there any other advantages or disadvantages I should know about with center pull? I appreciate any input on this. Thanks.

    **I've been looking over Sheldon Brown's Glossary and I'm getting the feeling that center AND side pull calipers are relatively troublesome, somewhat outdated and cantilever brakes are the modern, more commonly used brake system. Am I on the right track here?
    Last edited by Jonah Pavesco; 02-13-10 at 07:05 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    If you loosen the mounting bolt of the brakes , you can center the brakes so they clear the rims , you need a10 MM or a 13 MM wrench to hold the calipers center as you re tighten the mounting bolt. Before you do this yes true the wheels if not it will not do you any good.Center pull are better at staying center compare to side pull.
    bikeman715

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    I just squeeze the calipers down onto the rims with one hand when I tighten them with the other. Seems to get them centered every time.

    As for brake types on newer bikes, I don't know about MTBs, but road bikes almost all now seem to have side-pull brake calipers - center-pulls look dead to me.

  4. #4
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    centerpull and side pull brakes, found on most 'road' bikes, both work well and after proper setup provide trouble free service (unless you ride in adverse conditions often) for years. you can argue which is better but when it comes to quality older centerpulls that is debatable by some.

    cantilever style brakes as found on touring, cyclocross, mountain and hybrid bikes also work well when adjusted correctly and in adverse condidtions can work better. the main difference is cantilever style brakes allow the frame to be designed to have more tire clearance for bigger tires and for ridding in mud and dirt.
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  5. #5
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah Pavesco View Post
    **I've been looking over Sheldon Brown's Glossary and I'm getting the feeling that center AND side pull calipers are relatively troublesome, somewhat outdated and cantilever brakes are the modern, more commonly used brake system. Am I on the right track here?
    Yeah, pretty much. Is your bike like this one?
    http://burlington.craigslist.org/spo/1572357994.html

    If so, then keeping the sidepulls centered and off the rim can be frustrating. The trick is to tighten the centerbolt about halfway, check the action of brake, recenter the brake (look for wrench flats behind the brake arms to move the brake), and then tighten the centerbolt. Recheck, loosen, move, tighten, squeeze the brake lever, recheck.

    On very frustrating cases and cheap brakes (i.e. no wrench flats), we used to us a punch on the brake spring to turn the brake to the correct orientation. This is a last resort, though.
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

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