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Old 07-21-10, 05:07 PM   #1
derekthelion
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Single-pivot side-pull caliper brakes not releasing ..

Hello all ...

I have been growing more and more into bikes the last few months. I picked up my first bike in years back in May at a local bike shop. It was used, and was sold as is. A 1970's Windsor International

I have been riding it for the past 3 months. Mainly longer rides (15-30 miles). The bike has been great, but as of late, I have noticed a problem. When I press the brakes to slow down, they do not release when I release the brake handles. I have searched online and have discovered the I have what appear to be "Single-pivot side pull caliper brakes". I have also decided that I want to use this bike as a way to learn the workings of a bike. I've ordered a book (which is on its way), which discusses bike repair and maintenance. I would like to fix this problem on my own. Online, a few websites have indicated that it could be an off centered wheel causing this problem. But I flnd this hard to believe because it has been occurring with both sets of brakes ...

any help you can give, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks!

- Derek
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Old 07-21-10, 06:25 PM   #2
joejack951
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There are a number of causes:

1. Most likely, the cables/housing have corroded and the excess friction is keeping the brake from returning properly.
2. The brake pivots could be dirty/corroded causing excess friction.
3. The brake could be assembled too tightly.
4. The brake return springs could be broken/weak.

A good way to start determining the cause of the problem is to disconnect the brake cable and close the caliper by hand. Does it spring back out or not? If it does, the problem lies in the brake cable/housing. If it does not, the caliper itself is the problem.
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Old 07-21-10, 06:34 PM   #3
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I like that list other than I have yet to see a spring become weak. Instead they seem to work harden over time and then just snap if they are going to fail at all.

The only other thing I'd like to add to that list is the lever itself. If the lever is binding in the pivots due to corrosion then it can prevent the pads from retracting fully or fast enough.


The trick is to totally isolate all three parts of your braking system, namely the lever, the cable and the caliper. Test each for motion to see which is at issue. Check these center pull calipers (from the picture that seems to be what you have) to ensure that the straddle cable (the V cable that joins the arms) is centering in the clamp. If it's off center then the arms can be off center as well in some cases and SEEM like it's a retraction issue where really the straddle cable is preventing the arm from moving correctly.

There are some really good links in the stickies at the top of the mechanic's area listings. Be sure to check them out. Especially www.parktool.com/repair for your present issue.
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Old 07-21-10, 07:20 PM   #4
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I agree with joejack951 and BCRider. Levers, cables/housings, or calipers could be causing this. If this bike has seen a significant time of outdoor storage, cables/housings get my vote for being problematic. As you have indicated that you want to learn to do your own repairs, you might want to get some new cables/housings and replace them. You can get a kit with front/rear, or buy some good bulk housing and cables to use. I get some of mine from loosescrews.com. They have lots of other goodies too, if you want to see what is out there.

If you decide to get new, I recommend a lined casing for reduced friction.

Might also help to lube the pivot points on your calipers.

Last edited by badamsjr; 07-21-10 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 07-21-10, 11:48 PM   #5
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You guys have all been really great so far. I'm going to have some free time over the weekend to look into some of these suggestions and I will get back to you on what I have discovered! Thanks a bunch.
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