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  1. #1
    Member bobonker's Avatar
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    Tektro R350 brake upgrade advice

    Hi there,

    The wife rides 2009 Fuji Newest 1.0 which came equipped with Tektro R350 brakes. Stopping her bike (especially on a fast descent) is a bit of an adventure compared to stopping my Trek (with Ultegra 6600 brakes).

    Here's what I've done:

    1. Had the LBS true up the wheels. They were both a bit wobbly, so the pads had to be run pretty far from the wheel.

    2. Gave the pads themselves a light sanding with 600 grit sandpaper (to remove any glaze)

    They still suck. A Kool Stop Dura cartridge conversion would set me back about $40 or I could get a "new old stock" (NOS) of Shimano 105 5600 brakes for $60. Any reason to not get the 105 brakes?

    One annoying thing about the Tektros is that the right side pad is not parallel to the wheel. Only the front half of the pad actually does anything. It doesn't look like it's a pad issue because they are fairly new. It looks like the caliper arm needs to be bent.

    Thanks,
    Bob

  2. #2
    Pro Paper Plane Pilot wunderkind's Avatar
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    Align the pads properly. Upgrade the pads is best bang for the $. You can have a Dura Ace caliper with ****ty pads and you will gain no better stopping performance. You may have better modulation. Even so that is due to setting up the caliper gap to the rim.
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  3. #3
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    Tektro makes good brakes but lousy pads. before you replace the pads adjust them properly to find out if their stopping power is acceptable. Don't bend the arms, just loosen the bolt that holds the pad in place the pad will then swivel in a ball joint once both brake pads are straight, center the caliper using the set screw on top and adjust the gap.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Those calipers are fine. The design of the leverage arm lengths of the caliper gives them the same clamping power as the 105's that you are considering as substitutes. So there is no gain to be had by doing that. But I can tell you from personal experience that the stock Tektro pads suck as badly as stock Shimano pads. Getting replacement pads may not seem very high tech but it truly is what you need to make these work. I'd suggest you get the full Koolstop salmon pads instead of the dual pads. From there correctly align the faces for maximum contact at the time of installation. The pads have concave washers to allow altering the angle over a range that should be wide enough. From there it's just a case of correctly centering the caliper before the final tightening of the tubular nut onto the stud. Final slight trimming is then done with the centering screw adjuster. But the bulk of the centering should be done by properly centering the caliper in the first place.

    On clean rims the salmon pads offer the most grip for a given lever pressure that you'll find. If the brakes still suck then there is something else at play here. For example if this bike has the super cheezy "modulators" in the brake lines those need to be removed and tossed into the trash. The lever should have a very firm feel and not be able to bottom against the grips. The cable clamping point then being adjusted to make the engagement point of the lever occur at a distance from the grip where your wife likes the feel and can generate adequite finger pressure comfortably.
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    Member bobonker's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your input!

    BCRider: I think this bike does have the modulators because the squeezing of the brake lever is very mushy...like a car that has air in the brake lines. I am not sure what I'm looking for though? I chalked it up to cheap cables and housings.

    Thanks,
    Bob

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    the calipers are flexing....of all the things not to scrimp on Brakes are first on the list

  7. #7
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    I've got a couple of sets of similar Tektro's. Trust me, it's not the calipers flexing. The 350's he has are as good as the 105 calipers he was considering swapping in.

    Bbonker, the modulators are fat parts you'll find in the middle of the housing runs at some point. But in looking up the bike's specs at Fuji I don't see that this bike would be the sort to use modulators. You usually only find them on cruisers or low end hybrids. What it COULD be though is that the housings and cables are just plain lousy or that the housings were not seated in the levers fully and firmly. Or if you moved the levers a little for her without unwrapping the bars and redoing the housings and tape then you brought the spongy feel on yourself by pulling the housings out of full contact with the lever bases. Or perhaps the housings were just poorly installed at the factory.

    Regardless of what caused it or who the next step is to unwrap the bar tape and the sticky tape on the housings and re-do them. The good news is that you can test it all out without the bar tape having to go back on. So start by removing the foam tape carefully and let it coil up for putting back on later. Take note of the direction of the winding. Make notes even so you can start it and wind it back on the same way. And keep the right and left sides separate and mark them.

    Next undo the electrical or whatever tape holding the housings in place. Push the end of the housing firmly into the lever and apply a wrap of electical tape to hold it in place. Hold the housing to the bar in the curve and apply another holding wrap. And then a couple more. At this point you can test the lever to see if that firmed it up. If it's still spongy feeling look around the caliper and lever and see if you can find what is flexing. But most likely it's just a case of cheap lousy cable and housing.

    If that is what you find then I'd suggest Jagwire smooth drawn cables and brake housing. Even the coil style Jagwire housing is pretty good stuff. Or if you can find it for a couple of bucks more get their compresionless brake housing. It's got the longitudinal wires same as shifter housing but with a kevlar braid wound around it to make it safe to use with brake systems. I've for this stuff on a couple of bikes along with the smooth drawn good cables and it's amazing what a difference it makes to the feel.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    Next undo the electrical or whatever tape holding the housings in place. Push the end of the housing firmly into the lever and apply a wrap of electical tape to hold it in place. .
    I would suggest using simple packing tape rather than electrical tape. Electrical tape is very stretchy. It may not make a huge difference, but if the goal is to stabilize the housing and minimize flexing, non-elastic packing tape will do a better job of stabilizing it.
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    Member bobonker's Avatar
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    Update

    I forgot to mention that this bike has the cyclocross style top levers as well. See attached pic. I took this bike for a ride yesterday that had about 3000 ft of climbing. Some of the descents were scary while riding in the hoods.

    Using the top brake levers, the braking performance is excellent. It stops faster than my Trek with Ultegra 6600 brakes. However, using the brake levers while in the hoods makes for pretty awful braking performance.

    Leaving the top levers on there is an option, but they are not super nice to use on a fast descent since steering the bike from the tops makes control of the bike a bit of a handful. I peeled back the bar tape and found that the cable housings were not taped to the bar. I redid that with regular packing tape. Slight improvement.

    Looks like I'll get a new set of Dura Ace housings and cables and some Kool stop pads. The housings on the bike now (especially the one near the rear caliper) moves around a lot while squeezing the levers.

    Thanks,
    Bob
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  10. #10
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    ditch the topmount levers. this maneuver, combined with new pads/cables/housing should fix ya up, once you ensure that you have the pads and cable tension tuned properly.

    good luck.
    -rob

    ps-ppl used to BUY those silly levers as an upgrade! probably still do...

  11. #11
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    Try a set of shimano pads. They do a great job in the wet as well as the dry.

  12. #12
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    You would almost be better off using bricks for pads rather than those stock Tektro pads. Their pads are absolutely awful.

    Last week I replaced a set of their pads with Koolstops and made no other adjustments. I went from being unable to lock the rear wheel squeezing as hard as I could pull (I could see the seat stays flexing), to being able to lock the rear wheel with 2 fingers. This was on a set of Tektro brakes.
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  13. #13
    Member bobonker's Avatar
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    Update #2:

    I ended up replacing the bars on this bike in addition to pads, brake cables, and cable housings. My wife is tall, but has fairly narrow shoulders and small hands, so the 42cm bars weren't working.

    I have it all back together, but there is a pretty bad misalignment between pad and rim surface on the right side of the front caliper. See attached pic. The left side meets evenly. In the rear, it is flipped. The left side is angled a bit (although not nearly as bad as the front) and the right side meets evenly.

    If I squeeze harder on the lever, the pads will line up as the caliper flexes.

    This seems less than optimal?

    Thanks for all of the input so far. I ended up with the Jagwire Pro Road pads since they got good reviews and I had a gift certificate for REI. I've read that they aren't as good as the Koolstops, but I figure anything will be an upgrade over the Tektro pads.

    Thanks,
    Bob
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  14. #14
    Subjectively Insane MilitantPotato's Avatar
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    That pad has too much toe-in. Here's how ya fix it:

    Loosen the shoe fixing bolt (large bolt that attaches the pad to the caliper). Put a strong rubber band, cut inner tube, or hair band over the brake lever and bars to close the caliper (you want the brakes applied enough the pad doesn't move completely freely.) Slide a thin piece of cardboard (double over a match stick cover or aluminium foil box) under the rearward edge of the pad to give a slight toe-in. Hold the pad firmly in place and tighten the shoe fixing bolt.

    The things to double check are that the pads are in line with the rim and not slanted up or down too much, and that it's contacting either in the middle of the braking surface, or at the very least not contacting the tire or passing bellow the braking surface as either of these can cause a really bad crash.

    Here's the user manual.
    http://tektro.com/04support/pdf/000907RX40-1.pdf
    Last edited by MilitantPotato; 11-02-10 at 10:13 PM. Reason: Added a link
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  15. #15
    Member bobonker's Avatar
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    Thank you for posting that link and the tips, too!

    These new Jagwire pads are not adjustable the way the original Tektro pads are. They do not utilize the concave washer that the original pads do and the shoe is completely flat, so a concave washer would have no effect. It looks like I am not able to adjust the toe with these pads/shoes, so I guess they are going back.

    Old Tektro Pads: Bolt -> Flat washer -> Caliper arm -> Conical washer -> Caliper shoe/pad
    New Jagwire Pads: Bolt -> Flat washer -> Caliper arm -> Caliper shoe/pad

    Bob
    Last edited by bobonker; 11-03-10 at 12:25 AM. Reason: more info

  16. #16
    Member bobonker's Avatar
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    BTW - Does anyone know if the Koolstop pads/shoes are adjustable the way the original Tektro and Shimano pads are? Ie, do they use the conical washer that allows adjustment?

    From this pic, I can't tell and I'd hate to order these and end up in the same boat that I'm in now.

    http://www.amazon.com/Kool-Stop-Bicy...ef=pd_sbs_sg_1

    Thanks,
    Bob

  17. #17
    Subjectively Insane MilitantPotato's Avatar
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    3. Installing new Jagwire Elite road pads
    Installation of Elite pads is the same as Sleek pads with a couple of minor exceptions. Elite pads use a threaded nut
    instead of a fixing bolt, and they feature a built-in angle adjustment. The conical angle-adjustment washer is installed
    against the pad before setting it in place in the brake arch, then the nut and washer are installed and tightened from the
    outside. When making final adjustments to the pads, use the angle adjustment feature to fine-tune the pad angle and
    toe-in adjustment.
    http://www.jagwireusa.com/images/upl...structions.pdf
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  18. #18
    Member bobonker's Avatar
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    Another good link. Thank you. :-) Unfortunately, I have the "Sleek" pads and those don't have a built-in angle adjustment and the Elites are for Campy brakes, so back to getting the Koolstops.

    Koolstops x 2 for the existing Tektros = $40
    New Ultegra 6700 brakes from Performance Bike = $135; put those on my bike and give her my 6600s.

    Difference = $90 + knowing it will work + we both get better brakes. Man, that's tempting.

    Bob

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobonker View Post
    These new Jagwire pads are not adjustable the way the original Tektro pads are. They do not utilize the concave washer that the original pads do and the shoe is completely flat, so a concave washer would have no effect.
    As long as the bolt/screw is long enough there's nothing stopping you from using the adjustment washers off one brake pad for another brake pad.

  20. #20
    Subjectively Insane MilitantPotato's Avatar
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    The frugal side of me says fix that massive toe-in, and go from there. I'd give what dabac said a go, make sure you're getting plenty of thread engaging before you test ride, having that pad snap off would be bad.

    On the other hand Koolstop pads are a standard upgrade on every bike I get, so getting the pads first would be my route.
    According to Koolstop's website the "Dura Road Holder" has a pivot back.

    I'd avoid upgrading, just because like I said, i'm pretty frugal and a few grams for $90 wouldn't sit well. If it's your cup of tea, I'd say go that route. I'd still snag KoolStop Salmon pads for the new brake sets.
    You've got a bike, so you gotta move.

  21. #21
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    Besides tweaking up the pads and brakes, on fast descents you really should ride in the drops, not the hoods. You will always have best power on the levers when you grab them from the drops and your body is in a better position to brace for braking. Your wife may not want to hear that, but that is really important technique.

  22. #22
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    I'd also shop around more for your Koolstop pads. Even up here with our inflated prices I can get a pair of pads for only $14. So that's only $28 for a full bike set vs the $40 you're quoting. And by shopping online I can easily do better than the $28 the local shops want.

    More importantly it almost seems like the Jagwire pads are missing the angle adjustment washers that they should have come with.
    Last edited by BCRider; 11-03-10 at 11:14 AM.
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  23. #23
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    I'd also shop around more for your Koolstop pads. Even up here with our inflated prices I can get a pair of pads for only $14. So that's only $28 for a full bike set vs the $40 you're quoting. And by shopping online I can easily do better than the $28 the local shops want.

    More importantly it almost seems like the Jagwire pads are missing the angle adjustment washers that they should have come with.
    +1 on the KoolStop salmon pads. The plain salmon replacement pads will fit in the original Tektro holders that have the toe-in adjustment. I've put these pads onto to older-generation Shimano Exage Sport LX singel pivot sidepull brakes and they now work extremely well. With the Tektro dual-pivot calipers and KoolStop salmon pads, your wife's bike will stop on a dime. PG

  24. #24
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    All you need to do is bent the calipers where the pads are to get the toeing in you need.
    bikeman715

  25. #25
    Member bobonker's Avatar
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    Update #3 -- Last one

    Project Stop was a big hit. As Al Criner pointed out, descending in the drops is usually best as far as braking power. The problem was that the bars were too big for my wife's hands and she couldn't reach the levers while in the drops.

    I changed:
    -Removed 42 cm Fuji bars and replaced 40 cm Specialized Women's Shallow Bend bars
    -Removed the cyclocross style levers from the tops
    -Removed old brake cable housings/cables and replaced with new housings/cables
    -Removed stock Tektro pads (they were an all in one pad...pad and shoe were one piece) and replaced with Jaguar Sleek Pro pads
    -Removed old bar tap and replaced with Bontrager gel tape

    We went on a 10 mile test ride today (including up/down a decent hill). Wife is thrilled with the results. The new pads are a HUGE improvement and she can now reach the levers from the drops.

    Thanks to all who responded.

    Bob

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