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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 05-25-11, 03:36 PM   #1
Mighty Melvin
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HELP! New Straight Bars, Old Road Bike, Brake Lever Probs !!

Okay. this was supposed to be easy. Pop the curlicue handlebars off my road bike, bars which I've disliked since I bought the bike in 1981, and put on a set of conventional more-or-less flatter bars.

So then I find out that I need new brake levers because the curved brake levers for the curlicue bars only have less than an inch of travel before they hit the new straight bar.

So then after I get a pair of what they called "mountain bike" brake levers from the bicycle junkyard, I realize that they don't have release levers, so I can't take off my wheels.

I like to take my wheels off. Every so often I have to toss the bike into the back of the car, or maybe I'd better lock everything together in whatever neighborhood I'm in, and I need to pop off the front wheel to get it over by the lock..

So what do I do? This has to be a normal routine situation, because the repair guy says that upright handlebars on an old road bike is one of his most popular services. Are there "Mountain Bike" brake levers that have releases on them? What should I be looking for in the ebay used components stacks? What model numbers? I mean for cheap ones. I'm broke.

Or am I just stiffed and I can no longer take off my wheels without major annoying unhitching/rehitching of the brake cables? Sort of makes the quick-release wheel attachments useless, doesn't it?

Any ideas are welcome. Any uninformed guesses are somewhat less welcome, but if you're lonely and need someone to talk to I'm okay with that.

MM
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Old 05-25-11, 03:49 PM   #2
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What brakes (not levers) do you have that don't have a quick release mechanism?

Drop bar brake levers have a larger clamp diameter than standard mtb or flat bars, so there's more to the lever incompatibility than just lever shape/style.

Your brakes or levers (or both) should have barrel adjusters. Setting up the brakes so that you still have enough slack to widen the calipers via the adjusters for wheel removal is one possible workaround. Deflating/inflating is an effective, though annoying, last resort.
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Old 05-25-11, 04:26 PM   #3
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MTB brake levers are not designed to control road caliper brakes. They kind of sort of work OK. You can buy MTB levers that are designed to pull the right amount of cable for road calipers. So it depends on what you bought.

+1 You need calipers with a quick release, rather than the lever with the quick release. Lots of the vintage bikes had those calipers. Pretty common on anything mid grade or higher.

Some people go with moustache bars instead, that can use regular road levers. I bought a set of those bars myself on sale at Nashbar for about $15.

Since the guy at the bike shop said he does it all of the time, what was his recommendation? I convert flat bar bikes back to drops frequently.

On sale right now for $12.99:
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Catalog...Term=moustache

Last edited by wrk101; 05-25-11 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 05-25-11, 04:52 PM   #4
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I have two 80's bike that I converted to flatbar. Both have cheap Avid levers from Amazon. At first I had them set so I could turn in a barrel adjuster enough to open up the caliper. Now I keep the pads spaced off the rim just enough to squeeze the tire through. My tires are not a whole lot wider than the rims so it works good. The extra lever travel doesn't bother me, in fact I prefer the lever to almost bottom out at maximum braking force.
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Old 05-25-11, 05:26 PM   #5
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Note: Both drop bars and flat bars are conventional.
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Old 05-25-11, 06:38 PM   #6
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Note: Both drop bars and flat bars are conventional.
hey, at least it's not as bad as running into SAE and ISO bolts in the same car.
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Old 05-26-11, 05:21 AM   #7
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"What brakes (not levers) do you have that don't have a quick release mechanism?

Drop bar brake levers have a larger clamp diameter than standard mtb or flat bars, so there's more to the lever incompatibility than just lever shape/style."


The brake looks like this:



The new handlebars look like this (with one of the old levers on it)



I don't have pictures of the new levers today because they're apart for cleaning and new unrusted fasteners, but they slide onto the new bars just as sweet as can be.

I suppose that this job is another of those jobs that just expand from changing spark plugs to replacing the head, but looking for the next pitfall, if I buy a set of brakes with the fancy release knob on them, can I have a fair degree of confidence that they will bolt into the hole that I have and the pads will end up in more or less the right place? I'll go to ebay and look for the oldest brand-name silver colored ones; that'll probably give the best likelihood of working....

"Since the guy at the bike shop said he does it all of the time, what was his recommendation? I convert flat bar bikes back to drops frequently."

I haven't caught up with that guy from that shop yet... Do you want my old bars?

M
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Old 05-26-11, 05:59 AM   #8
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You need center pull quick release brake yokes:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Brake-Ca...item5ade43bedf

btw, old steel drop bars had 22.2mm drop brake levers that fit flat bars.
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Old 05-26-11, 06:23 AM   #9
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By the way,

"You can buy MTB levers that are designed to pull the right amount of cable for road calipers. So it depends on what you bought....."

I think I'm okay. The clamp fits the bar just fine. The radius from the lever pivot to the pull point on the original lever is 22mm and on the replacement it's 24mm, which is pretty much the same or better. I would have liked a little more pull from the original lever and it looks like I'll get it with the change.
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Old 05-26-11, 02:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
You need center pull quick release brake yokes:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Brake-Ca...item5ade43bedf
Damn !!
That's it !! There really is something made for this purpose !!






Thank you !!

M

Last edited by Mighty Melvin; 05-27-11 at 07:15 AM. Reason: To add photo
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Old 05-26-11, 03:53 PM   #11
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I use the Pneumatic QR a lot on bikes without QR and Fat tires, let the air out.


Most likely a puncture did that already, then put the wheel back in before inflating the tire.

centerpull brake had a QR in the cable housing stop as part of the stuff under the headset nut.
Or there are little wheel pieces that replace the hook,
with the pinch bolt in it,
and put an eccentric mechanisim into that piece to Loosen the cable tension,
in effect , pulling up on the transverse cable, spreading the shoes.. [got a few in a bin here]

you can also squeeze the shoes together
and just unhook the transverse cable in the middle, from the other cable..

On the caliper sidepull, Shimano, many, and older Campag ones too .

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-26-11 at 04:00 PM.
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