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Thread: Fixing a brake

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    Fixing a brake

    For quite sometime I've been without a front brake. I've gotten around it by being a cautious and slower rider. But recently I've found myself biking more often and lately have had the idea to attach a rear basket for my rescue pug to tag along with. I'd really like that front brake for added safety now.

    My husband attempted to fix it, upon testing in the neighborhood, it busted. At first I thought I'd have to replace the whole brake. But I realized, that may not be the case. Could anyone offer some advice on fixing this issue? I've also include a picture of my working rear brake if it helps. Thanks!


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    The top picture is wrong. You need the link cable and Y junction, seen in the lower photo. Then the rest is pretty straightforward. Search for tutorials for how to set up a canti (or cantilever) brake.

    But don't bother starting until you have the two absolutely critical parts. They're easily found on-line or at any bike shop.

    If you cannot find the exact link cable, you can use a short "yoke" cable which runs from one arm to the other (needs a head at one end) and a cable carrier which fits the main cable and holds the yoke in the middle. see here. This is the older configuration, but still works fine.

    If there's a bicycle co-op in your town, this is a good resource for inexpensive parts and help doing the repair. You do the work, and an experienced person is there to help if needed. Co-ops usually offer repair courses, and often you can pay with sweat equity rather than cash.

    BTW- go back and put your home city into your profile. This will let people refer you to a local co-op, or otherwise give you accurate info based on where you live.
    Last edited by FBinNY; 04-06-13 at 04:57 PM.
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    Well, I understand I need the Y junction you're talking about. That is what busted upon testing. It snapped in half and appeared unfixable.

    I feel confused in what you're suggesting. I'm not very mechanic savy with bikes.

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    Are you saying the y junction is an outdated configuration for my brakes and that it would be best to upgrade the configuration?

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    Quote Originally Posted by WheelsnHooves View Post
    Well, I understand I need the Y junction you're talking about. That is what busted upon testing. It snapped in half and appeared unfixable.

    I feel confused in what you're suggesting. I'm not very mechanic savy with bikes.
    I'm saying that you'll need a replacement junction and the short (left) link cable before you can start. There's no way around them, except to configure the brake the older way as in the photo I linked to.

    Either way you'll need parts, but the old way is a bit more universal.

    Then you can search for an on-line tutorial (they're mostly free) for guidance, or copy the other brake, or go to a local resource like a bike shop or co-op.
    FB
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    Quote Originally Posted by WheelsnHooves View Post
    Are you saying the y junction is an outdated configuration for my brakes and that it would be best to upgrade the configuration?
    There's no way around having some sort of Y junction. Yours is the more modern type, with a short link and the main cable going all the way to the arm. The old way is for the arms to be connected by a crossover or yoke cable, and the main cable to end at the Y connector (aka yoke cable carrier). I suggest you replace the parts with ones like those you broke, and only mentioned the older type as a plan B in case you were in an area with limited access to parts.

    Where do you live?

    Here's a global directory of bicycle co-ops where you might find parts and low cost help. Search by country then state, then city. The list isn't complete, so you can search "bicycle co-op in (your city)" on the internet.
    Last edited by FBinNY; 04-06-13 at 05:11 PM.
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    Okay, thanks! That makes more sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WheelsnHooves View Post
    Okay, thanks! That makes more sense.
    I forgot to mention that link cables come in various lengths. Measure the good one, so you buy the right size. (Both brakes on your bike use the same one).
    FB
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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    I forgot to mention that link cables come in various lengths. Measure the good one, so you buy the right size. (Both brakes on your bike use the same one).
    Why should that be the case?
    The front vs rear brakes have different requirements for stopping power, heel clearance, etc.
    My bikes configure the straddle wire lengths differently front vs rear; in some cases even having different brakes.

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    While the yoke geometry doesn't have to be the same, I based my advice on the photos showing both brakes, which are identical.

    The attached brake has textbook perfect yoke geometry. There would be zero benefit to going with a longer yoke up front, and there's no room to go shorter because of tire clearance. So going neither longer, nor shorter leaves only one option, going the same.

    Experienced mechanics often tweak yoke geometry to achieve certain advantages, or solve issues like rack or fender clearance, or might use a different brake front and rear (as I do) for various reasons, the OP already has both brakes, and lacks the experience and knowledge to get creative, so like an old army guy, I stuck to the principle of KISS and recommended the OP stay with the same length.
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    They are also called "link wires". The link wire was a Shimano design and if you look at the drop down box on the JensonUSA page you will see the different lengths (it doesn't matter that they are for Tektro brakes as design and lengths are now an industry standard). http://www.jensonusa.com/Tektro-Z-Link-Wire To find the right length, measure the length of the gray casing on the wire that is still attached to the brake.
    Chiunque tenti di scappare a queste regole dovrà mangiare un piatto largo di polenta vecchia di tre settimane e sarà schernito per questo, soprattutto se è straniero

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    The main cable and housing look like they could be replaced too.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

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    Quote Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
    They are also called "link wires". The link wire was a Shimano design and if you look at the drop down box on the JensonUSA page you will see the different lengths (it doesn't matter that they are for Tektro brakes as design and lengths are now an industry standard). http://www.jensonusa.com/Tektro-Z-Link-Wire To find the right length, measure the length of the gray casing on the wire that is still attached to the brake.
    I measured the gray casing, its almost 3". But I don't see any for that size. Is there some kinda of conversion done?

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    It *will* be the case that it'll take one of the 'standard'-size link wires, and even if not, you can still buy the older-style 'cable yokes' like these:

    (This is 7 bucks from the excellent folks at Harris Cyclery)

    brh05.jpg

    It also looks like you could do with some fresh cables (inner, and very probably outer), and those tyres look like they're starting to crack and split pretty badly. If your riding is pretty much all on asphalt and light gravel trails kind-of-thing, you'd be much better of with some 'slick' tyres - they're *soo* much better than knobblies - once you've tryed them, there really is no going back.
    Last edited by Continuity; 04-07-13 at 10:21 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WheelsnHooves View Post
    I measured the gray casing, its almost 3". But I don't see any for that size. Is there some kinda of conversion done?
    No there's no conversion, but you have a perfectly good link to measure, or if you still have the broken one you can measure that. Measure from the inside of the head to the center of the Y. I suspect that you have a 73mm link. Here's a source for links in various lengths in mm. (divide by 25 to get inches).

    While you're at it, also buy a regular brake cable since you'll most likely need to replace yours.
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

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