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Old 07-30-07, 08:28 AM   #1
veganaise
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Brakes for Schwinn Suburban

I've recently got an old Schwinn Suburban up and running, for the most part. The problem is I sheered off the brake cable clamp nut on the rear brake while trying to get them adjusted. And, on top of that, when they did work, they did so poorly. I don't really trust them to stop 40+ lbs of bike and 185 lbs of meat in an emergency situation.

Since this bike is mostly going to be a grocery getter and all-around town bike, I figure I'd rather just get brakes that I can trust and are easy to set-up. I was thinking about the new Tektro R556 brake set.

Has anyone here had a chance to use this brake yet? I'm somewhat worried about clearance for the fender. But the main thing is how do I convert a recessed nut system back to the older exterior nut/bolt style? Is there some kind of work around you folks could share? I'd also like any suggestions for other brakes I should look at. I was thinking about the Dia Compe center-pulls that Rivendell is selling, but realized that my own cable tension adjustment was on the brake itself and I don't want to get new levers unless absolutely necessary.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 07-30-07, 08:48 AM   #2
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No matter what you do, your steel rims will continue to compromise your braking performance significantly. A good set of aluminum rims and KoolStop salmon brake pads would help immensely.
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Old 07-30-07, 08:59 AM   #3
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No matter what you do, your steel rims will continue to compromise your braking performance significantly. A good set of aluminum rims and KoolStop salmon brake pads would help immensely.
That's going to be the next step. Some time later this year or early next year, I'll get some aluminum rims and re-lace the existing hubs to them. Probably 27", as my measured brake reach is already 65-70 mm. But, for now, all I want to do is get the bike rolling.
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Old 07-30-07, 01:23 PM   #4
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I can help you with the clamp-nut. You are just talking about bolt and nut arrangement that secures the cable in order to actuate the caliper? PM me your address and the type of brake you have and I'll send you the nut-bolt.

I hear the steel-rim poor braking issue all the time. I have to say I don't have that problem on my Schwinns (and I weigh significantly more than you and live in the mountains), so I believe it has more to do with set-up. Try this before buying new brakes.

1. Buy a set of new brake blocks, the ones in a chrome holder with black rubber which say they are for "steel rims." They are inexpensive.

2. Adjust the cables so that the levers give you plenty of leverage. This means that when you squeeze the lever they stop just before hitting the bars or grips.

3. Toe the brake blocks in so the leading edge touches the rim just before the trailing edge (about or less than 1mm difference). I use an adjustable cresent wrench on the part of the caliper arm that holds the barke block.

If you are still not satisfied, try new cables and housings, but hold off on this until the last step. You'll save a good deal of money not buying new calipers. Best of luck and if I can help let me know.
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Old 07-30-07, 04:09 PM   #5
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I hear the steel-rim poor braking issue all the time. I have to say I don't have that problem on my Schwinns (and I weigh significantly more than you and live in the mountains), so I believe it has more to do with set-up. Try this before buying new barkes.
I'm with you, Bob. With the wheels fairly true, with the brakes adjusted fairly close*, with the cables being well greased, with the blocks broken in to fresh material (which you can accomplish quickly with some rough sandpaper or a file), I find the braking to be more than adequate on mine. No good when wet though.

*I see you're giving the opposite advice. I have to squeeze harder but my hands are strong enough so not a problem. Also I'm using the original-style salmon-colored pads.

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Old 07-30-07, 06:10 PM   #6
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My hands are strong, it's just through trail and era that I've found that by backing the brake blocks away from the rims more than I used to back in the '70s, achieves better overall braking modulation. It's what works for me with older style calipers and centerpulls. FWIIW, this does not apply to the new V brakes on MTBs and hybrid/comfort bikes. On those it looks as if the brake pads are touching the rims.
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Old 07-30-07, 08:00 PM   #7
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My hands are strong, it's just through trail and era that I've found that by backing the brake blocks away from the rims more than I used to back in the '70s, achieves better overall braking modulation. It's what works for me with older style calipers and centerpulls. FWIIW, this does not apply to the new V brakes on MTBs and hybrid/comfort bikes. On those it looks as if the brake pads are touching the rims.
So now you're saying that spacing the pads away from the rim increases both leverage and modulation? Are you sure? I'm not quite ready to loosen up the brakes on all of my bikes yet.
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Old 07-31-07, 04:00 AM   #8
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So now you're saying that spacing the pads away from the rim increases both leverage and modulation? Are you sure? I'm not quite ready to loosen up the brakes on all of my bikes yet.
For me, yes! The reason I set my brakes up like this has as much to do about the hills in my area. Living in the mountains, I am usually either slugging my way up a hill or flying down. Old Schwinn heavy E-F frames contribute to these challenges. Even my flatest quickie ride of 15 miles (7 1/2 out and back), has an elevation change several times of about 200-400 ft.

While I'm very comfortable at speed, regularing hitting 40-46 mph, I need to be prepared for slowing and stopping if need be (Why did the turkey/deer/moose/bear/skunk cross the road? So pastorbob can try to avoid hitting it.)! By adjusting the brake blocks away from the rims, I can begin to squeeze the levers on the descents without contacting the rims. This way I'm prepared for whatever mother nature walks out of the woods or humanity expells from their front yards. Small amounts of grip to slow and modulate the speed. Full-on grip for coming to a stop. Turkey and deer seem to be the worse repeat offenders, but I've come close to engaging all of the above and about a dozen more species.
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Old 07-31-07, 07:15 AM   #9
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I hear the steel-rim poor braking issue all the time. I have to say I don't have that problem on my Schwinns (and I weigh significantly more than you and live in the mountains), so I believe it has more to do with set-up.
Thanks for the suggestions, pastorbobnlnh. I'll give them a shot before considering new brakes.

One problem, though, is the adjustment of these side pull brakes (Type LS2.4). Every time I'd get them reasonably centered, I'd actuate the lever and when I'd let off, one pad would remain against the rim, usually just barely rubbing. I'm not familiar at all with how to properly adjust this type of brake. The Park website didn't really give much help. Can you, or anyone else here, shed some light on how to adjust this particular type of side pull?
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Old 07-31-07, 10:08 AM   #10
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Bob

You made the statement above that spacing the pads away from the rim increases braking leverage. Others have made that statement, too. I can't think of any reason why that would be so, but I'm always willing to learn something new.
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Old 07-31-07, 02:32 PM   #11
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One problem, though, is the adjustment of these side pull brakes (Type LS2.4). Every time I'd get them reasonably centered, I'd actuate the lever and when I'd let off, one pad would remain against the rim, usually just barely rubbing. I'm not familiar at all with how to properly adjust this type of brake. The Park website didn't really give much help. Can you, or anyone else here, shed some light on how to adjust this particular type of side pull?
I'll assume the brake block on the right side (if front) or left side (if rear) is hitting because you couldn't keep the body of the brake assembly from twisting when you tightened down the fastener. So, put your wrench on that bolt and move it just slightly in the loosening direction (left) while at the same time using your other hand to persuade the body of the brake assembly to simultaneously move a little bit until it's off the rim.

Please let me know if there's a better way. I've never had a problem doing this.
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Old 07-31-07, 02:44 PM   #12
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Thanks for the suggestions, pastorbobnlnh. I'll give them a shot before considering new brakes.

One problem, though, is the adjustment of these side pull brakes (Type LS2.4). Every time I'd get them reasonably centered, I'd actuate the lever and when I'd let off, one pad would remain against the rim, usually just barely rubbing. I'm not familiar at all with how to properly adjust this type of brake. The Park website didn't really give much help. Can you, or anyone else here, shed some light on how to adjust this particular type of side pull?
Glad to help.

Your brakes sound as if the calipers are ready to be completely disassembled, cleaned and lubed. I do one at a time so I can use the other one as a guide for my poor memory when putting them back together. I use simple green or dawn dish detergent and scrub with a tooth brush until good and clean. Then while they are apart go at the alloy caliper arms with metal polish. I like Blue Magic. Others like semichrome, and others prefer Mothers. They will look fantastic with just a little more effort. When you reassemble, use a bike lube on all the pivot points. I like the Finish Line silicone lube. Here's not such a hot picture of the front Weinmann on my '62 Continental.
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Old 07-31-07, 05:32 PM   #13
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Bob

You made the statement above that spacing the pads away from the rim increases braking leverage. Others have made that statement, too. I can't think of any reason why that would be so, but I'm always willing to learn something new.
I think it has more to do with one's hand musculature and grip strength as a function of hand closure. When your fingers are nearly extended, you cannot exert as much closing force on the handle as when they are comfortably flexed.
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Old 07-31-07, 07:01 PM   #14
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I think it has more to do with one's hand musculature and grip strength as a function of hand closure. When your fingers are nearly extended, you cannot exert as much closing force on the handle as when they are comfortably flexed.
That might be a problem for a person with very small, very weak hands. My wife has that problem so she has levers with an adjustable reach. I've never encountered a brake lever that caused my fingers to be "nearly extended". I'm sure my hands are neither larger nor stronger than average and I've never felt that I had insufficient hand strength for braking under any circumstances.

Set up your brakes however you want to. I'm just questioning the statement made here more than once that setting up caliper brakes so that the lever nearly bottoms out when squeezed somehow gives more braking leverage. It seems to me that it's a good way to run out of brakes on a long, fast downhill.
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Old 07-31-07, 07:07 PM   #15
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Remind me to open up the Q/R releases on my brakes when riding in your neck of the woods, Bob!

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Old 07-31-07, 07:08 PM   #16
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...and I have relatively short fingers. Great grip however!
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