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Old 11-20-07, 10:41 AM   #1
SoreFeet
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Universal Super 68 brakes worth upgrading or using?

I really wish the NOS hoods werent so expensive I'd keep the levers. I'm debating on keep the brakes and using Tektro brakes. Do these brakes have good stopping power with kool stops? I really like the light weight.
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Old 11-20-07, 01:40 PM   #2
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I really wish the NOS hoods werent so expensive I'd keep the levers. I'm debating on keep the brakes and using Tektro brakes. Do these brakes have good stopping power with kool stops? I really like the light weight.
Ive had more than a few bikes with the Universal Super 68 brakes and all Ive done was switch out the brake pads to something new like the Kool Stops you mentioned, give it a try and youll see how well they work
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Old 11-20-07, 03:00 PM   #3
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Just paid $40 for some NOS hoods on the bay. I just hope that they turn out to really be NOS.
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Old 11-20-07, 03:03 PM   #4
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Keep the calipers. Replace the pads with KoolStops. Replace the brake cables, including the housings. If you want a 10% boost in your braking power, consider period-incorrect aero brake handles.
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Old 11-20-07, 04:25 PM   #5
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consider period-incorrect aero brake handles.
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Old 11-20-07, 04:42 PM   #6
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there was a guy in italy selling boxes and boxes of full sets of NOS universal super 68 brakes, levers and calipers, I passed because they were pricey and I didn't have a need for them, I suppose I could have used them but didn't need them. I forget how much he wanted but I'm sure it was less than what they'd go for on the bay. I couldn't believe how many set he had.
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Old 11-20-07, 05:28 PM   #7
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May be just a rumor, I thought I read somewhere once Universal brakes were prone to fractures.

Anyone else hear this?
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Old 11-20-07, 05:42 PM   #8
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Ive never heard this rumor but that doesnt mean its not true I can tell you that Ive had many a pair of these brakes and have used them for a long time and have never had a problem with them fracturing
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Old 11-20-07, 07:07 PM   #9
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BRAKE PADS: _ The original red pads found on ALL of the old Universal brakes caliper models are BAD and should be replaced with ones which really work. They typically had cotton fibers molded onto them which I believe was to help keep them from disintegrating or melting when you were flying down those Italian Alps and really heating up your rims. Over the decades the rubber even on NOS brake pads has now dried out to the point where you may as well be using polished metal against your rims to try to stop, and the fibers only make them worse. Fortunately, you can find great replacement pads without much difficulty.

BREAKAGE? _ It was not the calipers but the brake lever bodies which actually DID fail, and far too often. The aluminum would fracture at the bottom side of the section your fingers would wrap around. This was simply because of the design, which happened to put a lot of stress on that section if the handlebar clamps were excessively tightened. I still have (and use) some of the levers, which I think are great. Just be sure to NEVER over-tighten the clamps.

HOODS: _ Unfortunately, there are really no "Good" fitting modern replacement hoods for these. The levers all had cable adjuster "chimneys" welded onto the top of the lever body making it far more difficult to find anacceptable substitute than most other levers. So, you're stuck with either a VERY poorly fitting modern hood, or the expensive original gum hoods which are very nice... that is, until they begin to dry, crack and deteriorate once exposed to the elements.

Typical Universal levers - these were used on most models.


Inside the body - showing the clamp bolt holding plate
-which is actually butted against the bottom.



Worst case... the plate on this one had pulled against the bottom of the alloy body
- until it eventually cracked... and finally completely broke off.



A good modern replacement pad and holder on a center-pull model


I bought these Scott-Mathauser pads with holders online not too long ago.
They look quite similar to the originals, fit fine, and work GREAT.

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Old 11-20-07, 07:18 PM   #10
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Yes, the levers will break, usually on the body, and the calipers will break if you try and bend them for toe in. The Scott-Mathauser pads are great, I'm always looking for those. Other than that, Universals work as well as any other brakes from the period, except Campagnolo. The levers have kind of a long reach, so best for big hands.

Beautiful Frejus, I have a early 60s one I'm working on, blue and white, but its pretty beat. That one is the classic Frejus color scheme!
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