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Old 06-20-09, 02:17 PM   #1
peripatetic
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Always replace brake shoes?

Since I'm talking about 20- and 30-yr-old bikes, I'm posting this here rather than in the Mechanics's section.

If the shoes look like they're in good shape and aren't too scuffed up or dirty, do you still replace them? Some people--and Sheldon Brown's site--say that "pads get old and brittle and should be replaced." A guy at my LBS who's into vintage bikes said he himself rides his vintage '82 road frame and has never replaced the shoes, it's not necessary. Other than pieces of material lodged into the shoes themselves, do you look for any particular signs they should be replaced? I hate wasting stuff just because.
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Old 06-20-09, 02:37 PM   #2
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Use a file and file the top layer away and the rubber on the inside of the pad is probably OK.
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Old 06-20-09, 02:40 PM   #3
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I'm the same way, hate tossing something that's perfectly serviceable.
I go by how they feel. Too hard and they don't brake as well. Many compounds harden throughout with age which makes them aboiut useless on all but steel rims, but some form a thin 'crust' that doesn't hurt anything at all because it wears away as fast as it forms.

Ken.
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Old 06-20-09, 02:52 PM   #4
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You've both reinforced my own thinking. Thanks.
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Old 06-20-09, 03:45 PM   #5
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+1 on removing the outer, hardened surface of the pads.
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Old 06-20-09, 03:49 PM   #6
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I have tried a number of solvents in an attempt to soften up old rubber, filed off a few mm of surface in an attempt to 'get down' to better rubber, etc., but I've rarely been happy with the results. On my last order with Niagara, I took a chance on an inexpensive retail "card" with 24 pads for something under $10. That comes out to $1.50 per bicycle - a bargain all around. Better stopping, low labor. Even for a flipper, it is the right thing to do.
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Old 06-20-09, 04:31 PM   #7
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Niagara also sells a bulk bag of 0 (25 pair) of brake shoes for $16.99. I paid $1.99 per pair for their individual package, I will go with the bulk bag next time.

All that being said, I usually do not replace them unless I figure they need it (qualitative judgment call).

Last edited by wrk101; 06-20-09 at 05:01 PM. Reason: comment
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Old 06-20-09, 04:43 PM   #8
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My vintage PUCH ran Mathuaser brake-pads for 24 YEARS! I recently swapped 'em for some Kool Stop salmon pads. Not because the Scott Mathauser ones were worn out - they are in excellent condition. I just wanted to preserve them as a part of bicycling-history. But as the Mathauser and the Kool Stop are made from the original formula cooked up by Mathauser, I don't see why they would wear out any faster.

Here are the original Scott Mathauser "SUPERBRAKE." Note the beveled, square washers that assists toe-in.


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Old 06-20-09, 05:05 PM   #9
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If you don't have Matthausers or KoolStop salmons, you need new brake pads.
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Old 06-20-09, 08:14 PM   #10
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My 73 Nishiki Competition had the original Dia Compe pads on it, along with all original tires and cables. The only thing I kept were the pads. With new cables and lined housing, I can lock up the back wheel with not terribly much effort. That surprised me.
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Old 06-20-09, 09:45 PM   #11
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If they are just dry and hard, not worn out I think it's worth "squaring" 'em up on the side of a course wheel on your bench grinder. Which should reveal some fresh useable meat.

Of course for something you are really riding fresh pads are cheap and probably best.
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