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Thread: brake options

  1. #1
    creaky old bones FZ1Tom's Avatar
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    brake options

    I'm just getting back into bicycling after a 20 year layoff. Long story. But I got a new Trek 7200 hybrid, loving it so far except for a couple minor issues. A big one is the brakes. They're WEEEAAAK! Sure they slow you down and you stop, eventually, but hills are much more effective, I've discovered.

    For the Trek - are their any options?

    And I'm already decided on getting a road or cyclocross bike down a ways, but I want to drop another 50 pounds or so (I've gone from 385 or so down to 305, but been stuck there the last 3 months or so. I'm 5"10" btw) and more to the point, I need to save up the money. Kinda hard to get a 800 dollar bike on 8 bucks an hour, much less $1,300 or more.

    One bike that's caught my attention is the 2008 Cannondale Cyclocross 7. It seems to have a nice mix of components and most of all, disc brakes. Since I used to own a Yamaha FZ1 years ago with rock-hard brakes capable of standing the bike on its nose with only 2 fingers, its easy to see how there can never have "too much" brakes!

    If I can't get this particular bike for whatever reason, is it possible to get a road bike (Trek, Cannondale, Spec Allez Triple, etc) and do a disc brake conversion for a modest sum of money (like how much we talking about here)?

    Tom

  2. #2
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    The brakes on that bike should be OK. I have similar brakes on my mountain bike. You may want to try different brake pads such as the Koolstop dual compound mountain bike pad.
    http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=473

  3. #3
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    Take the bike back to the shop for it's first service, usually a free check up. They should be able to sharpen up the braking and sort out any other mechanical issues.
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by FZ1Tom View Post
    One bike that's caught my attention is the 2008 Cannondale Cyclocross 7. It seems to have a nice mix of components and most of all, disc brakes. Since I used to own a Yamaha FZ1 years ago with rock-hard brakes capable of standing the bike on its nose with only 2 fingers, its easy to see how there can never have "too much" brakes!

    If I can't get this particular bike for whatever reason, is it possible to get a road bike (Trek, Cannondale, Spec Allez Triple, etc) and do a disc brake conversion for a modest sum of money (like how much we talking about here)?
    As others have suggested, you might try to fix the brakes on your current bike before doing anything. That would include: making sure the wheel is centered between the brake calipers, adjusting the spacing between the caliper and the rim to meet the manufacturer's specifications, and possibly changing the pads. Kool Stop "salmon" pads seem to be the most-recommended upgrade.

    Many riders also need to brush-up on braking technique. Most of us who grabbed a handful of front brake while riding bicycles as kids have gone over the bars... and thus tend to favor the rear brake. As a motorcyclist, you probably already know that the majority of your braking power comes from the front brake. Since your brakes aren't hydraulic, you may have to give the lever a hard pull to get maximum braking power.

    That said, you're probably not going to find a standard brake caliper that works as well as a disc brake system. Adding disc brakes to a bike not designed for them can be expensive, unfortunately! The cheapest way to go is to upgrade the front to disc, but leave the rear unchanged. You can add disc brake mounts to the front end by swapping forks. In the rear, you're talking about surgery: having a mounting tab welded to the frame and then fixing up the paint. At the front, you could swap your fork for a disc-compatible fork. Perhaps a cyclocross fork; they seem to have geometry that works with road frames and they're not overly heavy like some of the mountain and touring bike forks. You'd need to buy or build a disc-compatible front wheel. And you'd need to buy a disc brake compatible with road bike brake levers. Avid makes road-compatible versions of the BB5 and BB7 mechanical disc brakes. Sounds simple, but the costs add up quickly: $100-300 for the fork, $150-400+ for a wheel, $50-75 for the disc brake caliper, etc.

    Rather than making the expensive switch to disc brakes, you might consider upgrading to a different set of standard brake calipers. If your bike has cheap Tektro calipers, you might get some improvement by going to Shimano or SRAM calipers. It probably won't be a night and day difference, but it might be enough to make you happy.

  5. #5
    Perma-n00b Askel's Avatar
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    I feel the need to chime in as a fellow FZ1 owner, those monoblock calipers are slick, aren't they?

    I'd say make sure the pads on your 7200 are set up properly first. Adjusting pads on canti and V brakes seems to be something of a lost art and if done wrong can absolutely ruin the brakes.

    I had some bad experience with the stock brakes on my Kona cyclocross bike- I swore I'd get discs on my next bike. Last season I took the time to replace the pads and install them properly and now the stock cantis are more than capable of locking up the 35c tires. There's no way I'd run discs on a cross bike now.

    There's a relation between your weight, the size of the tires you run, the surface you're on, and the power of your brakes. Make sure it's all in balance.

  6. #6
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Check brake adjustment and work on your technique. Rear brakes only slow you down, the front brake will stop you.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Askel View Post
    There's no way I'd run discs on a cross bike now.
    I've found rim brakes to be terribly ineffective in the rain. I'd run disc brakes on a cyclocross bike if I was planning to do any winter riding...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I've found rim brakes to be terribly ineffective in the rain. I'd run disc brakes on a cyclocross bike if I was planning to do any winter riding...
    I have V brakes on my hybrid that I ride every day, year round in the Buffalo NY area and I have found them to be completely acceptable. I did switch out the pads to a set of BBB pads that have more groves in the pad to help shed road grime and water (rather than the 2 vertical slots on the stock pads). These pads are perfectly descent. I can stop easily in any weather condition. In rain or snow when I am approaching an intersection and expect to have to slow down or stop I will apply the brakes lightly just in advance of when I think I need to stop just to be sure I've got full brakes, but I've been amazed at how well they work. My previous bike had the old chromed steel wheels, now those were SCARRY in the rain. IT would take seemingly forever before the brakes would start to grab. I have not ridden my road bike in any real rain so I don't know how well modern side pull brakes work in the rain. I was wishing for disk brakes when I got my bike, but just could not justify the additional cost. Now that I have nearly two full years of commuting behind me, I don't feel like I need disk brakes. Disks may be nicer in the rain and snow, but V-brakes are perfecly acceptable.

    Happy riding,
    André

  9. #9
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    I find that stopping in the rain is decent... when I know I'm going to have to stop. It does take an appreciable amount of time to scrape the grime off the rim before you get any real stopping power, but if you know you're going to have to brake you can take that into consideration.

    What I worry about is the situations where you don't know ahead of time that you'll need to stop. When I've practiced panic stops in the rain, I've been sorely disappointed in braking performance of my road bike. My disc-brake equipped MTB commuter bike stops much more reliably in those situations. Even with KoolStop salmon pads, the road bike brakes aren't that impressive when wet.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FZ1Tom View Post
    I'm just getting back into bicycling after a 20 year layoff. Long story. But I got a new Trek 7200 hybrid, loving it so far except for a couple minor issues. A big one is the brakes. They're WEEEAAAK! Sure they slow you down and you stop, eventually, but hills are much more effective, I've discovered.

    For the Trek - are their any options?

    And I'm already decided on getting a road or cyclocross bike down a ways, but I want to drop another 50 pounds or so (I've gone from 385 or so down to 305, but been stuck there the last 3 months or so. I'm 5"10" btw) and more to the point, I need to save up the money. Kinda hard to get a 800 dollar bike on 8 bucks an hour, much less $1,300 or more.

    One bike that's caught my attention is the 2008 Cannondale Cyclocross 7. It seems to have a nice mix of components and most of all, disc brakes. Since I used to own a Yamaha FZ1 years ago with rock-hard brakes capable of standing the bike on its nose with only 2 fingers, its easy to see how there can never have "too much" brakes!

    If I can't get this particular bike for whatever reason, is it possible to get a road bike (Trek, Cannondale, Spec Allez Triple, etc) and do a disc brake conversion for a modest sum of money (like how much we talking about here)?

    Tom
    Bicycle rim brakes have been under development for nearly 100 years, poor designs were all dropped many years ago. Brakes that are poorly adjusted or have worn pads, or that have pads that have hardened from age, can have poor performance. Effectively ALL bicycle rim brakes are disc brakes, the wheel being the disc in many cases. Disc brakes, with a separate disc are good on mountain bikes where mud and grit can wear a set of pads out in one ride and a rim out in a few months.

    Some tests, look at the brake pad, the pad should be about 2mm from the rim when open, should be the same distance on both sides. If you look from the side, with the brake applied, the whole brake pad should contact the rim. . Start to apply the brake, the brake should immediately move to grip the rim. Open the brake so you can remove the wheel, look at the pads, if there is a lot of dirt or metal particles on the pad then use a pen knife to scrape off the dirt and metal particles, you can also remove the pads and give them a swipe on some sand paper. See if the wear line, a cut in the pad is still visible, if it's not then replace the pads. Rim brakes are not auto-adjusting, so once in a while you need to adjust them to account for cable "stretch" and pad wear.

    If your not sure of this stuff, ask your dealer to check them for you,

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