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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-03-06, 08:23 AM   #1
Bklyn
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In Praise of Kool-Stops

Twice today I had to lean hard on the back brake, both times for peds.
The first: Three guys waiting at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge, waiting for traffic. They see me and still walk right in my path. Laid a Steve McQueen skid, fishtailing to a stop at the last second. They were duly impressed; me, I was amazed I hadn't killed anybody.

The second: an entire crowd of jaywalkers crosses against my left turn. I have a lane, but this little Asian woman just sprints right in front of me. Another chance to lay a skid, dropping down to a 35 degree angle and squealing to a halt. She still ran into me, but apologized profusely.

It's not me. It's the Kool-Stops.
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Old 08-03-06, 08:26 AM   #2
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might need to switch on the 78 the brakes squeal like bad!
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Old 08-03-06, 08:49 AM   #3
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I put salmon koolstops and shimano deore v-brakes on my LHT to help get rid of a persistent squeal I had.

So far so good. Although I haven't had to try any emergency stops for peds yet.
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Old 08-03-06, 09:14 AM   #4
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I <3 koolstops.
I've got red eagle claw 2s on the front of my fixie, and slammin salmons on the rear of my BMX.
(sidenote: I've been running koolstops since 94, on my MTB back then)

I've been thinking of switching to Plazmatics or Heatsinks on the BMX lately, just to try something new.
Hey, if they're over double the price of Koolstops, they must stop me twice as fast, right?
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Old 08-03-06, 09:15 AM   #5
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+1 for Kool Stop salmons. They'll stop you right quick.
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Old 08-03-06, 09:20 AM   #6
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It's you.

I always ran Kool Stops, which were great but have switched to disc brakes. In rain, there's no comparison.
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Old 08-03-06, 09:22 AM   #7
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These are my first try with koolstop salmon pads - what is their life expectancy compared to the standard shimano pads?
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Old 08-03-06, 09:27 AM   #8
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I've noticed that some of the Kool Stop pads now come in funky colors - red, yellow, etc. The packaging claims these are "all-weather" pads. Does anyone know what these are made of? Hopefully they are just the salmon pads with some cosmetic dye added in.
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Old 08-03-06, 09:34 AM   #9
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i have been noticing koolstops are easier on your rims then some of them cheapo generic pads (the ones that came on the tekro brakes io got were the worst they sawed into a nice new dt-swiss rim before i took them off.

replacing brake pads is cheap compared to replacing rims.... no more cheap generic pads for me.
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Old 08-03-06, 10:30 AM   #10
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I just put Kool Stop Supra 2 Salmon Pads all around on my hybrid the other day. They stop like a MOFO! However, I've tried to get the correct toe-in & just can't do it. They scream like a banshee the last few seconds before coming to a full stop. Do I just have to give them some break-in time?
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Old 08-03-06, 10:37 AM   #11
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OP: Do your homework Grabbing a handful of rear brake is a pretty crappy emergency stop. Even grabbing a half-handful is better, but it's still a lot less effective than using the front brake properly.

Edit: here's the gist for the lazy ones: "it takes twice as long to stop with the rear brake alone as with the front brake alone, so reliance on the rear brake is unsafe for cyclists who ever go fast".
Corollary: of course, you have to learn to use the front brake properly, pulling it just hard enough, but not too hard.

Last edited by LóFarkas; 08-03-06 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 08-03-06, 11:09 AM   #12
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Thanks for the admonition.
First of all, facts that I'm aware of as the one actually on the bike: the front brakes aren't Kool-Stops, and are due for a change; I don't actually want to come to a complete stop but swerve while braking; there's no way on earth I could stop more quickly using the front alone without going over the handlebars.
I'm aware (intellectually, anyway) of what Sheldon Brown (praise him!) says about the front brake. In my gut I certainly don't believe it. (And that "twice as long" stat is pretty specious, if you ask me.) He also says that he prefers the front-brake lever to be on the right hand, for this reason: "I also do this because I'm right handed, and wish to have my more skillful hand operate the more critical brake." It's a quandary. The more agile hand controls the less effective brake.
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Old 08-03-06, 11:09 AM   #13
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Vanity question: does anyone think switching to the salmon Kool-Stops will help with the black crap that gets all over my legs after braking hard with my V-brakes? I've been thinking about them anyway for when the rain comes, no more black crap would be the clincher.
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Old 08-03-06, 12:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bklyn
In my gut I certainly don't believe it. (And that "twice as long" stat is pretty specious, if you ask me.)
It is true, and it's definately worth some practice stops (maybe with something soft behind the stopping point in case you screw up) to prove it to your gut - it will make you a safer rider (once you fix your front brakes). It's like skidding a fixed gear... before you learn to do it you're convinced that you'll kill yourself, but afterwards it becomes automatic and you wonder why it took so long to try.
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Old 08-03-06, 01:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bklyn
there's no way on earth I could stop more quickly using the front alone without going over the handlebars.
Time to learn to use the front brake then.

This topic comes up all the time, and as long as the laws of physics are unchanged, Sheldon will always be right about it. I'm not going into further debate. Of course, if you have a crappy front brake, you need to fix it first, if there's ice on the road, you need both brakes etc.

The x2 figure is subject for debate, but I'm willing to bet my life that it's at least 1.5 on decent asphalt. Somebody should do a controlled experiment at last. I don't have a rear brake, so I can't (fixed gear). It's probably over x2 as compared to skidding the rear. That's a big difference in an emergency.

As for dodging objects and not stopping, front brake and then turn while easing back on the brake.

I'd recommend using the two brakes at least 50/50 in an emergency stop. That'll stop you doing a somersault (which is very easy to avoid in any case, btw) but still give better braking than rear only.

Also make sure that the rear doesn't skid. That's just a lousy way of stopping from every point of view. Not all that easy to control, kills the tyre, scares peds and it's ineffective as well. The coefficient for kinetic friction is quite a bit smaller than that of static friction; i.e. once it starts to slide, it only has reduced traction.
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Old 08-03-06, 01:05 PM   #16
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Wow, among the many things I do, naturally, without thought, that happens to be the right thing to do!
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Old 08-03-06, 01:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bklyn
there's no way on earth I could stop more quickly using the front alone without going over the handlebars.
I'm aware (intellectually, anyway) of what Sheldon Brown (praise him!) says about the front brake. In my gut I certainly don't believe it. (And that "twice as long" stat is pretty specious, if you ask me.)
I guess you have never been much of a motorcycle rider.
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Old 08-03-06, 01:29 PM   #18
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Eh, I think sheldon overstates his case.

It's true that the front brake has more stopping power than the rear, but that's a stupid reason not to use the rear brake. In my case I cannot flip myself over the handlebars with the front brake... my bike and I are too heavy relative to the stopping power of the brake. That means I am NOT completely unloading the rear wheel, meaning the rear brake is still useful.

Applying braking force to both wheels is going to give you the best braking AND control combination. You'll have more control if you aren't braking as hard as possible on only one wheel.
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Old 08-03-06, 01:39 PM   #19
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No, I haven't ridden a motorcycle, and I haven't ridden fixed, either. I have a feeling that riding fixed and without a rear brake, you quickly become attuned to how to stop your bike. I'm sure you have a special appreciation of the front brake. But here's a question: Why am I seeing freewheel singlespeeds without rear brakes?

In retrospect, I'm quite sure I clamped down on the front brake as well. (Why wouldn't I?) But it just seems that with these brake pads, the rear wheel fishtails because of the complete clampdown. Obviously, the front wheel won't skid.
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Old 08-03-06, 01:42 PM   #20
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I use the front alone in normal situations but in a quick stop I do both brakes and almost always lock the rear. I suspect it 's because it's so light by the weight transfer to the front wheel.

When descending on a mountain bike, I use a lot more rear brake - I just can't bring myself to get much front brake in that situation yet...
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Old 08-03-06, 02:19 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bklyn
No, I haven't ridden a motorcycle, and I haven't ridden fixed, either. I have a feeling that riding fixed and without a rear brake, you quickly become attuned to how to stop your bike. I'm sure you have a special appreciation of the front brake. But here's a question: Why am I seeing freewheel singlespeeds without rear brakes?

In retrospect, I'm quite sure I clamped down on the front brake as well. (Why wouldn't I?) But it just seems that with these brake pads, the rear wheel fishtails because of the complete clampdown. Obviously, the front wheel won't skid.
There may be no place to hang a rear brake. I know the Pista isn't drilled for a rear brake. And if you know what you're doing a front brake is more than sufficient. Yes, two is better, but I'd rather have the front, than only the back.
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Old 08-03-06, 03:43 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggplant Jeff
Eh, I think sheldon overstates his case.

It's true that the front brake has more stopping power than the rear, but that's a stupid reason not to use the rear brake. In my case I cannot flip myself over the handlebars with the front brake... my bike and I are too heavy relative to the stopping power of the brake. That means I am NOT completely unloading the rear wheel, meaning the rear brake is still useful.

Applying braking force to both wheels is going to give you the best braking AND control combination. You'll have more control if you aren't braking as hard as possible on only one wheel.
Well, that obviously depends upon mass. For example, I change my braking habits when riding my touring bike fully loaded. In that situation, the combination of the extra mass and the placement of about half of it right over the rear wheel means that I'm going to skid the front wheel long before I lift the rear wheel off the asphalt. In this case, I get much better braking by using both hands, and I act accordingly when I need to stop. With a commuting load, however, which could be just me and a messenger bag on my back, possibly with some panniers over the rear wheel, I switch back to braking with my front wheel. I find it easier to manage the transfer of momentum to get maximum braking without doing an endo if I just focus on modulating the front brake. If I have to use both brakes, then I need to worry about skidding one or both of them and apply differing amount of force as needed. That's more head work than I want to deal with in this kind of situation. No, it's not that difficult, but every little bit counts. So if I can use just the front brake, I'll use just the front brake.

Oh yeah, and Kool Stops rule. The first thing I'm doing after I install v-brakes on my new commuter is replacing the stock pads with Kool Stop Mountain pads.
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Old 08-03-06, 05:50 PM   #23
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Well, that obviously depends upon mass. For example, I change my braking habits when riding my touring bike fully loaded.
Well, this thread has been more illuminating, almost worth enduring the learn how to ride, dude posts. (They weren't that bad .) But Grolby is on to something; the bike I was riding wasn't the usual roadie commuter; it was the hybrid with the baby seat attached (long story). Much more weight in the rear. And on the way home just now I made a point of trying to halt with just the front brakes. Not possible. Not cleanly, anyway. I'm quite sure that it's the pads; I'll pick up a pair of salmon Kool-Stops tommorrow, because the rear brakes work like a vise.
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Old 08-03-06, 06:41 PM   #24
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Is the "Asian" reference germane to something?
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Old 08-03-06, 08:52 PM   #25
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Sure. She was Asian. Ascribe to that description whatever quality pops into your head. Was she inscrutable perhaps? Industrious? Canny and wise? (Come to think of it, I would have preferred the Victorian term "celestial.") Or would it have simply looked too weird to write "little woman"? Man, you've got a lot of time on your hands to be policing every post. Didn't somebody on the fixie forum confuse "its" and "it's" or something?
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