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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 04-03-07, 06:00 PM   #1
donoman
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Folding bike brakes all suck?

I just got my Speed Pro TT and adjusted everything... but one thing, the brakes are horrible. The engage point is vague and then the lever squeezes all the way to the stops and it doesn't stop! Granted my other bike is an XTR but it's horrible. I have the calipers adjusted to barely dragging and it's still not good enough. Can I upgrade to any better brakes? My bike doesn't seem to have dropouts for V-brakes.

I was wondering if upgrading the cables and upgrading to Ultegra or Dura Ace brakes would help me at all... or better yet maybe I have adjusted something wrong... what I just want to ask is: Do all cantilever brakes on folding bikes suck? thanks

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Old 04-03-07, 06:06 PM   #2
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You might want to try better brake pads first (hint - KoolStops). A lot cheaper and better gripping.
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Old 04-03-07, 06:15 PM   #3
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More importantly, is there anything holding me back from upgrading brakes? I have read somewhere that these brakes (Tektro R365) have a very long reach. What is that and why is it important for me?
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Old 04-03-07, 08:32 PM   #4
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Actually, it might be the long reach calipers. My brother had a conventional road bike that came with long reach calipers and he said that they were horrible. He switched them out for ultegra brakes and guess what? More stopping power!

The only problem with switching to non-long reach calipers is that they may not leave enough room for the tires. You can clearly get smaller tires for 700cc tires as opposed to 406 tires.

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Old 04-04-07, 01:51 AM   #5
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As regards the thread title: most don't, but some do...

I would def change the pads first - Tektro pads have a bad reputation from what I hear.

The R365 calipers have a reach of 55 - 73mm. This is pretty long and will slightly diminish your braking power if they are positioned at the bottom. However, if they are properly set-up, they should be fine.

If might be worth looking for an alternative brake set, but I am not convinced as you will still need a long-reach caliper brake as there are no V-brake bosses on a TT. Anyway, you will struggle to replicate the stopping power of XTR V-brakes.

Last edited by Fear&Trembling; 04-04-07 at 02:14 AM.
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Old 04-04-07, 03:13 AM   #6
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I'd like to support the comment about Koolstop brake pads. I'd especially suggest the 'salmon' coloured compound. It made a tremendous difference to the VILE brakes on my Merc. In fact, the brakes are fine - it was just the awful compound in the pads.

I also found that attention to the lubrication of the brake cables made a real difference. that surprised me in a new machine. After all, it isn't as if they were all rusty and horrible from ten years standing in the rain. Nevertheless, a good dribble of 3 in 1 oil into the cable improved the braking substantially on its own. This may be a feature of the Brompton / Merc (copy) routing of the cable which in the case of the front brake, causes a 180 degree bend just near the caliper. Oiling that would obviously help.

The Koolstop Salmons are available in a variety of types -especially in the States. Unfortunately, they are harder to come by in England, even though every bike shop has all kinds of pads. Sadly, none of the caliper pads that I tried came near to the Koolstop Salmon ones.
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Old 04-04-07, 07:36 AM   #7
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you need very long reach calper brakes ... which will never reach the pure power of v brakes. Problem is that long reach calipers are not even available.... tektro has one and I think there is one other brake caliper.... you might make sure that your bike is a 07 and has the better of them two installed versus the 06 ... but again nothing you do will reach disc brake or v brake pucker power ....

but than you dont want to skid your tires... anyhow ... lol
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Old 04-05-07, 06:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donoman
More importantly, is there anything holding me back from upgrading brakes? I have read somewhere that these brakes (Tektro R365) have a very long reach. What is that and why is it important for me?
The first thing I would do is to fasten the cables to something. If you press the brank levers and you see the cable flop around out in front of your bike, that's cable movement that is not being used to apply the brakes. That slop must be removed before you get positive braking no matter what kind of brakes you have. Quoting Sheldon Brown "Isaac Newton said "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." In the case of bicycle cables, this means that there cannot be a pull on an inner cable without an equal push on the housing." If all the "push on the housing" does is flop your cables around you'll have squishy braking regardless of what else you do. I've never seen a Speed TT in person but the photos show a lot of cable loose in front of the bike. Even if you do nothing else but zip tie them all into a bundle - that will help. Keep in mind your fold and test out your new cable routing or you might be surprised when you go to fold the bike.

Second thing I'd do is try new pads.

Finally as far as changing brake calipers, in case you haven't already arrived at this conclusion, the determining factor on the reach of your brake caliper is the distance from your brake mounts to the rims. That's not going to change without using an adaptor so your choices in brake upgrades will be limited to another set of long reach calipers. There are only a handful of long reach brakes out there. Adaptors are available to allow you to use v-brakes or u-brakes. They are common in the BMX world it seems so choose a BMX friendly shop if you go hunting for them.
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Old 04-05-07, 07:48 AM   #9
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The TT Speed Pro has Shimano STI Drop Bar levers which will pull a caliper brake but do not have enough pull for a V brake ... If you really want to switch over to BMX - V brake conversions you also have to install a Travel Agent...

http://www.thorusa.com/dahon/heliosd...conversion.htm

Again the brakes do not work as powerful a V brakes or Disc brakes. Try a regular road bike before you spend enourmous amounts of money and headaches on the conversion. The Roadies are somewhat content with the caliper brake performance... it is rather big difference from the mtb ,, but plenty enough stopping power ...


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Old 04-06-07, 04:13 PM   #10
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Hey,
Most bikes when first put together have less than stellar brake performance. I used to assemble bikes for a rental shop, and would let the bikes sit over night with a zap strap around the brake levers. In the morning, most of the housing compression had taken place, in one night, without riding.
Also, there is a small screw on calliper brakes, it adjusts the spring tension, so if back it out a bit, you can decrease the pull required on the levers. One of the biggest things that can screw up performance of cable brakes, is the way the cable housing was cut. If the ends of the housing are not perfectly square and smooth, when inserted into the housing end cap, they will shift and move every time you brake, delaying the solid engagement of the brakes. So pull your cable out of the housing and file the housing smooth. Hope some of this helps.

Andreas

Most brakes work quite well when properly set up, except original ones on my Raleigh Twenty, scary
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Old 04-09-07, 11:40 AM   #11
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I changed all my bikes (Brompton and Dahon) to the best brake pads I could find and afford-Kool Stops. I adjusted my brakes and made sure that all brake levers are tilted up toward my fingers (I have small hands) for better leverage.
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Old 04-09-07, 12:28 PM   #12
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koolstop salmon pads +1
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Old 04-09-07, 01:37 PM   #13
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I have Koolstop Mountain pads on my Downtube Mini (these are the all weather combi pads - black & salmon).
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Old 04-09-07, 02:43 PM   #14
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koolstop salmon pads + 2. I'm not sure that there is much difference in weight or stopping power between any of the mid to upper range brakes, but there is a big difference between the pad compounds. Also, make sure you've cleaned your rims with a good solvent.
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Old 04-09-07, 03:54 PM   #15
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Thanks for the suggestions guys... I bought the pads and will install them on the train. I rode to work for the first time on my folder. It was scary riding with those crappy stock brakes! By the way, I only bought one set of pads. I'll put them in the back first (since that's the worse wheel) and report back. Got the Koolstop combo pads (black & salmon). They were expensive! 25$ at REI.

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Old 04-09-07, 04:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donoman
Thanks for the suggestions guys... I bought the pads and will install them on the train. I rode to work for the first time on my folder. It was scary riding with those crappy stock brakes! By the way, I only bought one set of pads. I'll put them in the back first (since that's the worse wheel) and report back. Got the Koolstop combo pads (black & salmon). They were expensive! 25$ at REI.

Donovan
Next time, check ebay. I think I paid $15, including shipping (no tax).

Also, be sure you adjust your brakes after installing the new pads. The koolstops were considerably narrower (less thick) than the OE pads so I had to adjust to get a good grip.
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Old 04-09-07, 06:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donoman
Thanks for the suggestions guys... I bought the pads and will install them on the train. I rode to work for the first time on my folder. It was scary riding with those crappy stock brakes! By the way, I only bought one set of pads. I'll put them in the back first (since that's the worse wheel) and report back. Got the Koolstop combo pads (black & salmon). They were expensive! 25$ at REI.

Donovan
Just as a note: A good front brake is much more important than a good rear brake. I would install the pads in the front first.

Some reading on that: http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html
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Old 04-09-07, 10:41 PM   #18
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Cane Creek Direct Curve V-type brakes are very powerfull and they work with short pull brake levers. Probably they will work with brifters brake levers.
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Old 04-10-07, 12:02 AM   #19
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-1 Koolstop salmon pads. At least on my Raleigh Twenty rear brakes - the originals. I think these brakes set new standards of how brakes should *not* work. The salmon pads helped nothing. (That means that other pads work even less.) Effectively I'm riding around with only front brakes. (I even toured Tasmania's 1000 hills, loaded, like that. Scary, huh?)
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Old 04-10-07, 03:20 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rincewind8
Just as a note: A good front brake is much more important than a good rear brake. I would install the pads in the front first.

Some reading on that: http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html
Yes - I was just going to say that. I winced at the idea of putting those pads on the back and leaving poor compound on the front.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jur
-1 Koolstop salmon pads. At least on my Raleigh Twenty rear brakes - the originals. I think these brakes set new standards of how brakes should *not* work. The salmon pads helped nothing. (That means that other pads work even less.) Effectively I'm riding around with only front brakes. (I even toured Tasmania's 1000 hills, loaded, like that. Scary, huh?)
Loved your slides about the tour Jur. Hat off to you and the good lady.
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Old 04-10-07, 11:59 AM   #21
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Hi guys, I changed to Koolstop salmons on both front and back (REI got more pads in). Unfortunately I paid 50$ total for the pads. Oh well. As long as I use them, it's worth it! Commuted to school again today. By my calculations I save about $7 a day by commuting on the train, not including unaccounted wear & tear as well as insurance for my cars. Which reminds me, I should cancel the insurance policies on the cars I sold before deciding to commute on the bike! yippeee
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Old 04-10-07, 12:19 PM   #22
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Hope the improvement to braking meets your expectations.
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