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Old 07-12-07, 05:51 PM   #1
cynergy
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Caliper brake efficiency

Hi All,

I have an entry level Giant OCR3 road bike (2005 model). It has some generic caliper brakes on them. They do an OK job stopping me and the bike, but I'm wondering if there are some things that I can do to enhance the braking capability for my bike.

I've made sure that my rims are true and that my brake pads are properly aligned with respect to the rims. I also check my pads regularly to make sure they aren't worn out and I adjust the brake lever cable tension to make sure the brakes feel responsive. However, the braking power could be better. My bike probably weighs about 23 pounds and I weigh around 170.

I have been using generic brake pad inserts with my bike. Would choosing a specific brand of brake pad help improve braking efficiency or do all of the pads more or less perform the same?

How about brake cables and cable housings? I've seen advertisements for "power" cables which enhance braking capability. Do these things really work? Are they worth the added cost (they are pretty expensive)?

Last of all, how about upgrading my calipers? Do higher priced brake calipers perform better, or are they merely lighter than the low cost ones?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-12-07, 07:14 PM   #2
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I have some cheapazz calipers on my Lemond. They have worked just as well as the Ultegras on my other roadie. After the pads wore, I replaced the replaceable cartidge with Ultegra brake shoes ($9). Heck, I can get the whole shoe for less than the slide in rubber cartridge. I think they work great stopping my 230lb bod blowing down the mountains at 40 mph.

My wife's roadie has new Ultegra calipers. Man, they just seem so touchy that I prefer the cheapazz calipers on my roadie.

I can't tell a darn difference between my cheap azz calipers and my Ultegra calipers. Both bikes stop great!
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Old 07-12-07, 08:47 PM   #3
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I've used cheapie Tektro calipers, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace. The cheapie wasn't anywhere near as powerfull as it should be. The ultegra and Dura-Ace are both excellent with stopping power to spare.

So long as the cables are in good condition then they wouldn't be the limiting factor. The brake to worry about first is the front one. I'd say that if your front caliper doesn't have enough power to lift the rear wheel at will when emergency stopping on dry pavement then it's a good idea to look at upgrading.
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Old 07-12-07, 08:52 PM   #4
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Squeeze harder.... you always have enough clamping power to lock up both wheels... Braking-power is then limited by tyre-friction with the ground...
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Old 07-12-07, 08:56 PM   #5
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Kool Stop Salmon pads cure many braking ills-
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Old 07-12-07, 09:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
I've used cheapie Tektro calipers, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace.
So did you use the same pads on all 3?
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Old 07-13-07, 02:16 AM   #7
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So did you use the same pads on all 3?
The stock pads that came with the calipers. I replaced the pads on the cheapie calipers with salmons and got basically the same performance, I've replaced the pads on the Ultegra and D/A with Shimano pads as I'm happy with their balance of performance and wear rate.

On my commuter I have Deore LX V-brakes, have tried the coolstop salmons, the original pads, and cheaper generic pads. I found the generics work fine in the dry and are long wearing but compromised by wet weather and tend to squeal. The salmons are the same performance in the dry and much better in the wet but they seem to wear out very quickly and are the most expensive, they don't squeal. Surprisingly I found the original Shimano pads to be the best - good performance in wet and dry,and a bit cheaper than the salmons but last longer.
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Old 07-13-07, 06:21 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
Surprisingly I found the original Shimano pads to be the best - good performance in wet and dry,and a bit cheaper than the salmons but last longer.
My experience with Shimano pads is that they will eat your rim's braking surface much faster than most pads. The reason the Kool Stop pads wear faster is that they're made of a somewhat softer compound; but to me, better to replace pads a little more often than to replace rims more often. But as they say, YMMV-
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Old 07-13-07, 07:43 PM   #9
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Thanks all for the replies (keep them coming). I tuned my bike up this evening and replaced the existing brake pads with some Kool Stop regular (not salmon) pads that I had bought a while ago. I adjusted the pad alignment (to make sure I got all of the pads on the rim) and the cable tension and the new configuration seems more responsive and seems to stop better than the generic pads that I was using.

Ultimately I might upgrade my calipers to a higher end and (hopefully) more rigid/efficient system, but I'll see how my nameless generic calipers work for now.
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Old 07-14-07, 03:20 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by well biked
My experience with Shimano pads is that they will eat your rim's braking surface much faster than most pads. The reason the Kool Stop pads wear faster is that they're made of a somewhat softer compound; but to me, better to replace pads a little more often than to replace rims more often. But as they say, YMMV-
That's a good point, however I'm pretty hard on wheels. I've never had a rim last long enough to wear through the braking surface, I've always managed to destroy them by some other means first.
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Old 07-24-07, 01:59 AM   #11
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Careful you don't get any oil or dry lube on the rims and pads. Wipe down with alcohol or meths. Rubbing the rims with steel wool might also help improve the braking surface and a wire brush on the brake pads. Riding in the rain soon eats up the pads. Think it might be because of the extra grit in the spray. The discs on my mtb bike are great, but too much braking on a road bike in a pack can be a disaster.
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