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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 06-16-09, 08:45 AM   #1
AngryScientist 
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mushy brakes!

i have two nice modern geared road bikes, and a nice vintage steel roadie, they ALL stop wayyy better than my SS.

the SS came with low end tektro brakes. i thought that was the problem : bought campy mirage brake calipers with koolstop salmon pads: NO HELP. cables are jagwire. they are new, but not so new that they havent had a chance to get the initial stretch out. i cant imagine the mush is coming from the levers. any further suggestions?

are the campy mirage calipers just not that good ( they were inexpensive) maybe i need to jump to shimano 105's or ultegra? i dont want to just throw money at the bike without results.

i commute to work on this bike, and would really like a better lever feel and less mushy overall feeling.

help!
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Old 06-16-09, 08:54 AM   #2
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Are they adjusted correctly? I would imagine they are, since you went to more extreme measures already. I've used those cheap Tektro brakes before and they didn't seem too mushy to me. Then again, I do also have an Ultegra brake that does feel a lot better. I dunno.
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Old 06-16-09, 08:58 AM   #3
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Do you have machined sidewalls on your wheels? If they are polished or something, that could make the brake not grab the wheel very well and make it feel mushy.

I've got a fsa gossamer brake with avid flak jacket wire and a 200tt lever. Grabs almost as well as my v-brakes on my mountain bike.
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Old 06-16-09, 09:01 AM   #4
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i'd guess mush is in excessive cabling.
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Old 06-16-09, 09:07 AM   #5
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You have not mentioned what brake levers you are running. If they are the low end tektro levers that came with your low end Tektro brakes then those could certainly be the cause. I am still running the crappy Tektro brakes that came with my Clockwork and just swapping out the levers to Cane Creek 200TT's made a HUGE difference. With the Tektro road levers the brakes were useless, total mush.
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Old 06-16-09, 11:51 AM   #6
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Maybe try re-doing or replacing the housing? If it was cut to length without a straight end that can introduce some "mush" feeling because the housing isn't in full contact with the ferrule.

You should be getting at least good results from both of those brakes.
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Old 06-16-09, 11:56 AM   #7
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Easiest way IMO is to carefully watch the brake, cable, etc. keep pumping the brake, or have someone else do it, you should be able to see where the "mush" is coming from.
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Old 06-16-09, 11:57 AM   #8
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i think (with spdcr5's help) i may have narrowed it down to the levers. anyone have any experience with these:
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Old 06-16-09, 11:59 AM   #9
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Get the tektro ones to save a few bucks, they're the exact same.

Very good levers, similar in shape to campy.
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Old 06-16-09, 02:00 PM   #10
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You've checked brake pad angle, right? Toe in (or out) is an easy way to make an otherwise perfect setup feel like crap.
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Old 06-16-09, 02:07 PM   #11
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how easy should it be to brake? i can skid the rear wheel with considerable effort, but i always hear about people grabbing the front and flipping over their bars. i couldn't do this if i had a vice grip, and it makes me wary to take off the back brake [which i'd like to do]. they're stock tektro's on a raleigh rush hour. any ideas?
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Old 06-16-09, 06:11 PM   #12
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are the brake pads very close to the rim, they should be. If they are not, open up the place where the cabling goes in, squeeze the caliper with your hands, retighten.
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Old 06-16-09, 09:22 PM   #13
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as people have said before. take the cable off. cut it so it is essentially as short as can be without interfering with handlebar movement and for the front brake so its not bending back across itself you want it to run as a straight arc to the brake not bending beyond it. and make sure you cut the housing flat with none of the metal casing sticking out so it sits flush into the ferrules. and then spray some tri-flow or other lubricant into the housing. and then tighten the brakes enough so they are about 2-3mm away from the rims with the pads properly aligned. if this doesnt work try the new levers but this should work.
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Old 06-17-09, 07:15 AM   #14
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as people have said before. take the cable off. cut it so it is essentially as short as can be without interfering with handlebar movement and for the front brake so its not bending back across itself you want it to run as a straight arc to the brake not bending beyond it. and make sure you cut the housing flat with none of the metal casing sticking out so it sits flush into the ferrules. and then spray some tri-flow or other lubricant into the housing. and then tighten the brakes enough so they are about 2-3mm away from the rims with the pads properly aligned. if this doesnt work try the new levers but this should work.
I have the same bike and brakes, etc. My brakes were as mushy as he is describing. I checked the cables and connections, nothing made any difference. I switched out the brake levers and that made a huge difference. Once I determined the brakes themselves were alright I did my bar/brake lever/cable swap so I was good to go after that.
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Old 06-17-09, 07:39 AM   #15
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You've checked brake pad angle, right? Toe in (or out) is an easy way to make an otherwise perfect setup feel like crap.
improper toeing, not toeing in general. toeing your pads makes it so that your brakes don't squeal when they're applied, and is very commonly done.
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Old 06-17-09, 09:33 AM   #16
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Get the tektro ones to save a few bucks, they're the exact same.

Very good levers, similar in shape to campy.
+1

I'm using the cheap tektro levers that came stock on a rush hour. The tektro levers with tektro rx40 calipers on my ss, they've been good. I really can't tell any difference in braking power between this setup and the ultegra levers and calipers on my roadie.

Proper adjustment and pads have been instrumental to brake performance for me. I'm using Kool Stop pads on both bikes. The roadie came stock with shimano pads and wasn't stopping the bike nearly as well as the tektro setup on the ss. Those shimano pads got ditched quickly.
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Old 06-17-09, 11:34 AM   #17
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+1

I'm using the cheap tektro levers that came stock on a rush hour. The tektro levers with tektro rx40 calipers on my ss, they've been good. I really can't tell any difference in braking power between this setup and the ultegra levers and calipers on my roadie.

Proper adjustment and pads have been instrumental to brake performance for me. I'm using Kool Stop pads on both bikes. The roadie came stock with shimano pads and wasn't stopping the bike nearly as well as the tektro setup on the ss. Those shimano pads got ditched quickly.
While I think the my cheap Tektro brake is more than sufficient, and actually kinda nice, I do feel like my Ultegra ones are nicer.
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Old 06-17-09, 11:41 AM   #18
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Well, i just ordered the levers pictured above, they look waaay nicer than the ones on the bike now anyway, which should improve the ergonomics of riding the bike either way. not a bad upgrade for under $40.
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Old 06-17-09, 12:04 PM   #19
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While I think the my cheap Tektro brake is more than sufficient, and actually kinda nice, I do feel like my Ultegra ones are nicer.
How do you define nicer?
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Old 06-17-09, 12:12 PM   #20
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To use a word from the OP, they feel less mushy (not that I think the Tektro ones are mushy ... they aren't). My Ultegra ones just feel snappier.
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Old 06-17-09, 03:11 PM   #21
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get a fixed hub and take the brakes off. No more mushy breaks.
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Old 06-17-09, 03:40 PM   #22
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Then again, I do also have an Ultegra brake that does feel a lot better. I dunno.
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I do feel like my Ultegra ones are nicer.
its in the pads and set up. with that said, ive only vetted r7x0 series tektros with salmons though ownership.
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Old 06-18-09, 02:40 AM   #23
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Do you have machined sidewalls on your wheels? If they are polished or something, that could make the brake not grab the wheel very well and make it feel mushy.

I've got a fsa gossamer brake with avid flak jacket wire and a 200tt lever. Grabs almost as well as my v-brakes on my mountain bike.
+1

i just noticed that my wheels do not have a machined surface (same as the mavics on my early-90's road bikes). this could be the difference maker especially if you've already tried all the other variables (pads, cables, etc). lever should improve feel, but actual stopping performance is not likely to differ much.
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Old 06-18-09, 09:26 AM   #24
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+1

i just noticed that my wheels do not have a machined surface (same as the mavics on my early-90's road bikes). this could be the difference maker especially if you've already tried all the other variables (pads, cables, etc). lever should improve feel, but actual stopping performance is not likely to differ much.
i think the importance of a braking surface is overemphasized.
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Old 06-18-09, 09:42 AM   #25
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its in the pads and set up. with that said, ive only vetted r7x0 series tektros with salmons though ownership.
Yeah, I mean essentially all of these kinds of brakes do the same thing in the same way ... so I wouldn't be surprised if its just the pads or installation that are making the difference. The calipers I am using is the Tektro R350 aluminum dual pull with the RL570 cross lever. They work fine, get the job done, no complaints. I've actually never had a bad experience with brakes though, even my old old old stock brakes on my Schwin Le Tour.

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i think the importance of a braking surface is overemphasized.
I think there have been several threads on BF that basically have concluded that machined surfaces make no difference except to stay pretty and prevent squeaking. I have both machined and non-machined rims and I can say that the non-machined ones get dirty pretty fast and are loud. But I don't notice a difference in braking distance.
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