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Thread: My brakes suck!

  1. #1
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Hi there. My V-brakes suck. They were fine for relatively flat terrain (canada) but where I live now is much hillier, and there is more crap on the road, which is also usually wet.

    My hands are killing me after a short 35 mile ride yesterday over hilly terrain. I had to apply far too much force to slow the bike down, and never really felt I had the kind of control over braking that I would like.

    I have had them checked and the brakes are technically fine. Newish pads on both, but they are bedded in. Rims are fine. I think the brakes just don't suit this combination of terrain and climate.

    What do y'all use? I am looking for a solution that doesn't involve major changes (e.g. disc brakes) and will happily entertain suggestions around different style of brakes. I recently converted to butterfly / trekking bars, and have a set of dura ace brake levers. My bike has sticky-outie things that the brakes are attached to, as well as a threaded thingie in the centre at the top of the forks.

    thanks.

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    garbage picker the homealien's Avatar
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    V-brakes can have plenty of power. The problem is almost certainly your Dura-Ace levers. Almost all road levers (the kind made to go on drop bars) do not pull enough cable to work well with V-brakes.

    If the levers are your problem, there are a few solutions. You can switch levers, you can switch brakes, or you can add an adapter. Dia-Compe makes road levers for V-brakes which work well, but they are just levers, so if you have integrated levers (brifters, STI, whatever) that solution might not be so good. You can switch to cantilever or caliper brakes, which both work with road levers. You can also add a little doo-dad called a travel agent (forgot who makes it) that goes in the cable line down by the brakes and increases the travel so the V-brakes will work fine. That would be an especially good thing if the Dura-Ace levers are integrated and you want to keep them.

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Hi and thanks. My brake levers are mountain bike style I think. My friend gave them to me when I did my bar conversion. I don't have brifters.

    Here is a view where you can sorta see the set-up:



    Here is a pic of my handlebars, looking at the thumb shifter adapters and a bit of the brake lever:



    [Ooooh! velly scary!] </Monster Chiller Horror Theatre> sorry so big!

    Sorry that's out of focus, but it's the only one that shows a bit of the lever. The brakes didn't work much better recently when I had the drop bar set-up and traditional road bike brake levers.

  4. #4
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Those pictured are traditional cantis. Try swapping brake pads (Kool-Stops) and see if they'll make any diff before doing anything else...
    Last edited by roadfix; 02-20-06 at 05:14 PM.
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    Clinging to guns/religion Ridelots24's Avatar
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    Sorry to break it to you.....those are NOT "V" brakes.....

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    D'Oh! thanks!

    so. . . what do you suggest?

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Thanks Fixer, I swapped pads a while back and no improvement.

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Oh, I see you specify Kool Stops. Okay, thanks, will give those a try.

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lolly Pop
    Oh, I see you specify Kool Stops. Okay, thanks, will give those a try.
    Preferably the "salmon" colored Kool Stops. Then make sure you have someone competent with cantis set them up. The biggest problem with cantilever brakes is maladjustment. There's a lot more adjustment available on cantis than some other types of brakes and, thus, far more room for error.

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    And one more thing, I can't tell from the picture if those are the Shimano cantis that had the really bad plastic adjuster design. The plastic adjusters had a tendency to crack which reduced braking force. When they discovered the problem, Shimano sent boatloads of them to bike shops so replacements are available for very cheap or even free.

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tip. I see the salmon ones are for wet weather, so i think they will suit me. I think the cold is also affecting the braking, with the pad being less grippy because it is so rigid from the cold.

    I don't know about plastic adjusters. My bike is away getting a new chain after a link busted yesterday (but didn't break the chain apart). I am grateful to the hedges that broke my fall both times.

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfspeed
    And one more thing, I can't tell from the picture if those are the Shimano cantis that had the really bad plastic adjuster design. The plastic adjusters had a tendency to crack which reduced braking force. When they discovered the problem, Shimano sent boatloads of them to bike shops so replacements are available for very cheap or even free.
    Can you tell now?


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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lolly Pop
    Can you tell now?

    Yes, those aren't the bad ones.

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    You have a problem there from my perspectivre. I can see why you might think those were V brakes, because they look like them with the vertical arms, although they are low profile cantis. Look at the link below and compare the touring to the neo-retro cantis:

    http://www.paulcomp.com/

    The touring are low profile, and yet even there, they are less in line than yours. look carefully at the cable angles, somewhat flater than yours. If you had neo retro style, you could have the longer straddle wire that you have on yours. but with such straight cantis, you need the wire seet lower or you loose your mechanical advantage.

    Try shortening the straddle wire so that it is flater, slightly below 90 degree angle. If that works, OK, but I fear that maybe your fender will be in the way. You may need to remove the fender shortent he wire, go for a ride and see how that works. If the fenders are int he way, you will have to choose between lowering the fender or changing your brake geometry one way or the other.

    I recomend doing this repair for yourself. You need to be able to adjust your brakes on the road. It is not always the most bomber part, and if you can't adjust it yourself it will cause a big problem for you if something goes wrong in the middle of nowhere.

    There are more detailed adjustment instructions at Harris.

  15. #15
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    I believe those straddle "links" are available in 2 lengths. I use the shorter of the two for that needed mechanical advantage.
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    I concur with Peterpan about the straddle wire.

    Somethin' else is caught my eye though. From the photo, it seems your rims are pretty severely gouged. And I mean severe -- I'd say they might be close to failure. (As in BOOM!! ) But from the photo, I can't tell if the brake pads are at fault. You might have worn down the pads far enough for the metal mount to rub against the rim, which would cause such gouges. On top of that, metal rubbing against the rim has almost no braking power at all. Check the source of the rim gouging.

    -- Mark

  17. #17
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    I have Magura hydraulic brakes. They are wonderful, great stopping power, second only to disc brakes as far as I can tell. And even better, they are an absolute snap to change the pads. No tools, just flick a switch. Wonderful!

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions everyone, including the tip about shortening the straddle wire. As for the rims EmmCeeBee I have been assured by more than one person who should know that they were fine! Brake pads have also been given the green light by more than one person! I replaced the rear ones anyway. May try the Kool Stop ones the Fixer recommended and go from there.

    Another option is simply changing the type of brake. A guy in my touring club has dual pivot brakes and he suggests I consider those or V-brakes. I think he has the Big Dog and really likes them. For £25 it's not a huge deal. I like stopping.
    Last edited by Lolly Pop; 02-21-06 at 01:45 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lolly Pop
    Can you tell now?

    I respect that a person on the scene would have a better idea of rim condition than what I can see in a picture. But as a person who knows bicycles, what I see in the picture is a severe safety hazard. Rims that wear through tend to explode from the high pressure in the tube -- usually when you're applying the brakes, such as coming down a hill. Not a pretty thought.

    I don't have an interest in starting an argument... Someone on the scene will tell you if I'm wrong, and I'll accept that. It might just be a weird light reflection in the photo. Though it's hard to imagine.

    Anyone else see the gouged rim?

    -- Mark

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Mark I appreciate your concern. They are quite smooth to the touch. Believe me, I wouldn't take safety risks! Two mechanics and two experienced lay cyclists have assured me they are fine.

    I believe what you see in the photo is some sort of stain. There is no uneveness in the surface at all.

  21. #21
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Do you have the pads on the correct sides of the bike? Some pads are made so that if you put them on one side, they will be closer together (less space between the pad and the rim) in the front, but if you change sides, they'll be closer together in the back. You want them in so they will be closer together in the front.
    The search for inner peace continues...

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Dunno. They were checked by two mechanics. New pads added to rear brakes by first one at my request. Then they got a pretty good look at by two lay cyclists on sunday when I was complaining about them. Am pretty sure the set-up is sound.

  23. #23
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro
    Do you have the pads on the correct sides of the bike? Some pads are made so that if you put them on one side, they will be closer together (less space between the pad and the rim) in the front, but if you change sides, they'll be closer together in the back. You want them in so they will be closer together in the front.
    Those cantis use conical washers so the pads can be oriented in any which way to set toe in.
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    The wire angle alone, and tune factors are more than enough to cause poor stopping. Remove the fender straighten the wire, and take it for a spin if it won't stop even then, there is something pretty wrong. By the time Shimano designed those brakes, they were probably giving the canti design job to a summer intern.

    Did anyone mention cables? You need new well lubricated cables.

    Bikes stopped fine before they iinvented aftermarket super brake pads. I expected to lock up the tires on any bike I owned, in dry weather.

    V-brakes will just bless you with a whole new set of problems. The bottom line is they don't make brakes for drop bar touring bikes, so some patience and ingenuity is required.

  25. #25
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Fixer
    Those cantis use conical washers so the pads can be oriented in any which way to set toe in.
    I wish my Miyata had functioning conical washers. Front brakes are ok, but the rear are pathetic. No matter what I do, I get toe-out.
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