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Brake pads for old road bike

Old 06-28-15, 07:22 PM
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Johnny Mullet
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Brake pads for old road bike

I have and older Huffy road bike that I really enjoy riding, but always disliked the brakes. I recently got rid of the safety lever type original brake levers and upgraded to better bars and some nice Diacompe aero levers. The new levers did not change anything as far as braking performance goes. I do not have a close-up of the old school Polygon alloy brake calipers, but here are a few pics so you can see what I got.............





The last thing I did was clean the Araya aluminum alloy rim braking surface and sanded the brake pads and this made a huge improvement, but the braking is still very poor. Any suggestions on better brake pads for my setup? I could always upgrade the calipers and if you think this will be the trick, what calipers would you use and what pad combo? These old calipers work correctly and everything is adjusted correctly, the stopping power is just poor. I don't mind spending some money on this beautiful bike, but if all I need are pads, I would prefer to keep the old calipers. I do have a set of old Diacompe calipers on another bike I could swap over, but prefer not to. Thanks!
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Old 06-28-15, 07:43 PM
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Yours are of the so-called single pivot side pull design. This design works best when made of excellent materials and workmanship. When they are not excellent, the calipers don't work so well. Dual pivot side pulls, however, can be fairly cheap and will work well. So I say replace the calipers. Tektro calipers are very good and reasonably priced.
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Old 06-28-15, 08:36 PM
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I been reading up on brake pads and decided to go to the local bike shop tomorrow and pick up a set of Kool Stop salmon pads. Got the ide from the Sheldon Brown site. If that does not make the braking any better I will upgrade to the dual pivot calipers, but this bike is running 27" old school Araya rims and not sure if new calipers will fit an old bike and also mount properly through the old fork.
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Old 06-28-15, 08:48 PM
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Look up "brake reach" on Sheldon's site, measure, and purchase Tektro dual pivots rated for a range to cover what you measure. Tektro offers several model over a range of reach.

Tektro dual pivots are a HUGE improvement over even some of the best single pivot brakes.
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Old 06-28-15, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
Look up "brake reach" on Sheldon's site, measure, and purchase Tektro dual pivots rated for a range to cover what you measure. Tektro offers several model over a range of reach.

Tektro dual pivots are a HUGE improvement over even some of the best single pivot brakes.
Not a HUGE improvement, I think,, . I like dual pivot fine; the top end single pivot sidepull brakes were pretty good as well. Here is, I think, a good discussion of the pros and cons of the 2 different designs,

The Retrogrouch: Endangered Species: Single-Pivot Sidepull Brakes
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Old 06-28-15, 09:05 PM
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I had cheap Dia-Compe and "Schwinn Approved" brakes on two of my early 80s bikes, replaced one pair with dual pivot Tektro, and ordered a second pair for my other bike a few days later.

Check to see if your brakes have the "hidden" nut, or the external nut. Tektro has models of both styles.

Having nice trustworthy brakes has made riding both bikes a lot more pleasurable.

Last edited by Gresp15C; 06-28-15 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 06-28-15, 09:15 PM
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The Kool Stops will help , but those are cheap flexy calipers and the upgrade to DP's will be significant. From your pictures you need "nutted" mounts not recessed at least on the front.
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Old 06-29-15, 05:16 AM
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I will be at the LBS this morning and I suppose if I want better brakes, I need to update them old calipers. I don't mind spending money on upgrades as long as they work.
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Old 06-29-15, 05:30 AM
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The calipers are fine. Most calipers are fine. Looks like you have Continental pads already. What exactly is wrong with your braking?
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Old 06-29-15, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
The calipers are fine. Most calipers are fine. Looks like you have Continental pads already. What exactly is wrong with your braking?
The brakes simply do not stop the bike. They barely slow it down and will not even lock up the rear (or front) wheel. There is no name on the brake pads installed. After sanding them and cleaning the rims there was some improvement, but not enough to make me happy, so I am guessing pads.

I know how to set proper cable tension, adjust the pads, adjust the calipers, etc and even after replacing the levers and cables still no improvement.

My other Huffy has the same type calipers only a better name (Dia Compe) and the original Dia Compe pads and they work just fine.
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Old 06-29-15, 06:53 AM
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KoolStop "Continental" pads are de rigeur for older calipers. You'll be pleased with the improvement. PG
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Old 06-29-15, 07:21 AM
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NB: By replacing the regular levers with aero levers, the MA was increased, they pull less cable,
You may want to adjust the brake-pads to sit closer to the rim, than Before.

+1 on the KS pad recommendation ..
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Old 06-29-15, 09:32 AM
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I think if you can't lock the front wheel, there is something wrong beyond just the limitations of cheap single-pivot calipers. I would investigate what fietsbob said about changing the brake levers reducing the cable pull. By all means, get some Kool Stop Continentals, but when you replace the pads set them up to sit quite close to the rim.
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Old 06-29-15, 10:02 AM
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I have the same type of brakes on a vintage bike, and have been very impressed by the Jagwire brake blocks. Classic dia compe type brake bloks only comes in their standard all weather compound, but they work very well in dry and wet condition, and they are the easiest to fit on this type of brake. They have several caliper block types though. If you are willing to test pads for V-brake they can often work well with caliper brakes, and there's more type of rubber compound to try out. I also like Swiss Stop, a bit more expensive, but sometimes it works better. I wish Kool Stop was more easily available here. If there isn't something very wrong with the brakes or material they are made of, they should have plenty of braking power. If you need better, the advice from other posters is worth going for, there are very good caliper brakes available.
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Old 06-29-15, 10:21 AM
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I have used Kool Stop Continentals and Cane Creek Gray Matter (4 pads per pack), and prefer those because they don't screech. Bike mechanic mentioned that they use a softer compound than Kool Stops. Ideally they're meant for steel rims but I use them on aluminum.

Cane Creek Gray Matter Brake Shoes > Components > Drivetrain, Brakes and Pedals > Brake Pads | Jenson USA
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Old 06-29-15, 10:34 AM
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When mechanical advantage (MA) is increased, amount of cable pulled is increased. And yes, it could help. But I'd change the calipers first. The levers are probably good enough.
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Old 06-29-15, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Velocivixen View Post
I have used Kool Stop Continentals and Cane Creek Gray Matter (4 pads per pack), and prefer those because they don't screech. Bike mechanic mentioned that they use a softer compound than Kool Stops. Ideally they're meant for steel rims but I use them on aluminum.

Cane Creek Gray Matter Brake Shoes > Components > Drivetrain, Brakes and Pedals > Brake Pads | Jenson USA
No properly adjusted brake pad should screech.

Do a search for "toe-in"...
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Old 06-29-15, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rmfnla View Post
No properly adjusted brake pad should screech.

Do a search for "toe-in"...
You can't "toe in" these pads, as they lack the various concave washers/spacers, etc. I don't want to bend in the caliper arms, which was apparently what they did bitd.
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Old 06-29-15, 02:02 PM
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I went to the local bike shop in Erie, Pa with full intentions on spending some money. I took the front caliper off my bike and brought it with me so I get what I needed. The old guy there was very helpful and told me these old polygon alloy calipers are working properly and there was no need to replace them. He said my entire problem was the brake pads. They were original equipment, very old, and very dry and all the sanding in the world would not help. I asked him about the Kool Stop pads and he did not have my type in stock. He only had the post type with no threads for V-brakes. He opened a parts drawer in the shop and grabbed me 4 brake pads that were just plain black pads floating in the drawer.

I asked for something better and he said not to worry because he uses these pads on all older bikes and never had any complaints so I forked out a whopping $14.00 for 4 pads. Since I had a few extra bucks to burn I asked him about 27" tires and he showed me what he had in stock. I came out of there with 2 new 27" Kenda white wall road bike tread tires to replace the aggressive knobby gumwall tires currently on the bike for an additional $44.00

I got home and installed these brake pads and WOW! The old dude was right! My pads were simply junk. I have no problem stopping and can even skid if I had to. Now I feel happy about the tire purchase since I went off his word.

I will go out later and take some pics and see if I can find any identification on these simple brake pads. I am looking forward to installing those new white walls tonight too!
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Old 06-29-15, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
...very old, and very dry... He only had the post type with no threads for V-brakes. He opened a parts drawer in the shop and grabbed me 4 brake pads that were just plain black pads floating in the drawer.
Yes, the rubber go very hard and evetually no grip at all.

Much the same happened to me too. I went to buy green Swiss Stop pads, but they did't have the right kind for my bike so I ended up with some straight from a drawer. Later I realized it was Jaqwire pads, bought as a lot unmarked, just loose in a cardboard box; you can pay x4 times as much for exactly the same rubber, just because of the individually packaging.
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Old 06-29-15, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Velocivixen View Post
You can't "toe in" these pads, as they lack the various concave washers/spacers, etc. I don't want to bend in the caliper arms, which was apparently what they did bitd.
Then why bother with them?

There are so many pads on the market that do can be properly adjusted without bending or screech...
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Old 06-29-15, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by rmfnla View Post
Then why bother with them?

There are so many pads on the market that do can be properly adjusted without bending or screech...
They fit more easily between rim and caliper fitting, usually works fine. She just said the grey works fine, and doesn't bother with the ones that didn't?
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Old 06-29-15, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Mickey2 View Post
They fit more easily between rim and caliper fitting, usually works fine. She just said the grey works fine, and doesn't bother with the ones that didn't?
Got it.
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Old 06-29-15, 06:18 PM
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Here is a pic of the brake pads the lbs sold me. No complaints!



I also splurged on some new white wall tires and these tires are more of a road tire instead of the knobby tires with gumwalls. Made a difference.........



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Old 06-29-15, 08:07 PM
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Nice improvements! I use a lot of those X cross pads myself.
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