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Difficult to Brake with Shimano Sora Levers - solution?

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Difficult to Brake with Shimano Sora Levers - solution?

Old 01-22-17, 11:26 AM
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adamess
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Difficult to Brake with Shimano Sora Levers - solution?

Last summer I upgraded my '09 Surly Cross Check to Shimano Sora 3x9 brifters and Tektro CR720 front & rear brakes. After the upgrade, braking was much more difficult. I tried all the shims to no avail. I took the bike to my LBS, they also made a bunch of adjustments but never solved the issue. They told me it was inherent in the design of the levers. With a big tour coming up, I opted to change back to my old levers (Tektro R100's) and kept the new brakes.

Now I am wondering if there is a way to upgrade my bike to brifters while keeping the same level of braking power. Does anyone have any advice on how to do this?

I had two ideas:

1. Maybe braking power was reduced because the Shimano levers have the wrong mechanical advantage for my brakes? Since the levers are New Super SLR, I could change to New Super SLR Shimano brakes. I was not clear on whether this would help much so I'd be interested in everyone's thoughts here.

2. Run Campagnolo levers (the levers look like they give the same mechanical advantage as my Tektro's), either as Shimergo or fully replace the drivetrain. But I am really hesitant to do either. Shimergo seems like it will never quite operate perfectly and fully replacing the drivetrain seems expensive especially for an 8 year old bike.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 01-22-17, 11:35 AM
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The parts are there to buy, and many other people get brifters and cantilever brakes to work together ..

Can you do it?, (internet mystery person) Your abilities as a mechanic are unknown to me,

but the internet has a lot of how to DIY information to seek out.


My friends at the LBS can do the work for you, I assume your local can do the same.



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Old 01-22-17, 11:55 AM
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What generation Sora? 3500? 3000? http://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-me...ll-ratios.html

Problem Solvers
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Old 01-22-17, 12:02 PM
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They're Sora 3500. My LBS said that the levers were designed for very light road bikes, not steel ones like the Surly, and that's why I was having problems with them. That didn't sound right to me, though.
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Old 01-22-17, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by adamess View Post
Now I am wondering if there is a way to upgrade my bike to brifters while keeping the same level of braking power. Does anyone have any advice on how to do this?
Not brifters but functionally similar, these are pretty simple and bulletproof , which is nice on a tour: https://gevenalle.com/shifters/

I also use Problem Solvers Wide cable carriers Problem Solvers with my Tektro CR-720s (on 3 different bikes) and am perfectly happy with the performance. Keep the carrier as close to the tire as possible for best results IME.
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Old 01-22-17, 12:11 PM
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That doesn't sound right to me either. Sounds like a bunch of BS. 'Light road' bikes might weight all of 10 pounds lighter than your Surly, and Sora is usually found on entry level road bikes which are not light.

FWIW I run Avid Shorty 4 cantis on my CX bike with 9-sp 4500 levers which have the same design as the 3500 9-sp and they work fine.
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Old 01-22-17, 12:29 PM
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Someone correct me, but Sora road levers have more leverage (mechanical advantage), while with canti brakes it's the brakes with more leverage. So it's really a question of getting Sora brifters working with the CR720 rather than something "inherent" with Sora brifters.

I think, and this is where I could be pulling from nether regions, that the trick would be getting the pads as close as possible to the rim so that the longer pull from the brifters can apply enough pressure. Get the wheels as true as possible and pull the straddle cable in as far as possible.

Or find some sort of "travel agent" to change the pull ratio. Which someone here should know something about (I don't).

Last edited by wphamilton; 01-22-17 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 01-22-17, 12:38 PM
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http://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-me...ilevers-3.html

Sounds like a mine field
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Old 01-22-17, 12:44 PM
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Levers don't know, nor care how heavy your bike is.

Decent cantilever brakes should do the job, if set up right.

Your brake levers pull a bit more cable then the older, non-SLR standard (so less mechanical advantage than standard, older brake levers), but with cantis, it's not much of a problem, since that can be compensated with canti set-up (those brakes actually allow the user to set the required amount of mechanical advantage).

How mechanical brakes work:
Bicycle mechanical brakes - working principle - Cycle Gremlin

Mechanical brake and lever compatibility:
8) Mechanical bicycle brake compatibility - Cycle Gremlin

Cantilever brake adjustment:
Cantilever brake adjustment - Cycle Gremlin
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Old 01-22-17, 01:10 PM
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Thanks for this info! This is how I was thinking about levers/brakes when I purchased them. But after installation I set the cantis to maximize braking power (or at least I thought I did) but getting the straddle cable as low as possible. It still wasn't as powerful as with the Tektro levers, though.

The thing I kept returning to was that the Sora lever has a lower pivot point. So I wondered if would even be possible to get sufficient stopping power out of them.

Maybe the Gevenalle levers are the way to go...

Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Levers don't know, nor care how heavy your bike is.

Decent cantilever brakes should do the job, if set up right.

Your brake levers pull a bit more cable then the older, non-SLR standard (so less mechanical advantage than standard, older brake levers), but with cantis, it's not much of a problem, since that can be compensated with canti set-up (those brakes actually allow the user to set the required amount of mechanical advantage).
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Old 01-22-17, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by adamess View Post
They're Sora 3500. My LBS said that the levers were designed for very light road bikes, not steel ones like the Surly, and that's why I was having problems with them. That didn't sound right to me, though.
That is truly clueless. Why? Because it isn't just the bike, but the combined weight of the bike and the rider. And, road bikes with Sora components aren't all that much lighter than a comparable steel Surly. Maybe 4 to 5 lbs, at most. Say you weigh 160 lbs and ride a 26 lb Surly. So total weight is 186 lbs. Say I weigh 210 lbs and ride a 21 to 22 lb road bike. (about what you would expect with Sora components.) Total weight is 231 or 232 lbs. All things being equal, the lighter rider on the heavier bike should have an easier time braking using the same Sora brifters.

Consider switching shops, or at least find a better mechanic.
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Old 01-22-17, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by adamess View Post
Thanks for this info! This is how I was thinking about levers/brakes when I purchased them. But after installation I set the cantis to maximize braking power (or at least I thought I did) but getting the straddle cable as low as possible. It still wasn't as powerful as with the Tektro levers, though.

The thing I kept returning to was that the Sora lever has a lower pivot point. So I wondered if would even be possible to get sufficient stopping power out of them.

Maybe the Gevenalle levers are the way to go...
With cantis, I'd bet on setup, not the levers, as a first suspect for poor performance.

Putting straddle cable too low with wide profile cantis (like your, if I understood which model you have right) results in (too) high mechanical advantage, but not enough caliper travel.
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Old 01-23-17, 12:10 AM
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Thanks!

I think the problem was too much caliper travel, though. I had to grasp the levers really hard to get the bike to stop -- it wasn't like the levers were easy to actuate and I was running out of pull.

I'm not sure where that leaves me -- I think I should just go to another shop and get their advice. I am also now wondering if maybe the Sora levers + Mini-V's would do the trick.

Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
With cantis, I'd bet on setup, not the levers, as a first suspect for poor performance.

Putting straddle cable too low with wide profile cantis (like your, if I understood which model you have right) results in (too) high mechanical advantage, but not enough caliper travel.
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Old 01-23-17, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by adamess View Post
Thanks!

I think the problem was too much caliper travel, though. I had to grasp the levers really hard to get the bike to stop -- it wasn't like the levers were easy to actuate and I was running out of pull.

I'm not sure where that leaves me -- I think I should just go to another shop and get their advice. I am also now wondering if maybe the Sora levers + Mini-V's would do the trick.
With any mechanical rim brake system it's about:
1) clean, aluminum rims - best performance, especially in the wet
2) good quality brake pads - Kool Stop Salmon are among the best I've tried
3) good quality cables and housing - Shimano basic level is good enough and rather cheap
4) caliper quality and lever quality - for all I know, both your levers and calipers are quite decent
5) brake setu

About setup:

If your pads move all the way to the rim with little lever travel, and you get a very firm feel on the levers?
If so, you need to set your brakes for more mechanical advantage.

If the levers move all the way to the bars when pulling hard on them (from the drops), or feel too spongy, you have too much mechanical advantage.

Neither is good.

For cantilever brakes:

a) the closer the calipers are to 90% angle, the more mechanical advantage you have. 90% is when the part where yoke cable is attached is at the same height as the caliper pivot points (where they are attached to the frame). Works vice-versa - the higher the yoke attach point is from the caliper pivots, the less m. advantage.

b) the lower the yoke cable goes, the more parallel to the ground it is, the more mechanical advantage - and vice-versa.

The two mentioned things affect each other - leaving the a) with a 45 degree angle makes it possible to run the b) lower, at a more parallel angle to the ground. Moving a) to about 80 degrees, makes it hard to keep the b) angle parallel to the ground and low compared to caliper mounts.
It is a bit of trial and error, but can be managed.

Mini V-brakes make setup a lot less trial and error, although even there, with altering pad distance from the caliper mounts, one can affect m.advantage noticeably. However, there are only two settings here - altered by the arrangement of the wider spacer on the pads.

Conclusion: in terms of braking power, cantilevers are easier to adapt to particular levers used, since they offer a wider choice of mechanical advantage. With any V-brakes, youre more or less stuck with what you've got. On the other hand, V-brakes are easy enough to set up, so very few people get it completely wrong. Cantis do have a reputation of being weaker than V-brakes, but IMO, it's mostly down to poor setup.

Having said all that, I also prefer V-brakes (and variants) for their ease of setup.

Good pads:
road:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...e0c1cfd84c7f2a

V-brake (not the mini-V):
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...8c185cbdfae4c6

Last edited by Bike Gremlin; 01-23-17 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 01-23-17, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by adamess View Post
They're Sora 3500. My LBS said that the levers were designed for very light road bikes, not steel ones like the Surly, and that's why I was having problems with them. That didn't sound right to me, though.

That's ridiculous.
Brakes doesn't care about the weight of the bike as such. They're only concerned with the overall weight they're required to handle - i.e. rider included.


And the difference between you + Surly and you + "light road bike" is what - 5%?
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Old 01-23-17, 11:07 AM
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The OP also asked about the possibility of "Running Campagnolo levers (the levers look like they give the same mechanical advantage as my Tektro's), either as Shimergo or fully replace the drivetrain".

I am running Campagnolo Ergopower levers on several bikes with cantilever brakes and 3 x 9 Shimano derailleurs. If you go this route, I find that the 2011 - 2014 Campagnolo Chorus levers, which are advertised as 2 x 11, work best. The front lever has 6 "micro" clicks that can, with careful setup, operate both Shimano double or triple road or MTB front derailleurs. The rear 11 speed lever can directly control the older Shimano 9 speed MTB rear derailleurs (but not the newer Dyna-Sys MTB derailleurs). I am not familiar with the newest generation of Campagnolo Ergopower levers (came out in 2015) so I cannot say if they would work in a Shimergo setup like the older 2011 - 2014 versions. Also, I would not recommend the Athena (or lower level) Ergopower levers. I had several fail. The ultrashift mechanism in the Chorus Lever is much better (in fact the Chorus levers are identical to the Record and Super Record levers with the exception of the brake lever which have the groupo name on them).

Don't think you need to change the whole drivertrain unless you are unhappy with your current gearing.

Good Luck. The Eggman.
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Old 01-23-17, 01:08 PM
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You should try changing to v-brakes. My cheap Tektro v-brakes require significantly less hand force than my Shimano BR-R550 cantilevers. I run bar end shifters so I was able to install v-brake specific levers. You will have to use travel-agents. No experience with mini v's.
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Old 01-23-17, 02:37 PM
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I've got a bike equipped with Sora 3300 3x9 levers and Tektro CR-720 cantilever brakes. Braking on that bike is excellent. Your Sora 3500 levers have a slightly different cable pull ratio, but that should be easy to accommodate by adjusting the brakes' straddle cable length.

Switching to Shimano STI levers from Tektro levers, there's an ergonomic difference that could contribute to your braking perception: Shimano STI brake lever pivot points are lower than many other levers. That difference took some getting used to for me since I was accustomed to Campagnolo ErgoPower and Tektro levers.
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Old 01-23-17, 03:55 PM
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That's very interesting! It sounded like the big problem with the Shimergo setup would be the front derailleur. I saw a few posts that shifting was difficult with a Shimano road front derailleur. Some people recommended a MTB FD.

What FD are you using?

Originally Posted by Eggman84 View Post
The OP also asked about the possibility of "Running Campagnolo levers (the levers look like they give the same mechanical advantage as my Tektro's), either as Shimergo or fully replace the drivetrain".

I am running Campagnolo Ergopower levers on several bikes with cantilever brakes and 3 x 9 Shimano derailleurs. If you go this route, I find that the 2011 - 2014 Campagnolo Chorus levers, which are advertised as 2 x 11, work best. The front lever has 6 "micro" clicks that can, with careful setup, operate both Shimano double or triple road or MTB front derailleurs. The rear 11 speed lever can directly control the older Shimano 9 speed MTB rear derailleurs (but not the newer Dyna-Sys MTB derailleurs). I am not familiar with the newest generation of Campagnolo Ergopower levers (came out in 2015) so I cannot say if they would work in a Shimergo setup like the older 2011 - 2014 versions. Also, I would not recommend the Athena (or lower level) Ergopower levers. I had several fail. The ultrashift mechanism in the Chorus Lever is much better (in fact the Chorus levers are identical to the Record and Super Record levers with the exception of the brake lever which have the groupo name on them).

Don't think you need to change the whole drivertrain unless you are unhappy with your current gearing.

Good Luck. The Eggman.
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Old 01-23-17, 03:57 PM
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That sounds right. The lower pivot point bugged me. Even fully shimmed, I had to reach pretty far and pull very hard. After being bothered by this for a few weeks, I gave up and switched back.

Originally Posted by SkyDog75 View Post
I've got a bike equipped with Sora 3300 3x9 levers and Tektro CR-720 cantilever brakes. Braking on that bike is excellent. Your Sora 3500 levers have a slightly different cable pull ratio, but that should be easy to accommodate by adjusting the brakes' straddle cable length.

Switching to Shimano STI levers from Tektro levers, there's an ergonomic difference that could contribute to your braking perception: Shimano STI brake lever pivot points are lower than many other levers. That difference took some getting used to for me since I was accustomed to Campagnolo ErgoPower and Tektro levers.
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Old 01-23-17, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by adamess View Post
That's very interesting! It sounded like the big problem with the Shimergo setup would be the front derailleur. I saw a few posts that shifting was difficult with a Shimano road front derailleur. Some people recommended a MTB FD.

What FD are you using?
I am using older Shimano MTB FD: XTR FD-M900 (8 speed), XT FD-M735 (7 speed), and Deore DX FD-M650 (7 speed). These are older FDs do not have the large inner plate that more modern MTB FDs have, which allows decent shifting when using no matched chainrings.

True I have not tried specifically with Shimano road FD. However, I believe that, given the mirco clicks on the Campy Ergopower levers, you can get Shimano road FDs to work. I like the Chorus front lever as you have 6 micro clicks as you both upshift and downshift, thus allowing full trim capability. Athena levers had 6 micro clicks upshifting, but only 3 steps downshifting (making setup more difficult).
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