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Hard to stop, are my brake pads cheap junk?

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Hard to stop, are my brake pads cheap junk?

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Old 12-16-18, 11:24 PM
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Awaqa909
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Hard to stop, are my brake pads cheap junk?

I've recently got a cheap road bike off amazon, a Vilano aluminum road bike 21 speed 700c. It's not the best built bike and am questioning the quality a little bit. For now, the brakes are pretty bad. (It has rim brakes) I've adjusted them to line up to the rim as best as they will and the braking performance is pretty poor. I have to squeeze with all my might to lock up the rear wheel and the front doesn't seem to do much. (No stoppies or skidding) This actually hurts my hands/wrists/forearm quite a bit to brake hard like that. Stopping from 4mph takes about 10ft. (rough estimate) I think every bicycle (walmart/toysRus MTB) I've ever had has had rim brakes. I remember one I had was just like this, had it for a couple years and when I got a new bike, I had better brakes. (I remember telling my dad about it but I don't think there was any attempt to fix it) We still have one of the old Honda MTB (gotta be 7+ years old now) and the brakes work pretty well. With the amount of force I use on my road bike, would easily lock up the MTB wheels.


The brake pads seem to be turning silver. I've heard about bedding the pads, but it looks like its for disk brakes? I remember looking into this once long ago and it had something to do with the rim material and brake pads? I can't find any info about this now. I'm curious if the brake pads are just junk and I need to replace with better ones.


What do you think?

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Old 12-16-18, 11:51 PM
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Could be the pads or the rims themselves

Try buying some cheap but good pads from Amazon and you'll have an answer to your question.

Originally Posted by Awaqa909 View Post
I've recently got a cheap road bike off amazon, a Vilano aluminum road bike 21 speed 700c. It's not the best built bike and am questioning the quality a little bit. For now, the brakes are pretty bad. (It has rim brakes) I've adjusted them to line up to the rim as best as they will and the braking performance is pretty poor. I have to squeeze with all my might to lock up the rear wheel and the front doesn't seem to do much. (No stoppies or skidding) This actually hurts my hands/wrists/forearm quite a bit to brake hard like that. Stopping from 4mph takes about 10ft. (rough estimate) I think every bicycle (walmart/toysRus MTB) I've ever had has had rim brakes. I remember one I had was just like this, had it for a couple years and when I got a new bike, I had better brakes. (I remember telling my dad about it but I don't think there was any attempt to fix it) We still have one of the old Honda MTB (gotta be 7+ years old now) and the brakes work pretty well. With the amount of force I use on my road bike, would easily lock up the MTB wheels.


The brake pads seem to be turning silver. I've heard about bedding the pads, but it looks like its for disk brakes? I remember looking into this once long ago and it had something to do with the rim material and brake pads? I can't find any info about this now. I'm curious if the brake pads are just junk and I need to replace with better ones.


What do you think?

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Old 12-17-18, 01:19 AM
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Your mountain bike probably has linear pull/V-brakes, which are very efficient and take less finger pressure than most rim brake types. Hard to compare with sidepull, centerpull and cantilever brakes.

Your road bike appears to have acceptable components (assuming it's this model). Assuming the brakes are adjusted properly it's possible the pads aren't very good. The cheapest good pads I can recommend that are widely available in the US are Jagwire -- you can buy 'em from REI, order online from many sources. I've used other no-name pads that worked fine but I can't recommend them because availability is erratic. In my experience Jagwire pads are as good as Kool Stops at half the price (although Kool Stop has some unique pads like the Eagle 2 for cantilever brakes that aren't available anywhere else).

If the pads are loading up with debris (from the rims, road, etc.), try scrubbing the pads clean. I prefer metal files but some folks use sandpaper and other methods. I don't want to risk any abrasive debris getting lodged in the pads and metal files are easier to clean (although I don't use diamond type files or abrasives). Or a Scotch-Brite scouring pad or something similar. Don't grind away too much pad material or worry about precision -- it's just to get the pad clean and surface relatively matched to the rims. Wipe with isopropyl alcohol and try braking again. Even with good pads this can help. I do it at least once a month and should do it more often.

And double check your assembly against some good tutorials from Park and others online and on YouTube. I review tutorials even with familiar chores to avoid omitting a step and needing to redo the job. Little things like remembering to preset a barrel adjuster to the desired position before setting up a cable, etc.
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Old 12-17-18, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Your mountain bike probably has linear pull/V-brakes, which are very efficient and take less finger pressure than most rim brake types. Hard to compare with sidepull, centerpull and cantilever brakes.

Your road bike appears to have acceptable components (assuming it's this model). Assuming the brakes are adjusted properly it's possible the pads aren't very good. The cheapest good pads I can recommend that are widely available in the US are Jagwire -- you can buy 'em from REI, order online from many sources. I've used other no-name pads that worked fine but I can't recommend them because availability is erratic. In my experience Jagwire pads are as good as Kool Stops at half the price (although Kool Stop has some unique pads like the Eagle 2 for cantilever brakes that aren't available anywhere else).

If the pads are loading up with debris (from the rims, road, etc.), try scrubbing the pads clean. I prefer metal files but some folks use sandpaper and other methods. I don't want to risk any abrasive debris getting lodged in the pads and metal files are easier to clean (although I don't use diamond type files or abrasives). Or a Scotch-Brite scouring pad or something similar. Don't grind away too much pad material or worry about precision -- it's just to get the pad clean and surface relatively matched to the rims. Wipe with isopropyl alcohol and try braking again. Even with good pads this can help. I do it at least once a month and should do it more often.

And double check your assembly against some good tutorials from Park and others online and on YouTube. I review tutorials even with familiar chores to avoid omitting a step and needing to redo the job. Little things like remembering to preset a barrel adjuster to the desired position before setting up a cable, etc.

Last edited by raria; 12-17-18 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 12-17-18, 10:07 AM
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Ygwypf

yea Buy new ones and see it that helps..


You went to amazon to buy a very cheap bike and now you find it disappointing, & are surprised they did not use An expensive brake pad, Really?





....

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-17-18 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 12-17-18, 10:09 AM
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Are the cables adjusted properly? My guess is no.

The adjustment of brake cables plays a huge role in determining how much pressure it takes to make the pads meet the rim. If you do not know how to adjust brake cables, bring the bike to a shop and have a qualified mechanic do it for you. Being able to stop is kind of important!
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Old 12-17-18, 10:42 AM
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So entry level road bike from BD or Amazon /etc comes with really budget ol'skool brakes.

A
  • They are not adequate (maybe dangerous), if you brake from the Hood position.
    This position is very inefficient (like only 50%)...and should be avoided.

    A
  • They do stop adequately, if you're braking from the Hook position.
    This position gives your hand maximum 100% leverage.

A

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Old 12-17-18, 10:46 AM
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It's not the calipers, it's the pads. Replace with KoolStop Dura-type cartridges and pads, especially on the front. Braking will improve immediately.
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Old 12-17-18, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
It's not the calipers, it's the pads. Replace with KoolStop Dura-type cartridges and pads, especially on the front. Braking will improve immediately.
I disagree some here. My personal experience with a budget Bikesdirect bike show even after replacing the single pivot caliper with a high quality Tektro brake pad, the stopping power only goes up slightly.

Then, I replaced the caliper with a dual pivot Tektro caliper and Tektro brake pads, and the stopping power went up exponently like.

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Old 12-17-18, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
I disagree some here. My personal experience with a budget Bikesdirect bike show even after replacing the single pivot caliper with a high quality Tektro brake pad, the stopping power only goes up slightly.

Then, I replaced the caliper with a dual pivot Tektro caliper and used Tektro brake pads, and the stopping power went up exponently like throwing me over the handlebar.
Doesn't the bike in question have dual pivot calipers?
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Old 12-17-18, 05:44 PM
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Why is everyone ignoring the fact that the brake cables might very well be hanging like over-boiled spaghetti? Am I missing something? This is a "cheap" bike bought on Amazon and assembled by who-knows-who. Are we really going to make Awaqa run around looking for new pads before we've confirmed if he/she needs a simple brake adjustment?
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Old 12-17-18, 10:55 PM
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Dealt with some ' Vilano' bikes, left (LBS) to be built out of the box.. most choices, are made with lowest cost as the focus.. not just the brake pads..

Walmart bikes can be returned for a full refund..
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Old 12-17-18, 11:48 PM
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I want to see what this bike looks like in 100-200KM before I buy too much for it. canklecat, that is very similar. Mine seems to only be from "third-party sellers" now. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 (Was only $200 vs a $600+ Trek) It has Side Pull calipers. ...I'm still trying to get them adjusted properly. I think I know how, now. Just taking a quick look at Tektro R539 on Amazon. (no idea if compatible, just quick look) They look pretty solid and good. The bicycle has been assembled by me with the knowledge I know and with the help of youtube (Lots of Park Tool) I come here for the things I'm having issues with. I'm pretty sure the cables are adjusted correctly. I'm pulling the lever about half way to the bars full might trying to stop. Both pads per rim are making full contact. Because I really suspected the pads were junk and had gotten a few replies to get some, I got some. I got Hotop 2 pairs V bike brake Pads with hex nuts and spacers 70mm and Pioneeryao Mxixm brake calipers that seem to have replaceable pad inserts. Both of these were low cost and had good reviews. I put the Hotop on and they are certainly better. They're completely fine for the rear, but I feel they are still slightly lacking for the front. I'm going to try the Pioneeryao on the front tomorrow and see how they do. Looking at the brands some of you gave, have you ever heard of the brands that I bought? (I know I haven't)

I usually ride the hoods as I find the hook position very uncomfortable. But during my testing I was using the hooks to get more leverage. (Need to adjust and find what works best for me)
Hopefully I'll remember to take a better look at the MTB tomorrow.
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Old 12-18-18, 01:11 AM
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I wouldn't worry too much about off-brand pads. While I usually buy Kool Stop or Jagwire there have been a couple of times I just grabbed whatever no-name pads were available at the LBS to quickly fix a low end bike. I think the last set of pads I got for my errand bike were "Avid"? But they worked as well as the set of Kool Stop pads that were already on the bike. Both sets -- Kool Stop and Avid -- have been on that bike for more than two years and both have worn roughly the same and continue braking with the same reliability.

I did a Fakespot check for reviews of Pioneeryao brake pads and the impression was that the reviews were legit, not shills, and most reviews were positive.

The bike you linked to appears to have Winzip caliper brakes. That's a low end but reportedly functional brand. Some complaints report difficulty maintaining centering adjustment, but I've had that problem with Suntour GPX brakes on my old road bike -- they're fussy about cable housing length. I have to zip tie the cable to the handlebar and frame to keep the calipers centered so they don't rub the rims.

Even the worst no-name brakes, a set of generic linear pulls on my errand bike, are fully functional and stop the bike reliably. The only problems are cheap materials -- carbon steel screws that rust instead of stainless screws, springs that need to be adjusted once in awhile due to poor heat treatment of cheap torsion springs with long legs. But the brakes will put a serious stop on the bike when adjusted properly.

So I'd still lean toward suggesting adjustments to the setup you already have. There may be some flex or loss of efficiency somewhere that's hindering good braking.

If nothing is obviously bending or flexing, there may be other problems. Check the brake cable housing -- the metal under the plastic/rubber skin should be helically wound, not running parallel with the length of the cable/housing. If the manufacturer/vendor supplied compressionless or index shifting type cable housing for the brakes, that needs to be replaced pronto. It's possible they supplied both but unless the cable housings were clearly labeled it's easy to mix them up. Compressionless cable housing won't adequately support braking pressure.

And the rear brake cable loop shown in the Amazon listing photos may be a bit too long for efficient braking. Some folks prefer keeping cable housing runs and loops as short as possible without any sharp bends.

And pad alignment can be tricky without good light and shadow. Sometimes when I think I've gotten it perfect working on the bike at night indoors with a utility lamp I'll recheck in daylight and realize I didn't get one pad quite right. Or maybe I was wearing the wrong reading glasses.
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Old 12-18-18, 06:30 AM
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Cheap pads (which this bike certainly came with) can really suck. First thing I would do is replace those with the Kool Stop pads recomended above.

Going from crappy pads to good pads makes a HUGE difference in my experience.

Second, look at the brake cable routing and make sure there is not a bunch of extra slack. Shorten if need be.

That is about all I would do on this bike, but if you really want to get fancy, replace the stock brake housing with compressionless brake housing everywhere except the short section that leads to the rear caliper.
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Old 12-18-18, 07:59 AM
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This article and this page on Jagwire's site help illustrate the differences between standard coiled/helical brake cable housing, compressionless index shifting cable housing (which should not be used for brakes) and compressionless brake cable housing.

So far I haven't found it necessary to use compressionless brake cable housing to improve braking on my three bikes, whether short runs for cantilever brakes on one hybrid, or full length cable runs for the road bike or errand bike. "Sport" grade housings from Jagwire and Sunlite, a step up from their cheapest basic cable housings, have been good enough for the rim brakes on my bikes -- cantilever, V-brake and sidepull. For disc brakes, yup, I'd splurge for the best housings.

If your budget can swing it (mine can't always), buy cables and housings in bulk and a decent cable/housing cutter (Jagwire's is very good for the money), and you'll feel a bit more free to redo the job until you're satisfied it's right. When I tried to pinch pennies I ended up with serious compromises in shifting and braking. So I put some cables and housings on my Amazon wish list and waited for a discount. That way I got packages of 10 stainless cables (both shifter and brake) and enough housing to do several bikes, for the price of one retail priced kit for a single bike. I've seen items I bought for $10 from Amazon double and triple in price within a day of when I snagged a discount -- although that may be a benefit of being an Amazon Prime subscriber. Sometimes folks I've referred to Amazon for those discounts say they couldn't get the same prices.
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Old 12-18-18, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Awaqa909 View Post
I usually ride the hoods as I find the hook position very uncomfortable. But during my testing I was using the hooks to get more leverage. (Need to adjust and find what works best for me)
Hopefully I'll remember to take a better look at the MTB tomorrow.
I cannot ride on the hook position for long either due to lack of flexibility and old injury. But I ride on the Hood position and find it pretty easy and natural to drop down quickly into the Hook position for hard braking.

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Old 12-18-18, 09:01 PM
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Cheap bikes come with cheap parts and aren't really worth putting much into. I have dealt with too many people who bought those cheap vilanos expecting a different result then they got. A lady got really really pissed at us once because we built her crappy folding vilano and it was heavy and didn't work well (especially trying to fold it) and we were some how at fault because we did our job and built it correctly and as best as possible given the quality of it. Have had bikes from Amazon come to us with broken parts from the get go (two broken forks and some other parts on others that I can't remember). We just built two Super 73s (online e-motorcycles with pedals that you wouldn't want to use) and they both came broken out of the box from different customers.

Plenty of people have said get new pads and yes that is an option that can improve brakes but the vilano is not really worth it. I would try and send it back and go down to your local shop and buy a bike through them. You will likely get something of way better quality and you will get service with the bike that Jeff Bezos cannot offer. You will be happier in the end and will save significant money with something more quality.

"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." - Benjamin Franklin
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Old 12-18-18, 09:22 PM
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My advice is

Invest in some shimano holders dura ace ultegras and use r55- c4 pads . i only notice bad breaking in thw coldest days of winter .
And back your cable tesion screws out a ways .

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Old 12-19-18, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
Cheap bikes come with cheap parts and aren't really worth putting much into.
While I agree with that statement if applied to people who don't want to learn how to wrench. Like a coworker who pay LBS to fix his flat tire and lube the chain.

But if someone is willing to lift a wrench and get his/her hands dirty, I think most cheap bikes can get the job done. At a fraction of the cost. I am very happy with all the money that I saved. And I learned so much valuable skillz. I have not a single regret for buying cheap bikes.

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Old 12-19-18, 11:05 AM
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Here are my recommendations for brakes:
1 check levers. when you squeeze the lever you should have 2 fingers width minimum between the lever and the bar when you squeeze the brakes . Any less and they are too loose .
looking at the shoes with hands off the levers there should be about 1/16 to 1/8 inch clearance with the leading edge slightly closer to the wheel

2 scuff up the pads. If off the bike put a piece of 80 grit sand paper on the table and rub the pads on it till the surface is uniformly rough.

3 When re installing the pads make sure they mate properly with the rim. Pads usually have a slight taper. make sure it is going the right way or the pad will only contact the rim on one edge.
If the pads have a direction arrow make sure they are installed the right way.

4 Clean the rim with alcohol and then sand the sides of the rim where the brakes hit with 120 grit sandpaper or steel wool followed by cleaning with alcohol.

5 Replace the brake pads with kool stop salmon or other high performance pads.

You can check to make sure the brakes are functioning properly - both sides going in and out when you squeeze the brakes .
You should also spin the wheel and look closely to be sure the wheel is true and the rim is not dragging on one side of the caliper.

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Old 12-19-18, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
While I agree with that statement if applied to people who don't want to learn how to wrench. Like a coworker who pay LBS to fix his flat tire and lube the chain.

But if someone is willing to lift a wrench and get his/her hands dirty, I think most cheap bikes can get the job done. At a fraction of the cost. I am very happy with all the money that I saved. And I learned so much valuable skillz. I have not a single regret for buying cheap bikes.
Nope. Has nothing to do with knowing how to wrench or not. You could be Sheldon Brown and a cheap bike is a cheap bike and putting money into it is not worth it at all. A bike should not suck brand new and should not really have problems when it is brand new that is a good sign of a bike that is a money pit. Regardless of the wrenching skills parts do cost money and while there is some less expensive stuff that gets the job done if you are putting say $50 of parts in a bike that isn't really worth that except maybe in scrap you are wasting your money.

When you ride a nicer bike you will know why they are nicer and why your bike wasn't worth putting money into. If all you eat is gas station burritos, Taco Bell will seem like gourmet food.
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Old 12-20-18, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
While I agree with that statement if applied to people who don't want to learn how to wrench. Like a coworker who pay LBS to fix his flat tire and lube the chain.

But if someone is willing to lift a wrench and get his/her hands dirty, I think most cheap bikes can get the job done. At a fraction of the cost. I am very happy with all the money that I saved. And I learned so much valuable skillz. I have not a single regret for buying cheap bikes.
There are cheap new bikes and cheap used bikes. Cheap new bikes tend to have a pile of crappy parts put together to make a low price point. Cheap used bikes may be crap, or can be something pretty decent.

IMHO, a good older used bike can be made to ride quite well. Buy from a good co-op and you can get a very good bike, ready to ride, at a reasonable price.

Like a lot of exercise gear, a lot of bikes don't get ridden much. So if stored well, a 15 year old used bike can be very nice and infinitely better than Walmart crap.

On a super tight budget? Many good but older MTB s can be had for very little.
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Old 12-20-18, 11:03 PM
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Gresp15C
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In my view, there could be a pile-up of issues. It could be that a little bit of compliance (flexing and compression) in each component adds up to poor braking performance even if you can't pin it down to any specific component. I can tell you what I've done with entry level bikes, such as what we called "department store" bikes back in the day. Basically give each component its own best chance of working as well as it can by taking everything apart, making sure everything is clean and lubricated, nothing is binding, nothing is loose. Make sure the cable ends are squared off, and that the cables are lined. Grease the cables. And so forth. Convince yourself that each part is doing what it's supposed to.

As you squeeze the lever, watch closely what's happening to each part. Where is it flexing or bending? I advise everybody with a new bike to get down on their hands and knees and actually look at what's happening when they apply the various controls. The levers are moving maybe 20 mm, and the brake pads need to move by maybe a couple mm. Excess motion due to flexing of parts will result in needing more lever travel to achieve sufficient braking force.

What I've found with inexpensive parts is that they sometimes don't have as good of finished threads and machined surfaces, so the transition from frozen to loose can be kind of fussy. So be patient.
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Old 12-21-18, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
...Cheap used bikes may be crap, or can be something pretty decent...

So if stored well, a 15 year old used bike can be very nice and infinitely better than Walmart crap..
Absolutely. Even a 25 or 35 year old bike can be way better. Just head over to the classic and vintage section and see all of the great old bikes that you can find. This summer I picked up a Bianki Campeonay deetalia for $350 that had an 8-speed mirage group. Obviously it puts anything new at that price range to shame, and even if Mirage is a lower end group, it will last a thousand times longer than any of the junk on these Amazon bikes.

Plus, with a new bike selling at that price point, I'd be downright worried about the integrity of certain parts, including the frame. (Although I must admit that I actually like the look of the Tourney derailleur).

Originally Posted by Gresp15C
Make sure the cable ends are squared off
Is there something I don't know? How would the cable ends affect performance once installed? Getting them in and out of the housing, yes, but once in place and secured down?
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