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Increase Brifter Brake Leverage?

Old 02-17-12, 03:33 PM
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Increase Brifter Brake Leverage?

i have a set of 6510 (ultegra 9 speed) brifters. no matter how tightly i adjust the brakes, there is always a significant amount of travel required to put down significant braking force.

now, i know that would normally be improper housing/cable installation. but there's no play in the levers. they are always doing their job, just not as well as they should. cable friction doesn't seem to be a problem either. it's not difficult to pull the levers. i reinstalled the cables and there wasn't any debris.

so, is there any way to increase leverage in these brifters? could i fiddle with brake pad washers or something? i found the shimano installation manual and couldn't find any adjustment possible. i don't think there's with them internally, but they are on the older side.

any ideas on how to improve this would be great. and yes, i've compared them to other modern brifters/had other people test them out. they agree that they should be better.
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Old 02-17-12, 03:37 PM
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What calipers and pads are you using?
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Old 02-17-12, 03:42 PM
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Edit: (just noticed that these brifters are for road bike, probably a non-issue then. This issue seems to be more mountain bike related)

Sounds like cantilever vs V-brake lever issue to me. Like you had cantilever and changed over to V-brakes without changing the brake handles (which are very brake style specific) or maybe you have cantilever and changed your front brake/brifters out for something different that use a different style of brakes.

Your brake levers need to match the style of calipers you have. If you have cantilever brakes, your brake handles should reflect that. Same with v-brake style, you need v-brake levers.

if you have the wrong brake levers, then you will adjust the brakes to their are almost rubbing and you will have a solid feel but the brakes just won't stop like they should.

Last edited by bobotech; 02-17-12 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 02-17-12, 03:43 PM
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there is always a significant amount of travel required to put down significant braking force.
Actually that is the result of greater leverage,
Reads like you are describing a desire to pull more cable for the hand lever motion,
that is less leverage/ mechanical advantage..
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Old 02-17-12, 03:50 PM
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same generation ultegra. have all black kools stops on there.

i see what you mean. well, while phrased incorrectly, my question still stands.

basically, if my wheels aren't perfectly true, i will nearly be hitting the bars under full braking (even with the tightest possible clearance of the caliper). my wheels are perfectly true right now and i come very close to hitting the bars under hard braking.

Last edited by Nuggetross; 02-17-12 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 02-17-12, 03:59 PM
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guess all you have is improve the housing with Nokon bead sleeve type, flexible but compression-less,
and try the Salmon KS insert pads ..
and anticipate your stops earlier, so that you don't have the last minute panic stops.

maybe where the lever is, on the bars ,moved up, can give more swing arc
before bottoming out..

Potential kludge.. inline travel agents.. normally supplied as a road lever
to MTB disc brake cable pull increase
[but you need a bolt to the frame/fork to mount those]

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-17-12 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 02-17-12, 04:45 PM
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Check your cable housings and ferrules again. Look at the curves the cable housings make. They should be smooth curves with the least amount of distance possible. Sounds like something between the lever and the brake caliper is soft. Are you sure the right cable housing was used? Sometimes it'll get mixed up, you'll have compressionless derailleur housing pushing through the ferrules and it turns the system to mush.
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Old 02-17-12, 05:22 PM
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Yokozuna brake cables are compressionless like shifter cables. They make quite a difference and make the braking much less spongy.

With any cables, make sure the housing ends are seated firmly in shifters, housing stops, and calipers. Sometimes the housing gets pulled away from being fully seated in the shifter when taping it to the bars prior to wrapping.
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Old 02-17-12, 05:27 PM
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I agree, it sounds as if something is awry with your cables. If your pads are set close to the rims, there is no way your levers should be coming close to the bars.
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Old 02-17-12, 05:30 PM
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Got a picture of your setup? Are both front and rear doing the same thing?
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Old 02-17-12, 06:02 PM
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For sure something's wrong with this set up. Modern brakes are not generally at a loss for stopping power!
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Old 02-17-12, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeWise1
For sure something's wrong with this set up. Modern brakes are not generally at a loss for stopping power!
Yep.

1. The problem is NOT the brifters.
2. The problem is NOT the Ultegra calipers. Dual pivot brakes are very strong.
3. The problem is NOT the brake pads. Kool Stop makes good stuff.

Unless something is broken or defective, that leaves the cables and housing and how far the pads are from the rim. Or the pads are hitting the rim at some weird angle, that could cause the problem too.
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Old 02-17-12, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Nuggetross
.... no matter how tightly i adjust the brakes, there is always a significant amount of travel required to put down significant braking force.


so, is there any way to increase leverage in these brifters?
No offhand ideas without knowing the particulars, model levers, and model and type of brake.

But I thought I'd clarify the question. If as you describe, there's lots of dead travel in the lever before the brakes engage, and you want to decrease the travel, then you also want to decrease the leverage, not increase it.
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Old 02-17-12, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by FastJake
Yep.

1. The problem is NOT the brifters.
2. The problem is NOT the Ultegra calipers. Dual pivot brakes are very strong.
3. The problem is NOT the brake pads. Kool Stop makes good stuff.

Unless something is broken or defective, that leaves the cables and housing and how far the pads are from the rim.
I'd try Jagwire ripcord cable housing. It's compressionless.
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Old 02-17-12, 09:37 PM
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Sounds to me like you are lacking ferrules at the ends of the cable housing. There are little metal end caps that fit over the ends of the cable housing.

BL
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Old 02-17-12, 09:45 PM
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How old is your bike? how many miles and does it get used in the rain?

If the brake levers are almost touching the bar under moderate braking force you can adjust the brake a bit tighter. "back in the day" I used to run my brake so close you barely had any room to pull on the lever.

Next clean your rims with some rubbing ahchol and a then a clean damp cloth. get new pads but buff the 'newness' off with a file or the sidwalk before you install them.
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Old 02-17-12, 10:35 PM
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I'm guessing the problem is either your pads and/or pad adjustment. First how old/worn are your brake pads; with 6510's they could be over 10 years old. If you haven't replaced your pads for a number of years it would be a good idea to start with that. Next, take a close look at your pads and see that the surface of the pads is even with the rim surface. Even though the pad may be adjusted so it looks like it's contacting the right area of the braking surface, the pad may be canted at an angle so just the top or bottom edge of the pad is contacting the surface. IOW, there is a flat surface on the rim and a flat surface to the brake pads, make sure these two surfaces meet as flush as possible. This will not normally happen with the standard pad setup; ie, being loosen the pads, compress the brakes and tighten the pads. You will need to loosen the pad, line up the brake and then raise or lower the bolt in the brake arm, while keeping the brake pad still lined up on the rim, until flat meets flat. This may take some trial and error until you get it right. Dual pivot brakes work well when they adjusted very close to the rim. Try and adjust the brakes so they start to grab hard at 50% of the travel.

Last edited by onespeedbiker; 02-17-12 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 02-18-12, 07:55 AM
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In addition to the cable, pad and adjustments suggestions mentioned, I'd check for- bent levers; lever position on the bars; then I'd true the rims. If all this fails, get a mountain bike.
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Old 02-18-12, 08:24 AM
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Nuggetross, Reads to me that there's an issue with the cable housing. Either it's not properly seated at one or spboth ends, is compressing under load or perhaps a cable housing end cap splitting (plastic).

Brad

Last edited by bradtx; 02-18-12 at 02:45 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 02-18-12, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
I'd try Jagwire ripcord cable housing. It's compressionless.

I don't think that's true, at least according to their website and what I've seen. I spiral wound like all others, except for Yokozuna which has longitudinal wires like shifter housings.
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Old 02-18-12, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Looigi
I don't think that's true, at least according to their website and what I've seen. I spiral wound like all others, except for Yokozuna which has longitudinal wires like shifter housings.
Look again:
* Use for brake or derailleur
* Kevlar reinforcement makes housing compressionless
* Ideal for mechanical disc brakes

My Screamer recumbent tandem has some quite long cable housing runs for both the derailleurs and the Avid mechanical disc brakes. The same ripcord housing works flawlessly for both.
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Old 02-18-12, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker
I'm guessing the problem is either your pads and/or pad adjustment. First how old/worn are your brake pads; with 6510's they could be over 10 years old. If you haven't replaced your pads for a number of years it would be a good idea to start with that. Next, take a close look at your pads and see that the surface of the pads is even with the rim surface. Even though the pad may be adjusted so it looks like it's contacting the right area of the braking surface, the pad may be canted at an angle so just the top or bottom edge of the pad is contacting the surface. IOW, there is a flat surface on the rim and a flat surface to the brake pads, make sure these two surfaces meet as flush as possible. This will not normally happen with the standard pad setup; ie, being loosen the pads, compress the brakes and tighten the pads. You will need to loosen the pad, line up the brake and then raise or lower the bolt in the brake arm, while keeping the brake pad still lined up on the rim, until flat meets flat. This may take some trial and error until you get it right. Dual pivot brakes work well when they adjusted very close to the rim. Try and adjust the brakes so they start to grab hard at 50% of the travel.
+1 I have 6510 levers, calipers, black KoolStop, all work fine, great stopping power. Have you tried cleaning the pads with alcohol to remove any dirt?
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Old 02-18-12, 05:10 PM
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No word back from Nugget? Putting my money on old glazed pads.
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Old 02-18-12, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by rsacilotto
+1 I have 6510 levers, calipers, black KoolStop, all work fine, great stopping power. Have you tried cleaning the pads with alcohol to remove any dirt?
Yes, I also had a set with the OEM pads and had no complaint. I wondering if maybe it's just the front caliper, as the rear working by itself would have the effect the OP is describing.
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Old 02-18-12, 08:02 PM
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j-tek makes Shiftmate adapters for converting shifter cable pull between various brands
while this would be a misuse, I wonder if they might offer some customizability in the feel of brake lever cable pull....
Anyone know the actual ratio differences between shimano/campy/sram shifter standards? one of them might be a useable ratio for minor brake tweaking...(aside from the full 2/1 of a canti/v-brake travel agent)
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