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Will Suntour Superbe caliper brakes work as well as modern 47-57 calipers?

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Will Suntour Superbe caliper brakes work as well as modern 47-57 calipers?

Old 04-07-16, 08:56 AM
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Will Suntour Superbe caliper brakes work as well as modern 47-57 calipers?

I'm in the process of acquiring an early 1980s Specialized Sequoia frame and fork. The seller doesn't have the original brakes, which were Suntour Superbes, I believe with 47-57 mm reach. However, he is including some modern Tektro mid or long-reach brake calipers. The Tektros should work fine with decent pads, but the old Suntour brakes look really nice in photos that I've seen on-line. It looks like vintage Suntour brakes aren't too hard to find on eBay for reasonable prices. However, would they stop as well as modern brakes, assuming that they have decent pads such as Kool-Stops?

Here are some links to photos of the original brakes:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kari_4...in/dateposted/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/497585...-gtRuh4-ppKWgR

https://www.flickr.com/photos/leapin...-ehoJX6-FWQrxr

Last edited by tarwheel; 04-07-16 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 04-07-16, 09:07 AM
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Yes, the Superbe calipers were very nice; top of the line from Suntour. They should stop just about as well as a dual-pivot brake, once you put new pads on them.

Put Kool-Stop threaded pads on them and see. You could swap the new pads over to the newer Tektros and try them to compare.

The Superbe single-pivots will definitely look the most appropriate on the Sequoia, but Tektro dual-pivots look OK too.

I replaced the single-pivot brakes with Tektro R539s when I overhauled my girlfriend's dad's '84 Raleigh Marathon, but they were cheapo calipers, not Superbes.
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Old 04-07-16, 09:17 AM
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They're single pivot, so require slightly more leverage, obviously, but in my experience they're pretty nice stoppers.
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Old 04-07-16, 09:36 AM
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They should work about as well. It should be noted that they require a bit more leverage cable pull so there best used with matching vintage levers. I would say go ahead and change them back if you can find a complete matching set of front and rear calipers with levers for a reasonable price. These were some of the nicest of the classic brakes just a great look and finish.
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Old 04-07-16, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1
..It should be noted that they require a bit more leverage cable pull so there best used with matching vintage levers....
+1. I have some modern, aero, brake levers pulling some nice old single pivots and they are noticeably worse. I will be switching out to more appropriate vintage levers ASAP.
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Old 04-07-16, 09:48 AM
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They were basically equivalent to the old Campy brakes. Fit and finish and cost were about the same. Racing brakes emphasized fine control and light weight. The stopping power is sufficient. If you use modern pads and housing you will get more perceived stopping power with less effort. If you want brakes that will lock the front wheel with one finger, use modern dual pivot brakes.
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Old 04-07-16, 09:52 AM
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I have Suntour Superbes on my Cooper (but with kool stop superbe pads and new cables+housings). They work great. In fact yesterday evening I was hurtling down a 15% grade (South Park Drive) and had to slam them on due to deer in the roadway and the limiting factor in braking power was clearly tires and control, not the brakes. That said, the Tektros will provide the same braking power but with a lighter touch on the brakes, which many people misinterpret as "more powerful braking". I think it is important to emphasize that brakes with old pads, cables and housings are going to give you very poor braking performance no matter what the design of the calipers. Also note that different levers and calipers each have different amounts of mechanical advantage, so if you mix up levers and calipers you may end up with suboptimal total system mechanical advantage, which may result in higher than desired lever force required for maximum braking.
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Old 04-07-16, 09:56 AM
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Tom,

One thing that really helps is having true wheels.
This allows you to adjust those brakes to 2-3 mm of clearance, and get better braking, without having to pull the lever to the bar.

On my Suntour GPX calipers, I'm running Tektro chrome pad holders with red Kool Stop pads, and the braking is pretty good.
So much so that I put them on my 2nd GPX group, too, but with black Kool Stop pads.

The GPX are fairly easy to center, as well.
I pull the plug on the pivot bolt, and use an Allen wrench, with a 14mm cone wrench on the large nut next to the frame.
Using one against the other, you can "center" the caliper, and avoid a lot of the bias that many single pulls have to one side or another.

This is an irritating problem with the very light polished 1050 calipers that I used to use for tri-bikes and weight-conscious road bikes.
It often occurred when I was tuning up someone else's bike, and after dis-assembling the re-assembling the caliper, I gave this method a try.
So far, it's working on Exage calipers, as well, which are just as notorious to center and avoid one side over-pulling vs. the other.
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Old 04-07-16, 10:05 AM
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I have a bunch of bikes with Campagnolo Record single pivot brakes, for stopping power the later dual pivot calipers are superior, in effort required and stopping power. Not going to make wholesale changes but on one '87 full Campagnolo machine I do run later dual pivot calipers, only issue is campagnolo did not provide a quick release mechanism at the caliper, still need to switch out levers.
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Old 04-07-16, 10:14 AM
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I'm confused by the statements here. Do they need levers with more or less leverage?
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Old 04-07-16, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois
I'm confused by the statements here. Do they need levers with more or less leverage?
In my experience, the newer levers don't pull as far as they sometimes have to, to move the caliper arms; once the arms make contact, you're often "out" of lever, which ends up resting against the handlebar. I assume the issue is the range of the pivot on the brake lever, and then the geometry of the caliper.

I've only experienced one single pivot that was designed so that it was close enough to the rim to offer a nice short pulling range: the DiaCompe BRS200, which was small, very short reach, and pretty light, too. Many early triathletes matched these to their base bar levers, which were and still are, in many cases, notoriously poor brake levers when it comes to panic stops, etc. For those, the wheels had to be true, which allowed tight clearance and then less lever pull.

Disclaimer: many triathletes are notoriously poor at panic stops, etc, so that may be the issue.

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Old 04-07-16, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage
I have a bunch of bikes with Campagnolo Record single pivot brakes, for stopping power the later dual pivot calipers are superior, in effort required and stopping power. Not going to make wholesale changes but on one '87 full Campagnolo machine I do run later dual pivot calipers, only issue is campagnolo did not provide a quick release mechanism at the caliper, still need to switch out levers.
+1...

I actually really like the campy one dual/one single pivot set up.

As far as Suntour superbes, I think all of those brakes work about the same when set up properly; differences are more likely the pad or rim than the caliper. They do require more pull than Tektros/ dual pivots.
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Old 04-07-16, 10:28 AM
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I'm using Tektro aero levers with both Weinmann 500's and first generation Dura Ace. Braking is better than with the stock levers, but I do adjust the pads very close to the rims.
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Old 04-07-16, 10:30 AM
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My '84 Sequoia has the Suntour Superbe brakes with new KoolStop pads and requires far more hand force than the single-pivot Shimano 600 (former Ultegra) or dual-pivot Shimano 105 brakes I have on my other bikes. I can still stop quickly and safely, but it does require more force on the levers.
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Old 04-07-16, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine
They were basically equivalent to the old Campy brakes. Fit and finish and cost were about the same. Racing brakes emphasized fine control and light weight. The stopping power is sufficient. If you use modern pads and housing you will get more perceived stopping power with less effort. If you want brakes that will lock the front wheel with one finger, use modern dual pivot brakes.
I'll argue that point. For those of us with normal, not weightlifter hands, Superbes stopped with less force and better modulation than the Campys of the day. I am riding Superbes now as one setup on my good fix gear with modern levers. Plenty of power. Decent in the wet. A joy to ride. A few years ago, I set up a bike with late '70s Campy NR calipers and modern levers. (Both brakes got Tektro levers but about 6 years apart.) The Campys were a hard stop and heartstoppers in the rain. I'll never ride them again.

tarwheel, the SunTour Superbes were/are one of the best brakes ever made. You will not be disappointed. They will take more braking effort than DPs. But you may well find you like that and feel more secure knowing you are less likely to lock up a wheel in a hard stop.

I said "one setup" re: my good fix gear. I have two sets of HBs, stems, levers and calipers I swap back and forth with. Tektro levers, Superbe calipers on one, Tektro V-brake levers and dual pivots on the other; my "climbing" cockpit. The dual pivots are way too powerful for hairy, steep, windy and poor pavement fix gear descents, but de-powering them with V-brake levers makes for a very forgiving setup. Plenty of power if I really need to stop but pulling no surprises if the next corner is way steeper and tighter than I dreamed.

Ben
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Old 04-07-16, 10:53 AM
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I'll using this bike mainly for commuting and riding on greenways. I don't make a lot of sudden stops, but it is sometimes necessary on the greenways when joggers and children make unexpected moves. I'll probably set up the bike with the Tektros initially since they are included with the frame, but the Suntour Superbes are tempting because they are such pretty brakes and were the original equipment. The brake levers I plan to use are Cane Creeks.
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