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New Aero Levers and Caliper Brakes

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New Aero Levers and Caliper Brakes

Old 07-29-16, 12:04 PM
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Maddogatc
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New Aero Levers and Caliper Brakes

I just fixed up my old 1983 Bianchi road bike. I find my old Shimano golden arrow brake levers and single pivot caliper brakes don't seem to give me the stopping power I used to get and need constant adjustment. So I am looking to upgrade to aero levers to hide the cables and new calipers for better braking performance.

Levers: Looking at Cane Creek SCR-5 or the Tektro RL-520. Also looked at the TRP-RPL but seem hard to find and are more expensive. Any suggestions on which might be better?

Brakes: Looking at the Shimano R650 or the Tektro 539. Need 57mm reach. I know I will have to drill out my front fork to fit the recessed allen key attachment. Any suggestions on which is better or another brand I am unaware of?
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Old 07-29-16, 12:17 PM
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I haven't used the Shimano R650's but I expect they would be very good. The Tektro R539's I can tell you are simply excellent. Either of these would be a great choice. You might also consider the Tektro R559's since you're right at the upper limit of the 539's. A bit of wiggle room is often useful.

For levers, have you considered something used? The Tektro RL520 levers are for linear pull brakes and won't work well with the calipers you're looking at. The Cane Creek SCR-5 work well, but for less money you can buy an old set of Shimano SLR brake levers that will work as well or better and depending on your tastes may look better on your bike. I've got a bike with 105 levers (BL-1051, I think) and Ultegra BR-6600 calipers (similar braking response to the R539, but less reach) and they work wonderfully. If you really want something new, the Shimano BR400 levers are a modern version of the same basic design.
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Old 07-29-16, 12:24 PM
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You can run these nutted dual pivot Tektros: Tektro R539 47-57mm Reach Brake Caliper (Exposed-Nut) Silver - Harris Cyclery bicycle shop - West Newton, Massachusetts

Looks like they just meet your reach requirements. There's an extra long reach version too.

If you wanna drill baby drill, drilling the fork out is easy, but keep in mind you'll also have to drill out your brake bridge, not difficult, but more annoying than the fork.

Can't comment on the power of the Shims vs Tektro, both are probably great.
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Old 07-29-16, 12:29 PM
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Like Andy said, the Tektro RL520 levers are for linear pull brakes (aka "v brakes"). They won't work well with the caliper brakes you'll be putting on your ol' Bianchi.

Tektro RL340 levers would be the ones for caliper brakes. I have a few pairs of those and like 'em a lot. The hoods are really comfy. The bend in the lever blade looks a little odd at first, but it fits the hand very well.
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Old 07-29-16, 12:30 PM
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As long as your single pivot brakes are set up correctly and are cleaned and lubed I don't think they differ much in stopping power from dual pivots. I would try overhauling your old brakes to see if that makes a difference before drilling your fork and buying new calipers.

I think the real reason one would want to move to modern levers would be to have wider hoods so one can ride on the hoods for comfort.
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Old 07-29-16, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by SkyDog75 View Post
Tektro RL340 levers would be the ones for caliper brakes. I have a few pairs of those and like 'em a lot. The hoods are really comfy. The bend in the lever blade looks a little odd at first, but it fits the hand very well.
Agreed, the RL340 levers work very well and are comfortable to use. The price is also very good. I have them on my Trek 614 with a set of nutted Tektro R539 calipers and they work very well. I'm not in love with the way they look, but they are extremely functional and sometimes that outweighs aesthetics.
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Old 07-29-16, 02:08 PM
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Origin8 Classique levers are another option (pretty obvious they're manufactured by Tektro) and have a nice vintage look. Available all over the internet for US$35.00.

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Old 07-29-16, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
I think the real reason one would want to move to modern levers would be to have wider hoods so one can ride on the hoods for comfort.
This is my one beef with my Shimano 1055s; the pointed hoods make for poor palm-rests.
Is it too late to mention Kool-Stop pads?
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Old 07-29-16, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
As long as your single pivot brakes are set up correctly and are cleaned and lubed I don't think they differ much in stopping power from dual pivots. I would try overhauling your old brakes to see if that makes a difference before drilling your fork and buying new calipers.

I think the real reason one would want to move to modern levers would be to have wider hoods so one can ride on the hoods for comfort.
I did strip the old calipers down,wash and polished the metal and reassembled. Maybe I havn't set them up correctly. Braking just seems mushy.
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Old 07-30-16, 07:45 AM
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Have you tried replacing the cables and housing with new, modern items? Stainless Shimano cables and the latest Jagwire brake housing make an enormous improvement in braking performance.

If you must change, there have been some great suggestions already made above. I prefer the Tektro R200 levers (sadly, no longer made) but 340's are good and have a nice feel. Have used Tektro 539's on many conversions and they come/came in both recessed and nutted versions, although you might have to scour the 'net to find them.
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Old 07-30-16, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Maddogatc View Post
Brakes: Looking at the Shimano R650 or the Tektro 539. Need 57mm reach. I know I will have to drill out my front fork to fit the recessed allen key attachment. Any suggestions on which is better or another brand I am unaware of?
About two months ago I was facing a similar issue with my Peugeot U08 which had aero 105 brake levers and single pull 105 calipers. The braking power just was not cutting it and I splurged and bought a pair of the Tektro 539's to pair with the 105 levers. I found a recessed nut pair for a deal on the Bay and then purchased the nutted conversion bolt kit off of the Tektro site. It was an easy swap, they look great and the improved stopping power is tremendous. I highly recommend this option. Here is the link that leads you through replacing the bolts.

'The Headbadge': Tektro R556 front brake nutted conversion / Tektro dual-pivot disassembly

Last edited by greg3rd48; 07-30-16 at 09:58 AM.
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