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Upgrading Modolo Brakes

Old 05-19-18, 06:46 PM
  #1  
Celeste Mike
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Upgrading Modolo Brakes

So I'm toying with the idea of upgrading my brakes. I've got an '87 Bianchi CdI with it's original Modolo Start brakes. They're not great but they've been doing the job well enough for the nine years I've been riding on em. So I feel like I could upgrade them... Or not. But I was thinking if I did it would be fun to just put better Modolo brakes on the bike from the same period, with the same look. I've already looked up the heirarchy of Modolo brakes and read a bit about them, but I'm hoping to hear from people who have first hand experience using them. My question is: If I were to switch from Modolo Start to say Modolo Equipe calipers, would this be a worthwhile upgrade? As in is the increase in breaking performance between Start and Equipe calipers worth the $80 I'd spend on them?

The other thing I like about the Equipe are that they look just like the Start brakes but they're black. All my modern cockpit components are black, and I've got an original drivetrain. So black vintage brakes would make for a nice marriage between the old and new parts of my bike.

And because everyone loves photos, here she is on a recent rainy commute:

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Old 05-19-18, 06:53 PM
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I upgraded mine about 35 years too late -- into the trash can. I got a set of Veloce calipers for $35 from Chainreaction, and felt like an idiot for keeping them so long. What horrible brakes.

They are about $55 now: Campagnolo Veloce Dual Pivot Brakeset | Chain Reaction Cycles
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Old 05-19-18, 07:03 PM
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I would try putting Kool Stop salmon pads on them first and see what you think. They make a massive improvement in almost any brake. Nice bike btw!
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Old 05-19-18, 07:16 PM
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Another vote for the Campy dual pivots. I bought a pair of Campy Potenza calipers for about $50 on eBay and they work great. However, they were designed for levers with tension releases, so there are no releases in the calipers.
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Old 05-19-18, 07:18 PM
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Never been impressed with most of the early generation Modol brakes because of their very thin cross section caliper arms that flexed quite a bit, that resukts in quite a mushy feel on the levers, so unless you move over to later Modolo designs with the stouter caliper arms, there's definitely not much improvement you can do with them, other than a good pivot adjustment to get rid of any play, less compressible brake casings and most importantly, dumping the "sintered" brake pads that came with most of them, for more conventional, rubber compound pads like Koolstops.
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Old 05-19-18, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by devinfan View Post
I would try putting Kool Stop salmon pads on them first and see what you think. They make a massive improvement in almost any brake. Nice bike btw!
Thanks!
I would try the Kool Stop pads first, but my brakes don't have their original brake pad holders anymore. So they've currently got Shimano M50T pads on the front, and similar Jagwire pads on the rear.

Originally Posted by Chombi1 View Post
Never been impressed with most of the early generation Modol brakes because of their very thin cross section caliper arms that flexed quite a bit, that resukts in quite a mushy feel on the levers, so unless you move over to later Modolo designs with the stouter caliper arms, there's definitely not much improvement you can do with them, other than a good pivot adjustment to get rid of any play, less compressible brake casings and most importantly, dumping the "sintered" brake pads that came with most of them, for more conventional, rubber compound pads like Koolstops.
Ok, this is the info I was really looking for. I had a feeling this may be the case with that caliper design in general. Thanks! So would something like Modolo Mach 1's perform considerably better?

Those Campy Veloce or Potenza brakes are lookin pretty good, but with no quick release on the calipers I'd have to deflate and refill my tire every time I remove it.
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Old 05-19-18, 08:48 PM
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Get some non-SLR EV Shimano dual pivot calipers. Ultegra or even Dura Ace from the 9 and 10 speed era ought to be able to be found on Ebay dirt cheap and they are excellent brakes.

See here for example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dura-Ace-ro...wAAOSwwwRa~im3
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Old 05-19-18, 08:50 PM
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My ‘86 Trek 760 has Modolo Equipe brakes, they seem to be more of a dark gray that seems to me a close enough to black but that’s just me. Otherwise, the performance aspect is decent enough, no complaints. If you want a more solid feel for mountain descents or hard braking I’d go with Shimano 600.
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Old 05-19-18, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Celeste Mike View Post
Thanks!
I would try the Kool Stop pads first, but my brakes don't have their original brake pad holders anymore. So they've currently got Shimano M50T pads on the front, and similar Jagwire pads on the rear.



Ok, this is the info I was really looking for. I had a feeling this may be the case with that caliper design in general. Thanks! So would something like Modolo Mach 1's perform considerably better?

Those Campy Veloce or Potenza brakes are lookin pretty good, but with no quick release on the calipers I'd have to deflate and refill my tire every time I remove it.
I have the Mavic (Model 440 SSC) re-branded version of the Modolo ALX 90, which shares the same basic (very beefy and short) caliper arm design as the Mach 1. Based on what I experienced with the brakeset, it's definitely stiffer than the older Modolos like the Speedy which shares the same basic design as your brakes, but just like with all Modolo sidepulls, I had to get rid of the original sintered brake pads on mine, to get the most braking out of it.

Last edited by Chombi1; 05-19-18 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 05-20-18, 01:15 AM
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Good luck in your search. FYI if you use Kool Stop Continental pads, which are the ones I use on all my brakes, you donít need pad holders because they replace them entirely. Just replacing the fronts would give you a pretty good idea if it was going to make the difference youíre looking for without much investment.
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Old 05-20-18, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1 View Post
most importantly, dumping the "sintered" brake pads that came with most of them, for more conventional, rubber compound pads like Koolstops.
This.
The sintered Modolo pads don't hack it. I replaced the pads on the Equipe calipers on a Vitus and it made all the difference in the world.

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Old 05-20-18, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Celeste Mike View Post
Thanks!
I would try the Kool Stop pads first, but my brakes don't have their original brake pad holders anymore. So they've currently got Shimano M50T pads on the front, and similar Jagwire pads on the rear. ...
I can testify from a personal harrowing experience that those Shimanos are the "pads of death." I put a set on my first-gen. Campag. sidepulls because they looked cool, but the combination provided very poor braking performance. KoolStop salmon pads work much better. I also use Shimano aero brake levers (among the few obvious non-Italian components on my Bianchi), which provide 15% more leverage than the original Modolos and actually fit my hands properly. With these pad and lever changes (new cables and housings are also on my get-around-to-it list), I can actually stop now.
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Old 05-20-18, 05:44 AM
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Swap pads first if you are interested in more braking power. IMO if by better braking performance you mean you are seeking more stopping power, you're better off with modern dual pivots that a fancier model Modolo, which won't be much different.

There was a brief Modolo craze around 1984. I never got it. It was mostly the anatomic hoods I think. I preferred Campy Record/Super Record.

All brakes of that time assumed that you only did serious braking from the drops, and that you had strong hands.
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Old 05-20-18, 10:19 AM
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Celeste Mike-

The Start doesn't have much in the brake arm cross section compared to the Speedy or Equipes. If you do an upgrade to the calipers then lined cables and Kool Stop inserts would be necessary to see improvement. Kool Stop International - High Performance Bicycle Brake Pads Since 1977

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Old 05-20-18, 11:50 AM
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I volunteer as a mechanic as a local bike Co-op. As suggested by an earlier poster, I've 'upgraded' many sets of Modolo brakes direct to the trash.

They are close to the worst vintage brakes ever made, only a slight upgrade from the appallingly inadequate Dia-Compe calipers found on legions of cheap 70s and 80s bikes.

The Modolos featured flexy arms, overly strong springs (to overcome the high cable friction caused by 80s cable housing), poor mechanical advantage, cheap awkward hardware and tiny ineffective brake pads.

Plus they are single pivot brakes, which have an inherent insurmountable disadvantage against newer dual pivots.

So save a bunch of pointless frustration, and get some current or somewhat 'vintage' dual pivot calipers. All are better than any single pivot brake ever made. I recommend the Dura-Ace 7403 or Shimano 600 6403 dual pivots from about 20-25 years ago. The 7403's are the best road rim brakes ever made - to date.

BTW: change out all of your old brake cables and housing to something current. The old unlined brake and shifter housings were terrible. You should be changing these out yearly anyway.
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Old 05-20-18, 11:54 AM
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Addendum: the old Shimano 600 single pivot brakes were pretty bad as well, especially the first generation. Flexy arms, cheap hardware, and about the worst pads every made. It took Shimano about 3 decades to come up with a set of decent pads. The last generation of Shimano 600 single pivots were well made, but still substantially inferior in terms of braking power relative to the next generation 6403 dual pivot calipers.

You can buy the 6403's on Ebay for next to nothing. Great brakes, as long as they are not seized-up with corrosion.
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Old 05-20-18, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Celeste Mike View Post
I would try the Kool Stop pads first, but my brakes don't have their original brake pad holders anymore. So they've currently got Shimano M50T pads on the front, and similar Jagwire pads on the rear.
You could use Kool Stop "Continental" pads, as they're a one-piece design. They'd even be period-correct, since they've been on the market since the late 1970s.

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Old 05-20-18, 09:17 PM
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Thanks for all the responses, alotta great info here! I think I will start with the Kool Stop pads, and keep an eye on eBay for some of the calipers suggested here. I did recently run all new brake lines with Shimano PTFE cables. I'm assuming that falls into the category of "lined" brake cables a couple of you mentioned, yes?
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Old 05-21-18, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
I volunteer as a mechanic as a local bike Co-op. As suggested by an earlier poster, I've 'upgraded' many sets of Modolo brakes direct to the trash.

They are close to the worst vintage brakes ever made, only a slight upgrade from the appallingly inadequate Dia-Compe calipers found on legions of cheap 70s and 80s bikes.

The Modolos featured flexy arms, overly strong springs (to overcome the high cable friction caused by 80s cable housing), poor mechanical advantage, cheap awkward hardware and tiny ineffective brake pads.

Plus they are single pivot brakes, which have an inherent insurmountable disadvantage against newer dual pivots.

So save a bunch of pointless frustration, and get some current or somewhat 'vintage' dual pivot calipers. All are better than any single pivot brake ever made. I recommend the Dura-Ace 7403 or Shimano 600 6403 dual pivots from about 20-25 years ago. The 7403's are the best road rim brakes ever made - to date.

BTW: change out all of your old brake cables and housing to something current. The old unlined brake and shifter housings were terrible. You should be changing these out yearly anyway.
No disrespect, Dave but to toss these brakes to the trash is absurd.

Firstly, people you do realize these are vintage bikes, ah.. most retaining their vintage parts. Its what they're about. Some on this site just love to shred on about how awful this stuff is. Jeez.

That's quite fine and often practical for some to upgrade but I completely disagree to throw away Modolo brakes, or 'death forks' 'stems', etc..

I have a few bikes with Modolo brakes and properly upgraded with cables and PADS are great. Of course I know of shortcomes but they are not garbage! In their day were used by top pro riders, with many major wins to the brand.

ps. Throw those Modolo Professional brakesets my way. You don't need the money right?

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Old 05-09-22, 12:44 PM
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I'm in the same boat that I'm thinking of swapping out my Modolo Speedy's for something that....works. I'm not married to the idea that this bike needs to maintain all of its vintage parts to maintain its appeal.
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Old 05-09-22, 12:56 PM
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New pads and compressionless brake housing--98% of all problems solved.
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Old 05-09-22, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4 View Post
New pads and compressionless brake housing--98% of all problems solved.
Agreed. I've done this to Modolo Speedys on my '84 Basso Gap and they're every bit as good as any non dual-pivot brakeset out there. IMO.
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Old 05-09-22, 01:51 PM
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I run DiaCompe and Modolo brakes on a couple of bikes, never ever have had a problem.
They are not the most robust design but they work acceptably with new brake pads.

Double pivot brakes stop faster.
Integrated brake/shift levers shift faster.
8/9/10/11/12 systems have smaller steps between cogs given a similar gear inch range.
Threadless headsets offer stiffer front end handling.
Square taper spindles are mostly obsolete now.
Carbon weighs less than steel or aluminum, make everything out of it for better climbing.

Why would anyone ride an originally equipped C&V bike? What heaps of garbage! - all of them should be upgraded to roll on public streets and paths.
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Old 05-09-22, 02:03 PM
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Unless we're talking about a museum piece, why wouldn't you make upgrades that don't detract at all visually from the C&V aesthetic but provide vastly improved performance? This is why I switched my rear axle to titanium, swapped most bolts to titanium or aluminum, and use compressionless housing.

Last edited by smd4; 05-09-22 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 05-09-22, 03:35 PM
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Another vote for Kool-Stops, they're an essential C&V upgrade in my opinion.
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