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Shimano 600 aero brakes squishy/spongy

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Shimano 600 aero brakes squishy/spongy

Old 02-03-19, 01:40 PM
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Raleigh74 
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Shimano 600 aero brakes squishy/spongy

Iím trying to get these to work on a budget build. The 600 Arabesque calipers came with the bike, the later 6207 600 levers are from another group I had. Iíve tried everything I can think of (filing housing ends, taping the hell out of the housing to the bars, checking spring tension on calipers. Braking power is just not there. Levers have to touch handlebars for a simulated hard stop.

Am I missing something obvious? Also, there is play in the levers as they donít seem to return fully, no matter what adjustments I make.

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Old 02-03-19, 01:50 PM
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Maybe I missed it, but did you try adjusting the cable? Not the housing, but the cable itself. If you haven't, try loosening cable and tensioning it until the front lever feels firm. Keep it in that position until you secure the tension and see if it works this time.
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Old 02-03-19, 02:08 PM
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Yes, cable was pulled tight while calipers in closed position and cable clamp tightened. Then I screwed in the barrel adjust a few turns to give correct clearance off rim. Iím at a loss...
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Old 02-03-19, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Raleigh74 View Post
I’m trying to get these to work on a budget build. The 600 Arabesque calipers came with the bike, the later 6207 600 levers are from another group I had. I’ve tried everything I can think of (filing housing ends, taping the hell out of the housing to the bars, checking spring tension on calipers. Braking power is just not there. Levers have to touch handlebars for a simulated hard stop.

Am I missing something obvious? Also, there is play in the levers as they don’t seem to return fully, no matter what adjustments I make.
Well that's not right. The only obvious mistake is that you do not appear to be using ferrules at the housing ends. I strongly recommend that you do - both ends of the cable housing. Many older brake levers are intended to be used with ferrule ends. Filed ends and ferrules is optimum. If the cable is jamming up inside the lever, that would also explain the lack of return. I'd definitely pull the levers and look at the inside to see how things sit.

Other than that, it could only be the result of: cheap stretchy cables, lousy housing, or less than optimal brake pads. IME there really isn't that much difference in the first two (except for the old 1.8 campy cables). Maybe there's substandard housing sold today, I don't know. I'd look at pads. Koolstop pads are always a good idea. Old 600 sidepulls didn't have great stopping power when all adjustment was optimal. Take all the help you can get.

Oh yeah, did you grease the cables? If not, do it, generously. I forget people now often use no grease.

Last edited by Salamandrine; 02-03-19 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 02-03-19, 02:41 PM
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Ferrules donít fit into the caliper stops and itís my understanding that shimano aero levers donít take ferrules either. The only thing I can think is something isnít seating right in the levers...although Iíve removed the taped housing and checked twice now. Frustration is taking over.
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Old 02-03-19, 02:44 PM
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It's been a long time since I worked on a bike with that style of aero brake lever, but if the first picture shows the level in its normal state, the tip of the lever isn't as far from the handlebar as you'd expect it to be. Some possibilities come to mind.

Was the cable housing taped down to the handlebar before you did the final brake adjustments? If so, there's the likely cause of the problem. Remove all the tape that's holding the housing in place. Then redo the brake adjustments, making sure that there's enough cable housing to allow the brakes to operate freely when the housing is taped down. You need a generous loop of cable housing above each caliper. (You didn't provide a picture of the front brake caliper, but that rear brake looks is if there might not be enough housing. The first time you install a set of aero brake levers, you usually end up needing more housing than you think you'll need.)

Less likely possibilities:

The lever might be designed to be switched between full travel (for large hands) and restricted travel (for small hands). Look inside the lever body to see whether there's an obvious adjustment for that feature (or do a search to look up the details for that particular lever).

Also (this is a long shot), the brake lever body might be bent inward at the front, impeding the travel of the lever. (Unlikely, since both levers would have had to have been bent in the same way---though I suppose it's possible that someone did that to restrict the lever travel.)
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Old 02-03-19, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Raleigh74 View Post
Ferrules don’t fit into the caliper stops and it’s my understanding that shimano aero levers don’t take ferrules either. The only thing I can think is something isn’t seating right in the levers...although I’ve removed the taped housing and checked twice now. Frustration is taking over.
I also think something is not seating right with the levers. I suggest pulling the cables and the levers off the bars, and looking inside the lever with a flashlight to see what the stop looks like. I wouldn't assume no ferrules. Maybe, maybe not, especially on the early funky aero levers. I don't remember, as I haven't really worked on those brakes since they were knew. IMO and IME, it's best to use ferrules if you can.

Also, do the brake levers move freely with no cables inserted? Sometimes the levers themselves get jammed up, as a result of a crash or bad QC.

^^^ I agree that it's best with these early aero levers to tape after doing basic brake adjustment. It could be preventing the housing from seating properly.
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Old 02-03-19, 03:05 PM
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I think I figured it out. These levers do indeed require a special ferrule on the lever side (like Dia-Compe). It looked like housing was seating correctly, but under tension was pulling through the lever housing and hitting the barrel thus wanting to pull with the inner cable.

Man do I hate these levers now haha. I thought the inability to find correct fitting replacement hoods was bad enough.

Thanks for the suggestions, Iím going to take the time to line the inners and take care to adjust before retaping the housing.
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Old 02-03-19, 03:10 PM
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Also to look into would be whether your cable casings are too "compressible".
Found out what a big deal compressible casings are all about when I installed CLB aluminium cable casings on one of my bikes. It resulted in brakes that felt so squishy that they could be dangerous in certain conditions.
Also, it looks like your calipers have quite thin section arms. A good amount of squishy feel can come from such. Even Modolos have this caliper arm flex problem caused by their thin sections. One more thing to check is, if a previous owner of the brakeset might have dialed (Bent in the caliper arms, or filed the brake pads) in too much brake pad toe-in. Such can cause squishy brake feel and late full braking power at the levers....
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Old 02-03-19, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Raleigh74 View Post
These levers do indeed require a special ferrule on the lever side (like Dia-Compe).
I hate special ferrules.
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Old 02-03-19, 04:40 PM
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I've always found Arabesque calipers to be too flexy and ineffectual. Arms are too slender.
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Old 02-03-19, 04:49 PM
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Give compressionless brake housing a try. It has solved this issue for me with standard road brakes as well as Spyre cable operated disc brakes.
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Old 02-03-19, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
I've always found Arabesque calipers to be too flexy and ineffectual. Arms are too slender.
Even after solving the ferrule problem, Iíd have to agree. But, they seem to work well enough now. This is a Univega Gran Rally I picked up for $50, when I should have offered the guy $20 or not bought at all (pretty rough shape). So, Iíve tried to salvage anything already existing on it just to get it functional. Cables and housing are of pretty good quality, thatís the one thing I splurged on.

Last edited by Raleigh74; 02-03-19 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 02-03-19, 06:20 PM
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Ha, I just bought an early Cannondale, that has that same series of 600. It's called New 600 EX, as opposed to plain EX, which is Arabesque. Which is clearly NOT Tri-Color. 🤔 😁 I have the 6207 calipers, but not the levers, lol. No plans to use drop bars though, so no real interest in the levers. 🙂
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Old 02-03-19, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Raleigh74 View Post


Even after solving the ferrule problem, Iíd have to agree. But, they seem to work well enough now. This is a Univega Gran Rally I picked up for $50, when I should have offered the guy $20 or not bought at all (pretty rough shape). So, Iíve tried to salvage anything already existing on it just to get it functional. Cables and housing are of pretty good quality, thatís the one thing I splurged on.
I would normally use new cables & housing, on a restoration, but my housing is stamped Weinmann, black housing with Weinmann in white. They just look really classy, and were cut long, so trimming bad ends was pretty no-risk. 😎
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Old 02-03-19, 06:43 PM
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To address merely squishy/spongy, I agree with everyone else: ferrules/housing/decent cables.

But, I didn't see any discussion (just scanned it) of the distance between the pads and the rims.

I use a tool called a third hand, which squeezes the calipers to the rim. This allows me to adjust the brake shoes/pad and the cable at the same time. If I'm using well-trued wheels, I break a popsicle stick into pieces and insert one piece between the pad and the rim, sort of "setting" my distance away from the rim. I then tighten up the pads, pull the cable tight and tighten it. The combination of the cable relaxing a bit and the popsicle stick "shim" gives me a nice, even brake pull, and the pads are close enough to the rim that I almost never run out of pull, no matter what caliper I'm using.*

If you want a little more play in the calipers, just loosen the cable a bit. If the rims are not true, and you need more space to avoid rubbing, this method will not work.

* Other than Shimano 600AX calipers.
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Old 02-03-19, 06:58 PM
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those brake levers look curious. The Hoods are not fitting well, the blade is pretty close to the bar... I would exchange those, something is weird.
The brake blocks would be item #2 .
But I think a different pair of levers will solve the problem.
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Old 02-03-19, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
those brake levers look curious. The Hoods are not fitting well, the blade is pretty close to the bar... I would exchange those, something is weird.
The brake blocks would be item #2 .
But I think a different pair of levers will solve the problem.
These were the best fitting hoods I could find after numerous test fits. No one makes anything close to these funky hoods as replacements and NOS seems to be non existent at this point. These Dia-Compe hoods are less than ideal, but this is a budget/beater build. This one is definitely not for show.

The blades werenít springing back due to the missing bullet type ferrules causing the housing to pull into the lever cable barrel. But, all is well now.

Last edited by Raleigh74; 02-03-19 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 02-03-19, 08:29 PM
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My 1984 Trek 610 came with the full 6207 brake set, but the levers did not involve aero routing. I had all the same braking problems and squeegeeness. I used the section on brake installation in Lennard Zinn's The Art of Road Bike Maintenance to improve them, with some good old logic. This was about 1989, so my memory is not the best. I first took the calipers apart completely and re-assembled them with the lubrication he recommended, not losing any of the original washers, screws, or spacers. Now at least the calipers will move freely. I wanted cables that resisted compression, so I found a set of original Campagnolo Record cables from the old Nuovo Record gruppo. Or they could have been from Modolo brakesets. In modern hardware I've found Jagwire inner and outer cables to be very stiff and cheaper than current Campagnolo.

The ends of the cables all have to be filed perpendicular and have smooth surfaces. Each one needs a ferrule. Ferrules come in different sizes depending on the purpose of the housing. My original Shimano cables were garbage. The outer cables must route in a straight path out of each of the ferrules, no kinks or sudden bends. This keeps the loading in the outer cable axial as you squeeze the levers. Non-axial motion is wasted motion and wasted force that does not go into forcing the brake pads hard onto the rim.

The brake pads have to be aligned so all of teh pad presses against the brake track on the rim. If some of it is overhanging there will be excess compression. I also replaced the Shimano levers with a pair of aluminum Modolo levers I got from Ebay. More comfortable, more compact, better hand positions, and much more direct feeling when braking.

I got the 600's pretty good, but ultimately the caliper itself is not very stiff. While stopping improved quite a bit, it was still not up to my older Nuovo Record brakes I had assembled using the same techniques. The flexiness of the 600 6207 is odd because one of its predecessors was the first Dura-Ace caliper, which looks like a Campagnolo Nuovo Record, and it is at least as stiff - that is a good brake. It's almost as if Shimano management told the designers,"We designed a good brake once. Now go and design a new stylish Shimano brake."
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Old 02-05-19, 10:11 AM
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+1 with @Road Fan

I always disassemble and reassemble any non-new calipers I get. Always.
It seriously improves their performance and the reinstallation. Always.

It just seemed like a good idea on an older bike, and improved so much, I always do it.
Every bike I get, if the components aren't new, gets this for every components I can get apart.

My guess is the time spent cleaning and re-lubing and adjusting equals out to the time spent later trying to fix an issue. Plus it looks better.

Of course, it's good therapy. Probably saved the lives of several people.
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Old 02-06-19, 01:58 AM
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I did the same with a full 600 Arabesque groupset on my all-original '81 Trek 710. I knew from experience that these brake calipers, especially in standard reach form, are flexy. A full disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly with grease added in various needed places, along with new adjustable pads, yielded decent braking for a single pivot. At 6'5" and 210ish, I'm beyond over the enamor of original brakes on a vintage bike as they are all single pivot and no matter what, single pivots don't bite like dual pivots and in my riding environment, I need bite and holding power. That being said, my Trek is staying original for the time being because it is original, is in great shape (along with the frame), and I have a soft spot for Arabesque. This is a Sunday rider kind of bike, not a city commuter, though I have done it and if I take things at half speed, it's more than fine. It's also a lot slower and after a little bit, I can't take putting along.

The best an Arabesque can get: (YMMV)

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Old 02-12-19, 11:55 PM
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Both Shimano 600 Arabesque & Shimano 600 EX (6207) are non-aero. The way you wrap/attach the cable & cable housing to the handlebar caused high pressure to the cable making it difficult in moving inside the housing when you take the brake. Besides, the hoods are not suitable either as they are for aero levers. Take them out, find the suitable/original ones or leave it no hood. Then, issues will be solved.
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Old 02-13-19, 12:01 AM
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You should keep the cable housing in loose form like my Centurion Lemans RS above (equipped with Shimano 600 EX). Even though, I used different handlebar, the way of installing cable & cable housing should be the same for best performance.
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Old 02-13-19, 02:19 PM
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+1 support for the compressible housing. In my experience, the more housing added, the more "squish" you get. When I installed my aero 600s, the rear had full length cable housing between the brake and derailleur whereas the front had about a foot. Front brake? Super snappy. The rear, while not terrible, has just enough "squish" to make it feel different. You can feel the pads impact the rims around the same point, but only the rear brake continues that extra bit as the full length of cable housing compresses. If everything else in the system is tuned up well, it shouldn't detract significantly from the overall experience (or, more importantly, safety). But non-compressible housing seems like a solid upgrade if you find yourself bothered by the little things.
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Old 02-13-19, 07:55 PM
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Beauty.


Originally Posted by Nguyen Dang View Post


You should keep the cable housing in loose form like my Centurion Lemans RS above (equipped with Shimano 600 EX). Even though, I used different handlebar, the way of installing cable & cable housing should be the same for best performance.
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