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My brakes are awful.

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Old 08-04-12, 10:59 AM
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kraemouse
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My brakes are awful.

Hello, remember me? I bought a 1974 Raleigh Superbe a while back.. and as much as I love riding it over flats.. it seems it cannot go up, or down hills. Now up hill I expected and am more than ready to cope with.. but I have discovered my inability to go downhill without flying out of control due to lack of breaking power is nothing less than terrifying. In order for me to take my bike anywhere where I'd like to ride, I have to go down a steep 1km hill, with 3 traffic lights. Being someone who doesn't ride bicycles regularily, and has never previously ridden in traffic, this is very scary. I find myself the idiot walking their bike down the hill regularly, because I can't stop. My humilation is lessened when I see others on cruisers skidding through the lights, breaks held tight, unable to stop... but I just don't want to end up hurt(/dead), so I usually get off the bike.
When I purchased it I immediately changed the 38 year old break pads, but is there anything else I can do? Are there any breakpads that will make a huge difference? Should I look into different rims, ect (steel rims... oh yeah, I live in a rain-forest climate.. the wet season is 9 months a year ) What can I do!?.. if anything?
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Old 08-04-12, 11:04 AM
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Nerdy Norm
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My brakes are awful.

In order of expense (cheapest first):
1. Koolstop pads
2. Alloy rims
3. Drum brake hubs

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Old 08-04-12, 11:09 AM
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mkeller234
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Originally Posted by Nerdy Norm View Post
In order of expense (cheapest first):
1. Koolstop pads
2. Alloy rims
3. Drum break hubs
That is a decent start. Definitely new brake pads. I'd also add:

- Modern Brake calipers might help
- Modern brake levers might help.
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Old 08-04-12, 12:51 PM
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Make sure the brake pads rest as close as possible to the rim without rubbing them. Most brakes lose a lot of power when they have to travel far to reach the rim.
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Old 08-04-12, 12:53 PM
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Can you tell us what you have now? I'm not an expert on 1974 Raleigh Superbe's.
There's quite some difference between 1974 brakes and modern dual-pivots.
Also: are your brakes tuned correctly?
When you brake, are the brake levers squeezed down so they touch the bars? Or can't you squeeze harder? Or don't you dare squeezing harder because you think the wheels will lock-up?
I think you should be able to control your speed in such a way that you can always stop in an acceptable (to you) distance.
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Old 08-04-12, 01:01 PM
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brake pad toe can make a big difference. ive run across many a bike where the pads were toed so far in or out that the whole pad couldnt contact the rim. the pad would begin touch in one area and and pulling the lever further only resulted in flexing the brakes. you will want a little toe to eliminate squealing brakes but the lever should feel very firm when he pad hits the rim, not rubbery.
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Old 08-04-12, 01:08 PM
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They're flexy, awful brakes under the best circumstances and, combined with steel rims, are useless with any rain and merely terrible when dry. Kool Stops will help, as will proper set up...but you're going from dangerous braking to merely bad braking.

I've never understood why 3 speeds came with fenders when they're useless in the rain. A set of Kool Stops will help, but...as stated above...the long term solution is to change out the rims as a minimum and, preferably, the brake calipers.
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Old 08-04-12, 01:33 PM
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please tell us what brakes are on the bike?

new cables help alot

the toe is an issue

having the pads as close as possible is important.

are the rims bent? this is easy to adjust

answers!
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Old 08-04-12, 01:34 PM
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Sun CR-18 rims are a drop-in replacement to the OEM steel rims and are available with period-correct polished finish and 32, 36, and 40 hole drilling. These will improve your wet braking effectiveness immensely, especially with modern brake pads.
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Old 08-04-12, 02:00 PM
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Hi Kraemouse,I remember that super nice bike you picked up.
My daughters 52' Sport we used Tektro long reach 800s brake calipers and the Sun CR 18 Aluminum rims for improved braking.
We ordered everything thru our local bike shop at the same price as online saving the cost of shipping.

http://www.modernbike.com/itemgroup.asp?IGPK=2126175524
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Old 08-04-12, 02:17 PM
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kraemouse
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Originally Posted by michael k View Post
Hi Kraemouse,I remember that super nice bike you picked up.
My daughters 52' Sport we used Tektro long reach 800s brake calipers and the Sun CR 18 Aluminum rims for improved braking.
We ordered everything thru our local bike shop at the same price as online saving the cost of shipping.

http://www.modernbike.com/itemgroup.asp?IGPK=2126175524

Thankyou!


Originally Posted by stevenc View Post
Can you tell us what you have now? I'm not an expert on 1974 Raleigh Superbe's.
There's quite some difference between 1974 brakes and modern dual-pivots.
Also: are your brakes tuned correctly?
When you brake, are the brake levers squeezed down so they touch the bars? Or can't you squeeze harder? Or don't you dare squeezing harder because you think the wheels will lock-up?
I think you should be able to control your speed in such a way that you can always stop in an acceptable (to you) distance.
... To people asking me whats on there now, I'll post some pictures when I can... because I have no idea !! Hah. Everything on my bike is 100% original and that is all I know.

The brake levers do not touch the bars when I squeeze, they can't even come close. I don't fear the wheels locking up, and I can't squeeze harder. I had a man try the breaking for me (thinking maybe it's just my weak girl-hands) and he found it very difficult as well, though he could make it skid when I couldn't. Stopping distance on this thing wouldn't be acceptable to anyone... and on the hill I ride down, there is no stopping distance.. there is only going from fast to moderately fast. Hah.



I don't know what a "toe" is....

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Old 08-04-12, 02:25 PM
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There is not much wrong with the stock levers and brakes on the '74 Superbe save for the fact the chromed steel rims are not suited for any wet weather riding and that without new fresh brake pads (Kool Stop Continentals) the dry braking will only be passable and that high speed riding was not the intended purpose for these bicycles.

The solution is to re-lace the hubs to some CR18 rims and install those Kool Stops... my 1975 Raleigh Sports has new old Mavic rims laced to it's hubs and runs Kool stops and will do skids.

Yes... skids.

Descending will be something that then inspires some confidence as well.
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Old 08-04-12, 02:27 PM
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Making the Superbe go up hills might warrant a change in the rear cog to bring the gearing into line with your terrain... the stock gearing is typically too high for most mortals to handle with a low that is not low enough and a high that is rarely useable.
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Old 08-04-12, 02:38 PM
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The brakes on my 3-speed are as good as the best brakes on all of my other bikes. All I did was switch to Kool Stop.

They're not very good in the rain, but I don't find them to be terrible in the dry. Far from it.
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Old 08-05-12, 05:44 AM
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I agree with Kool Stop pads, adjusted properly, &&& keep the side of the rims wiped down with alcohol, etc.
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Old 08-05-12, 07:46 AM
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I've got Kool-Stop pads on steel rims. I would describe the braking as adequate in dry conditions. Nothing to write home about, but not unsafe.

I think it is inaccurate to state that steel rims have poor braking performance in wet weather. The correct thing to say is that I have no brakes if the rims are wet. Even rolling my bike across my dewey yard make my brakes disappear for the first 1/2 mile of my ride.
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Old 08-05-12, 08:13 AM
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Another vote for tweak first rather than replace. My steel-rimmed bikes of the 70s (still own one) have had very strong brakes. Except when wet. When the rim is damp, squeeze the lever hard long in advance, and the siping action and friction will dry the rims (unless there's a water source continuing to wet the rims); eventually the brakes will grab. Not a good thing for a wet-climate city bike, but not quite accurate to say 'no brakes' either.

Now, given you're in the wet, wet, hilly PNW, then I will vote with our good friend Mr. Thompson. Al rims.

Last edited by duffer1960; 08-05-12 at 08:42 AM.
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