Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

Caliper brakes vs V-brakes?

Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Caliper brakes vs V-brakes?

Reply

Old 09-08-09, 03:12 PM
  #1  
savethekudzu
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 575
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Caliper brakes vs V-brakes?

I'm fixing up an old ten-speed that may serve as an additional commuter. Haven't gotten to the point of adding a rack, etc., yet, but that may be soon.

My other bikes have V-brakes. This bike has sidepull calipers and (I think) steel rims.
I've changed out the brake pads for new, but even so, the stopping power doesn't seem to be nearly as good as on my 2-year-old Trek hybrid or Downtube folder.

Are sidepull calipers just inherently weaker than V-brakes?

I haven't yet changed out cables, and I've never worked on any other calipers, so I don't know if this is just to be expected.

Maybe I'm just riding faster in the drops and thus taking longer to stop!
savethekudzu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 03:36 PM
  #2  
stausty
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 714
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Sidepulls are weaker, I believe, but definitely the steel rims are hurting your braking performance. Most likely the brake pads aren't the kind made specifically for steel rims and even if they are their stopping power won't be as good as with alloy rims.
stausty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 04:03 PM
  #3  
Rob_E
Senior Member
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,487

Bikes: Surly World Troller, Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 218 Post(s)
Seconding stausty. Your brakes are you secondary issue. You will probably get more benefit from changing to aluminum wheels then you will changing brake types. Plus they'll be lighter, if you're concerned about that, and easier to true if that ever becomes an issue. If changing wheels is not practical then you might consider V-brakes and you should definitely make sure the pads are the best ones to use on steel.
Rob_E is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 04:24 PM
  #4  
JanMM
rebmeM roineS
 
JanMM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Metro Indy, IN
Posts: 15,281

Bikes: RANS V3 ti, RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 441 Post(s)
V-brakes would require mounting posts.

There is wide range of quality in sidepull brakes
__________________
RANS V3 Ti, RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer
JanMM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 04:50 PM
  #5  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 21,031

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 83 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2257 Post(s)
Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
V-brakes would require mounting posts.

There is wide range of quality in sidepull brakes
+1 Modern dual pivot side pull brakes are very bit as good as v-brakes.

Ditch the steel. Bad idea when it gets wet
__________________
Stuart Black
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.
cyccommute is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 05:11 PM
  #6  
ryanwood
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Eastern Iowa
Posts: 502

Bikes: surly cross check

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
in my experience I have always felt that the side pull brakes worked better than the v-brakes, but I have never felt like I didn't have enough braking power. I would agree with others that your issue is probably your wheels
ryanwood is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 05:53 PM
  #7  
savethekudzu
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 575
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Well, considering the bike cost me $5, I can't justify replacing the wheels with new.

On a related note, what is this alloy of which y'all speak? Isn't steel an alloy? Every time I see that word used, I wonder what it refers to.

Would this alloy be non-magnetic? If so, I can easily test the rims.
savethekudzu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 06:06 PM
  #8  
Quel
Senior Member
 
Quel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 3,653
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
Well, considering the bike cost me $5, I can't justify replacing the wheels with new.

On a related note, what is this alloy of which y'all speak? Isn't steel an alloy? Every time I see that word used, I wonder what it refers to.

Would this alloy be non-magnetic? If so, I can easily test the rims.
Steel is an alloy (iron mostly), but in respect to bikes, when people say alloy they are mostly talking aluminum. In general, steel is magnetic, aluminum is not.
Quel is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 06:50 PM
  #9  
BarracksSi
Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped.
 
BarracksSi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 13,854

Bikes: Some bikes. Hell, they're all the same, ain't they?

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
Well, considering the bike cost me $5, I can't justify replacing the wheels with new.
On the other hand, since it only cost you $5, you can easily spend a bit on basic aluminum-rimmed wheels with all the money you saved.

The new pads you got have helped, yes, but aluminum rims really will help more.

Also, keep in mind that the other end of the braking system -- the tires -- affects performance as well. Fatter tires with more rubber on the pavement will stop quicker. Even between tires of the same size, older tires or new tires with hard compounds won't brake as hard as grippier tires.

The practical, real-world difference between V-brakes and calipers really comes down to tire clearance, not braking power. That's why you won't see narrow calipers on hybrids and mountain bikes.
BarracksSi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 06:51 PM
  #10  
savethekudzu
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 575
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Well, the rims are definitely magnetic - as is the frame, of course.

Given this, and the old sidepull calipers with new pads, other than reducing the distance from brake pad to rim, any other tips on improving braking responsiveness and stopping power?

Will replacing cables really make much difference?
savethekudzu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 07:05 PM
  #11  
Sci-Fi
Senior Member
 
Sci-Fi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,323
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
My other bikes have V-brakes. This bike has sidepull calipers and (I think) steel rims.
I've changed out the brake pads for new, but even so, the stopping power doesn't seem to be nearly as good as on my 2-year-old Trek hybrid or Downtube folder.

Are sidepull calipers just inherently weaker than V-brakes?
Change/buy new calipers. Stamped steel calipers were often used back then, esp on dept store bikes, and flexed a bit too much. Even the most inexpensive single or dual pivot calipers (buy these, easier to center/adjust and better braking) that are available today are light years better and provide more than enough clamping force. If you buy new calipers, the braking performance should be on par with your v-brake equipped bikes. Nutted calipers are still available, but recessed nut calipers are more numerous and you may need to buy 2 fronts and drill a larger hole in the back of your fork to accept the recessed nut. In the rear, the longer bolt will allow you to use a nut for mounting/securing the caliper to the bracket.

As far as steel rims (although they last an outrageous amount of time under normal use), it is better/highly recommended to upgrade to aluminum rims for all season/condition performance and/or reliable/predictable braking when you need it in wet conditions. Plus aluminum rims are hooked rims which allows higher air pressure and superior tire retention. But if you aren't going to use that bike in wet conditions, then IMHO, I wouldn't bother with the extra expense. Salmon brake pads, black/salmon combo pads, or soft black brake pads are good enough. Just remember to "pump your brakes" if you do encounter any wet sections/conditions...wet steel rims are like an old school car with all drum brakes and asbestos brake linings in the rain, need to pump the brakes to dry them off or you won't stop.
Sci-Fi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 07:08 PM
  #12  
tatfiend 
Gear Hub fan
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Reno, NV
Posts: 2,829

Bikes: Civia Hyland Rohloff, Swobo Dixon, Colnago, Univega

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
Well, the rims are definitely magnetic - as is the frame, of course.

Given this, and the old sidepull calipers with new pads, other than reducing the distance from brake pad to rim, any other tips on improving braking responsiveness and stopping power?

Will replacing cables really make much difference?
New lined cable housing and good quality stainless cables should make a very noticeable difference due to much less friction in the cables and housing.

The British company Fibrax makes brake pads specifically intended for steel rims. Supposed to be MUCH better in wet weather. Hard to find in the USA but Bikesmith Design has posted on the geared hub bikes group that they have them available. Called Raincheaters as I recall.
__________________
Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

Visit and join the Yahoo Geared Hub Bikes group for support and links.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Geared_hub_bikes/
tatfiend is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-09, 07:15 PM
  #13  
BarracksSi
Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped.
 
BarracksSi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 13,854

Bikes: Some bikes. Hell, they're all the same, ain't they?

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
... other than reducing the distance from brake pad to rim,...
All that affects is how much travel the levers have before the brakes engage. If you can lock up the brakes before the lever hits the handlebar, you're not lacking braking power, even if the caliper is opened up a little bit.

(personally, I set up my brakes a little "loose", because I feel like I get better modulation and not such a sudden on-off response like I get if they're really close to the rim... that's mostly a personal preference, though)

Replacing cables won't make any difference unless they're about to snap or if they have a LOT of drag. The biggest problem of dirty, dragging cables, though, isn't in activating the brakes, but releasing them. Your hands are stronger than the return spring on any brake, and if anything gets affected first, it's the brake spring opening back up and pulling the cable taut after you've released the lever. If that's not an issue, then the cables don't need replacing.

Again, the next logical step for the biggest improvement on your bike is new rims. $100 wheels on a $5 bike is still a whole bike for around a hundred bucks, and it's probably still better than any $100 department store bike.
BarracksSi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-09, 04:47 AM
  #14  
Esteban32696
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,153
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
I have used " Kool Stop Salmon " brake pads to increase stopping power on steel rims, & am satisfied. ALSO, wipe down the side of the rims often, with alcohol, carb cleaner sparyed on a cloth, . Still , will not be great when wet, but will be a lot better.
Esteban32696 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-09, 05:59 AM
  #15  
tcs
Palmer
 
tcs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Parts Unknown
Posts: 5,624

Bikes: 1980 Mike Melton, 1982 Stumpjumper, 1982 Santana, 1984 Alex Moulton AM, 2007 Cannondale Capo, 2008 BikeFriday tikit T-11, 2010 Dawes Briercliffe, 2017 Dahon Curl i3

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 418 Post(s)
Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
Well, considering the bike cost me $5, I can't justify...
...brazing V-brake studs to the frame.

tcs
tcs is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-09, 09:55 AM
  #16  
meanwhile
Senior Member
 
meanwhile's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,033
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by stausty View Post
Sidepulls are weaker, I believe, but definitely the steel rims are hurting your braking performance. Most likely the brake pads aren't the kind made specifically for steel rims and even if they are their stopping power won't be as good as with alloy rims.
The real problem with steel rims is in the wet. Either get the wheels replaced or don't ride this bike in the rain.
meanwhile is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-09, 10:32 AM
  #17  
savethekudzu
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 575
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
At the moment, I don't intend to ride this bike in the rain. (No fenders, for one thing!)
It may just remain my "fun bike", but it'll be a lot more fun if I can be confident about being able to stop when I need to!
savethekudzu is offline  
Reply With Quote

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service