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A "spongy" feeling

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A "spongy" feeling

Old 12-12-20, 06:59 AM
  #1  
taylorgeo
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A "spongy" feeling

As I wear down the pads on my linear pull brakes, the levers are getting closer and closer to the grips when I brake. I'm getting a sorta "spongy" feeling.

What adjustments should I be making to get the brakes firmer with less brake lever travel?
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Old 12-12-20, 08:59 AM
  #2  
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Personally, I hate a lot of lever pull in my brakes. If it was my bike, I'd replace the pads and adjust the cables. If you don't want to do that, you can use the barrel adjuster to pull some cable slack out, or just tighten up the cables.
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Old 12-12-20, 09:52 AM
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You'll also have to adjust the pad position as it hits the rim. I definitely prefer a bunch of lever pull before the pads hit the rim. I have much better control this way. Having the brakes 'tight' so they actuate with very little lever pull is NOT the right way to do it. I get personal preference but more control is better than less. You should adjust lever pull and pad height fairly often w/ V brakes, the pads will get a helical wear pattern if you don't keep on top of it, this will make it very hard to adjust (unless you have XT or XTR brakes w/ the linkage).
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Old 12-12-20, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Wileyrat View Post
Personally, I hate a lot of lever pull in my brakes. If it was my bike, I'd replace the pads and adjust the cables. If you don't want to do that, you can use the barrel adjuster to pull some cable slack out, or just tighten up the cables.
Tighten up the cables at the pinch bolt, correct? I should take a pic of the pads, cause I'm not even sure just how worn they are. Is it possible to get more lever pull over time without the pads being drastically worn?

Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
Having the brakes 'tight' so they actuate with very little lever pull is NOT the right way to do it. I get personal preference but more control is better than less.
Now that makes a lot sense. Thank you!
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Old 12-12-20, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Tighten up the cables at the pinch bolt, correct? I should take a pic of the pads, cause I'm not even sure just how worn they are. Is it possible to get more lever pull over time without the pads being drastically worn?
Turn the barrel adjuster at the end of the brake lever (where the cable exits). You should be turning it counter clockwise, then lock it in place with the washer.

Once you have the lever where you want, make sure the brake pads still fully contact the rim.
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Old 12-12-20, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Tighten up the cables at the pinch bolt, correct? I should take a pic of the pads, cause I'm not even sure just how worn they are. Is it possible to get more lever pull over time without the pads being drastically worn?



Now that makes a lot sense. Thank you!
Cables do stretch.
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Old 12-12-20, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Mojo31 View Post
Cables do stretch.
No...they don't.
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Old 12-12-20, 08:39 PM
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Also take a close look at the pads. When they're really worn, they can develop a "lip" that hooks over the edge of the rim. You can sometimes get a bit more life out of pads by sanding the lip off.
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Old 12-12-20, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
No...they don't.
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Old 12-12-20, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
No...they don't.
Others seem to disagree with you.

https://bicycleuniverse.com/bike-brake-cables-stretch/

https://www.velofix.com/company/news...cable-stretch/

https://cyclingmagazine.ca/sections/...g-and-braking/
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Old 12-12-20, 09:18 PM
  #11  
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Bicycle Universe? Here's what they said:
"The cables have a natural elasticity being metal and will stretch slightly. This is minuscule and you possibly won’t notice this, but only pick up on a change in your brakes. This could mean it’s time to replace the cables and get a fine-tuning."
Uhhhm...no. They said it's 'microscopic' and then go on to make it sound like they are always stretching. This is just not true. Brake housing compresses a TON when new, and is then stable. If the cable did actually stretch you wouldn't notice. Brake flex, pad squish(again, microsopic) would be more noticeable than 'stretch'. You just don't put enough leverage into a brake to end up stretching the cable.

Velofix? They can't even get their descriptions of cables and their sizes right. They're not braided, they're twisted. Brake cables are 1.6mm not 1.5mm. They do however get it right in the middle, I guess you didn't read that part:
"“Cable stretch” is actually a broader term used to describe the action of the WHOLE cabling system settling into place. Your brake and shift cables pass through your brake and shift housing-the other key components in the WHOLE cabling system. When housing is cut and capped with ferules, it may not be fully seated into those ferrules, or fully seated into the frame stops, derailleur, brakes, shifters etc. As you shift and brake, a huge portion of the initial settling that occurs is actually the housing fully seating itself into place. Once settled, you can be left with a considerable amount of slack, causing the symptoms above."

Cycling magazine? Do you actually believe them just because they're a 'cycling magazine'? I've met a ton of magazine 'experts' over the years, mostly during my years as a pro team mechanic. It is stunning how clueless many of them are...absolutely stunning. I've offered my opinion, you can go with whatever you want.
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Old 12-12-20, 10:01 PM
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How about something from the industry:

The stretch of a wire rope under load is the result of two components: the structural stretch and the elastic stretch. Structural stretch of wire rope is caused by the lengthening of the rope lay, compression of the core and adjustment of the wires and strands to the load placed upon the wire rope. The elastic stretch is caused by elongation of the wires.

https://bergencable.com/cable-101

Bike cables are wire rope. Elongation due to care compression is “stretch” in layman’s terms. Lots of other sources in the cable and engineering industries disagree with your unequivocal statement.

Last edited by Mojo31; 12-12-20 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 12-13-20, 08:01 AM
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The brakes on my '84 Univega Viva sport had that 'spongy' feel, even after I put on new cables when I converted aero brake levers... I looked at what the cause was, and I could actually see the DiaCompe G400 brake arm bending a bit. A set of Tektro dual-pivot brakes solved that issue...

Other causes of 'soft' or spongy brakes:
  • Cable housing ends not cut square
  • not using proper ferrules at housing ends
  • Cheap housing that has some degree of compressing
  • cheap inner cable that allows some degree of stretch
  • Old, hard brake pads - you gotta squeeze harder to get braking effect.

.
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Old 12-13-20, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Cougrrcj View Post
The brakes on my '84 Univega Viva sport had that 'spongy' feel, even after I put on new cables when I converted aero brake levers... I looked at what the cause was, and I could actually see the DiaCompe G400 brake arm bending a bit. A set of Tektro dual-pivot brakes solved that issue...

Other causes of 'soft' or spongy brakes:
  • Cable housing ends not cut square
  • not using proper ferrules at housing ends
  • Cheap housing that has some degree of compressing
  • cheap inner cable that allows some degree of stretch
  • Old, hard brake pads - you gotta squeeze harder to get braking effect.

.
Thanks for the info... Would the Tektro dual-pivot brakes fit on my bike? Tire width is 2.00"... Wouldn't mind more stopping power (and less ride-to-ride tweaking) considering I'm a super Clyde.


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Old 12-13-20, 09:04 AM
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You mentioned your brakes feel "spongy". If your cables and housing are old the first thing I would do is replace them. I find this can change the feel from spongy to firm. If your brake pads are old they may be hardened or glazed and replacement will also improve your braking. If pads are glazed you can file down the shiny part until you get to good material. If you decide to replace the entire brake set it will generally include new pads.
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Old 12-13-20, 09:23 AM
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If the pads are worn so much that the rubber accordian boot is compressing that will give it a spongy feeling.

Direct pull brakes have two different widths of washers and you can flip these from one side of the brake arm to the other to adjust the angle of the arms. If the arms are pointed significantly inward at the top then you should consider swapping washers so the thicker set is on the inside..
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Old 12-13-20, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Thanks for the info... Would the Tektro dual-pivot brakes fit on my bike? Tire width is 2.00"... Wouldn't mind more stopping power (and less ride-to-ride tweaking) considering I'm a super Clyde.
Short answer - No.
Different kind of brakes, reach issues, opening issues, lever pull issues. My opinion is V brakes stop as well if not better than dual pivot calipers so you wouldn't gain anything anyway.
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Old 12-13-20, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
No...they don't.
NEVER argue with cxwrench. He is ALWAYS right. (That's why I have him on my ignore list.)
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Old 12-13-20, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by RGMN View Post
NEVER argue with cxwrench. He is ALWAYS right. (That's why I have him on my ignore list.)
But, he was a mechanic for a pro race team! Don’t they require degrees in metallurgy and mechanical engineering for those career positions?

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Old 12-13-20, 04:54 PM
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I would replace cables, housing and potentially brake shoes and pads. For cables and housing I want something compressionless for braking. Jagwire I think makes some of the finest cables and housing and their pro and Elite level kits are well worth it. For my shoes, I want a nice stiff shoe that has a replaceable pad, no solid rubber pads, replaceable stuff can end up cheaper in the long run. For my pads I want a really nice high end compound that is good for my riding and generally from someone with Stop in the name like Kool Stop or SwissStop. Those little changes can make a massive difference in your braking and don't cost a lot compared to upgrading the actual calipers or levers or something like that. Refresh your ride and you will be quite happy.

Of course also make sure your pads are installed properly so they hit the rim right.
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