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Boo Mushy Brakes!

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Boo Mushy Brakes!

Old 02-07-08, 11:47 PM
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Boo Mushy Brakes!

So I was working on my bike tonight and I was reminded of something: While the front brake feels firm and has a nice "engaged" feel once pad touches rim, the rear feels "mushy," almost to the point that it's tough to tell when it's engaging just by lever feel. There are a few things that I think could be to blame (probably both): First, the brakes are not exactly high-zoot ("Scott Performance" pieces from my Speedster S50). Second, I probably have crappy cables, which would explain why the rear is so much worse than the front (more cable length to stretch and mushify things). My question is, how would I go about remedying this? Am I doomed to mushy rear brake feel unless I upgrade to Zero Gravitys? Or can I buy a relatively inexpensive cable/housing and take care of it?

As a side note, this is probably irrelevant as I don't really use my rear brake much. I will probably end up ignoring it unless it's an easy (cheap) fix.
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Old 02-08-08, 12:18 AM
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Simple answer - new cable housing.

Longer answer: check to see that the brake arms have't loosened around the pivot body. Make sure the calipers are clean and lubricate direct contact/pivot points. Change the cable and housing.

Still mushy = crappy calipers.

You can buy decent calipers for cheap. Check into Tektro. I like DA clampers, but $$.
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Old 02-08-08, 12:54 AM
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Had similar problem on my fixed gear bike. Put 700c wheels on a frame made for 27". I could just barely make the brake pads reach by moving them as far down the caliper as possible. I suspect this is what partly caused the mushy rear brake feel (the long cable didn't help things). To get any stopping power at all, the pads had to be really close to the rim and even then I could still make the lever hit the handlebars.

LBS suggested a Problem Solvers cable doubler (edit: $20). It's usually used for road levers with V- or disc brakes. But it works well for me. The rear brake still ain't anything special, but it's much better than before. It doubles the cable pull from the lever to the caliper. The pads don't have to be so close to the rim and the brake engages and holds much quicker.
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Old 02-08-08, 05:23 AM
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rear brakes feel mushy because of cable stretch. 3+ ft of cable as opposed 12-18"s up front. also,
like motorcycles, most of the weight shifts forward during hard braking. that's why sport bikes
have big duel discs up front. better cables will help more than new calipers.
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Old 02-08-08, 07:20 AM
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Listen to Psimet.

Also, if you don't already know how, take some time to learn how to properly set up your brakes yourself. It's relatively simple stuff. The Park Tools website is a good place to start.
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Old 02-08-08, 07:56 AM
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Same **** on my bike. The bike barely slows when I pull the rear brake lever, even after truing my wheel and bringing the brake pads in real close. With the front brake, however, I can stop the bike ridiculously fast. I figure it's the crap $4 cable I got at walmart. Even though I sprayed the whole thing with teflon/wax lube, it still has a ton of friction.

I'll source a new cable eventually but I'm too cheap for now; I just paid tuition.
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Old 02-08-08, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by JiveTurkey
Had similar problem on my fixed gear bike. Put 700c wheels on a frame made for 27". I could just barely make the brake pads reach by moving them as far down the caliper as possible. I suspect this is what partly caused the mushy rear brake feel (the long cable didn't help things). To get any stopping power at all, the pads had to be really close to the rim and even then I could still make the lever hit the handlebars.

LBS suggested a Problem Solvers cable doubler (edit: $20). It's usually used for road levers with V- or disc brakes. But it works well for me. The rear brake still ain't anything special, but it's much better than before. It doubles the cable pull from the lever to the caliper. The pads don't have to be so close to the rim and the brake engages and holds much quicker.
Why do you have a rear brake on a fixed gear?
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Old 02-08-08, 09:51 AM
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When I hear of mushy, I either think of:
1) cable issues
2) crashed/bent up levers
3) poorly centered brakes

When the brakes are poorly centered, they feel mushy because they must flex the rim over until it contacts the other brake pad. While this is occuring, virtually no actual stopping is occuring but it just feels mushy.

Also, make sure you are using the correct housing. Decent housing really isn't that expensive!!!!

Cheers~
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Old 02-08-08, 09:52 AM
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Oh, if you want better calipers, check nashbar. They have campy centaur brakesets on sale for real cheap. I saw some Centaur grey ones for $60 or so - super cheap, and they are very powerful. They look damn good too!
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Old 02-08-08, 10:18 AM
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^^^
Beware of Campy calipers if you run Shimano levers. Campy calipers don't have that little lever used to open up the calipers to remove the wheel. That feature is located on the campy levers, which shimano levers don't have.
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Old 02-08-08, 10:24 AM
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Mushy brakes can also be caused by excessive toe-in on pads.
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Old 02-08-08, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by mic2377
When I hear of mushy, I either think of:
1) cable issues
2) crashed/bent up levers

3) poorly centered brakes

When the brakes are poorly centered, they feel mushy because they must flex the rim over until it contacts the other brake pad. While this is occuring, virtually no actual stopping is occuring but it just feels mushy.

Also, make sure you are using the correct housing. Decent housing really isn't that expensive!!!!

Cheers~
+1, but sometimes just centering the rim between the pads is not enough.
Often times the way the caliper arms move on side will move more than the other so what you want to do is make sure that the pads contact the rim simultaneously. That may mean the rim isn't exactly centered between the pads.
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Old 02-08-08, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Pepper Grinder
Why do you have a rear brake on a fixed gear?
Using the rear brake aggresively while turning and braking allows you to make a much sharper turn than with just a front brake and leg power.

This may mean the difference between negotiating the turn at the bottom of a hill or becoming a hood ornament of a car coming the other way.

PS My circa 1973 "normal reach" brakes on my vintage Nishiki feel mushy compared to the new dual pivot brakes on the rest of my bike and that is with modern cable housing (teflon lined even).
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