Brake question- this is my every day commuter bike. I love it but the …

Brake question- this is my every day commuter bike. I love it but the brake performance is lacking. I can get the bike to stop, but quick stops are scary with my current setup. Debating whether to change to modern brake levers and calipers. Could I use modern road bike calipers with what I have now, or would I need to replace the levers to feel any difference? Or could the problem be the pads I have? Is there a better type of pads that I could use with the existing calipers? Any advice would be appreciated.

Dennis Rosloniec: are the cables original? A lot of times just changing those fixes everything

Marc Cope: That was my first thought also. Cleaning the pads and rims also help. And three: replacing the pads is inexpensive and often helpful.

Skye Zultanky: Pretty sure those are the original cables. I was planning on replacing them as part of a larger overhaul, but if that could be the problem by itself that would be a much easier fix.

Dennis Rosloniec: I had a raleigh of similar vintage with dia-compe cantis… changing cables (and lubing pivots) takes a lot of friction out of the system and friction and can definitely bring it from scary to adequate That said I ended up changing them out for shimano cx brakes since I needed new pads and there wasnt much cost difference in doing so

Will Handsfield: Swapping the whole pad assembly to something contemporary should help a lot. You can probably get V-brake or CX Cantu brake pad assembly to fit in those calipers. Will have more surface area, better compound, and less pad deflection

Owen Baggott: Try just changing the leavers first. You have long reach calipers that may be hard to replace. It looks like your bike was meant for 27.5 wheels but there is a 700 and it fits because of the long reach calipers. I dont know if a regular 55-73 long reach brake would work. I would replace the leavers, cables and pads ans oil up the calipers. You may even want to try using long pull V-Brake leavers that are meant for a flat bar. They work great with brakes like that.

Will Handsfield: Also, change your cables. You’ll have more stopping power with a modern aero lever like a Tektro, but save that for when you aren’t satisfied with other steps.

Ron Cuba: I also have an old bike I use every day. I swap in new cables & housing every couple of years. I do ride in snow/salt/dirt winters, but all cables / housing will age. I would start there and if that in not good enough, I like Wills suggestions.

Skye Zultanky: Thanks, I think I will try that first. Either way, it’s an easy fix and needs to be done anyway. I’ve only had the bike for a few months, and I’m in the process of slowly trying to replace everything that needs to be upgraded.

Gerald McEachin: Heres the old school way. Downshift and spin so you will be going slower all the time.

Skye Zultanky: Thanks, been thinking of switching to Tektro’s. The Current levers are functional, but they feel kind of cheap. The only complication is that I tend to ride this bike with my hands on the flats, I do like having the drop bars and I do use them. I don’t want to convert to flat bar, but I have been considering adding a pair of cross top brakes, which Complicates everything. I might be biting off more than I can chew.

Dennis Rosloniec: I have these on my commuter w/ flat bars and mountain levers:

Origin8 Drop Ends

Skye Zultanky: I had those on my other bike for a while, a Trek FX that I use for bad weather. I did like them quite a bit, but I never felt really safe with my hands in the drops while unable to brake. That’s why I like the current safety brake system, I just wish it worked better.

Cormac Vann Foster: You could also try trekking/butterfly bars with mountain levers. Ive found that since its all a flatter plane, my body weighting is such that getting back to the brakes from another hand position is much faster and easier, while still allowing lots of options for climbing, etc. I love the VO bars: that said, though, thats a lot of changes. Start with cables, then calipers. And while v-brakes are ugly, theyre super effective.

Dajia Cycleworks Trekking Handlebar

Ronny Schroyen: You could install new levers, like the Shimano R400. I don’t regret putting them on my bike.

Skye Zultanky: That is beautiful! So you upgraded the levers but kept the original calipers? That’s what it appears to be from the picture.

Ronny Schroyen: Skye Zultanky that’s right, the calipers are dura ace and they do an excellent job. The rear pads got worn out, they were replaced with koolstops.

Rodney Castaldi: Skye, help me understand what you mean by scary. Do you mean they dont stop well, they grab, they are slow to respond…When set up properly, rim brakes work great! I have Shimano Ultegra R8000 Road Brake Calipers and love them. But if the pads are worn, the calipers, shift cables, or levers are gummed up or dirty, or if they are not installed correctly, they wont function 100%. So, my thought is before you change them out, have your local bike shop check them out and see if it isnt just a simple fix.

Skye Zultanky: When I hit the brakes the brakes do fully engage , but they still slip. It takes a lot more effort than it should to bring the bike to a full stop. If I downshift and coast it stops with no problem. But if I have to make a quick stop it slides, and that’s when I’m trying to remedy.

Skye Zultanky: My main question is if that’s due to the older brake calipers, or the older shift levers, or something else entirely. It works, just trying to make it better. I have had my LBS take a look at it, and short of replacing parts they’re just not sure.

Rodney Castaldi: Personally, Id remove and thoroughly clean and lubricate the calipers, levers, and wheels, replace all brake cables and housings, and install new high quality pads.

Skye Zultanky: Thanks, do you have a recommendation for pads? I’m still new to all this, with the old style brake calipers that I have do I have to use the rectangular pads or can I use the more modern road brake pad?

Rodney Castaldi: Skye, head down to your local bike shop and bring your pads in with you. The pads either are one piece with the adjustment bar or there will be 1 or 2 tiny screws that remove the pad itself from the adjustment stem. Either way, the LBS should be able to match your needs pretty easily.

Bill Santore: Get rid of those “safety” suicide levers, switch to kool-stop shoes/pads and readjust. Please keep in mind, I did not read all the previous comments. 😎

James Weber: every day commuter bike. You do what is Safest

Benjamin Rene Segat: Clean the wheel where the pads make contact. That might just do it.

Skye Zultanky: Thanks, that was one of the concerns with the wheels that I added. But they are brand new, and I have been keeping the break track very clean. Still sleep seems to slip just slightly, but it did with the previous wheels as well.

Tom Dusky: Get some centerpull brakes modern or retro and some good pads

Tom Rawlinson: I think youve been overtaken by technology. Those brakes probably worked fine on the kind of wheels they were designed for, but modern rims are more slippery. You need modern brakes fitted.

John Mendivil: Mmmm

Ellison Westling: The more true your wheel is the better. With a true wheel, you can set your breaks to within a mm of the rim to make quick contact and add better brake power. Also, steel rims can decrease brake power.

Rob Flanagan: A big part of your poor brake performance is the wheels that are too small for your frame. This extends the necessary reach of the caliper, reducing the mechanical advantage. You can get some Tektro r559 calipers that will work, but they will not really work well, and may or may not be an improvement over what you have. Best option is a new (to you)bike. Id recommend you get something from the 80s or early 90s thats designed to use the 622mm wheels that you have. This frame is designed for 630mm wheels.

Skye Zultanky: I have considered going back to 27” wheels, but I do like what I have on it now. I was looking at longer reach Tektro calipers, I think I need something in the 70 mm+ range, which they do make. My concern was whether they would make much of a difference. I think my current brake problems may be a combination of wheels that weren’t t designed for the bike, and old levers, calipers, and so forth. It’s useable now, but I want to improve it.

Rob Flanagan: You can improve it Im sure. But you have to consider how much youre going to spend. If you shop around for a while Im sure you can find a frame that will suit your needs much better, for a very low price. Those long reach calipers arent exactly cheap considering how little difference they will make by themselves.

Rob Flanagan: For one thing, it looks to me like you would be served better by a frame 2-4cm smaller.

Skye Zultanky: Rob Flanagan yeah, that’s what my local bike shop guy said – “none of it’s cheap and nothing is ever compatible with anything else.” I’m finding that out with several of my older bikes.

Larry Richard Morris: you would need to get either long reach dual pivot or newer bike

Joel Schwaber: You need cartridge pads

Earl Russell: heres one of the best brake pad to use

Kool-Stop Tectonic Cartridge Brake Shoes Multi-Compound

Joe Sandschulte: Earl Russell, the Tectonic cartridge pads included in this also have a carbon specific part. Theres 3 sections: black for alloy rims for dry days, salmon for aggressive conditions (wet days) and the carbon insert. Hes better off purchasing KS continental in salmon.

Earl Russell: Do you really use those extension on the brake levers? if so one of the best things you can do to give you maximum leverage is to use a v-brake lever with those pads that I showed you. those OEM levers on you old Raleigh Record does not give good braking at all, do think about a upright bar conversion with v-brake levers.

Ryan Peterson: I dont understand why so many people are talking about v-brakes in this thread. The fork has no posts to mount v-brakes on, the handlebar diameter is too large to mount v-brake levers on, and v-brake levers are not compatible with the side-pull brake calipers that you have anyway.

Earl Russell: V-Brake levers gives you more leverage since they are long pull and cross levers are also long pull where road levers are short so when using long pull levers on side pull calipers it gives you more power. Give it a try Ive did over 2g conversions like this while being a bicycle mechanic for over 46 yrs.

Ryan Peterson: According to physics, a long pull (v-brake) lever gives you *less* leverage. The brake lever will feel like it is making solid contact but you will be required to squeeze it with much more force to get the same amount of stopping power as with a proper short pull lever.

Tom Rawlinson: Earl Russell – do you mean 2g conversions or 2k?

Earl Russell: over 2000 conversions in my lifetime

Burton Gavin: Its also possible to use V-brake pads with the existing brake calipers or any roadbrake with a cup washer adjustment.

Mahendren Raja:

Disney Gif

Michael Stephen Micek: I changed mine to disk breaks. Work beautifully.

Rob Flanagan: Im sorry they broke.

Michael Stephen Micek: Rob Flanagan Do not have any problems with my disks. I know they will stop in dry or rainy weather. I put them on a Raleigh. My Trek is working fine with the pads

William Radecki: Those brake pads look old. Id replace those and see what happens

Skye Zultanky: They’re actually brand new pads, less than a month old. Just old style.

Rob Flanagan: Best bang for your buck on this bike will probably be to upgrade the pads and cables.

Skye Zultanky: I think that’s what I’m going to start with in the short term, and plan on redoing everything after the summer. I’m in South Florida, as we’re going into rainy season I’ll probably be logging more miles on my bad weather bike.

William Radecki: Didnt know anyone did that

Rob Flanagan: You work in a yuppie shop/area?

William Radecki: Nope

David Olivares: I think the problem is the frame/fork were designed for a larger diameter wheel… The reach is way too long on an already under built brake caliper.

Skye Zultanky: Yes, it seems like that is the consensus. I’m looking at replacing the levers and calipers at this point.

Robert Graves: Skye Zultanky you dont need to do that

David Olivares: Skye Zultanky There is an offset bolt that will bring the caliper closer to the wheel, allowing you to adjust the pads a little higher. There is less flex in that approach than achieving the reach at the end of the adjustment on the calipers.

Scott Moro: If low cost is a priority. Replace cables and pads and lightly sand the brake surface in a small circular motion and very lightly sand the pads. Dont scimp and use cheap pads. Should be awesome. If your not a mechanic, be sure a wrench does it though.

Scott Moro: A mechanic can also lube the callipers, tension the springs and adjust the centre post bolts. Huge improvements.

Skye Zultanky: My LBS mechanic did tension the springs and adjust the bolts recently. The bike originally had had huge goofy reflectors integrated into the brakes that I removed, and i had inadvertently thrown everything off. I like the idea about sanding the brake surface though, because it does fully contact, but still slips when I’m riding and hit the brakes. I think one of the issues is the Amazon special pads that I’m using, so I’m going to try nicer pads and replace the cables in the short term.

Robin Domingo: New cables and pads, clean the rims and enjoy

S Garrett Smith: Upgrade to dual pivot calipers and modern levers w new cables & housing.

Robin Domingo: New brakes will probably brake less, the long reach ones are usually shitty china made

Skye Zultanky: Thank you all very much for the advice, this post has certainly generated more traffic than I expected. I appreciate all of the info, and the kind, civil nature that everyone has maintained (which you don’t often see in some groups. People can certainly hold some strong opinions!) looks like I’m going to upgrade to better pads and cables for a short term fix, but I’ll be switching to quality long reach brakes with modern levers soon. Met a guy at my LBS with an early 80’s Trek that had made the same conversation recently. He said it looked great and he said it performed much better.

Joe Sandschulte: Just an fyi…you have standard reach (~47-57mm) reach brake calipers. Folks today like to call your current calipers long reach. I can tell who wasnt working on bikes in the early 70s- latter 80s here.

S Garrett Smith:

Skye Zultanky: Definitely on the wish list!

S Garrett Smith:

Joe Sandschulte: Hi Skye. The brake calipers look like Weinmann or Dia-Compe standard reach (47-57mm) that work with 27 and 700c wheels. Id look into better levers (Shimano or Tektro) and Kool-Stop Continental or Supra II salmon pads. Change out the cables and housing while your at it. Shimano does manufacture a 47-57mm reach caliper thats an older 105 design that work great.

Nick Weinberger: I have those long reach calipers on my road bike, stock Shimano pads, and Tourney brifters. Im huge and have been really impressed with the stopping power and modulation of them. They do a great job and are a great recommendation. Very reasonably priced as well.

Joe Sandschulte: Nick Weinberger They are not long reach calipers!

Nick Weinberger: Am I using the wrong terminology? Ive got the R451 calipers with a 57mm drop

Joe Sandschulte: Nick Weinberger yep. Traditionally….standard reach 47-57…long reach 55-88. Short reach 39-51.

Nick Weinberger: Thanks!

Robert Graves: Oh god. this thread will go on for days. 1. try to bring the calipers closer to the rim with the barrel adjusters and make sure that quick release lever is set to close, not open. 2. If the calipers arent close after that, retension the cable, have someone hold the calipers closer to the rim , Ive used a toe strap and large C-clamp. This takes a bit of practice if youre not cool enough to own a third hand tool. 3. Get rid of the suicide levers , Even if they do stop okay , youll have a lot less control of the bike in a hard stop with your hands in that position. Thats one reason why they stopped making them. Learn to ride with your hands on the hoods. And when you expect to have to brake hard , be in the drops. This is how the ancient racers did it. 4. To increase hand comfort for #3, try tilting the bars up so that the lower drop part is parallel to the down tube, and re-position the brake levers. Spend a half hour doing this and it will feel like a completely different bike, and you may have less neck and wrist pain. 5. Clean your rims and brake pads with laundry detergent and hot water. lightly sanding the pads is a plus.

Skye Zultanky: Thanks, lots of info, which I appreciate. I’ll read that post in a bit. I did have the bars/ levers a bit higher originally, but couldn’t get used to them, maybe just because I’m not used to the older non-aero levers. Definitely appreciate the info, as I’ll be replacing the cables I do want to make sure they are run correctly.

Robert Graves: Skye Zultanky you will see a HUGE improvement. Its worth it for me to spend a half hour typing all this shit to prevent another rider from crashing and dying. Basic axiom : never run a cable at sharp angles so it will fray, bend , drag, or crimp.

Robert Graves: Whoever cabled your rear brake should be beaten, shot, and dragged . Here, Ill let Dave splain it. You have increased the friction tremendously on your rear brake by cabling it like that. Do it over.

Robert Graves:

Dave Moultons Blog – Dave Moultons Bike Blog – Fashion Faux Pas

Robert Graves: You dont need to buy new brakes, ignore those

Joe Sandschulte: Thats because most contributors on this page havent worked in shops and think YouTube has all the answers. Theres things he needs to do.. cables/housing and get rid of the suicide levers, things worth considering…new pads and calipers and levers.

Robert Graves: oh yeah I know, or , many bike shop mechanics are so young they dont even know about 9-11, much less suicide levers and old sidepulls. Sidenote: I prefer having the quick release on the brake levers, not the calipers, but thats just my thing. Weinmann used to make them in the 70s. If you remove the suicide levers, the cables need to be re-tensioned.

Joe Sandschulte: Robert Graves true to redo cables. Some older shops may even still have non-suicide lever pivot Pina lieing around. I have them for DC and Weinmann.

Robert Graves: looks like the cable for the rear is waaay too short, coming out of the lever at that sharp right angle like that will guarantee your beautiful bike will brake like shit . You can get a whole set of cables for 5 bucks at Wal-Mart (Bell Bike fix fit) and… do it yourself . Be sure to put some GREASE on the cables!!!! Yes you can figure it out , its not rocket science. God that makes me cringe.

Mike Milligan: If you can afford it go to a long reach center pull like dia-compe. Get rid of the levers no matter what you do or at least drop the suicide part. Get the best pads you can and keep the rims clean by wiping with alcohol once a month. The gas yore saving will help pay for all of it.

Robert Graves: Kool Stop Reds are great pads , but Jagwires are okay and a lot cheaper. But the old style pads are fine if theres enough tension to the system.

Skye Zultanky: Great point, that’s what I tell my wife whenever new bike parts show up!

Robert Graves: I hope you have a helmet

Skye Zultanky: Robert Graves oh yes.

Robert Graves: Thank you

Robert Graves: Only last beef I have is putting Aero wheels on a Gorgeous Raleigh like that is so totally Phred… (sigh.)

Skye Zultanky: Sorry! The old wheels were trashed, and I do love these.

Robert Graves: Nothing wrong with those, Im just being a retro-grouch. Its cool nowadays to have words and stuff on your rims.

Robert Graves: please check the headset though, if you can unscrew that top nut by hand, red flag. Does it turn okay? BTW were the old wheels dented? Just checking to make sure the bike wasnt crashed by previous owner. (most people in the 70s were too high on drugs to properly inflate road tires to 90 PSI. This caused rim damage as they jumped curbs to get to protests at Berkley) .

Skye Zultanky: Robert Graves no, everything is tight. No signs of a crash with the old wheels, and I still have them, but the spokes are rusted pretty bad. Would like to rebuild them eventually, nothing wrong except extremely rusty spokes as far as I can see. I don’t think the bike had been ridden much, from what I can tell. Looks like mostly garage wear.

Robert Graves: Skye Zultanky okay cool. pretty sure it came with alloys , worth restoring, then. Yeah what happened back then was tire goes flat, guy graduates college, bike goes in basement for 35 years. They are everywhere here in my town in CT. Heres my 73 SuperCourse, rescued from certain landfill fate. Frame has been ridden unbeleivably hard, but its still got heart . Good news about your Raleigh is youll probably never kill it. (notice the cable routing) .

Robert Graves: ..and the waay more cozy bar tilt.

Skye Zultanky: Robert Graves beautiful! Totally see what you mean about the cables and the bars now. Yeah, my kids are already arguing over who the Raleigh goes to after me. I hope to get another 40 years out of it. Having never had an older bike (at least pre 90’s) I actually prefer the geometry and feel of the Raleigh.

Robert Graves: Oh I think hes got the long reaches because it was probably upgraded to 700 C. (sigh. )

John Beasley: buy expensive pads first.

Robert Graves: Move to China

Robert Graves: dude heres all the info you could possibly ever want. The Great Guru Master, Sheldon Brown (RIP) had like 6 pages on Raleighs alone. They are a bit tricky with parts interchangeability, but good news is your 80s model probably has standard threading.

A Chronology of Raleigh Models

Joe Sandschulte: His 80s Raleigh has all standard English threads. Fork crowns are 26.4/headtube 30.2

Robert Graves: You mean ISO , right? I bet it has like a Sugino BB.

Joe Sandschulte: Robert Graves BB Shell. 1.38 x 24tpi. Headset…see previous comment. ISO…if this,is test. Heres one, what brand name cotter less 3 piece crankset/spindle had a 3 taper in the last 60 yrs. No cheating looking at Sheldon s site or Sutherlands.

Robert Graves: oh please, not here to compete, just trying to help out another rider. Thats one thing I cant stand about bike nerds is the narcissism.

Robert Graves: Another reason I mentioned the threads etc. is it might be prudent to open up that BB to see if theres rust in there. The OP said the wheels were badly rusted, so theres a good chance the BB might need some work too.

Robert Graves: BTW if those sidepulls are Dia Compes, make sure the quick release lever is set to close . Apologies if I said this already.

Skye Zultanky: Robert Graves that’s on the to do list. Just recently replaced the cassette, chain, and did some work to the derailers (35 years of grease had hardened into a rock, so they were stiff.) bottom bracket is going to be very soon. It feels smooth as I’m peddling, but I know that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. There is a sticker on the frame that says “Raleigh sealed bearing” if that means anything.

Robert Graves: That might just mean theres a rubber grommet thing over the standard BB. The cartridge thing really didnt get going until the late 80s. But who knows. Again , the bike is totally worth all the time and effort.

Joe Sandschulte: Robert Graves All I originally mentioned was the fact the bike had std bsa threaded bb and Campy std headset. You come back with talk about ISO. if youre not here to compete then keep it simple. Most folks on here arent so aware of ISO and bikes. Eegadds.

Chuey Jus: better levers will provide much better braking

Timothy Chase: Run super soft brake pads like a trials bike with v-brakes. They require lock up power. Always run new, short, clean brake cables…always

Inspired V-Brake Pads – Bend, OR

Klaus Folberth: running trial brake pads for normal braking doesnt work so well. they wear fast and stink a lot. theyre really only meant for keeping a wheel locked.

Timothy Chase: They do wear fast but its better than not stopping.

Bill Heimann: The brakes themselves flex in the arms and at the pivot points. In addition to the large amount of flex in the levers. New pads, levers, cables and all else is not going to solve this problem. This bike does not have cantilever posts so no linear pull (v) brakes. S Garrett Smith is giving good advise.

Wm Boike: Your Raleigh frame is designed to handle 28 wheels. And the frame is way too big for you. Id look for a used smaller frame set up for 700c wheels and get some brakes designed for the frame. If you really want to keep the frame Tektro brakes are a good option. Tektro has a long reach caliper brake to replace your old ones.

Skye Zultanky: I appreciate the input, just wondering how you’ve determined that the frame is too big for me. I never said what size I am. I’m sure you could make assumptions based on the saddle height, but i tend to run it low off of personal preference. Just curious.

Wm Boike: Skye Zultanky Your Raleigh is a commuter bike and gets you to and from work quite handily. I would however recommend a smaller frame for touring or club rides. The smaller frame would be lighter and feel more lively.

Kása Marty: Start with better pads, like shimano ultegra. the little oval ones, with allen head bolt and silver plastic cover…

Kása Marty: … but in the end, any cheap double pivot, brake will be night an day difference. only really need the front.

Paul Groves: Rear brake, whilst weak, can be useful if you find you need to brake whilst cornering (which is never ideal), less chance of losing control

Kása Marty: There are so many contradictions, in that comment….

Chris Daigle: I agree. Replace the front caliper with a Shimano long reach and the rear pads with better quality pads, since they are likely dry rotten and super hard. Replacing both would also work.

Philip Casanta: Dont waste your time trying to fix the existing set-up it can only be made to work marginal at best. Buy some Tektro Retro road levers.(Rl-340 or similar) and pair that with some long reach modern brakes (R559 or similar). Braking problem solved. These are solutions from Tektro but there are others. I have many times used the Tektro products to solve these very issues in the shop. They work and they are fairly inexpensive.