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New Brakes, Old Bike?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:02 am
by senator52
I have an old Repco Superlight, with the original brakes, just been given the bike to last me til i finish uni. Well it seems that these brakes, dont work :? rather concerned at the concept of not being able to stop and so have chosen to give the bike a break til they function properly. I have a couple of questions.

1. The part of the original brakes which need replacing is the spring, the brakes will clamp, but will not release...can i get a replacement set of these at the LBS?

2. If i am unable to source new springs, i have been considering the idea of buying a new set of brakes. Will these new brakes be compatible with the old bike? I cant think of any problem, should i replace the cables simultaneously? If i was to buy some Campag Mirage brakes (probikekit) there shouldnt be a problem right with the brake levers (which i think are old school Shimano)?

Sorry for a lot of questions :roll: but i am restoring the bike back to the level where i can enjoy riding for the next two years til i get a new steed and i think brakes would probably be useful at some point in 2yrs of riding :wink:

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:31 am
by europa
The old, single pivot, side arm caliper brakes weren't particularly good when they were new. I'm looking at replacing the diacompes on my Europa - they make the sides of cars look strangely inviting :shock:

The easy way is to walk into your bike shop and buy a pair of new, dual pivot brakes. These will work a darned sight better than the originals ever did and they'll cost about $45 for the pair. You can get them in black or bare alloy too, if colour is important to you.

Rather than a bolt that passes completely through the fork or rear stay and a nut that goes on the other side, the modern system uses a threaded sleeve that comes in from the other side to the brakes and screws onto the bolt - it looks neater but you need to drill out the hole on the opposite of the fork/stay to take the sleeve. You can use a front brake on the rear - the front brake has a longer threaded shaft than the rear, a shaft that's long enough to pass through the rear stay allowing you to secure it with a nut as per the originals. For the front though, I believe you're stuck with drilling out the offside hole.

New brakes, new cables, new pads ... you'll scare yourself :D If your current brakes were in working properly, I'd suggest doing these first but realistically, the old brakes were rubbish when they were new, so anything you do to them now is not going to turn them into good brakes.

When I get around to doing the Europa's brakes, I'm going to fit aero levers as well (the cable goes under the bar tape) - reckon she'll look really swish :wink:


oh, getting bits to repair the old brakes may prove problematic because they're old, but it should be possible with a bit of perserverance. :wink:

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:05 am
by senator52
Sounds like a fairly major procedure, drilling thru the frame. For the $45 or so, is it just unbranded dual pivots? Are they worth the cash or should i go for shimano/campag stuff? Will cables set me back about $20 or so and do i need anything else to convert the brakes, or new brake levers as well for the new system?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 6:19 am
by sogood
No need for Shimano or Campagnolo. Tektro is a pretty good 3rd party brand for brakes.

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:07 am
by europa
Tektro is the brand I was referring to. Thanks sogood - and thanks for the feedback on them.

Cables shouldn't be expensive and your current levers should do the job - I'm changing my levers only when I have spare money and for appearance sake. The calipers though, will be done as soon as practical.

Have a look at them in the shop before worrying too much about fitting them.


Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:09 am
by LuckyPierre
If it's just the springs, I can send you some - if you can tell me what brakes your Superlite has (or send me a photo).
The springs shouldn't really be a problem - have you checked that the cables aren't sticking and making it look the springs aren't working. It's easy to do - just release the cables from the clamps on the brakes themselves and see if the springs push the arms away from the rim. New brake cables will cost approx. $20 for both inner cables and the outer cable sheaths and a drop or two of Prolink down the outers before you insert the inners will work magic. It's usually not worth trying to lubricate old cables, because they will work OK for a while, then just stick again.
ps. the Retro forum is waiting for a photo of your Superlite! :wink:

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:12 am
by mikesbytes
It may just be the quality of the brake pads.

Burn plenty of Glycogen
training log

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:03 am
by Mulger bill
Ran Tektro cantis on MTBs for years with no dramas, thenewone came with Tektro dual pivot sidepulls, I'm happy. But...

Being a compulsive fiddler, can anyone recommend good replacement pads for them?

Sorry I can't offer better advice senator52, no idea about roadie stuff less than 25 years old :oops: Try Pierre and Mikes advice before buying new if you have to do frame mods though.


Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 11:36 am
by Bnej
Google says you can still get single pivot side pull calipers, so you could get new ones.

They appear to be available either as a light weight caliper, or as BMX calipers.

You might want something like this: ... B000C192LA

I think that ought to be compatible?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 12:04 pm
by sogood
When it comes to quality pads, the net opinion is with Kool-Stop Salmons. These are all weather pads with particular strength in the wet.

The hard part is that I have never seen them locally but it's easy to order them from the US on eBay (approx $25 for 2 pairs).

At the same time, there's a small group of highly experienced senior riders who poo poos them on the Usenet. This group says that Campagnolo's pads are the best, and beats KS-S hands down in the wet.

I have yet to try Campag pads (they are next), but with the KS-S, I am very happy. Unlike the pads that came with the bike, these just don't trap any alu shreds and road gravels. They stop the bike well too.

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:45 pm
by mikesbytes
As per Sogood, I'm going to try the Kool-Stop pads next time.

In regards to Shimano, the quality Shimano pads have good stopping power, the cheap Shimano pads are complete crap.

Burn plenty of Glycogen
training log

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:19 pm
by LuckyPierre
mikesbytes wrote: ... the quality Shimano pads have good stopping power ...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks this - I've never really felt let down by my Shimano brake pads. Aadmittedly, I put Dura Ace ones on (becuase like cables and chains, it's an area where Dura Ace doesn't cost that much more than the others).
I have to agree - the discussion in most forums indicates that the KoolStop Salmon's are very highly regarded.

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:43 pm
by sogood
There's some talk that KS-S wears the alu brake track down a little faster due to its material mix. But I get the impression it's not that bad. In any case, the wear to date has been far less than those original pads that trapped alu and grit. With those FB trapping, I was visibly seeing and hearing track wear day in and day out. Just horrible!

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:53 pm
by europa
You lot are missing the original question - getting eighties brakes to do more than simply slow the bike down (though I gather they aren't even doing that at the moment). Pads and cables will not significantly overcome the problems of those old single pivot designs. Even the centrepulls of the era were pretty much useless - we only remember them with fondness because they were all that was available then. New pads and cables will not make those old brakes any better than ghastly.

There is a modern alternative without forking out for big budget, modern groupsets and that is the Tekto, dual pivot brakes that, at least here in Adelaide, are readily available. He's not looking for a bandaid that'll get him through the next couple of months, he's after something to last him two years and to be honest, I believe the answer is to upgrade his brakes. At $45 it's cheap insurance and fears about 'modifying his frame'? For heavens sake, it's widening and existing hole - not F1 engineering, and may not even be needed. Of course, he can source some springs, buy some cables, attempt to put the pads you're talking about into his current brakes, but they won't perform any better than they used to and as someone who is riding with these brakes at the moment, GET RID OF THEM.


Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 5:07 pm
by senator52
The problem with the brakes definately resides with the springs and not the pads, however i am thinking that maybe my best option is to replace the brakes entirely. I have already been to one of the bike shops in the city on the way home from uni and they dont even stock any brakes, so i will have to keep looking around til i find a shop that stocks them...still would like advice, since i have very limited knowledge, especially in relation to the possible frame modification, i am not quite sure atm what it entails?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 5:12 pm
by mikesbytes
senator52 wrote:The problem with the brakes definately resides with the springs and not the pads, however i am thinking that maybe my best option is to replace the brakes entirely. I have already been to one of the bike shops in the city on the way home from uni and they dont even stock any brakes, so i will have to keep looking around til i find a shop that stocks them...still would like advice, since i have very limited knowledge, especially in relation to the possible frame modification, i am not quite sure atm what it entails?

It could be as simple as the nut that holds them to the frame is done up too tight. I also try giving them a bit of a lubing, perhaps they are sticking. Don't get lube on the wheel, whatever you do

Burn plenty of Glycogen
training log

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:19 pm
by senator52
Ok, took the old brakes off, atm im thinking ill probably just replace 'em, just wanting to know if the holes in the frame (do they have a proper name) for mounting the brakes, are still compatible with new dual pivot brakes.

Front: 30mm Deep
8mm Diameter

Back: 20mm Deep
8mm Diameter

Also the LBS said i could get unbranded dual pivot's for $70 the pair, and ill will need to buy cables and bar tape on top of that. Do you think i can do better on the net? I can't find a site which sells Tektro brakes, nor a nearby bike store. Thanks.

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:22 pm
by europa
Mate, I was definitely quoted $45 for a pair of brakes. I'll be down at the lbs tomorrow (or early next week, got a wooden boat festival on this weekend) to buy some bits for the bmx my son is rebuilding. I'll check then (need to for my own build anyway) and I'll look into frame holes and all that stuff. Let's hope I don't get any nasty shocks :wink:


Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:20 pm
by senator52
Been cruising round on the net, looking for some dual-pivots, best deal i can find is on probikekit for Campag 2005 Mirage or 2007 (i think???) Xenon. Since i have no experience with the italian manufacturer, do i need campag specific cables, and will they work with my old brake levers? Or will i have to look elsewhere, so far a search around Perth has been unsuccessful, tips on a good shop would be helpful if available. Thanks.

Ps. Looking at new bartape from probikekit too, the red Deda or Cinelli, that will be fine for putting cables under right?

Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 11:12 pm
by McPete
I've got the exact same DiaCompe brakes on my Apollo III. They're on the wrong side of "almost useful" at the moment.

My dad is talking about re-doing the brake cables, pads and levers (I think I might see if I can squeeze in some aero levers too!), but I'm not sure these former "duck's guts" of brakes had any guts to begin with. So I've been pondering getting new brakes on the old warhorse. I'm not entirely clear on what sort of brakes are being proposed, are these simmilar to what you had in mind?:

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 9:31 am
by europa
No those V brakes, a variation on cantilever brakes and need two posts brazed to your downtubes to pivot on. They are brilliant brakes but you won't get them on your bike without modifying the frame.

Just walk into any decent bike shop, and tell them you want to change your brakes. They should have something on the shelves or in a drawer that look like any modern caliper brake, either a no-name or Tektro or something. At a glance, they'll look like the old brakes, but if you look closely, you'll see they have two pivots, one which passes through the frame and a second one, offset. This results in a more powerful braking force and is the standard type of brake on racing style bikes (have a look at any new bike and you'll see what I mean).

Of course, you could fork out a lot more money and get Tiagra level or higher, but I don't know that it's worth it - they'll work better but you'll have to pay for it.

The important thing to check is the 'drop', the distance from the mounting pivot of the brakes to the brake pads themselves. Basically, this is checking that the brake pads can be set so that they make contact with the rim of your wheels and this is really a 'suck it and see' job. There might be more technical ways of doing it but to be honest, I think your best bet is to take your bike to a shop or five, and just see what they have and what it looks like on or next to your bike.

New cables and pads will help, but as you've observed, using those old style brakes at their best when new, felt like trying to squeeze blood out of a brick ... hard, non-responsive and not horribly effective.