Road brake caliper recommendations

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Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:11 pm

Hi, wanting some better brakes for my wife's bike as she struggles to control it under brakes. Merida 905 with Merida Pro branded calipers and Ultegra 6700 levers. I haven't ridden it but it definitely feels spongy with lots of cable friction.

Are there any tricks short of new calipers? Cables might do a little but probably not much. I am thinking of 6800 brakes which sound a good deal better.
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by BNA » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:24 pm

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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby HappyHumber » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:24 pm

Better pads. Cheaper/generic/OEM branded calipers (more often than not made by Tektro) tend to come with pith poor padth that wear fast and grip atrociously
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby Nobody » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:41 am

Like HH said, probably best to try better brake pads first. Anything that isn't a cartridge pad is usually rubbish. Some pads that are good value for money from my experience are Kool Stop dual compound, Lifeline Professional (Wiggle) and Clarks triple compound.

Probably worth replacing the entire brake cable with a quality cable, paying attention to routing.

The caliper probably won't make a lot of difference.

In the end, the gains from these may only be marginal. If you really want to fix this problem, convert to a 180mm disc on the front. :)
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:27 am

hehe, yeah disc conversion isn't quite in the budget but it would fix the problem. :D

This is what they look like (not mine)
Image

It is a cartridge pad, but there seems to be a bit of compression in it, as well as a bit of flex in the caliper arms.
The cables are internally routed so that would be a pain in the rear to change, and everything is brand new so I am surprised at how ordinary it is; there are a few reviews on line of the bike suggesting that the brakes are alright, but that's not our experience.
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby open roader » Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:15 am

Assuming alloy braking surface :-

Clean the brake tracks with acetone or metho and wipe away all excess - use only virgin /clean lint free cloth pref. cotton for best absorbancy do not not re-use any used part of the cloth.

Slide out the brake blocks from the holders and sand the braking interface with some wet and dry paper maybe 600 grit.

Clean the the brake block interfaces with acetone or metho and wipe dry all excess and replace into holders.

Re-set the holders against the brake tracks - forget about toe in for now, just maximise the brake interface to brake track surface areas.

Ride and test.......
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby Blakeylonger » Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:20 am

Compressionless brake housing. (Odyssey / Yokozuna reaction etc)
Dura-ace 7900/9000 or ultegra 6700/6800 calipers.
Koolstop salmon pads.

If the merida brakes are designed with classic caliper leverage, they'll have more travel and less power when used with current "hidden cable" shimano or any sram levers. They'd be fine with campy, or 6600/7800/5600 and earlier. Not always an issue, but with weaker hands it's exacerbated.
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:30 am

Thanks for the input guys. Everything is new so it is all clean, shouldn't need to de-grit pads or rims or anything. And that wouldn't address the cable friction or sponginess.
I already adjusted the pad position so they sit flat on the rim, they were pretty bad from the shop.

Part of it would be hand strength as a limitation, so the more mechanical advantage we can get the better.

Will see if we can get it to the shop for assessment tomorrow, otherwise it's online shopping time and DIY work :)
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:50 am

HappyHumber wrote:Better pads. Cheaper/generic/OEM branded calipers (more often than not made by Tektro) tend to come with pith poor padth that wear fast and grip atrociously

Hmm, they seem very similar to a Tektro R540:
Image
Maybe pads and cables will be enough. But I'd rather not buy pads and then find the calipers still aren't great...
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby jacks1071 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:53 pm

MattyK wrote:
HappyHumber wrote:Better pads. Cheaper/generic/OEM branded calipers (more often than not made by Tektro) tend to come with pith poor padth that wear fast and grip atrociously

Hmm, they seem very similar to a Tektro R540:
Image
Maybe pads and cables will be enough. But I'd rather not buy pads and then find the calipers still aren't great...


Those calipers and the standard pads are fine, I've assembled heaps of bikes with them and have never swapped the pads out on a new set.

OP's wife might need to shim the levers in so she can get a better pull on them if she has little hands??
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby warthog1 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:35 pm

MattyK wrote:Hi, wanting some better brakes for my wife's bike as she struggles to control it under brakes. Merida 905 with Merida Pro branded calipers and Ultegra 6700 levers. I haven't ridden it but it definitely feels spongy with lots of cable friction.

Are there any tricks short of new calipers? Cables might do a little but probably not much. I am thinking of 6800 brakes which sound a good deal better.


Apparently 6700 levers or calipers have a different pull ratio to 6600. I have two bikes with 6700 brifters. One is a complete 6700 groupset the other is 6700 brifters with a 6600 groupset. The bike with the 6700 calipers bakes significantly better than the one with 6600 calipers. I reckon therefore calipers do make a difference. Can you try the calipers off one of your bikes and see if braking is improved?
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:23 pm

jacks1071 wrote:Those calipers and the standard pads are fine, I've assembled heaps of bikes with them and have never swapped the pads out on a new set.

Experiences in a few online reviews seem to vary; several are consistent with our experience: mushy and poor power.
OP's wife might need to shim the levers in so she can get a better pull on them if she has little hands??

We have the 10mm shims in already, reach (from the drops) is fine with those. Though the actuation from the hoods is still a bit tricky for her. Hence, more power out of a different caliper might be of benefit.

Caliper swap would be a good diagnostic (I have Shimano R451 with Ultegra pads on mine, which are great - smooth and firm), will try that.
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby m@ » Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:26 pm

Don't make the mistake of thinking Tektro==junk... The R559 on the front of my SS is so good I just might never get around to installing the rear...
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:29 pm

I wasn't hoping to make that link, but the 6800 calipers have a different mechanism with more leverage so should provide an extra step up in performance.
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby open roader » Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:40 pm

Thanks for the input guys. Everything is new so it is all clean, shouldn't need to de-grit pads or rims or anything.


This was a base point suggestion before changing / buying another part. I still say clean all the contact points as a cheap starting point.

I found Ultegra 6700 had the most powerful braking of any gruppo on alloy rim wheels, even more bite than Super Record 11........ just regular 6700 dual pivot calipers with regualr 6700 levers and regular Shimano pads.........
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:43 pm

Closer inspection shows the Merida pads aren't the same as the pads in the Tektro picture....
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby jacks1071 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:01 pm

MattyK wrote:
jacks1071 wrote:Those calipers and the standard pads are fine, I've assembled heaps of bikes with them and have never swapped the pads out on a new set.

Experiences in a few online reviews seem to vary; several are consistent with our experience: mushy and poor power.
OP's wife might need to shim the levers in so she can get a better pull on them if she has little hands??

We have the 10mm shims in already, reach (from the drops) is fine with those. Though the actuation from the hoods is still a bit tricky for her. Hence, more power out of a different caliper might be of benefit.

Caliper swap would be a good diagnostic (I have Shimano R451 with Ultegra pads on mine, which are great - smooth and firm), will try that.


I can assure you there is nothing wrong with those brakes however for sure Ultegra level will provide more power IF you were pulling in the lever hard enough to actually flex them... Put some Ultegra level pads in there which might help. That and some hand strength exercises for your Mrs. Failing that, put her on a flat bar with hydraulic disks...

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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:28 am

Ultegra pads (borrowed off my roadie) installed last night, and cable runs tidied up (had to adjust the levers on the bars too).

Feels much better on the floor, still some friction in the rear brake though. Will find out soon how it rides.

Already have a flat bar with mini v brakes that she's never had a problem with, I thinking of it is the ergonomics of drop levers for small hands.
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby rjk » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:20 pm

i swapped out tektro's that i was never happy with for ultegra's.

I almost put myself over the bars the first time i used them, much better braking and more modulation, i did it myself, so i know the cables and outers were exactly the same.

Once you go with ultegras you will never go back
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:33 am

I had a quick ride on my wife's (now with Ultegra pads) as well as on my bike (now with the Merida's pads swapped in).
Her's was probably a little stronger in that comparison, but not a massive difference (just a little squirt up the street though on a bike that doesn't fit me). But that's with my hand size and strength.

Will probably still go the Ultegra 6800 calipers...
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:17 pm

Finally found some 6800 calipers at a good price (thanks Dominic!)

Felt good on a test ride to me, will see what the wife thinks soon

Anyone want some black and white calipers?
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby MattyK » Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:53 pm

6800 brakes got a big thumbs up today. Have some new cables on order because I'd cut them shirt for a smooth run, but the entry point on the shimano caliper is lower so they need another inch or so of length...
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby jaythefordman » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:19 pm

MattyK wrote:6800 brakes got a big thumbs up today. Have some new cables on order because I'd cut them shirt for a smooth run, but the entry point on the shimano caliper is lower so they need another inch or so of length...


Yep, the biggest thing I noticed with my new Ultegra 6800 equipped bike was how much of a stellar leap the brakes were over my old steed. Thumbs up!
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Re: Road brake caliper recommendations

Postby KGB » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:27 am

I still would have cleaned the rim and sanded the pads, even if they are new. An oily coating on the rim (and therefore the pads too) is not uncommon and would give poor braking. Upgrading the pads is always good too - so what if it doesn't make a significant difference, pads wear out over time so having a spare set is always handy.

Glad its sorted though. Sound like the oem manufacturers aren't up to date with shimanos latest lever design.
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