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Sunday, January 10, 2010
Easy and cheap brake upgrade
Side pull caliper brakes are just about the worst, performance wise, that you can have on a bike. Apart from expensive quality calipers found on good road bikes, they are found on many mass produced bikes since they are inexpensive to manufacture. Stopping with these brakes will eventually happen but it could be a lot better. If you have steel rims, it's even worst in wet conditions.
Short of having brake bosses welded to your frame for V-type calipers or a disc brake set-up, your options are limited. It could be cheaper to replace the entire bike. But if you want to keep your current bike, you have another option. You can purchase inexpensive brake pads for V-type brake calipers for around $10 and install them on your existing calipers. The extra surface on the pads will give you more grip and help you stop a bit faster, simple physics. If you decide to spend more money on better pads, then do so. The better pads do work better, I highly recommend Koolstop for having used them often with great results. If you have steel rims, I urge you to replace them with alloy ones to get better braking power in wet condition, unless you live in the desert then kindly disregard my last comment.
I've also provided a close up shot of the pad with the myriad of washers in the proper order. Odds are at least one of you will take everything apart without noting the proper order. It's ok, we've all done it at least once! To find out how to adjust the brakes, please consult my previous article on the subject here: http://www.howtofixbikes.ca/2006/07/by-popular-demand-adjusting-brakes-yes.html