Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brakes: They Save Your LIfe

When I first changed out Betsy's drop downs, I also took the time to replace her brake levers.  I had effectively gone from a long pull brake lever to a standard pull brake lever.  The type of mechanical advantage that is used in long pull brakes is perfect for the center pull cantilever brakes that I have on but the Standard Pull (or Short Pull) do not have the same advantage, therefore, the margin of error on adjusting these brakes is a good deal more slim, in almost every way.  Standard pull brake levers are perfect for the side pull cantilever brakes that are standard on most road cycles.  However, in potential increased load on a touring bike requires a braking system that will have a bit more stopping power, and a brake lever that pull the extra length you need for these center pull and side pull cantilever brakes.   This has been something of a pain for me as I have had to ensure the tension was perfect, particularly after installing new brake lines which will tend to stretch a little.

As I have documented in prior posts, using the barrel screw to adjust brake tension after you have run your new lines is definitely an option.  This, however, becomes increasingly impractical if your brakes are not wearing perfectly even (a result of not setting them properly) or your wheel is even slightly out of true.  Even if these conditions are met, you still have the problem of not having enough lever to really get a good stop on your bike.  It should be said that there are items (called a "Travel Agent") that you can place in line with the cable to take up the additional slack by using a standard pull linear brake lever  I have tried, like a mad man to avoid these issues, and there are many people who are able to make it work, I have not.  So, this weekend, I removed the Shimano 105 levers and replaced them with the levers that came with Betsy.  There is a noticeable difference in braking almost immediately as I am now using the appropriate type of lever for the type of brakes mounted on my bike.

Be cautious of these issues when you are changing out levers to reduce weight or even to something that is more aesthetically pleasing.  At the end of the day, the only thing between you and a car door is those two levers by your hands.

Just for some further reading, take a look at Sheldon Brown's website regarding cantilever brake geometry, very informative.

No comments:

Post a Comment