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I need more braking power!(11 posts)

I need more braking power!Matno
Apr 2, 2003 12:35 AM
I went for a quick ride on the mountain bike yesterday and was blown away by how much easier the braking was. I know, comparing single pivot road brakes to Avid discs isn't really fair, but I REALLY have to honk on my road brakes to get them to slow me down quickly. I'm currently using single pivot 105's, which are admittedly outdated. (But they're nicer than the 600's I just replaced. Similar braking, but the 105's have a MUCH lighter return spring. Those old 600 springs were killer).

Would it be worth the cost of an upgrade to get new calipers with a double pivot? (Maybe just in the front).

Or could I get similar results by getting softer brake pads? I'm not worried about increased wear since my last set of pads still looks good after 10 years (of not riding enough...) Mine aren't very grippy, so if anyone has recommendations for better pads, let me know. Thanks!
re: I need more braking power!Juanmoretime
Apr 2, 2003 1:59 AM
A couple of thoughts.

10 year old pads have to had hardened which will give you much less braking power. You wouldn't notice the braking power deteriorate, since it would be very gradual over time.

Yes, dual pivots do work much better. Rim technology has also come a long way on bikes to assist the brake in stopping. Rim manufacturers are machining the brake surface to give it a much more aggessive surface for the brake to grab.

re: I need more braking power!DougSloan
Apr 2, 2003 7:49 AM
Dual pivots provide more leverage, as the caliper arms are effectively longer.

New pads might help.

Rim surfaces can make a huge difference, too; make sure they are clean, and if not, remove the tires and clean them with a brillo pad. Newer machined surfaces are better.

Check to see that your cables arent' kinked or rusted. You might be wasting power pulling through worn or gunked up cables. I would begin by checking or replacing cables.

I guess I'll try...Matno
Apr 2, 2003 9:55 AM
new pads first, then new calipers (or maybe just one in the front). It's not like I can't stop, but I really can't stop as fast as I would like to in traffic.

My rims are relatively new. I bought them new last year, and I've probably only ridden them 200 miles. They're Mavic MA3's and they are clean as a whistle. I doubt that's the problem.

Cables are all less than 2 weeks old, so I know that's not the problem. In fact, I can squeeze the brakes with relatively little resistance. The problem is that I have to squeeze them really hard AFTER they contact the rims, before any real braking starts. The problem with being on a married-student-with-kids budget is that I'm always looking for ways to fix/improve things without spending any money!

Dual-pivot up frontrockit
Apr 2, 2003 11:01 AM
will improve your braking. I have a used Ultegra front brake caliper that I can sell you cheap. If interested email me at
re: I need more braking power!ukiahb
Apr 2, 2003 8:00 AM
I have 105 dual pivot brakes on one bike and they work great and the return springs are not overly powerful...also have the current Campagnolo dual pivot front/single pivot rear on another bike and that works really well I think just changing your front brake to 105 dual pivot would work fine.
May want to check your cables.dzrider
Apr 2, 2003 8:09 AM
I've set up some bikes with mountain bike brakes and drop handlebars. Braking from the hoods or drops requires lots of hand strength with mtb brakes. From that experience I believe the big difference in braking power is in the greater amount of hand strength I can apply to motorcyle style levers compared to road bike levers. A sluggish cable would add to the amount of hand strength needed to close the brakes.
Single pivot must be the culprit...Fez
Apr 2, 2003 7:31 PM
You can read all the tech stuff on how a dual pivot provides stronger braking power and how pads and machined rim surfaces make for such a strong brake that tire grip actually becomes your limiting factor on new road bikes.

I can offer this anecdotal experience:

Until recently, I still had an old bike I bought new in 1991. It was setup with Shimano 600 Ultegra single pivot brakes (I think the bike shop screwed me because Ultegra Dual Pivots were avail for nearly a year, but they gave me old stock brakes). Wheels were Mavic Open4CD (no machined rim surface).

I had lots of instances of riding in traffic and down hills where I could not stop fast enough. I think I may have lightly rear ended some cars in traffic because of the poor stopping performance.

In comparison, a bike w/ current Ultegra dual pivot with Mavic Open Pros (machined surface) has never given me any close calls with stopping distance. Note that I can also ride the newer bikes at faster speeds than the older one and still have shorter stopping distances.
If you want to try dual pivots -El Kabong
Apr 3, 2003 5:26 AM
Chucksbikes has some very nice Tektro dual-pivots for $35 a pair - basically Ultegra clones for half the price. I got some and they are very well finished and work just fine.

El K.
Apr 3, 2003 8:05 AM
I've been riding those calipers for a year now, and have no complaints. I did polish off the Tektro logo, and swapped the pads for red Kool-Stops (hey, it's rainy here in PA).
The stock pads weren't bad, though, and aside from a drop of oil on the springs (otherwise they'll get creaky), they've needed no special attention.
re: I need more braking power!Aging biker
Apr 4, 2003 6:24 AM
I upgraded from single to double pivot DA. It made a huge difference in stopping power. Go for the upgrade!