MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

"SS" BICYCLE BUILD - INTRO

"SS" COMPONENT - CHOICES

CONVERT A "SS" WHEEL

POSITIONING "SS" HUBS

"SS" CRANK/RING SET

ASSEMBLING "SS" FRAME

INSTALL - CHOICES

INSTALL - WHEELS/CRANK

INSTALL - BAR & SADDLE

INSTALL - BRAKE CALLIPERS

INSTALL - ADJUST BRAKES

RIDING THE "SINGLE SPEED"

 

CUSTOMIZED BICYCLES

BICYCLES OF CANADA

 

  

INSTALLING "SS" BRAKE CALLIPERS

Before you decide to go, you had better be able to stop.  Properly functioning brakes are an absolute must, in my mind, if safety is to be taken into consideration.  Though I have seen lots of pictures of Fixed Gear bikes with one or even no brake installed, the idea of not having a good set of brakes at one's disposal in today's traffic is silly.  Of course, this is only my opinion but if you think as I do and wish to have a reliable set of brakes to, well, rely on, read on...

There are different brake styles to consider when selecting which ones you want to install on your customized bicycle.  Center-pull or Side-Pull?  Long reach or short?  Hex nut or recessed?  But little matters when it comes to what to select as long as function is foremost in one's mind when choosing a decent set of callipers.

In the case of the cream coloured Sekine SHC270 SS, the focus was to retain original appearance, or as close to it as possible.  With that in mind, the original issue Center-Pull Shimano "Tourney" brakes were selected.  The look is perfect from a period and model correct point of view.  Not only do the callipers have Old School or vintage appeal but so too do the different brake cable guide brackets that allow the system to function.  In my mind, these Old School brackets add to the vintage appearance of the bicycle while still allowing function to rule.

The center-pull callipers, though Old School in design, work well enough and do a pretty good job of slowing the bicycle down.  The same callipers were selected for the blue SHC270.  Once again, the thought was that the callipers add to the vintage appeal while still doing an adequate job of stopping the bicycle.

The side-pull calliper succeeded the center-pull design.  The side-pull calliper is easier to rebuild, install and adjust than is its Old School center-pull cousin.  The side-pull eliminates the need for weight increasing brake cable guide brackets.  The design is more efficient?  However, I cannot honestly say that the calliper style actually stops the bicycle better.  After riding lots of vintage road bicycles, under test and season use conditions, my opinion is that there are good and bad sides to both center and side-pull stoppers.  For example, one of the best brake sets I have used for actual stopping ability has got to be the very antiquated Mafac Racer center-pull.

I would not choose to use the antiquated center-pull brake on a multi geared bicycle, such as a "Ten Speed", unless restoration limits required me to do so.  I don't know about most of you, but I can go a lot faster on a "Ten Speed" than I can on a "Single Speed".  And because I can go faster, I want to use the best brakes I can  both afford and get my hands on.  Of course, since most of my bicycles are Street Restored, not "Single Speed" Converted, I am pretty much stuck with original issue stoppers.  But when I build up a "Single Speed" for myself, I seek out the best callipers that I can fit to the bicycle without altering the frame set.  And I do so because most, if not all, of my "Single Speed" ride time is spent in city traffic.  Rare is it that I am riding fast and competing with traffic at the same time.

When looking for callipers of preference, I usually go with the more modern side-pull design.  The side-pull is easier to install and adjust.  One could probably argue that the brake style stops the bicycle better but, from where I sit, I have witnessed no huge difference in slow down potential between the center and side-pull designs.

However, I am a guy with fairly good size hands and my grip is strong.  It is easy for me to reach the vintage drop bar brake lever and a near non-issue to apply the brakes, thanks to my hand strength.  My guess is that such is not the case for all riders.  A smaller woman, with hands smaller and weaker than mine, might have a problem with reach and effort required to pull vintage levers.  If hand size and strength are issues, find and install a set of what I call "light action" brake callipers The "light action" calliper is designed to optimize efficiency by reducing the amount of pressure one must apply to achieve the same or better stopping results.  This will do nothing to accommodate reach, but it will help with the strength aspect of the consideration.  Address reach by choosing a set of light action style brake levers.  Not only do they offer a solution to the reach problem but they also help to address the strength issue as well.

Sadly, most of these "light action" callipers are of recessed nut design and will not fit the older style frame sets, unless the frame is permanently altered.  It is possible to modify the Old School frame set to accept the modern recessed head fastener but to date I have not yielded to the temptation.  I do not like to permanently alter a vintage road bicycle's frame set.

What ever decision you make with respect to which calliper style to use, installation and maintenance are pretty much standard for most vintage road bicycle brake systems.  I say most because one brake system is very different.

Installing most vintage brake callipers is a simple task.  Slide the mounting bolt into the frame set, install all necessary washers, be they cupped or flat and screw on the hex head or socket head nut.  Do your best to hold the calliper centered over the wheel rim as you tighten the calliper mounting nut up.  That's it - calliper installed.  However, if you want the brakes to work, time must be spent tuning or adjusting both the calliper and cable length.  And that is not necessarily a straight forward task.

NEXT - ADJUSTING "SS" BRAKE CALLIPERS

 

 

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