MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

DAMAGE - INTRO

DAMAGE - DERAILLEURS

DAMAGE - CRANK & RINGS

DAMAGE - SPOKES

DAMAGE - PEDALS

DAMAGE - SIDE STANDS

DAMAGE - BRAKE LEVERS

BRAKE CALLIPERS

DAMAGE - POST & STEM

DAMAGE - WHAT ELSE???

 

 

COMPONENT DAMAGE - BRAKE LEVERS

Brake levers are one of those components that stick way out there, inviting damage with every mishap that a vintage road bicycle experiences.  Most old road bikes will sport brake lever damage of some kind.  Because the levers stick so far out, they are prone to coming into contact with a variety of objects, including the stucco or brick walls that the bicycle will have been leaned against in days gone by.  This Concord Europa was in very nice condition, except for the scratched up brake lever.  Too bad.

Because the brake levers are so exposed, they are horribly subject to coming into contact with other things.  The levers can be scratched up simply by carelessly laying a bicycle down on the ground.  A crash is almost always likely to impact a brake lever in some negative way.  If a bicycle leaning against a wall or fence begins to slide, the lever takes a hit.  Slightly scratched up levers are incredibly common finds on vintage road bicycles.  Sometimes the scratches can be sanded and then polished away, leaving nary a mark.  These French Mafac levers of the mid seventies were badly scuffed up, sporting some pretty deep scratches.  With a half hour's effort, they polished up beautifully!  However, if the levers in question has been anodized, as was the case with these Shimano Dura-Ace AX levers, forget the polish away thing.  Even the one tiny scratch present will remain forever unless I go to the trouble of polishing off all of the anodized plating.  The levers bear this blemish even today.

Though I have run across many bicycles with a broken brake levers, the only one I recall clearly was the left lever mounted on my early nineties Pinarello Trevisio.  The Pinarello's lever had been repaired but it looked awful.  And it did not really work all that well, either.  I had to go to the trouble and expense of replacing the lever sometime after I had purchased the bike.

Bent brake levers are not all that uncommon, however; a slightly bent lever will still do its job.  That said, I have seen a few bikes with levers that are bent so badly that they would not function.  These I would consider to be broken even though they are still, more or less, intact.

Most brake levers are made either of chrome plated steel or an aluminum alloy of some kind.  Aluminum is the most common choice for a vintage road bicycle.  Aluminum is relatively soft and easily scratched or gouged.  Also, aluminum does not like to be bent.  And, of even greater importance,  bent back into its original shape.  Aluminum, unlike good old steel, is not flexible and will likely form a hairline crack in the bend area.  The long and short of a badly bent brake lever is replace it.

Does a badly bent or Busted lever point to other concerns?  Absolutely!  In my opinion, a brake lever has to be banged pretty hard to bend or break it.  If you come across a badly bent or broken brake lever, look else where for other signs of bending.  The bars, or even the steering stem, might be bent.  What about the frame set itself?  Again, a situation of high impact at the brake lever, can transfer itself to others parts of the bicycle and you need to be aware of these things.

I never super tighten my brake levers.  Firstly, doing so will only gouge the handlebars.  Do not tighten the brake lever clamp so tight that the lever cannot be twisted on the bars.  Leave a bit of movement but only a bit.  If the you do crash the bicycle, the lever will swivel enough to prevent the damage from traveling further into the structure of the bicycle.

NEXT- COMPONENT DAMAGE - CALLIPERS

 

 

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