MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

 

SITE INDEX   FINDING   BICYCLES   WORK SHOP   TRADING   WHAT'S NEW?

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 CALLIPERS

Brake calipers are in a fairly protected position on a vintage road bicycle and rarely experience crash damage - right?  Well, the callipers are somewhat protected all right, but they do get damaged from time to time.  This applies primarily to the side pull brake calliper.

In my opinion, the side pull brake calliper has an inherent flaw.  The arm that the brake cable and casing fits into is the culprit.  If a bicycle's forks are allowed to swing violently, this calliper arm can, and frequently does, come into harsh contact with the bicycle's down tube.  This contact causes two kinds of damage, both to the calliper itself and also to the frame set.

The frame set might be dented by the impact, as was the case with this eighties something Gardin Special.  When looking at callipers, consider the possibility of frame damage and then look to see if it has actually happened.  If the calliper is allowed to violently contact the down tube, guess what happens?  The tube might get dented.  If the down tube is dented, the value of the frame set drops like a rock.  It is a simple as that.  If you do see a dent in the down tube, look closer at the brake calliper.  Not only might damage occur to the frame set, but the calliper mounting bolt will likely be bent in the process.  This bend will throw the brake pad alignment off, resulting in decreased braking efficiency and probably a squealing sound every time the brake is applied.

I always check side pull callipers, to ensure that the calliper bolt is straight.  Frequently, this bolt on the front brake calliper is bent and a bent bolt throws the alignment of the brake pads to the wheel rim off.  If the brake pads do not align themselves with the rims, the bolt might be bent.  Brake pad alignment for a road bicycle means that each pad meets the rims in the same manner.  The front of the pad should touch just before the rear.  If they are both not meeting the rim in this manner, the bolt might be the culprit.  Straightening a bent calliper bolt is not all that difficult.  Just about anyone, with a bit of patience and effort can achieve acceptable results.  However, the damage that the calliper does to the frame set, is not nearly as easy to repair.

Also, if the impact was sufficient to dent the frame set and/or bend the calliper mounting bolt, the brake calliper arm might also be bent.  This does not necessarily mean that the calliper will not function as intended.  The brakes might still work just fine.  That said, aluminum alloy does not like to be bent out of or bent back into shape.  There is the possibility that the aluminum actually developed a small fracture or crack that could fail utterly when the brakes are most needed.  Look carefully at the brake arm and if at all suspect, consider replacing the calliper.

Good old Mother Nature can also play a part in damaging a brake calliper.  The cable adjusting bolt might be seized into place.  If so it does not mean that the calliper cannot be used, it will just be less "user friendly" to use.  When inspecting a bicycle try turning these adjusters to ensure that they are not held fast.  This is an easy test and one that should be performed before making an offer on a bike.  And if the brake adjusting screw is seized into place, what does that say about the mechanical state or repair for the rest of the bicycle?

Perhaps the last thing that should be taken into consideration are the brake pads themselves.  Rubber can and usually does deteriorate with time.  If the brake pads have hardened with the passing of time, they present a hazard to the wheel rims.  The pads can and actually will wear the rims walls out and do so quickly if the rubber is too hard.

It is difficult to determine just how hard the rubber has become and it might not be a bad idea to just buy new pads, assuming that they can be found.  If original ones are not readily available, go with after market offerings until just the right set comes along.  Keep in mind, however, that even new old stock pads have gone through time also.  They might not be perfect either.

I make it a habit to check vintage brake pads every time!  I try to push my fingernail into the rubber material and if I am the least bit concerned, the pads are replace.  It the pad still shows an acceptable level of resiliency I file the braking surface ever so little to ensure that no foreign particles have embedded themselves into the rubber.  Foreign particles that just might damage the soft alloy surface of expensive and hard to replace wheel rims.

Other than those considerations mentioned, brake callipers usually arrive after their thirty year journey in pretty good shape.  Even if they are a bit off, it usually doesn't cost an arm and a leg to replace one or both.  That said, the price of some brake callipers is going up very fast.  Best to start with a good set if you can.

NEXT- COMPONENT DAMAGE - SEAT POSTS & STEERING STEMS

 

 

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