MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

QUALITY - INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS BETTER?

OLD vs NEW

WHO MADE IT - ???

CAMPAGNOLO

SHIMANO

SUNTOUR

SIMPLEX

OTHER MANUFACTURERS

SEAT POSTS

PEDALS

SADDLES

RIMS & TIRES

HUBS, SPOKES , SKEWERS

HANDLEBARS & STEMS

BRAKE CALLIPERS

BRAKE LEVERS

DERAILLEURS

 

WHAT IS BETTER - BRAKE CALLIPERS?

A brake system, be it Old School or new on the showroom floor, consists of very similar in many ways and generally consist of the same kinds of components - brake levers, brake callipers and brake cables.  There are often an assortment of brackets associated with the different styles of callipers, and these too must be included in a brake system.  And though not present in all instances, brake hoods need be considered, also.  Let's begin with the actual thing that does all of the really serious slow down work - the calliper.

There is a newer and more modern brake system available in today's bicycle world.  The hydraulic disc brake.  I have never owned a bicycle fitted with disc brakes.  Nor have I ever run across a vintage road bicycle fitted with them.  I have seen one old department store "Ten Speed" fitted with a mechanical rear disc brake but I paid it little heed.  The bike was incredibly heavy and junky looking.  I left it where I found it - at the Dump.  With all of this in mind, little time will be spent discussing the virtues and vices of the disc brake system.  In all fairness, though, and in my opinion, the disc brake system is probably the very best way to go from a performance point of view.  Now back to normal Old School brake systems...

The brake calliper is the component assembly that actually grabs the wheel rim.  And there are four basic calliper styles.  The three most common style, and these are offered in chronological order, are Center Pull, Side Pull and Light Action (a name I use), with Center Pull being the oldest.  The forth brake calliper style, if calliper is the right word, is the Cantilevered system.

Center Pull brake callipers are usually the oldest style of brake calliper one will run across in the world of vintage road bicycles.  This style of calliper mounts to the frame or fork crown with a single bolt.  Two more bolts provide the pivot points for the two calliper arms.  To make this system work, the main brake cable must be threaded through a frame mounted bracket that centers the cable.  The main cable must the connect to a Yoke.  Then the Yoke is connected to a Yoke Cable which then attaches in two places to the brake calliper.  Complicated, heavy and a misery to adjust! The Yoke makes it possible to actuate the brake callipers from the center, so to speak.  The Yoke cable spreads out from the brake cable to reach each arm of the calliper, usually splitting the distance equally between the two.  Hence, pulling from the center and giving rise to the term, Canter Pull.

I find this Old School system to be a pain in the rear to work on.  The Center Pull calliper requires the greatest effort, to use.  In other words, the levers must be pulled quite hard, to implement sufficient braking force.  Now this is a seat of the pants, figuratively speaking, comment.  I have never measured how much effort is involved when it comes to using any system.  But I do feel that the Center Pull is the least efficient to use.  However, they do their job provided their job is not too demanding.

Moving forward in time, we see the Side Pull brake calliper replace the antiquated Center Pull system.  Both Side Pull callipers arms pivot on the same bolt, that mounts the entire assembly to the frame set.  Both arms still pivot, as was the case with their older siblings, but there are no additional pivot bolts required.  Additionally, the Side Pull calliper affords a direct pull, eliminating the need for a power robbing Yoke.  The direct pull nature reduces the amount of mechanical energy lost throughout the system.  The result, of course, is less effort required at the lever to effect the same stopping power as the Center Pull calliper.

As far as I am concerned, the Side Pull calliper is much more "user friendly" to install and tune than its predecessor, the Center Pull calliper.  Consider the fact alone that no special frame brackets are needed.  Consider also the opportunity to adjust cable tension right on the calliper itself.  Finally, include the quick release mechanism that, in previous days would have been mounted on a bracket or even the brake lever itself.  All of these user friendly features make for a better brake component.  However, there is one huge negative issue with the Side Pull calliper!  If the bicycle's forks are allowed to swing too far one way, the calliper can cause damage to frame tubes.  This kind of damage, incidentally, is not all that uncommon.

The last of the true brake callipers, that I am familiar with, is what I call the Light Action style.  In truth, the Light Action calliper is very similar to its Side Pull cousin.  The Light Action set, however; works so much better, and I tend to distinguish between these two near identical designs.

The Light Action system is exactly that.  A brake system that requires comparatively little effort to apply.  A light pull on the lever will result in the same stopping power, or better, than the same level of effort invested in the dated Side Pull system.  Again, the term Light Action is my own.  Perhaps, given the opportunity to compare the incredible difference, others will come to understand the description.  A more common term for this style of calliper is Mono Planer, I believe.

The final calliper category does not deal with callipers, in the truest sense.  The calliper design is replaced with a cantilevered one, that has become the accepted standard the majority bicycles manufactured today.  In this case majority includes the ubiquitous Mountain bike.  The cantilever style of brake is the best system available, from a performance point of view, in my humble opinion. I should add that this comment does not take into consideration the disc brake systems, that are also common today.

The cantilevered system is made up of two separate assemblies, one on each side of the rim.  Each brake arm pivot point is mounted directly to the fork blade or seat stay.  These dual pivots would suggest the need for a Yoke system of some kind, but none is present.  And in days gone bye, the Yoke system did indeed activate the cantilever callipers.  Today a newer and simpler design allows for straight, or direct, cable pull.  The new style is commonly found on most mountain bicycles.  The overall result are very powerful and easy to actuate brakes.  The Old School cantilever design is most common on touring bicycles, helping to deal with the heavy loads that such bikes are required to carry and, I might add, slow down.

A brake calliper, be it center, side, light action or cantilever style, is of little use without a brake lever.

NEXT - WHAT IS BETTER - BRAKE LEVERS?

 

 

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