Brakes - The Basics for Safety & Speed

Monday, October 3, 2016

Good brakes are crucial because you're going to be relying on them to give you complete riding control and keep you safe on the road. 

The best brakes are made from titanium, aluminium and carbon fibre because they're light, long-lasting and give a solid grip on the road. 

These tips will help you go faster and keep you safe:

Wheel Mounting

Your wheel should sit way up in the frame drop-outs or fork tips, so the rim always falls into the same spot in relation to the brake pads. If the rim doesn't fall into a centre position in the frame, the wheel may be badly dished or the frame or fork could be out of alignment.

Pad Adjustment

Pads must be properly aligned with the braking surface of the rim. If they're too high you could get pad contact with the tyre. If they're too low they'll gradually slip off the lower edge of the braking surface and produce uneven wear. 

Both of these situations are dangerous for the rider.  Fit them by pulling the brake lever in to hold the pads in position whilst you adjust them to the correct contact point with the rim.

No-Tool Centring

The majority of brakes have centring adjustment you can only tweak with a screw driver of Allen key.  Modern dual pivot brakes are easier to centre over the rim by pulling the whole calliper over to the centre by hand and no tools are needed.

Pad Orientation

Directional brake pads with a replaceable cartridge system have an open end where you can remove the rubber insert. Make sure that the open end always faces the rear of your bike or they'll jump out of their retainer and you'll be in trouble.

Brake pads that you can adjust with a set of conical washers can be toed-in so that they have even contact with the rim from front to back.  If you notice brake squeal or vibration in use, a slight adjustment may be required.  Always angle the pad so the front has slight contact with the rim before the rear.

Carbon Specific Pads

Carbon rims need special pads that can cope with high temperatures without melting, so you'll need pads made out of cork of something similar to use with a carbon rim.

High-quality brakes aren't cheap, but they're your life-safety insurance policy and nothing's more important than that, so always buy the best brakes you can afford!

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