How do I improve my braking efficiency

sjclark Posts: 64
edited September 2008 in Workshop
(Sorry for yet another thread on brakes but can't quite find the answer on any other threads).

I have 2 road bikes.
- A Specialized Tarmac Carbon with 10-spd 105.
- A Halfords Carerra Alu with 9-spd Tiagra.

The Tarmac stops very well, the Carrera doen't.

Can anyone advise me on how to improve the stopping power of the Carerra?

Is it due to the bike wieght? - Can't believe that it is as I am the same weight on both.
Is it the pads or the calipers?
Is it the Brake levers?
Is it the wheels?

In general the Tarmac has better quality / lighter components but which makes the most difference.



  • All of the above, minus the weight of the bikes that is.

    It's mainly down to the calipers, brake pads & quality of the quality of the rim braking track. The housing also plays a small part too.
  • Doobz
    Doobz Posts: 2,800
    parachute at the rear?

  • The first thing I did when I got my Carrera Vanquish was swap the brakes as they. were pants. Bought a pair of 105's for around £30 and they are much better. I think the main difference was due to the pads. I had a Trek with sora on it a few years ago and had the pads changed and there was a big difference in stopping power.

    If your budget is tight change the pads. If you can stretch to £30 I would suggest a set of 105's.
  • When I started cycling again I used my old bike.

    Campag Gran Sport calipers, with Weinman performance levers (dont recall the name, but one of their better levers, a peer of mid-range Campag at the time). But, with:
    Modern rubbers, modern cabling...felt a bit of difference.

    Changed the levers to the early Athena/Chorus style aero levers, keeping the old calipers, felt a LOT of difference, with the levers being much stiffer so pulling harder, less spongey.

    New levers, Cane Creeks that mimic ergo levers positions, no difference in stiffness, due to actually slightly less material on the levers.

    Built a 'new' bike with brand new Campag Mirage levers and calipers, felt a LOT of difference. I've seen these 'plastic' levers slagged off in cycling mags for being spongey (having said that, I've also seen them highly praised), but compared to just 20 years ago this stuff is in a different league. In a hard braking situation I have to modulate pressure to prevent skidding, so I can only assume that those who complain must be going VERY fast and trying to compare this entry level item to summat like Record or Dura-ace (not fair), or theres some unconscious snobbery or even wariness regarding non ali components.

    Thinking back to when I started out cycling, using stuff like weinman 500's and the like, which were on most entry level 'serious' bikes, these were pretty spongey, and terrible even compared to the Campag Gran Sport levers, themselves. I shudder now recalling that I'd use a single weinman lever on a fixed, gripping it HARD on a downhill, feeling the flex in the lever and still not stopping, at least not very quickly anyway!

    Jam butties, officially endorsed by the Diddymen Olympic Squad
  • I guess your Tarmac is the same as mine - the 105 set up is just really good.

    My old Allez had shocking brakes as standard - a simple caliper upgrade sorted that out.

    Replacing the brake inners & outers will reduce friction and therefore braking effort required.

    The state of the wheel rims will also dictate braking performance.
  • simbil1
    simbil1 Posts: 620
    The order of importance I've found is:

    1. Setup - true wheels, well aligned brake blocks with toe in
    2. Brake blocks - SwissStops are my favourites
    3. Rim surface
    4. Brake levers