What are your tips for maximising stopping power?

jimmcdonnell
jimmcdonnell Posts: 328
edited January 2009 in Workshop
Just gone back to caliper brakes after 20+ year of cantilever, v-brakes and disks. Knew it was going to be a mental re-adjustment to how long it takes calipers to stop, but I really want to do whatever I can to improve my braking as much as possible; so in your own time, what opinions/recommendations do you all have on the following -

- brake blocks? Preferred / 'better' makes (I'm on stock Ultegra brake pads, alloy braking surface on Mavic Cosmic Carbone rims)

- brake calipers? Again, I'm on Ultegra.

- helpful maintenance? eg cleaning the braking surface etc.

My road bike is a weekend ride, but a significant proportion of those roads will still be in urban London, and I want to be able to stop in a hurry in case of numpties in cages. My day-to-day commute is a disk cyclocross bike, and by comparison putting the brakes on there is like throwing an anchor overboard.

Thanks in advance all.

- Jim
Litespeed Tuscany, Hope/Open Pro, Ultegra, pulling an Extrawheel trailer, often as not.

FCR 4 (I think?)
Twitter: @jimjmcdonnell

Comments

  • Steve I
    Steve I Posts: 428
    I get all the braking power I need from dual pivot brakes. No special pads/cleaning procedures needed. Are you using modern dual pivot Ultegra? If so they should be very powerful. The back will should easily lock the wheel, and the front should be that powerful that if you brake hard you have to brace yourself against getting thrown forward. I use the latest Tiagra, Ultegra should be slightly better.
  • Steve I
    Steve I Posts: 428
    I've just re-read your post. I've never used disks, so maybe the Ultegra just feels less powerful compared to your disks. Don't forget, you can brake harder with fatter tyres as they have more grip.
  • With the best will in the world cantis are never going to rival disks when it comes to absolute power or modulation, particularly in the wet.

    Even so, the pads you use can make a big difference. I went from Ultegra pads (a bit 'on/off' in the dry and pretty much useless in the wet) to Koolstop Salmons and the difference is very noticable. The Salmons actually grip when it rains and are shaped to help with modulation.

    They grip just as much as you want them too, but without locking the wheel and skidding - which is what the Ultegras did continuously under hard braking in the dry. Much more controlable but with no loss of power. Not like disks by any stretch of the imagination but a massive improvement over the old set up.

    The one downside is that they wear faster than standard pads. TBH though, I'd rather buy new brake pads more often and have brakes that work than put up with more durable pads that don't. [/url]
  • If I'm going down steep streets I brake from the drops as you get better leverage with the hands. I also lean back over the back wheel.

    Traditional brake housing flexes like crazy beyond a certain point - practically all of the power drops off. Ceramic brake lines help. :wink: They are *much* better for hard stops. I also find that less effort is required at the lever for the same braking effort. Whenever I go back to a standard brakes, I am rightly unimpressed by their action.

    Other than that, there's not much you can do to improve caliper brakes apart from using rims with machined sidewalls & keeping things clean and ensuring that they have new cables.
  • infopete
    infopete Posts: 878
    Grow older, cycle slower and let physics do the rest :)
    Oh and please remember to click on my blog:

    http://americanbicyclegroup.wordpress.com

    The more clicks I get the higher it creeps up the google radar :)
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    You'll be able to lock your wheels easily with dual pivots. Maybe you need wider tyres for extra grip on the road itself ?
  • cougie wrote:
    You'll be able to lock your wheels easily with dual pivots. Maybe you need wider tyres for extra grip on the road itself ?

    Nope, no need for wider tyres as I'm not skidding yet - brakes are adjusted close to the rims, blocks not worn but locking up the wheels? Not even close. I could unzip my jacket and sit up holding it open like a sail and I'd stop as quickly as I'm doing at the moment.
    Litespeed Tuscany, Hope/Open Pro, Ultegra, pulling an Extrawheel trailer, often as not.

    FCR 4 (I think?)
    Twitter: @jimjmcdonnell
  • with the 20 + year old brakes that old red came with, she could lock up rear or front, has much more powerful modern brake now that can still lock wheels if one is savage.

    i'd say you have a issue with the bikes braking some where.