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Replacing old 105 brake calipers

spacedogspacedog Posts: 97
edited February 2014 in Road buying advice

I've got a set of rather old (about 5 at a guess) 105 brakes on my Boardman Team road bike they were second hand and a vast improvement on the stock ones that came with the bike.

Would I notice a big difference in stopping performance with a new set of 105s or Ultegras?



  • Just been doing a bit of googling... I've got Sram Rival leavers. It looks like the shimano calipers need to be matched with shimano leavers!

    Looks like I'm looking at Sram.
  • BozmanBozman Posts: 2,518
    You can use Shimano or SRAM, I used SRAM rival calipers with Ultegra shifters and they worked sound.
    It maybe worth just swapping your pads for some swissstop pads because there's nothing wrong with 105.
  • I've seen this on a few descriptions for 105s:
    Must be used in conjunction with ST-5700, ST-6700 or ST-7900 STIs for correct leverage ratio

    I've got some swiss stop pads and they make a huge difference to the stock ones. I think the problem is that I'm used to discs on the MTBs and they stop you!
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Spacedog wrote:
    I've seen this on a few descriptions for 105s:
    Must be used in conjunction with ST-5700, ST-6700 or ST-7900 STIs for correct leverage ratio

    I struggle to believe these statements as anything other than Shimano cobblers designed to con people into buying new calipers. You pull the lever a certain amount. That moves the cable a certain amount (that movement being dependant on how far the cable pivot is from the lever pivot).

    The cable then moves the caliper arm the same amount which translates to a movement of the brake block onto the rim - that movement being determined by how far the cable clamp on the caliper is from the pivot and how far the brake block is from the pivot.

    None of these variables have that much potential to change much. Unless there is some radical design change in the mechs, I can't see that it matters in the slightest what caliper you use with what lever. Any variation would be got used to within about five minutes on the road. Or has anyone used the wrong calipers with the wrong levers and found that they keep going over the handlebars or into the backs of buses? :lol:
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Having a bit more of a hunt round, "they" say that the 5700 and later pull more cable.

    I suppose the key thing is.... there any point in changing my 5600 series 105s for a set of new fancy Sram (or Shimano if they work) or is there very little performance difference?

    I'm not looking to spend money just to make the bike look pretty or 30g lighter.
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Are you unhappy with your 5600 brakes?

    If not, leave them on.

    If so, what pads are you using? When did you last change the cables?
  • I was out yesterday and would have liked a little more braking. It was we and a bit muddy in places, which wouldn't have helped.

    I've not ridden another road bike in years so don't know what I should really be expecting from rim brakes these days.

    I've got SwissStop Green pads, which should be pretty good. The cables have not been changed for every, so that could be a good call. If I'm doing it, I'm assuming I should to inners and outers to get the most benefit.
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    You will be amazed what new cables can do. Tired cables will feel mushy and horrible.

    I change inners around every 8-10000km and outers 15-20000km
  • I run mismatched 'old' calipers with 'new' STI levers. The braking works but is not optimal. It is about the feel / modulation. They still stop you but I'm looking for some cheap calipers.
  • You definitely can feel a difference between stock brake calipers - like Tektro, and 'proper' 105 calipers. Would there be much difference between 5600 and 5700? I very much doubt it.

    As said above, new pads, new cables (inner and outer) should be a better, and cheaper improvement.
  • I've just picked up some new cables so they will be going on when I get time. I'm hoping to be able to reuse the bar tape... wish me luck. They are the original ones that Boardman fit and I bet they aren't the best in the world to start with. So my thoughts are that new cables wont hurt!
  • New tape? Why not just replace the inner cables then saves you a load of hassle?!
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  • I have always found that if you are messing around with your cables, you may as well replace the lot.
  • To summarize, you can use any lever with any caliper. Do not believe the hype. Only when you get into using 110mm or 90mm V-brakes with road levers do you reach the stage where braking performance becomes an issue.

    If you don't like your brake performance don't change the calipers yet, that's stage 3, first 2 stages are pads and cables as suggested above.

    If your rims are alu, clean your rims with a green abrasive plastic wool (like a kitchen sponge) and dish-soap. Then try Swiss-Stop Green pads which are their high performance alu compound.

    When you move to your brake cables, cut them as short as possible while allowing 180 degrees of front wheel movement in the frame. A lot of store-bought bikes have quite flowey cables that can cause squishy braking.

    Also, when re-taping your bars, make sure your brake levers are in the 'correct' part of the bar. Without seeing your bike set up, sometimes an over-rotated bar can lead to a situation where you have to really censored your wrists on a funny angle that reduces your hand power. Make sure you tick this box when you remove the old tape. Nothing wrong with doing a ride or 2 with no tape and a long 5mm allen key in your pocket to make running adjustments.
    When a cyclist has a disagreement with a car; it's not who's right, it's who's left.
  • I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • I'm going against all my urges and not going to just throw money at this... I've seen some great deals on Rival and Force brakeset but I'm resisting buying them. Going to try the new cables and cleaning the rims first to see if that makes any difference.

    Also as Frans suggested I'm going to make sure I've got optimum leaver position so I'm getting the most out of what I've got.

    Sorry I know this goes against everything that cycling stands for.. I.E. Spending money when every you can.
  • It's taken me a long while to realise that at some point you have to stop spending because you aren't going to get anything more back!
  • It's taken me a long while to realise that at some point you have to stop spending because you aren't going to get anything more back!

    You must be careful spreading rumours like that, you will be black-balled by every bike shop in the land.
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