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Reconditioning Side pull caliper brakes
I have a sidepull caliper brake that seems to not want to spring back correctly. When the brake is applied, it pulls the whole assembly to one side. I tried adjusting it the normal way, but that seems to not help. There's also a lot more wiggle room for the assembly (you can vibrate it a bit if you move it to not force it) than there should be. I tightened down the back nut of the brake assembly as much as I could, and got the front nut tightened down as much as I could against the adjustment nut, so it shouldn't be moving on its own...

I'm wondering what the next step is - as a stopgap I bent the spring back a little bit and it seemed to help slightly on moving the brake pad stuck to the rim back out like it should. Should I get a new spring (is that possible?) or should I be able to remove it and bend it outward on both sides in the vise without it breaking? Any other issues to check?
Why is it that they make adult bikes that'll generally work for 5'9" or above, yet when you pedal these same bikes they only work for someone who is 5'4" or so?
It sounds to me like you are saying that when you apply the brake and release, only one pad pulls away from the rim. If so, that means the whole caliper is not centered and not that there is a spring or bolt problem. This can be tricky because when you tighten the back nut, it tends to twist the caliper. Some calipers have flat spots for a centering tool to go on the piece that the spring passes through. It's usually a 10mm or 11mm size, but you need a thin wrench like a cone wrench to get in there.

If the whole caliper just doesn't pop open like it should, it could be a weak/worn spring. But could also just be a gummed up cable or that the pivots on the caliper need cleaning and lube.

If the arms have too much forward/back play, then the adjusting nut on the front is probably a bit too loose.

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