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Side-Pull Caliper Brake Issues
#1
I just got done working on mine (yes on a MTB), and had a few issues/questions from the <a href="http://bikeride.com/sidepull-caliper-brakes/">video</a> and wanted to get some thoughts on it. Perhaps the main question is if I'm running into something a little bit different than what was depicted in the video.
1. At about 1:39 I noticed it was demonstrated to loosen the cable pinch bolt. For my brakes, the spring device (I think I noticed that in the video) would bring up the brake arms to about a 45 degree angle from the wheel if the cable is released. This would mean that I would have to force both brake arms down (and it takes considerable force to do it), center them, and then pull the cable through and tighten it. I watched the video two or three times, and I didn't notice Alex depict pulling them together (I could be wrong though).
Anyhow is there a suggestion on how to handle this well, since I find it essentially a good job for three hands. Or would it be good to maybe tighten the centering/tension nut so the calipers don't move (is that possible?) and then manually put them in the proper positions, string the cable so it is tight, and then loosen the end nut on the assembly?
2. Maybe this is something I'm missing from the language in the video, but I notice that the cable tension, and how far the brake handle goes in on these brakes I worked on depends on the position of the brake pads than the cable tension... at about 1:46 it moves from the cable tension to "this is a personal preference" regarding the brake handles. Of course, with the springs as strong as they are, any loose cable tension would immediately be taken up by the brake arms swinging outward. So is this basically saying what I'm observing?
(other questions)<br />
3. I notice looking down on one set of my brakes that the calipers are not parallel to one another. Is this a problem or something to be expected from caliper brakes? How is this corrected? I notice that the caliper arms are bent around (the whole assembly, really) when the brakes are applied. Would this have caused one of the arms to be bent and require straightening?
4. This, along with the toe-in, causes very odd, irregular wear on the brake pads (which I noticed when I sandpapered them). Any suggestions there on how to address that so the brake pads could be used longer? Or is this normal as well?
5. One thing I notice on these brakes and on a friend's bike as well is that the cable pushes flat, unravels, and even snaps one or two strands of the cable after some use. Is this normal for these kind of brakes, to go through cable so quickly like this? Or is there something that can be done to correct it so the cables would last longer? Or are these just cheap cables that were used?
Thanks for all the help, especially your efforts on the videos, Alex!

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?
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#2
1. The cable tension is pulled together using the 4th hand tool... as demonstrated at 1:40 in <a href="http://bikeride.com/sidepull-caliper-brakes/">the video</a>. There's another video demonstrating this tool <a href="http://bikeride.com/fasten-zip-ties/">here</a>. It basically pulls the cable tension (and therefore brake arms) tight so you don't have to push the brake arms together manually.

2. The personal preference is tightness of your brake levers, ie how far you have to pull them before the pads hit the rim. Some people like them really tight so they don't have to compress the levers very much, while others prefer them more loose.

3. There is some offset due to the caliper arms having to cross over each other, but this is usually corrected by a bend in the arm. If you could upload a photo to this topic that shows the offset off your brake arms that would be helpful.

4. Due to toe-in the pads will wear more on one end. One thing you can do is swap them (switch sides and reverse them) sort of like rotating your tires. This will put the thicker side to the front and give you more life.

5. Cables get pinched by the cable tension bolt and will sometimes fray because of this. One way to stop it from fraying is to crimp an end cap as demonstrated in <a href="http://bikeride.com/grip-shift-cable/">this video</a> at about 2:35.
  Reply
#3
3. This is the best unobstructed picture I could get.<br />
<img SRC="http://bnfbua.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pWMDn1BQd9Cx_cnIPcmn0hlphXBZAW5KKgiPkdAByRfuN_kEJEjXAZrgw8nvZSTZGUklZTVm8XZE/calipersoff1.jpg" alt="caliper offset" width="575" height="326" />
5. I double-checked, and one of my brake cables that frays around the pinch bolt has the end-cap. Unfortunately, the camera I used doesn't take good small-detail pictures, so I couldn't get a good picture of this.

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?
  Reply
#4
With that type of brake all you really need to do is make sure the pads have toe-in and they hit the rim at the same time. If you really want the arms to be parallel you could try bending the arm with an adjustable wrench, but this sometimes makes the problem worse.
If the cable is frayed at the pinch bolt, there's not much you can do (aside from replacing the cable).

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