Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
niggle
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby niggle » 2 Feb 2018, 10:27am

Mick F wrote:Maybe a third issue to do with the bendiness of the callipers. The bendiness made for a continual weak braking down very long very steep hills, and I blew out the front tyre from heat build-up on a couple of occasions. Since changing to decent brake callipers, the braking is better and stronger, so I can pulse better to relieve the heat build-up.

I am guessing this was on your Moulton. If so the small diameter rim (406mm on yours?) is a known factor in front wheel blow outs in the circumstances described. I believe this is because it is an inadequate heat sink compared with the much bigger aluminium mass of a rim in the 590-622mm diameter range. It never happened to me with the 451mm rims on my old folder, but that had mini v-brakes which were powerful and easy to modulate. What were the OEM calipers BTW?

Freddie
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby Freddie » 2 Feb 2018, 2:32pm

niggle wrote:One often overlooked factor, IMO, in the 'straight bar v drops' decision is the angle of the hands when gripping the bars. I have a history of hand pain and when I was referred to 'the hand man' he advised that I avoid using straight bars on bicycles and motorcycles, and pick swept back bars instead.
This is easy enough to test. Walk around for a while with your hands by your side at the angle they would be on straight bars/risers. Your muscles will let you know in short order that this is an uncomfortable position. Straight/riser bars are useful for leverage when mountain biking, but the position is wholly unnatural for the hands to be in. They want to be parallel to the body (as they naturally rest by your sides), not at right angles to it.

cyclefitt
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby cyclefitt » 11 Feb 2018, 9:03pm

Hello again, firstly I'm so sorry it took me so long to reply to the thread. I have read every single reply. I made the OP and was then told my post was pending moderation and once it did get posted, I thought I'd get an email but that didn't happen. Preferences are updated and I will now know when people reply.

I did go back to the bike fitter saying that the hood positions were useless as I literally could barely brake. The bike shop's response (after much "ooh I'm not sure about that"s) was to simply make the brakes tighter! With that change, braking was a little easier but still pretty rubbish.

What else did the fitter change apart from moving the hoods? They lowered the seat a bit (not that useful), changed the seat angle (useful) and best of all fitted a longer bicycle stem that took the handlebars higher and further forwards which did actually make things a bit better comfort-wise.

I tried for a week braking on hoods with the setup the fitter gave me but my fingers ached like heck to the extent I could barely type once at work so frankly, I'm pretty sure this setup is a no-go.

Thanks for the link to the DIY Bike Fitting 531colin. I'll have a look now.

Yes, the photo of the handlebar is of my bike handlebar. It is the cross section of the drops taken from a photo.

Yes, I am now changing things back to something that works for me braking on the drops.

Interesting to read about rotation of hand and wrist as a way of braking on tops. Wish I'd tried that before reverting my setup but really, I still think for me it would be too much. The number of times I've had to brake hard (so hard the rear wheel semi-skids) is enough to warrant me getting maximum braking force.

I've just looked at adjusting braking reach from the women's cycling website but it looks as though it would open up a gap that would let the rain in easily so I'm going to shy away from that for now.

The suggestion of getting rounder handlebars is one I'll keep in the back of my mind if I get fed up of my old setup. That may well fix things a bit for braking on top.

Finally, yes, cross levers seem like a good idea to let me easily brake from on top. I have counter questions on this - are they easy to fit yourself and is it easy to replace the brake cable when required? Do they have decent braking force?

Thanks a lot!
Last edited by cyclefitt on 11 Feb 2018, 10:03pm, edited 1 time in total.

brynpoeth
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby brynpoeth » 11 Feb 2018, 9:40pm

If you find yourself often having to brake hard maybe you could adjust your riding style (go slower, coast, glide, leave gaps)
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott

cyclefitt
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby cyclefitt » 11 Feb 2018, 9:44pm

The braking thing is really about pedestrians jumping out in front of you or even cars. I always do my best to anticipate this (e.g. if I see a pedestrian walking on a busy pavement, I'll assume they will jump onto the road at any moment), but fore armed is fore warned.

Not that it matters too much, but another reason I have for avoiding the hold-on-top riding position is pot holes and unexpected bumps - they are all over central London and I'm worried they will throw my hands off the handlebars if I'm just gripping on top. Holding the drops is much more secure.

scottg
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Location: Highland Heights Kentucky,, USA

Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby scottg » 11 Feb 2018, 9:57pm

Drops or straight ?, Our friends in GB make many other handle bar shapes, maybe one of these ?
I've been using Lauterwasser bars, available in steel or alloy.

merlin-p20.jpg


Pic courtesy of "Classic Lightweights"
http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Why not the best, buy Cyclo-Benelux.

Brucey
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby Brucey » 11 Feb 2018, 10:07pm

cyclefitt wrote:Finally, yes, cross levers seem like a good idea to let me easily brake from on top. I have counter questions on this - are they easy to fit yourself and is it easy to replace the brake cable when required? Do they have decent braking force?


crosstops work OK and are easy enough to fit but can wear the inner cable a bit faster than normal. Just keep an eye on the cable where it runs through the lever.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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foxyrider
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby foxyrider » 11 Feb 2018, 10:14pm

cyclefitt wrote:Hello again, firstly I'm so sorry it took me so long to reply to the thread. I have read every single reply. I made the OP and was then told my post was pending moderation and once it did get posted, I thought I'd get an email but that didn't happen. Preferences are updated and I will now know when people reply.

I did go back to the bike fitter saying that the hood positions were useless as I literally could barely brake. The bike shop's response (after much "ooh I'm not sure about that"s) was to simply make the brakes tighter! With that change, braking was a little easier but still pretty rubbish.

What else did the fitter change apart from moving the hoods? They lowered the seat a bit (not that useful), changed the seat angle (useful) and best of all fitted a longer bicycle stem that took the handlebars higher and further forwards which did actually make things a bit better comfort-wise.

I tried for a week braking on hoods with the setup the fitter gave me but my fingers ached like heck to the extent I could barely type once at work so frankly, I'm pretty sure this setup is a no-go.

Thanks for the link to the DIY Bike Fitting 531colin. I'll have a look now.

Yes, the photo of the handlebar is of my bike handlebar. It is the cross section of the drops taken from a photo.

Yes, I am now changing things back to something that works for me braking on the drops.

Interesting to read about rotation of hand and wrist as a way of braking on tops. Wish I'd tried that before reverting my setup but really, I still think for me it would be too much. The number of times I've had to brake hard (so hard the rear wheel semi-skids) is enough to warrant me getting maximum braking force.

I've just looked at adjusting braking reach from the women's cycling website but it looks as though it would open up a gap that would let the rain in easily so I'm going to shy away from that for now.

The suggestion of getting rounder handlebars is one I'll keep in the back of my mind if I get fed up of my old setup. That may well fix things a bit for braking on top.

Finally, yes, cross levers seem like a good idea to let me easily brake from on top. I have counter questions on this - are they easy to fit yourself and is it easy to replace the brake cable when required? Do they have decent braking force?

Thanks a lot!


To answer your questions re cross top levers.

    they are simple to fit but require some luck and skill to set up right
    They have lots of braking power when set up correctly, some would argue more than the primary levers
    Cable replacement is straightforward as it's just the same cable you had before just going through an extra hole

I've currently got Crosstops on two bikes and find them invaluable in traffic and long days in the saddle as it gives a more relaxed but still efficient braking position.

Re control over bumps and potholes - if you grip the levers firmly but not tightly you'll actually have more control than down on the drops. Hope you get things worked out soon
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

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531colin
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby 531colin » 12 Feb 2018, 7:28pm

OP, does your Dawes tourer have cantilever brakes? It isn't obvious how they should be set up to get maximum braking, and new bikes straight from the factory have been known to be badly set up. If the brakes are properly set up, you will be able to lift the back wheel braking from the hoods, and you can't use any more braking power than that.
You shouldn't need to go down on the drops to get effective brakes.....and if you do go down on the drops your weight is more forward and the back wheel lifts too easily, and you actually lose effective braking.
It is important that braking from the hoods and the drops are done differently.....from the drops its a squeeze with your fingers, from the hoods its done by flexing your wrists to pivot your hands around your thumbs which rest on the brake hoods.
I think any reply about bike riding position should begin with the caveat "....It all depends how you set your bike up in the first place...."
As you will see from my bit about bike fitting, I set my bikes up so that I have very little weight on my hands when my hands are on the hoods and I am freewheeling. People from a racing background (and people younger than me) often set their bikes up so that they have much more weight on their hands freewheeling, but strenuous pedalling takes the weight off their hands. (Strenuous pedalling is, alas, just a memory for me.... :( )
I personally don't like crosstop levers at all, they make my riding position much too short reach, and I have much more control of the bike with my hands on the hoods. However, for somebody who sets their bike up with a much longer reach than I do, their crosstop levers may be at about the same reach as my hoods.
Just for fun, heres a publicity photo we took
https://www.flickr.com/photos/52358536@N06/32996195254/sizes/l/
I'm on 28mm slicks, and the green stuff is wet and slippy......So I'm in the position that gives me most control.....hands on the hoods, weight well back.

cyclefitt
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Joined: 27 Jan 2018, 11:36am

Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby cyclefitt » 12 Feb 2018, 10:00pm

Hi 531colin, yes they are cantilever brakes.

I see from your photo that your brake levers are much higher up relative to your hand position than mine so I reckon you have a lot more braking force than I. BTW, I'm just not comfortable with the changing-wrist-angle-to-brake thing alas. Maybe the answer to all this is for me to just buy new brakes and hoods. :-/

I hope I can cycle for as long as you are and onwards!

MikeF
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby MikeF » 12 Feb 2018, 10:14pm

niggle wrote:My hands are average but my fingers are short and stubby. I never get on with STIs anything like as well as Ergos, and the newer ones seem worse if anything, but they can be improved somewhat by adding the reach adjusting shims.
I also have relatively short fingers, and I think hand size and finger length is often an overlooked factor with brake levers - it's a one size fits all approach... but it isn't or shouldn't be. Why aren't brake levers made to fit different sized hands??? I have Tektro RL341 levers (not STIs) and they are very comfortable and provide good braking, but I don't know of any other levers that are made for different size hands. Shimano's offering is to use shims to bring the levers backwards, but it's a cheap "fix". The ones I have I think are 2300, but they are not that good to use.
"It takes a genius to spot the obvious" - my old physics master

MikeF
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby MikeF » 12 Feb 2018, 10:26pm

Freddie wrote:
niggle wrote:One often overlooked factor, IMO, in the 'straight bar v drops' decision is the angle of the hands when gripping the bars. I have a history of hand pain and when I was referred to 'the hand man' he advised that I avoid using straight bars on bicycles and motorcycles, and pick swept back bars instead.
This is easy enough to test. Walk around for a while with your hands by your side at the angle they would be on straight bars/risers. Your muscles will let you know in short order that this is an uncomfortable position. Straight/riser bars are useful for leverage when mountain biking, but the position is wholly unnatural for the hands to be in. They want to be parallel to the body (as they naturally rest by your sides), not at right angles to it.
I agree. That's the problem with straight flat handlebars. Also much of the road shock is transferred to the wrist. If your hand is held towards your direction of travel ie thumbs towards the front then a lot of shock can be absorbed.
"It takes a genius to spot the obvious" - my old physics master

niggle
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby niggle » 13 Feb 2018, 9:39am

Things that could help:
1. Reach adjuster shims (squirt lube in mech from time to time if worried about rain getting in.)
2.Fit "linear" brake cable outers instead of the standard coil wound, as preferred by BMX bike riders, one
kit will probably be enough outer cable.
3. Fit top quality brake blocks e.g. SwissStop green.
4. Fit 90mm v-brakes e.g. Tektro RX6.
5. Fit down tube or bar end shifters and aero brake levers that work for you, e.g. Tektro. But now you have to move hands to change gear.
6. Fit Microshift brake/shifters.

EDIT:
Caveats:
2. I have had good results, but nobody else seems to mention this for some reason. You can get kits from about £5 on eBay or from Chain Reaction Cycles.
4. You will also need special noodles with cable adjusters.
6. You may not find any improvement after spending £90+.

Flinders
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby Flinders » 13 Feb 2018, 5:56pm

Definitely worth looking at alternative bar shapes. I have smallish hands, my LBS were every careful to choose suitable bars and set the gear/brake levers at such an angle and in such a place that I could reach them from wherever my hands might be. I also had mountain bike style cross-top levers fitted to them, they're very sharp indeed, light years away from the old extension bars. But a combo like that needs careful fitting.

Flinders
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Re: Awful braking ability after expensive bicycle fitting

Postby Flinders » 13 Feb 2018, 6:01pm

My crosstops are so fierce that I'd say they probably exerted more force than the drop levers. If I need to brake hard and fast, I actually prefer to go for the crosstops.
When I got this bike, the LBS warned me on my ride home not to pull the crosstops hard, as if they were extension levers (which I'd had before). Even with that warning, and being cautious (as I thought) I stopped rather abruptly a few yards short of the first junction. :mrgreen: