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what a difference matched components can make
 vkan member not displaying online status
2,568 5,000 mi
Lifetime: 50,667 mi
Member No. 6942
Member since: Apr 2005
Home: Morrisville, NC 
Lynskey Cooper
Road bike
'BentRider Recumbent Club
posted 7/27/2020
at 12:18:22 PM
viewed 177 times
As a (now lapsed) recumbent cyclist, it was the norm for me to deal with a mishmash of components on my bikes, including some items that had mismatched or almost, but not quite there cable pull/leverage issues. In the end, it all worked well enough.

When I built up my last/most recent bike, a Lynskey Ti road bike, I carried that type of thing forward though almost everything was intended to be compatible (e.g. SRAM cranks working fine with Shimano derailleur/shifter combos). The one exception was my rear brake.

I've been running a seven year (I think?) experiment of pulling a pre-Super SLR rim brake caliper (a Tektro pulled off the bike I now keep on the trainer) with a Super SLR brake lever (Shimano 5700 level brifter). The rear braking was weak, and that's what I wanted--I do 99% of my braking with the front, which is properly leverage matched and it works fantastically well. I wanted weak rear braking to minimize the risk of locking up and skidding the rear, and I achieved that.

This weekend I decided to change out all of the cables on that bike because the front shifting was feeling a little spotty (I can't remember how long it's been since I changed that cable) and the rear brake cable was getting rusty. I saw the remaining Super SLR rear brake sitting in its box next to the new cables and housings so I said to myself "self, let's put that brake on the bike so everything finally matches up as intended".

I put it on and the rear braking now feels totally different. It is incredibly strong and with my rear braking grip still calibrated to the weak braking with the mismatched caliper that I've had forever, it felt even stronger than the front brake in some situations.

But I got a wakeup call as I came to a sudden stop at a light that was changing from green to yellow when I engaged the brakes and started fishtailing for a few seconds. WHOA!

I've never had that happen on a hot, sunny, dry day before, though there was a large, painted arrow that I rolled over so maybe some idiot had just poured out their drink at the stop light minutes before and made it slippery, but wow, I really need to do some retraining on my muscle memory to get the braking sorted out.

It should be not just be stronger, but easier to modulate, so it'll be interesting the next few rides.

 raymondj member offline
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4,413 4,971 mi
Lifetime: 85,940 mi
Member No. 27154
Member since: Feb 2008
Home: Tucson, AZ 
Surly Troll
Touring Road bike
click to enlarge
posted 7/27/2020
at 2:39:04 PM
post #1 viewed 167 times
I have built up all the bikes I have owned in the past 3 decades or so with a "mutt's mix" of parts. I buy the frame I like, and put on my exact preference of stem, bars, pedals, brakes, shifters, etc.

The components that seem to be the most particular on matching are shift levers, derailleurs (especially rear) and cassettes. Even among same brands, you can't use a 9 speed lever with a 10 speed derailleur because of the different amount of cable pull between those. Since you have brifters, the shifter function needs to match the derailleur spec. The brake caliper you choose should be independent of the lever, because all cable road brake levers pull the same amount of cable.

My guess is the new brake caliper itself was not so much stronger than the old one. The combination of new cable, housing and new pads on the new calipers made a big difference.

I run Avid single digit 7 brake levers on flat bars to TRP spyke mechanical (non-hydraulic) disc brakes. The Avid levers have plenty of adjustment for modulation, and work well with any brand V-brake or mechanical disc.
post edited on 7/27/2020 at 2:40:37 PM

 vkan member not displaying online status
2,568 5,000 mi
Lifetime: 50,667 mi
Member No. 6942
Member since: Apr 2005
Home: Morrisville, NC 
Lynskey Cooper
Road bike
'BentRider Recumbent Club
posted 7/27/2020
at 4:27:24 PM
post #2 viewed 161 times
...Since you have brifters, the shifter function needs to match the derailleur spec. The brake caliper you choose should be independent of the lever, because all cable road brake levers pull the same amount of cable....
-- posted by raymondj


I think this used to be true until the time around when Shimano went with hidden shift cables, though it didn't necessarily have anything to do with hiding shift cables since the non-hidden lower end stuff of the same vintage also changed their brake leverage. Shimano does this periodically--most recently, I found out (the easy way, luckily that 10 speed Tiagra 4700 with hidden cables uses a different cable pull for the rear derailleur than my 10 speed 105 5700. So if/when I need to replace my RD, I can't use the Tiagra 4700 10 speed, though I can use the 4600/6600/6700/5600/5700 ones.

Back to brakes, I may be conflating cable pull and force or travel at the brake lever, but there is definitely a leverage difference between the 5700 brifters/calipers (what I have now) and the 5600 brifter, Tektro caliper (what the bike on the trainer came spec'd with) such that mixing one brifter with the other's mating caliper doesn't perform as designed.

If you use the 5700 brifter with a caliper designed for the 5600 brifter, you need lots of grip strength to brake effectively. This is what I had before, it's what I wanted at the time and it's what I got.

If you use the 5600 brifter with a caliper designed for the 5700 brifter, well I haven't tried that, but product warnings from retailers I've read indicate that your braking will feel mushy.

I'm not saying the combos don't work, but they won't work as designed or as desired (except in a case like my old setup when I wanted the effect of the mismatch).

 raymondj member offline
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4,413 4,971 mi
Lifetime: 85,940 mi
Member No. 27154
Member since: Feb 2008
Home: Tucson, AZ 
Surly Troll
Touring Road bike
click to enlarge
posted 8/2/2020
at 9:10:35 AM
post #3 viewed 119 times
I have a 2x9 Shimano drivetrain on my Surly Troll all-purpose bike. I built it up originally (9 years ago) as a 3x8, but converted to 2x9 a few years ago. One thing I did not bother to swap out was the Shimano LX front derailleur, which has a wider cage to work with triple chainrings.

I recently ordered a few small items from my favorite online bike shop, and saw a special on Shimano XTR (top of the line) 2x10 front derailleurs. Original price $99, clearance price $29, same price as lower end components. I knew the new derailleur would be compatible with my 2x9 drivetrain.

Wow, what a difference. The new derailleur with the shorter, narrower cage let me set the derailleur height closer to the chain ring. With the triple front derailleur, the cage was too high above the chainring, so shifting was mediocre. The new derailleur takes almost 50 percent less movement of my shift lever to shift, so that's another big plus.
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