Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Can Stop, Will Stop: Paul Racer Brakes

When I received a Rawland Nordavinden demo bike for review some time ago, it was fitted with Silver Bigmouth sidepull brakes. The Nordavinden model is made without cantilever bosses, intended to be used with either sidepulls or centerpulls. With 650Bx42mm tires that leaves few options for brakes with sufficiently long reach. I have tried the bigmouth sidepulls before on a 650Bx42mm tire bike with upright handlebars and the stopping power was fine. But it proved decidedly less fine on a bike with drop bars and road levers. The braking wasn't terrible, but not as strong as I wanted. So when setting up a Nordavinden with my own components two months later, I decided to go with centerpulls. The choices were: Paul Racer or Dia Compe 750 brakes. The feedback I'd read about the Dia Compes was pretty good, so I bought those, since they are the considerably less expensive option. To my disappointment, the braking power was not much better than it had been with the sidepulls. I rode the Vermont Fall Classic with the Dia Compes, but had to watch my speed on steep descents, particularly once it started to rain. I was now feeling a little dispirited, because there was only one option left. Trying to not get my hopes up, I bit the bullet and bought the Paul Racers several weeks later. To my immense relief, they work. They are expensive. But they are US-made, and, more to the point, they stop my bike.

In fairness, I should note here that I know riders who use Silver Bigmouth sidepulls, Tektro Bigmouth sidepulls, and Dia Compe 750 centerpulls on fat tire roadbikes without issue. However, my grip strength is weak and I have damaged nerves in my hands. Braking power with the combination of road levers and long-reach brakes has been an ongoing problem, including on bikes built for cantis. It is useful to know that Paul brakes are an option that works. The Center Mount version of the Racers does not require special braze-ons and can be used on any bike that accepts sidepull brakes, provided there is enough steerer available for a cable hanger.

Paul Racer brakes can be purchased from the manufacturer directly, or ordered via your local bike shop. The company is based in Chico, California, where they have been making parts since 1989.

75 comments:

  1. I have small [older] hands and the cantilever brakes on my Surly road bike are not working as well as I need them to. One problem could be the Shimano 2303 sti brake/shifters. They are longer reach. I've been looking into this.

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    1. Liz and New Endland Bicyclist. I have a surly lht that was built up with V brakes because the lbs thought I had small hands and rightly assumed I did not have strong braking power. I was mad at first, but since I do have nerve damage and small hands, he was right. The bike looks fine with empty canti bosses. Many surly owners complain about the stock cantis not working very well and switch to V brakes. I have upright bars on the bike so have some easy to grab shimano lx brake levers. I have absolutely no confidence that I could handle drops and shifters.

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    2. Heather, do you mean that they installed calipers? V-brakes get installed onto canti-bosses, unless I am missing something.

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    3. No, the LHT frame has the bosses for V brakes as well. The canti bosses are just sitting there empty. The lbs put v brakes on instead of the stock cantis without asking and in the end was a better choice because the stock tectro oryx v brakes have a bad rep.

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    4. i am confused. the LHT has canti posts on both fork and seatstays. these posts are used for either cantilever or linear pull (V) brakes. i should know, as i replaced the stock tektro oryx cantis with paul motolite linear pull brakes.

      in response to the original poster Liz, i would consider paul motolite brakes. SO POWERFUL they practically stop like disc brakes.

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    5. If you have canti bosses, the new generation of "mini-V" brakes might be what you want to consider, like the TRP CX-9 or the Paul minimotos.

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  2. I'd love to try the Paul's on my Surly, though the might look funny with the Canti bosses empty. I also use short pull road levers, which limit my options. Avid shorty 4s are imperfect. Sometimes spending the extra money is worth it.

    My Interbike question to you was what big tire production bike is out there (rephrased somewhat). I gather this is the answer. It is too close to my Surly build for me to think about it but your build looks quite nice.

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    1. You could put a small front rack on the empty canti bosses... of course you would have to modify the part that connects to the fork crown because most racks like that will assume no centerpull brake there.

      And attach small cateye led lights to the rear bosses. :)

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    2. NEB - As far as Interbike, there was just the usual Surly and Salsa; Rawland did not attend.

      The Rawland Nordavinden can be built up any which way. The standard sized, super light tubing, lends itself to being set up as a fast roadbike.

      MDI - I am pretty sure I've seen that setup on some local's bike!

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    3. NEB - Motolites are not quite so attractive as the Racers but will accommodate very fat tires and actually weigh less than Racers.

      Mini-Motos look very good IMO. So far not a lot of info about them, but they appear to be able to fit fairly large tires. I imagine they will stop well as do all Pauls.

      Both would require long pull levers.

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    4. I think mini-motos work well with regular aero brake levers, but I don't know if they will clear the fender + 50mm fat frank on the XC.

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    5. I just checked with Paul and they didn't think the center pulls would fit with the existing bosses so this may be moot. They do work with the Shimano short reach levers, except the most recent year.

      I'll have to find the mimi-motos so I can take a close look at them. They look nice in pixels.

      Regarding the Nordavinden, I already have a go fast bike. Maybe this bike is sort of a mix of both of my bikes.

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  3. Whenever I start to get up a good head of steam about how dumb disc brakes on roadbikes are, I think about you and another person or two that I know with hand issues. I know that the marketing of road discs did not grow out of Shimano's deep concern over people with hand injuries but they might be the answer for some people who need better than the current best.

    I hope the Paul's are a good permanent solution for you, partly because I do get up a good head of steam about anything that I didn't personally invent or grow up with(Dammit, when I was a boy we just stuck a damn foot in the spokes to stop AND WE LIKED IT!!!)and partly because I get too emotionally tangled up about aesthetics and how bikes should look.

    Paul's work as good as they look according to everyone I know who have them but if they don't you might have to resort to a foot in the spokes. If you do, let me know and I'll give you some personal recommendations about appropriate shoes.

    Spindizzy

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    1. I think it's mostly a hand strength issue. Or rather the lack of it. For you and me it might be fairly hard to imagine how little of it some people have. #gorillagrip :)

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    2. You joke, but I actually used the foot-in-spokes as well as the foot-drag method to supplement my stopping power on the borrowed cyclocross bike I rode on the Kearsarge Klassic. Toward the end there was a downhillish paved section and it was raining, and the T-intersection stop sign required more precise stopping than I could manage with the cantis alone...

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    3. I was sorta joking but I did learn to do stoppies by jamming a Vans shod right foot into the gap between the tire and fork crown of a P.K.Ripper, circa 1980. In the event one needed to quickly "un-ass" the vehicle it was simplicity itself to slip ones foot from the shoe and gracefully step to one side of the actual "event".

      I cringe to imagine the GIGANTIC faceplant that could occur from a misjudged toe in the old DTs. The worst part would be the inability to eject completely from the cockpit and augering in with a lap full of chrome-moly. I dare say one might become a permanent parallelogram.

      My experiences of parrallelograminism have all been mercifully temporary...

      Spindizzy

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  4. Paul makes great brakes. I've had Racer center pulls and braze ons and will have Racer M braze ons on the bike I got this weekend.

    The Motolites I had on theBruce Gordon were almost too good. Anything more than a tap on the front lever and the back wheel lifted off the ground.

    You sometimes have to play around with the various washers for the pad post before you have the optimal stopping angle. Worth the effort.

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    1. "The Motolites ...were almost too good"

      That is good to know. When I hear "almost too good," I now translate it as "might actually stop my bike." The Paul Racers were described as too good by some, but they are just right for me, definitely not overly strong.

      If I have a bike with canti bosses in future, I would love to try the MiniMotos. Any experience with those?

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    2. The Motolites were on the Bruce Gordon I rode on my cross country tour. I'm not used to mountain riding and managed to over modulate them a few times come out of the Sierras and in the Badlands. I am sure a rider not in panic mode can work Motolites effectively with a light touch.

      No MMs yet. They are spec'ed for my next commuter (I like to cycle through commuters every two years - the Cicli Urbano co-op gets my old one).

      Per MDI above, MMs do indeed work with short reach levers. Watched a video of them being installed. Amazingly simple process. As long as they fit, MMs sound perfect.

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    3. Matthew J

      Ever watch a trick rider do a nose wheelie? It's very simple how they do that. First get rider weight forward. When enough weight is forward any little impetus lifts the back wheel.

      If you're lifting the back wheel even once in a while it's a guarantee there will be a steeper downhill sooner or later. Or a more dramatic and more unanticipated panic stop. Your hand will just suddenly get very strong when that oncoming truck has you rattled. If your weight is forward then over the bars you go. It really won't matter which calipers you're wearing today. Get the weight back and you can use any brake at all confidently.

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    4. Anon - very good point.

      As I do most of my riding in the Midwest, I can assure you I did not approach steep inclines rationally. Most likely my form was compromised.

      I wish I could say there are similar challenges to you experienced mountain riders when you ride in the Midwest the first time. Other than the risk of getting bored nothing comes to mind though.

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  5. Had a similar problem and tried changing brake pads first, as I am cheap, to Kool Stop Salmon (Dual or Triple might be even better). Worked a charm!

    http://www.koolstop.com/english/compounds.html

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    1. Yup. In my experience, Kool Stop Salmons improve stopping power considerably. I use them as a matter of course, except on my skinny tire roadbike, where the stock Campy short-reach brakes need no improvement.

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    2. I replaced my pads on my road bike with the Kool Stop Salmons after the old pair was worn after a few thousand miles. My brakes didn't need improvement but I was very happy to switch. I first tried the Kool Stops on canti brakes.

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  6. Top notch! Glad they work as good as they look.

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  7. Boston is not NYC people.

    Ok $132 is NOT a lot of money for brakes, particularly with special hand considerations. Not to equate you with someone who races hi-performance trikes but have you seen how much those cost?

    You are buying a performance vehicle. It must perform. When you're on the bike lugs don't matter a whit but brakes are EXTREMELY important.

    That concludes today's obvious report.

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    1. Whoa. $146 PER. Too rich for me.

      For you? Who cares, you'll turn it around soon enough.

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    2. I'm scratchin' my noggin' over your twitter feed to the right. Hetres on an Xtra?

      Obvi report continued: that guy and what he carries weighs about 5x what you do. That means tire wear. Lots of it. Hetres are a racey lightweight tire. Wrong app, but keep it lovely. Schwalbe Fat Franks is the correct app. You're welcome.

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    3. Apropos this, do you know of Fat Franks having been successfully fitted on the Radish? I've read that they will not fit.

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    4. @2.35 wide I don't know. Issue in rear would be fender/chainline. Issue in front would be fender, brakes not an issue.

      Where there's a will there's a way. I just hacked on a Schwinn Typhoon cruiser fender on the front of my FF Xtra with, I would think, either less or very close to the same clearance as the Radish.

      Chainline was solved with an extra link.

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    5. Sorry, unclear answer. With fenders: highly doubt it. Without: probably.

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    6. Cool, yeah got that. I will hold of on the rest of this conversation till the next Xtracycles post.

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  8. disc brakes. i will never by another rim brake again. ever.

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    1. that's another can of worms altogether and the bikes generally featured here are not disc brake bikes. Mechanical discs can at least be fiddled with, but hydraulic require technical support and I think the fluid is caustic. My husband found that he felt no difference between disc and rim brakes, but that the discs were impossible to keep tuned up, were unreliable, would not work in cold etc. He found just keeping the rim clean, replacing pads as needed to be a far better option than the fear of wearing out rims and investing in disc brakes that do not work as well as advertised. With small or weak hands, disc might not be any better than rim.
      Drum brakes are great as I have recently discovered, but do not know how appropriate they are for long rides involving long descents and the like. As they are not recommended for mountainous hills I am extra careful on descents but have gone down over 1000 feet without effort or problems. They are the bees knees!

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    2. For the record, I have nothing against disk brakes. I have not had them on my own bikes, only because inasmuch as possible I want to keep the mechanics of my bikes simple. I am just starting to physically be able to work on my own bikes, which is exciting. Seems best to avoid weird setups that will complicate things.

      V-brakes though, I am all for them. Lovely things.

      Drum brakes: I see them as an excellent option for all-weather commuting, but am suspicious of them on "performance bikes."

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    3. Yup, it seems like disc brakes are going to be the cat's meow for all weather riding. In hindsight I wish I would have gotten them on my new ride.

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    4. Disc brakes with appropriately sized rotors and pad compounds matched to intended use are superior performers in dry conditions too.

      The disc brake concept only seems weired because it remains an unknown to you, Velouria. In the past year you have overcome clipless pedal apprehensions, and have even used SRAM Double Tap shifters. Remember when you said V-brakes were too powerful? You didn't give up on this bike you're evaluating, you attempted to work through the shortcomings and invested in a improved braking solution. Just generalize this method to learn, optimize, and maintain a disc brake system. One more thing to add to your bicycle skill set.

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    5. "Remember when you said V-brakes were too powerful?"

      Several people have now quoted this back to me, but you have to take things in context. They felt too powerful on a specific bike, and it was an upright bike with MTB brake levers. A whole nother thing from drop bars with road levers. The fact that they feel "too" powerful with that setup is what gives me hope that they could be just the thing on a roadbike.

      Disc brakes - I do plan to look into them, just not as the first order of business. But yes, I would like to try a bike with them for starters.

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    6. Most notably me. With mtb levers you are able to get more leverage true.

      You modify your TECHNIQUE by using fewer fingers, weaker fingers in conjunction with stronger ones, fingers you have the most feel/control over, etc. and you PRACTICE using them CONSCIOUSLY. Mechanics are the same thing. Well they are mechanics.

      And you familiarize yourself with the bike over time, not just a quicky.

      The only reason I wrote this is so I can say I said it in the future.

      The nose wheelie comment above: despite what I just wrote, which applies to both wheels on the ground, I would never attempt a nose wheelie with a v brake. Stoppie yes.

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    7. "Disc brakes - I do plan to look into them" Good start. With that in mind, when you visit a bicycle trade show, you will "see" more big tire production bikes. Disc brake Cyclocross frames are good candidates. The need for mud clearance provides generous stay & fork leg width, the common 47mm fork offset gives lower trail closer to neutral, combine that with the drop when mounting smaller tires (650b, 26in), even closer to neutral trail, and higher bottom bracket location to facilitate bunny hops means reduced possibility of pedal strike when smaller diameter tires are mounted.

      With disc brakes, no longer is rim width constrained by narrow rim brake specific hoops. Wide clincher tires perform much better when the beads are not pinched toward each other.

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    8. replacing a mechanical disk break pad is a 10 second job. i personally prefer hydraulics and have no problem bleeding them once every 2-5 years. a syringe, a binder clamp, some aquarium tubing, a bit of branded mineral oil, and some dexterity is all that is needed. the fluid in hydraulic disc brakes is not caustic and in many cases is food grade low viscosity mineral oil!

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    9. Some thoughts:
      Velouria, you have been resolutely anti-Vbrake in the past, on aesthetic grounds, as well as claiming they don't modulate well. GRJ gives some good advice in regards to modulating a stop with V-brakes. I think it's awesome that you're opening up to other component possibilities. V-brakes are the best rim brakes ever made. Cannot be beaten by anything, when comparing brakes at similar pricepoints.

      Drums- too heavy and too prone to fade from overheating for anything but a townish bike. But these are by far the best brakes for ultra-low maintenance, all-weather. round-town or to-work brakes.

      Discs. Discs have come a looooong way. I like the mechanical ones for fun on trails. Hydros are a different critter; some take mineral oil which is relatively safe/environmentally friendly, but they do not perform well in extreme cold. Others take DOT fluid, which works well in the cold, but it is caustic and an environmentalist's nightmare. And, while hydro brakes have great feel and are very tunable, they are a headache to bleed. Can it be done? Absolutely, but it is a headache.

      Discs work well, if sometimes noisily, in wet conditions. And you cannot beat them for all-out braking power. But, disc-brakes are still heavy, still high-maintenance, and still overkill for most any application beyond mountainbikes, cargo bikes, or heavily loaded touring bikes.

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    10. "anti-Vbrake in the past, on aesthetic grounds"

      Sir, I protest. You guys attributed this to me, because that's the issue others apparently have, but I never disliked the look of v-brakes. In fact just for the fun of it, I would like to instill a fetish for them here. V-brake p0rn on Lovely Bicycle, stay tuned.

      Regarding functionality: The brakes too hard/ doesn't modulate well comment was specific to one test bike bike. And I still enjoyed riding that bike if you recall. My heart is open to v-brakes. You can quote me on that.

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    11. Try Castrol GT LMA in place of mineral oil. Ignore the new "synthetic" labeling.

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  9. It appears from the rest of this build you didn't scrimp on the other components so it's surprising you went with the cheaper brakes, especially given the reputation of the Paul's.

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    1. Long story, but the quick summary is that the components originally were destined for another frame (a prototype project I am working on), and it was not yet decided what brakes that other frame would have. I know of course that Pauls are quality. But I figured if functionally the Dia Compes worked, why not save some moneys. However, there is definitely a functional difference. Namely, the Pauls are much (like MUCH) stiffer; there is no flex.

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    2. I am curious as to whether you tried different pads with the DiaCompes ...the stock pads on the 750s (I am told) are not very good. But since in a week or so I'll be putting a 750 on my bike, I may know more at that point. Of course, I have a grip that can crush steel (or brake levers, in any event) so it may not make much difference...

      (having trouble getting my WP credential verified today--this is NOT anonymous, but lawschoolissoover.wordpress.com.

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    3. Oh yes. The Dia Compes got Kool Stop Salmon pads. So did the Silver Bigmouth sidepulls on the demo bike.

      That said, I think chances are you will be fine with the Dia Compes. It would be great if you could follow up here once you install them, I am curious.

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  10. Good to know as I will face this issue when I do my 650b conversion. I had a list of possible brakes that did not include paul's. Tektro 559, 556 or dia compe 750. I have small hands, with nerve damage as well, so braking is often an issue to the annoyance of my always far ahead on the descent husband. I never really thought of it until I read about others having the same problems. An issue for me are the levers and wish I knew of good options for small weak hands. Paul's anything is just so expensive, but might be a good idea, and they are gorgeous.

    I hope you are safe and okay!

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    1. Thanks, it's absolutely fine here, we were pretty far from the eye. Yesterday was very windy; some trees knocked over and parts of our neighbourhood lost electricity, but nothing too bad. Today I am riding my bike, businesses are open, sun was even out part of the day.

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  11. For a rider with medical issues the correct price comparison is not to other brakes but to medical costs. Looked at that way the Paul brakes are cheap. Personally I find them extraordinarily aesthetically unattractive. In your case it may be the only brake that makes any sense.

    Paul bases his brakes on Mafac. That's not my opinion, that's what he says on his web page. I'll guess he based them mostly on Mafac r.a.i.d. brakes. There never were many of those produced and collectors have sent the ebay price to parity with Paul. Don't pay that price. I had a set as an alley find. I was offered a braze-on set recently for 50, both wheels. If you want them you can find them. IMO the old r.a.i.d. brake is visually worlds better than Paul.

    Standard Mafac Racers from 1970 and before were pretty darn good. Most bad memories of them are based on steel rims, limp cable hangers, shoddy promo levers, and horribly bad cabling. Try a good early set that's well installed and it's a revelation. The 70s Competition calipers are good too. The old metal may cause some to tremble, there are millions of the old brakes still out there and I don't see the failures happening.

    DiaCompe looks just like the Weinmann they came from, the Weinmann originals work better. They do have stiff springs.

    Any centerpull brake is improved by brazed mounts. Jewelry level braze-ons are expensive, functional braze-ons are not. The flame and the brass muck up much less paint than you think. If your brazer is even half good at paint touchup most viewers will never know.






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    1. Obviously I am not one to say that aesthetics don't matter, but in all honesty Paul components look good to me. They have a classic-meets-modern look to them, but then so does the Rawland. We all have different tastes I guess.

      The Mafac r.a.i.d. brakes... I wasn't even going to go there. Yes, I could get my hands on some if I tried. But I want to know that a modern brake exists that I can use; one that can be replaced in the event of a crash (knock on wood) or what have you. I have never been one to outfit my bikes with vintage components.

      Braze-ons, yes. But I am not complaining, as the centermount Pauls work fine.

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    2. I have to agree, these are probably the ugliest brakes I have ever seen. They look like they have Basset Hound ears!

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    3. "They look like they have Basset Hound ears!"

      And that's... a bad thing?

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    4. Paul is the best centerpull period and for someone who has genuine hand strength issues it's the choice.Thought I had that clear enough the first time.

      For the other 95% of the population who don't have a good reason to drop $300 on a pair of calipers the modern choices for a longreach 650B conversion are kinda poor. Vintage Mafac is near free. You gotta buy new pads and cables and small bits but you had to do that anyway. If you are lucky or determined or connected the r.a.i.d. possibility is close to the Pauls. The omnipresent Racer caliper beats Bigmouth hands down.

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  12. Pauls may work the beans but if I wanted 90 degree edges entailing like zero finishing time at a premium price I know where to go! There was a Pauls booth @ Oktoberfest I studiously avoided.

    Or I'd get a frameset compatible with 26, 29, 700c, discs (note sp.) and w/canti bosses. My Ugly Bike.

    Ok my mind is blown: you are working on your own bike. Maybe carping about it every day forever had something to do with it. And dropping some salmon Kool Stop 411 back in the stone ages. Oh never mind.

    So try the mini motos but...they are just v brakes. If they modulate better fine, but again they're a boatload of money vs. cheap. Avid. Found-across-all-price-points-of-bikes-because- they-work vees.

    Oh yeah merely ok pads make vees mod better <--carped previously.

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    1. Hold off on the mind being blown, who knows if I can actually do it. Might result in a pile of ruined tubing. Gotta try though.

      V-brakes. I don't care MiniMotos or not, they all look good to me as long as they stop. But the MiniMotos are compatible with road levers without a thingie, so that's what everyone's been recommending here. I need to read up on this; my understanding of the setup is close to zero right now.

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    2. Jtek Shiftmate. Looks like something you get out of a bubble gum machine. Available for nothing, works, thumbs its nose at all proprietary systems.

      The mash-up artist's best friend

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    3. Okay, I will look into this. We've used the Jtek Shiftmate in Shimpagnolo conversions and it's worked without problems.

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    4. Bah, not the Shiftmate. Should have written Travel Agent.

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  13. Is anything on this bike available at your LBS? I doubt I can find any of this cool stuff at mine....And that's a shame.

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    1. In my neck of the woods, Harris Cyclery has much of this stuff in stock some of the time (in the physical shop, not necessarily online), and the things they don't can be ordered and arrive within a week. I will ride 10 miles there just to get a weird part sometimes.

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  14. They carry Rawland frames, White Industries cranks, Paul Components, Gran Bois tires? Wow!

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    1. Not Rawland frames (though they can order one and it will arrive in about a week). But the other stuff, yes they have it in stock. Not necessarily in the size/config you need mind you. But it can still be helpful to look at some of the things in person before you order the version you need.

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  15. I'm a little surprised that no one has remarked(maybe they have and I missed it) about how much better ALL centerpulls stop and feel when mounted on braze-on posts instead of the inherently less rigid horizontal mount that they are shipped with. Any of the Dia-Comp/Weinman twins or Mafacs of whatever type are are dramatically better. I suppose a simple bolt on booster as used on 90s mountainbikes would make them better still. The booster would be very nearly strait instead of the great big springy horseshoe shaped ones for canti or V-Brakes.

    I suppose it might be time to find a suitable old soldier in the pile downstairs and do a little before and after testing. I've made enough bolt on canti-posts for people who didn't want to repaint their frames, maybe it would be fun to do some of these as well.

    Spindizzy

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    1. I touched on it a bit above.

      You certainly are correct. Braze on is yards better than center bolt - which is already pretty good.

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  16. Velouria wrote: "I want to know that a modern brake exists that I can use; one that can be replaced in the event of a crash (knock on wood) or what have you. I have never been one to outfit my bikes with vintage components."

    I realize Paul Components is fairly successful, but it could be gone tomorrow. I rarely see brake calipers damaged in crashes, and parts that might wear (what have you) on NOS Mafac Raids are available (brake blocks) or could be pilfered from the ubiquitous and cheap Racers (bushings) or sourced/made elsewhere (springs). If they get more damage than that, chances are you need a new set of brakes or a new bike anyway. It seems a peculiar rationale for why you wouldn't use them if you found them attractive and understood them to have the kind of stopping power you needed. (They are also mechanically just as "modern" as Pauls, CNC 'stiffness' notwithstanding). That said, I get great stopping power on my Fuji with Dia Compe 610/750, but the nice thing about these is the modulation, ie, the progressive stopping power, so I could see someone with grip issues having difficulty with them. I'm not sure what makes the Paul's different in terms of the modulation, I've never used them.

    Disclaimer: I also fall in among those who find the Paul brakes unattractive, and much prefer the Mafacs, Dia Compes, Weimanns.

    I agree with anon 5:38 that the Raids are visually world's better than Pauls, but don't wait for someone to come up to you in an alley and offer them to you for $50. If you want them before handing your bike off to the grandkids, you will likely pay a nice price--if everyone fell into such deals there would be no need for ebay or cl. But still cheaper, prettier, and just as powerful as Pauls.

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    1. All subjective.

      I've built two bikes with braze on Raids and two with Paul Racers, one with Paul Motolites and now one with Paul Racer Ms.

      The Raids looked better than the Racers and Motolites. I think the Racer Ms look better than the Raids though. I really like the MiniMotos and think they could be the best looking of the bunch.

      RAIDs are easier (for me anyway) to set up, provided I use Koolstop solid post pads. I could never get the original Raid pads right. Adjusting and maintaining RAIDs takes about the same amount of effort as setting them up.

      Once the Pauls are set up, adjustments and maintenance gets easier.

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    2. If you want to be certain of access to service parts and to own bikes that can be serviced you look for components that had long and large production runs. That describes Mafac quite well.

      Modern parts seem to change every time I look around. That says to me the designer was not that sure what he was doing. In the fullness of time I suppose some 2012 parts will start to look better than they do right now. Which ones I've no idea

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  17. I put Paul Neo-Retro and Touring brakes on my cross bike because the stock Avids seemed to be best at producing vibration and noise with deceleration being a distant third to those effects. If the Minimotos had been available then I would have bought those instead. If discs had been available on the bike I bought I would have gone for that option in preference to any other. My ideal is to have brakes which I can bring to the verge of lockup with two fingers on the lever. The only bike I've ever achieved this on was my old mountain bike. As for aesthetics, so far as I'm concerned functionality and suitability for the purpose is intrinsically beautiful if you look at it the appropriate way. That's why I've always disliked the old "A camel is a horse designed by a committee" joke...

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    1. Yeah. Besides, camels are adorable.

      So how well do the Neo-Retros work?..

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    2. Quite well once I got them set up correctly. My only previous bike with cantis was a 93 Cannondale M800 which had their unique Force 40 setup instead of a regular straddle cable. Thus I had to take some time (both with the bike and a Lennard Zinn book) delving into the mysteries of the straddle cable. The Neo's seem to have a little more power for a given force at the lever than the touring and they are both VASTLY better than the stock brakes. Not as strong as V-brakes but pretty good. Kool-Stop Salmon pads are always used too.

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  18. Camels may be adorable but they are not particularly user-friendly unless you really know what you are doing. And you thought drop bars and clipless would be a challenge...Lovely Bicycle... Adorable Camel?

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  19. There are two types of v-brakes. Many are intended to be used with long pull brake levers i.e. upright or mountain bars. Other v-brakes are designed to be used on short pull levers i.e. bmx levers and drop bar levers.

    In most situations drop bar levers will not pull enough cable to properly use long pull V-Brakes. The long pull v-brakes can be adapted for use with short pull brakes by using a Problem Solver Travel Agent. Tektro also makes some long pull drop bar levers.

    TRP CX8.4, Tektro BX25 and the Paul Mini Moto are v-brakes brakes are intended to be used with short pull levers. I'm sure there are many other short pull v-brakes. They are common for boxers and come in and out of fashion in cyclocross.

    A potential problem with v-brakes is that the cable may interfere with fenders, but this is not supposed to be the case with the newer Paul Mini Moto brakes.

    Anyone who has been disappointed with cantilever brakes should try v-brakes.

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  20. Pardon me for a long post. I just came across this and thought I'd add my two-bob's worth.

    I've used many different sorts of cantilevers, centre-pulls, and v-brakes (AND sidepulls) over nearly 40 years. They can all be set up to stop you.

    I most liked some Zeus 2000 c/pulls with groovy dullish silver, drilled levers, black gum hoods, a great adjusting bolt and quick release mechanism on the levers, curved wire wheel guides on the brake blocks, and elegant cable stops for head tube and seat bolt. There are photos of some of these things on velobase.com. If I remember rightly they were flexy, but stopped well.

    Dia-Compe, Universal & Weinmann c/pulls have all worked for me. I liked Universal ’cos they seemed more rigid; nowadays they look agricultural, but they worked. The only MAFAC c/pulls I’ve used were on someone else's bike and were pretty useless, but I suspect they weren't set up well. Sometime in the mid-70s, I met two Japanese pro-riders for SunTour riding down the east coast of Australia – Cairns to Adelaide – and then to Uluru. They had racing bikes with braze-on everything, used singles (tubulars) even for touring (In Australia in the ’70s! On rough gravel roads! For 000’s of kms! Most clinchers & clincher rims were pretty hopeless then.), and what I think were Dia Compe c/pull brakes on braze-on pivots. I rode one of these bikes and the brakes were fantastic.

    The best stopping cantilevers I've used were MAFAC Tandem or Criterium brakes with Scott-Mathauser pads & SunTour Superbe levers; but they were a bit brutal. Tektro 720 are great with old style free cable levers; in *my* experience, not as good with modern ones but plenty useful. I've had a few sets of Shimanos that did the job but to my eyes were ugly; some short-arm Dia Compes that were useless, and long-arm ones that were great. Avid Ultimate Shorty are beautifully made and easy to set up, but I found their stopping power with Ultegra 6700 levers no much better than many other cheaper brakes; for me, they aren’t worth the extra money.

    Tektro R6.0 mini-V brakes work well, but can be a bit chancey in quality. Avid 3 - 7 v-brakes all work well with long pull levers, but can give too much brake too suddenly on a road(ish) bike. Shimano XTR, with the parallelogram linkages, are great on my tandem but expensive and over-complicated. The top of the line Cane Creek v-brake works well on a tandem and was ok on a touring bike. It's also very adjustable (you can turn the arms around), but I’ve had quality issues with them.

    I use Paul mini-motos on my current main bike. They work exceptionally well with Ultegra 6700 levers, and stop wet or dry as good or better than anything I've used. I was thinking of getting a front disc brake, but don’t think I’ll bother now. After many years adjusting cantilever brakes, I must say the Paul's are much easier to set up than just about any cantilever brake, and that counts for something. I've even adjusted them on tour with an Allen key while using just my fingers to hold the 15mm adjusting bolt where I wanted it.

    With good and correct length cables and housing, the right levers and brake blocks, just about any brake can be set up to stop you acceptably. Some are easier to do this with. Some will remain effective for longer. Some are easier to look at. Whatever floats your boat.




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