After a couple of years or so, I have finally worn out my original brake pads on Hugo the Raleigh Roadster. The pads that came with it were rather small, but they seemed to do the job.
I found out from my local bike shop (The Bike Peddler) that they were “road style” pads, which was in line with a couple of other details on this bike when purchased (especially the quill-style pedals). These details were not terribly consistent with the basic purpose of this kind of utility-style bike, but were functional. They just seemed a bit odd for a three-speed town bike geared this low.
The salesperson suggested I could go with some more road style pads, or I could use something a bit less exotic. I opted for the latter option, as it was well within the normal price range and looked a bit more beefy. While technically for V-type brakes, they are adaptable to the kind of caliper brakes my bike sports. I was given a helpful introduction to the ideal way to mount the pads, and then went on home to put all of this into practice.
With quick-release brakes (something my old Raleigh certainly didn’t have—but then again, it didn’t really have functional brakes at all), it was quite easy to get the old pads off and the new ones on without removing the wheels. Initially, the rear pads were not quite adjusted properly (see photo), but with a little work, they were lined up to the rim, set with the “toe in” so as to reduce squeaking (none so far), and the brake cable adjusted so that I have minimal play in it when coming to a stop. My bike slows down much better now…something I am especially appreciative of with the rain back and stopping distances going up.
Another interesting aspect of these new brake pads has to do with the residue they leave behind. When I bought Hugo, I was surprise how much of a mess the brakes made in wet weather. The rims and tires were coated with a black, gritty goo. I had to use a special wheel cleaner to get things looking better, and anything coming in contact with this stuff was pretty seriously stained. When I switched to natural rubber color tires, the situation was even worse, of course. Ah, vanity….
I thought about purchasing white brake pads, but couldn’t find any locally. One reader of this blog told me that they wouldn't really get rid of the mess, anyway. I was about to order some white pads off the Interwebs when I decided to purchase these pairs just ahead of the approaching change in the weather.
Strangely enough, the new pads don’t make anything like the same amount of mess (thus far). I am delighted! I’ll watch for it as time goes by, but by this point in the rainy season, my first set had already made something akin to a slurry on my wheels. So far, these are doing the job and doing it graciously.
Brakes are one of those things on a bike that are essential but rather easily overlooked. Keeping them in order and adjustment is very important, and checking them out in cursory fashion forms a part of my standard pre-trip once-over. I was very glad to learn more about how they are supposed to be set up on this kind of bike…and I am very happy that I was able to do it myself. And on top of that, a little bit my vanity was left, well, untarnished.
Happy cycling this October!