shiny new brakes [that wail]
We finally got new brake pads on our vintage Raleighs. This was imperative since I was using mine as my daily ride and the brakes left something to be desired. For safety measures, I mostly rode at an embarrassingly slow speed just to be able to stop when needed.
We got Continental brake pads made for ‘urban riders’ and for both steel or aluminum rims. (The Raleighs have steel rims). They were easy enough to install and, while at it, T. also oiled the brake cables for smoother braking.
He figured out how to separate the brake cable cover from the top and how to pour oil inside using a plastic needle-like tip. You can best see this in the first picture just above.
I was thrilled to have shiny new brakes so it came as quite a surprise when I first clamped down on them the next morning and my bike emitted a loud shrill wail. I was just approaching a group of school children waiting to cross the road and both the children and the crossing guard turned to look at me in horrified wonder. The loud squealing (somewhere between a pig in distress and nails on chalkboard) continued anytime I had to stop. I think the entire campus was made aware of my arrival once I pulled up next to my office.
I rode like that for two days because the back of the brakes package explained that it would take a bit of use for the brakes to get ‘broken in’. I assumed this to be part of the breaking in process. But after two days and a bit of research, I found out that the brakes were not ‘toed-in’ correctly.
The brake pads have to be installed at a slight angle to where the front part of the pad makes contact with the wheel rim a slight bit before the rear part of the pad comes to it. Several bike sites and the illustrious Sheldon Brown all confirmed this.
Armed with this information, T. adjusted the brake pads to ‘toe-in’ correctly and the wailing was fixed. I’m looking forward to a much more serene and quiet commute again. Finally, the chalkboard has been put away and the pigs have been silenced.