Author Topic: Poor Trek520 brakes  (Read 959 times)

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Offline PeteJack

Poor Trek520 brakes
« on: February 10, 2014, 04:12:09 pm »
My 520 now has 41K on it and for about 40 of the 41K my front bake was dreadful: very noisy and not very effective. If there was a STOP sign at the bottom of a steep hill I found it almost impossible to stop with my hands on the hoods having to reach round from the drops and to squeeze like hell to get any stopping power at all. I managed to ameliorate the squealing a bit by using Jagwire pads but the stopping power was still very poor.

Here's how I fixed it. I replaced the Single Digit SD-5 front brake with a Single Digit Ultimate brake and replaced the OEM levers with Tektro RL-520s. The Ultimate cost 5 times as much, ($111 from the internet) as the SD-5 but it's like night and day. I now descend steep hills braking from the hoods in comfort thanks also to the Tektro levers which seem to have better ergonomics than the originals. The Ultimate is silent in operation with no toe in. I still have the original SD-5 on the back with KoolStop pads which works just fine.

Hope this helps somebody.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2014, 09:17:49 pm »
Good information on how to increase stopping power through equipment change.

On the other hand, I've treated stopping on steep (5% or more) grades as more of a skill than an equipment issue.  When it gets steep, I have to brace myself, which means getting hands down into the hook of the bar.  It's easy to grab the brakes from the hooks, and I've never had any problems (unless rims are wet from a heavy rain, but that's another story).

Offline PeteJack

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 11:17:17 pm »
Quote
which means getting hands down into the hook of the bar
As I said
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having to reach round from the drops and to squeeze like hell to get any stopping power at all

Offline John Nelson

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2014, 11:32:48 pm »
I have a 2009 Trek 520. Depending on model year, your brakes may be different, as components change frequently.

I found the stock brakes worked very well, but they wore down fast, were very noisy and kept picking up aluminum bits off the rim. I had to frequently take up slack in the cables and clean the pads.

After a few thousand miles, I replaced the pads with after-market pads. All the problems mentioned above went away, and the brakes still worked very well. As with any brakes, they must be carefully adjusted to work properly.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2014, 12:24:59 am »
I think the original pads were Shimano which seem to tear up rims not only on 520s

Offline DaveB

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2014, 12:08:46 pm »
I have a 2009 Trek 520. Depending on model year, your brakes may be different, as components change frequently.

I found the stock brakes worked very well, but they wore down fast, were very noisy and kept picking up aluminum bits off the rim. I had to frequently take up slack in the cables and clean the pads.

After a few thousand miles, I replaced the pads with after-market pads. All the problems mentioned above went away, and the brakes still worked very well. As with any brakes, they must be carefully adjusted to work properly.
That's a point that many riders miss, the real braking is done by the pads.  As long as the calipers are decently rigid and the cables aren't in bad shape, almost any brake will work adequately.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2014, 07:29:15 pm »
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As long as the calipers are decently rigid
There's the rub (so to speak). I don't think the SD-5 calipers are sufficiently rigid, hence the chatter (i.e. squeal). SD-5s have another drawback. It can be almost impossible to get both arms to spring back the same amount on both sides no matter how you fiddle with the adjusting screws, with Ultimates this is not a problem.

Offline DaveB

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2014, 09:16:14 am »
Quote
As long as the calipers are decently rigid
There's the rub (so to speak). I don't think the SD-5 calipers are sufficiently rigid, hence the chatter (i.e. squeal). SD-5s have another drawback. It can be almost impossible to get both arms to spring back the same amount on both sides no matter how you fiddle with the adjusting screws, with Ultimates this is not a problem.
I've no experience with the SD-5 brakes but I did have Avid's higher line SD-7 V-brakes on a Surly Cross Check and chatter, rigidity and centering were no problems with them.  They also used the same style slip-in pads as Shimano's canti's and V-brakes and it was easy to replace the mediocre stock pads with Kool-Stop Salmons.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2014, 08:26:37 pm »
Quote from:  DaveB
I did have Avid's higher line SD-7 V-brakes
I did consider SD-7s but then thought "what the hell" and sprung for the much more expensive Ultimate. Water under the bridge now, it's quite possible SD-7s would have done the trick.

Offline DaveB

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 08:47:21 am »
I did consider SD-7s but then thought "what the hell" and sprung for the much more expensive Ultimate. Water under the bridge now, it's quite possible SD-7s would have done the trick.
Well, maybe they would have but no one was ever sorry they bought the best.  As the saying goes; "buy good, cry once".

Offline PeteJack

Re: Poor Trek520 brakes
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2014, 05:01:46 pm »
Quote from: DaveB
Well, maybe they would have but no one was ever sorry they bought the best.  As the saying goes; "buy good, cry once".
Thanks Dave.