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how boost u-brakes?

Old 01-21-21, 04:37 PM
  #1  
Kc2ine
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how boost u-brakes?

Hi,
just got my first bmx bike stolen saint 24" and trying to set it up
best if possible. Can these u-brakes be strong enough or not really?
Any tip what can I do to make it stronger? new pads maybe?
thanks
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Old 01-21-21, 05:02 PM
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New brake pads might help; I like Odyssey Slim by Four in clear or gum.
Scuff the sidewalls with some steel wool.
Replace the entry-level U25 brake with something pro-level, or at least mid-level.
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Old 01-22-21, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
New brake pads might help; I like Odyssey Slim by Four in clear or gum.
Scuff the sidewalls with some steel wool.
Replace the entry-level U25 brake with something pro-level, or at least mid-level.
thanks, so I try with pads for a start.
BTW disk brakes are by definition stronger or all depends?
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Old 01-22-21, 10:40 AM
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Discs are generally better than rim brakes in wet conditions. For absolute braking power, I have found little difference between cable actuated discs and well set up V brakes. Good hydraulic discs, in my experience, have more reliable braking power and better modulation than any rim brakes. The difference in dry conditions is not that great.

However, U brakes are, in my opinion, the bottom of the barrel. I hate them. It is possible to get good braking out of them but they are the biggest PITA to set up, and they limit clearance for tires, fenders and/or mud more than V or canti brakes.

Although my hatred for U brakes might be residual anger from the late '80s when almost all MTBs came with U brakes mounted under the bottom bracket for one or two years. The worst possible combination of an impossible location to access for setup and maintenance, constant buildup of mud and debris (sometimes to the point of jamming the rear wheel), and all this trouble resulting only in mediocre braking.
V brakes were introduced only 5 years after the Great U Brake Experiment was shown to be a complete failure.
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Old 01-22-21, 10:53 AM
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u-brakes are unbelievably simple to dial in. I learned how to make crappy u-brakes stop on a dime when I was 12. dead simple and they are the best application for a freestyle bike.

strong enough for what? a good u-brake can easily be set up to be very, very powerful. do you want to be able to lock it up for tricks or modulate your speed on jumps?
IME: setup is critical.
  • smooth cable operation is essential. use a fresh cable and a drop or two of Triflow in the housing
  • pivots need to move smooth without play. remove both arms and slap a bit of grease on the posts.
  • minimal spring tension! if the springs are set too firm, you're fighting those springs every time you pull the lever. set them as light as needed to make the pads clear the rim.
  • brake pads and rims work together. anodized rims need stickier pads like some of the clear options out there. machined sidewalls work well with somewhat soft pads. chromed rims work find with plain old black pads.

Last edited by mack_turtle; 01-22-21 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 01-22-21, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by ClydeClydeson View Post
However, U brakes are, in my opinion, the bottom of the barrel. I hate them. It is possible to get good braking out of them but they are the biggest PITA to set up, and they limit clearance for tires, fenders and/or mud more than V or canti brakes.
it sounds like your experience was with mountain bikes, where a u-brake indeed does NOT belong. this discussion is about BMX bikes, which is a perfect application for a u-brake. what is the extent of your experience riding BMX? I rode BMX (street and skatepark, not racing) for almost 20 years and would never consider anything but a u-brake for that application. BMX bikes are rarely ridden in wet and muddy conditions, so your concerns are unfounded here. putting a disc brake on a freestyle bike would be absurd, but I can see the logic on a race bike.
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Old 01-22-21, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
it sounds like your experience was with mountain bikes, where a u-brake indeed does NOT belong. this discussion is about BMX bikes, which is a perfect application for a u-brake. what is the extent of your experience riding BMX? I rode BMX (street and skatepark, not racing) for almost 20 years and would never consider anything but a u-brake for that application. BMX bikes are rarely ridden in wet and muddy conditions, so your concerns are unfounded here. putting a disc brake on a freestyle bike would be absurd, but I can see the logic on a race bike.
I actually clicked this link from the 'new posts' section, and only realized it was a BMX-related thread after I posted my response. I figured there would be backlash for defying BMX dogma re. U brakes, same as if you were to make a comment in the Touring subforum about how aluminum frames are superior to 4130.

My statement stands, though - U brakes are just about the worst brakes you can get and I never did figure out why BMXers like them so much.

And you are correct that I have very limited BMX riding experience, but I use to do a lot of maintenance and work on freestyle bikes, including getting quite adept at 'balancing' gyros in the rear brake cable.
I also remember from those days discussions with freestyle and bmx riders about tricks to make the brakes more effective, while the rest of the cycling world had simply moved on to more effective brakes. If you have to pour Coke on your rims to make the sticky in order for the brake to work properly, they aren't good brakes to start with.
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Old 01-22-21, 02:13 PM
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Why would you bother coming to a discussion about a bike that is, like most bmx bikes, equipped with a u-brake to tell them that u-brakes suck? that's fine if that's been your experience, but what did you hope to add to the discussion with that? glad you got that rant off your chest, but it does nothing for this discussion. OP can't change the brakes on his bike at this point.

I've never had to pour Coke on my rims to make them work. in the early days, I had side-pull brakes like Diacompe Bulldogs and those sucked, so I regularly applied Simple Green to the rims to get them to work for flatland riding.

it takes less five minutes to tune a u-brake perfectly (another extra minute if there's a gyro involved) and you need to use the appropriate brake pads for your rim. they were always as effective as any mtb disc brake for me. I could do tricks on my rear wheel that required a sudden powerful stop on one wheel with a lot of momentum behind it and because I set them up with a basic level of proficiency, they never failed me. any other result is from inferior generic u-brakes or a lack of skill on the part of the mechanic.

other bikes moved on to different types of brakes because they needed tire clearance and had more room. you also don't need to worry about annihilating a disc brake rotor while doing a feeble grind on a brick ledge on a mountain bike because people typically don't do anything like that on any other sort of bike. u-brakes are narrow and out of the way, so there's no other brake that would really work for that application anyhow. with people like George French designing parts, I'm sure that if disc brakes were a good application for BMX, they'd be commonplace. instead, he's working on even simpler brakes and reliable freecoaster hubs for Odyssey.

someone needs to let Rob Ridge know that his inferior u-brakes are holding him back.

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Old 01-22-21, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
u-brakes are unbelievably simple to dial in. I learned how to make crappy u-brakes stop on a dime when I was 12. dead simple and they are the best application for a freestyle bike.

strong enough for what? a good u-brake can easily be set up to be very, very powerful. do you want to be able to lock it up for tricks or modulate your speed on jumps?
yes, like e.g jump on narrow landing what requires short stop, possible with u-brakes?

Maybe you could write some short tutor how to setup them correctly. Front already I have more or less setup, have some problem with rear though.

update: ok I watched the video, so it's possible

Last edited by Kc2ine; 01-22-21 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 01-22-21, 06:08 PM
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I see disk brakes on free style bikes as well like on Danny, but that's like another level altogether
not sure if that is a bmx bike or jump bike though.

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Old 01-22-21, 08:02 PM
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Danny rides a trials bike, which a heavily modified mountain bike design. It's quite similar to a BMX bike in many ways, but it's heritage and technology comes from mountain bikes. Look up "observed trials" for more on that.
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Old 01-22-21, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Kc2ine View Post
yes, like e.g jump on narrow landing what requires short stop, possible with u-brakes?

Maybe you could write some short tutor how to setup them correctly. Front already I have more or less setup, have some problem with rear though.
Maybe a write up like the one I wrote in this thread already

If your primary goal is to jump onto objects and suddenly stop and balance, you should have purchased a trials bike because that's exactly what they are made to do. If you want u-brakes that are basically on and off with little room for modulation, get some of those sticky clear brake pads to start. Be warned, the make you brakes squawk! Most riders want their brakes to have some in between power so they can slow down the wheel to perfect their speed before hitting a jump. It's far easier to approach something too fast and use the brake than to come at it too slow and mess up your balance by pedaling.
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