Thursday, September 13, 2007

CLB Brakes

Yesterday afternoon was spent on a two hour shake-down ride with the path racer. So far, it still only has the front brake - and that's worth some comment.

The brakes are some NOS CLBs that I picked up from Velo-Orange. They're sidepull brakes with about a 47-60mm reach. In todays terms, this is long-reach, although at the date of their manufacture (probably early 70's) they would have been considered medium-reach.

These are not the classiest brakes on the block. The finish is a greyish/silverish paint with a little sticker that says "CLB". The bolts that hold the brake shoes have an agricultural look with a hex head in which there is also a slot cut for Phillips screwdriver. Nonetheless, these brakes are full of good design and work really well.

First of all, if you looked at the pictures in the previous post, it's clear that they were designed to provide fender clearances. This is too often overlooked in the design of longer modern sidepull brakes.

In the head-on picture, the front arm has a little tab on the right. Behind that, on the rear arm, is a nylon bearing. This ensures that under heavy braking, when the arms flex, they won't bind up on each other. This should contribute to better brake feel/control - but I've never seen it on another brake.

What isn't visible in the pictures is how the back of the arms fit around the brake bolt. For the most part, the arms are in a single plane. However, at the brake bolt, the forward arm sweeps forward and across the rear arm as it reaches for the brake cable. The sweep is elegantly designed to be hollowed out with stiffening tabs that run from front to back. The rear arm also gets a hollow before coming to the portion that forms the bearing on the brake bolt. The result of this is stiff yet light arms. Good on CLB.

After looking at them closely, I'm going to have to weigh them on a digital scale just to see how they do.

All of this is for naught, of course, if the brakes don't work well. The first time the brake was applied, the bike was moving slowly and the braking seemed rather anemic. The next time, I was at speed and pulled hard on the lever. It took about a revolution of the front wheel to break through the old surface of the brake pad - then the brakes grabbed right-now! Having got the pads bedded in, they offer lots of stopping power and good modulation. Combined with the fender clearances, more of CLBs are on my shopping list.

In the mean time, the levers sport the drilled-out look - kinda cool. So I'm thinking of removing the paint from the calipers and levers, and polishing the aluminum to a nice luster. This should enhance the overall look of the Path Racer.

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