25 August, 2009

Nutted Brakes

So many of you have been asking for nutted brakes to fit older frames that we asked Tektro to make some for us. This means that you can now easily convert older frames to modern dual pivot brakes without drilling out the fork crown and seat stay bridge.

We ordered the Tektro R538 (with a 47 to 57mm reach) and the Tektro R556 (with a 55 to 73mm reach) in traditional nutted versions. Both brakes are modern dual pivot designs with excellent stopping power. They both include re-fillable cartridge type brake shoes, barrel adjusters with O-rings, and cam type quick-releases. The finish is polished and anodized aluminum. The quality is equal to that on many much more expensive brakes.

The R556 is very popular for converting older frames to 650b wheels.

For some reason the little Tektro logo is silver on the front brake and black on the rear.

And, YES, they are available to shops through VO Imports Inc. As is my habit, the first order of any new item is small, so they probably won't last too long.


Anonymous said...

Any chance the labeling blem would lead to a discount? ITTET you gotta ask!


Velo Orange said...

I thought we might call it a "VO Limited Edition" and raise the price ;<)

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose you could help us out with the old center pull design as well?
I've always used the Dia Compe center pulls when upgrading old bikes. I think they are more effective than the extra long reach side pull and can be made to work on old frames if you get a set of old nutted bolts. I usually get them off of short reach center pulls found in the local co-op's parts bin. I've never been able to find the longer reach center pulls used. It's always the short reach model, which means I have to buy two sets of brakes to do the job.
Perhaps you could just have a set of bolts made rather than ordering a batch of brakes?

Unknown said...

Wow, this is great that you're offering this. I built up an old (85') Bridgestone a few months back with 556's and had to get two front's and drill out the fork. It worked well enough, but this would have been so much easier. Thanks for bringing this to market!

John Ellsworth said...

Off-topic: Hut how do you get Dia-Compes to work worth a damn?

I used a set of long reach calipers with 700c Rims on my 1972 Schwinn Sports Tourer build, and they were awful. No power or feel to speak of after much fiddling, with either the gray pads they came with or a set of Yokuzuna pads bought from V-O. I don't recall them working well as a kid, either, honestly.

Using the same cables and levers, the set of Mafac Racers that replaced them were brilliant out of the box, by comparison. Noisy, and flexy, yes, but much more powerful.

Not being a hater -- genuinely curious!

Fred Blasdel said...

All of a sudden there are a few different shops offering these nutted (including SJS)

Years ago I bought a really cheap Tektro 800A dual-pivot front nutted brake, but as a bottom-barrel model it was really crappy, and even then the start of the reach was too long and I couldn't use it.

Then I realized that it used the same bolt as the nice models, bought a pair of R556s, and swapped the recessed rear for the nutted front. Bingo!

patates frites said...

You are recommending the longer brake for 700C to 650B conversions. There is a huge difference (38mm) between those two sizes. The difference between 27" and 700C is only 8mm. Which of the two new brake models would you recommend for a 27to 700C conversion?

Joshua said...

This is so awesome. Thank you for doing this, I hate the crappy Dia-Compes that I have now, but if I don't want to drill the frame, they were my only option.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome...I've been dragging my heels on getting some Tektros for exactly this reason. Problem solved!

J ustin. said...

I did a 27" to 700c conversion with the longer brake. The pads are allllll the way to the top of the slots. Definitely didn't need that extra reach.

Might go ahead made the lady's bike a 650b!

Andrew E said...

I love seeing all this stuff become available (again).

On another note, are you planning on getting any more of the 8sp SA wheels?

Ethan Labowitz said...

minor framebuilding-nerd nitpicking: "...to modern dual pivot brakes without drilling out the fork crown and seat stay."

I believe you meant to refer to the seat stay bridge, not the seat stay itself.

Anonymous said...


is that blue bike perchance a repainted Motobecane? I vaguely recognize that fork crown from the 70s.

michael white
(I was in a group of riders who all had Motobecanes around 74. I had the best one, the Le Champion.)

Rick @ Bicycle Fixation said...


You might have been surprised if you had used your R800A. It's not pretty, but it does stop well. I have one on my odd "Pseudobecane", and it works quite nicely, even with the original pads.

I've had great luck with Dia-Compe 750s as well.

V-O's Tektros ought to be really handy for all sorts of conversions.

Justine Valinotti said...

Even though the design was nearly identical, the Weinmann centerpulls that came with my old Motobecane always seemed to have a firmer feel and more power than the Dia Compes that came on the Nishiki I had back in the day. But the Mafac Racers, as noisy, flexy (and ugly) as they were, easily beat all comers when it came to stopping power.

I don't need any nutted brakes now, but I'm glad to see you're having them made. Much as I love older frames, I don't love most older parts. (That was more or less Sheldon Brown's philosophy.) If brakes like the ones you've shown will help to keep some nice older bikes on the road, I'm happy to see them.

jimmythefly said...

Patates- You've got twice as many millimeters as you need there. The difference is, as you state, 38mm and 8mm. But that's overall diameter, so the actual change in brake reach is either 19mm or 4mm.

In my experience, there's enough difference in how a frame is built that I always needed to actually measure the current mounting bolt to rim distance, then do the math from that.

I've got one bike (with the OEM 700c short-reach calipers) where the front brake has the pads at the top of the slot, and the rear has 'em at the bottom, so even on a frameset there are differences in build precision.

Uncle Ankle said...

That labelling situation is quickly rectified with either a Brillo pad or a cotton swab with acetone, whichever is closest at hand.

yours truly etc.

Steve said...

patates frites said:

You are recommending the longer brake for 700C to 650B conversions. There is a huge difference (38mm) between those two sizes. The difference between 27" and 700C is only 8mm. Which of the two new brake models would you recommend for a 27to 700C conversion?

In terms of reach, 630-622 / 2 = 4, not 8 mm additional reach. It's the radius, not the diameter, you're concerned with. Many bikes were converted by simply moving the brake shoes down, since they were originally built for mid-slot placement.

Anonymous said...

Great, this will help save a large fleet of nice old steel frames. In the last year I drilled wider holes in my Zeus, Falcon and a son's TREK in order to use the recessed nuts and to improve braking ability. Also ordered an extra set of 556s so I could use the longer bolt on the rear of a '72 Paramount.

Oh well, next time...

Velo Orange said...

Patate, You simply measure the reach to find the right brake, from the center of the hole to the middle of the rim's braking surface.

MW, Yes; that's my Le Champion.

Andrew, SA has had a production problem with the 8-spd hubs, but they are on the way again and we should have some in a few weeks.

Ethan, Thanks. Fixed.

Robin said...

Bolts as spares would also be handy for converting a spare rear brake into a front.

Robin said...

Great. I tried to get the UK Tektro importer to get some of these but they weren't interested. SJS got their nutted 556's direct from Tektro.

I think the long front nutted Tektro bolts will also fit the Shimano R450 & R650 dual pivots, so it might be worth stocking these bolts as spares.

Scott Redd said...

I ordered the 556 brakes from Amazon a while back and got the recessed nut version. If I had to do it over again, I would probably get your nutted version.

My idea was convert a 1976 Schwinn Le Route II to 650B. However, the fork mounting hole and the seat stay bridge were pretty high up. I couldn't get the reach I needed to use my 650B wheels. However, the reach is fine for 700C, which I used to replace the 27 inch wheels.

I did have to drill out the back of the fork mounting hole, as well as use a Dremel tool on the rear brake mounting bar. I saved the curved washers from the stock brakes to make for a perfect fit.

The shiny Tektro brakes look great, still provide ample clearance for fenders, and best of all, give stopping power to a bike that barely had any with its 1970s brakes.

My results can be seen here.

Scott Redd said...

Oops... I said "Le Route." I meant "Le Tour". Same letters, different order. Extra E. :)

Anonymous said...

Can you look into importing the Tektro R900A?


They'd be perfect for conversions where you need gobs of brake reach!

Unknown said...

Speaking of tire size conversions and brake issues, have you ever thought about making something in the style of the Paul Components Moto BMX brake that would allow for easy 27" to 700c conversions on touring bikes with cantilever studs? Sometimes this just works by adjusting the angle of the pad, but more precise adjustment would be great.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned a while back that you would have brake cable and housing sets in different colors, whatever happened to that, are they still in the pipeline?


Velo Orange said...

Dan, The cable housing kits are now in production. New products take at least 3 months to get, 5 or 6 months is more typical. That's after the the design phase.

Winga said...

I just retrofitted a pair of the R556 to a 71 Supercourse using the front in the rear(radiussed washers and a nut) and rear in the front(feed allen nut up fork crown, put allen wrench through back and tighten down), no drilling. Although I might get a pair of the nutted version so I can use a crown/brake mounted rack I still had plenty of threads for fenders.
I also wanted to say that going from Dia Compe 750 centerpulls to the x-long reach brakes w/pads all the way down was a major improvement. No more rear ends.
I don't know why more people are not making/selling the nutted version but I am guessing these will be a hot seller, Thanks Chris and Tektro.
Any plans to get a shorter reach version?, I've got a Raleigh Professional I was thinking putting some gears on and would need shorter brake for back.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of getting a 39-49 mm brake with the nutted bolt as well? Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I understand that one can order Tektro A900's remove the bolt and use that in place of the bolt on any of their brakes, it adds about 25$ to the cost of their brakes, but add's a lot of flexibility in lengths. The Nutted versions everyone has for sale are too long for my wives Teledyne Titan, and they mostly look terrible. The single pivots that it has are horrid and do not fit the level of components on her bike.

This guy has done it with some r556's: