I’ve been wanting to mount some wider and more comfortable tires on my 1990’s Terry Symmetry, which was built during the sad era of zero brake clearance for wider tires. Even after switching from the 650c rims which the bike was designed for, down to 26″ 559s, I had no room for fenders with the 32 cm (actually measuring at 28mm on my rims) Paselas I was using. But, since I mounted the fenders without going underneath the fork crown and brake bridge, I wondered if I could use some wider tires which might provide more comfort than the competent but harsh riding Paselas I’ve been using.
So, I purchased a set of Schwalbe Kojak 26 x 1.35 tires. Since, there are almost no tire options available for road bikes running 26 inch tires, and while I usually do not care for Schwalbe’s offerings, I was left with these Kojaks as the only choice as an alternative to the Panaracer Paselas. The Elk Pass tires offered by Rene Herse Cycles that I had previously tried proved to be so flat prone that I could no longer tolerate them. When I mounted the Kojaks, which were very difficult to install on my rims, the Shimano 105 dual pivot brakes contacted the tires, so I knew I was going to have to figure out a different brake option that would provide better clearance.
Fortunately, I am not the first cyclist to crave wider tires on a road bike, and to push the limits of tire clearance. There are many forum posts and websites devoted to finding solutions to this problem. A number of possible solutions to the tire clearance problem exist, but the clearest path involved choosing single pivot sidepulls, which can generally offer better tire clearance than their dual pivot counterparts. While dual pivots are super easy to set up, I’ve never been put off by single pivot brakes, except for: see below!
First off, I tried these Weinmann 600 brake calipers, which were sitting in a NOS box in my parts bin. Handling these calipers and using their hardware proved shocking: these brakes come with very low quality bolts, and some of the nuts had been cross threaded. So, this low quality brakeset has been set aside.
But, then I thought: what about switching to centerpull brakes? That would mean installing front and rear hangers, but could be an option to consider. I dry mounted these first generation Dura Ace centerpulls but they actually proved to have less clearance than the Shimano 105s.
So, I tried out a number of different options ranging from the very nice Dia Compe BRS 200s (which didn’t have quite enough brake reach on the rear brake), to these oddball Dia Compe AC 600s (pictured last), which feature a strange offset angle for cable routing, apparently to reduce wind resistance, which is nothing short of ridiculous. And, they have no quick release mechanism, a must for any brake caliper.
Finally, I settled on a set of Shimano 600 single pivot sidepulls which are actually the matched set to the Shimano crankset I’m using on this Terry. But, there were several problems to deal with. This bike is designed for recessed brakes. So, for the rear brake I mounted the caliper in front of the seat stays which dealt with the problem of the wide opening for the recessed bolt. But, for the front brake I chose a different option.
Bikes designed for recessed brakes cannot use nutted brakes. So, to center the bolt into the recessed area on the back of the fork crown I used a leather washer, which snugs into the recessed area.
At the rear, clearance is good (relatively speaking) and performance seems okay for now. Cable routing was odd, and I’ll think about a different solution, as there is some friction on the rear cable.
Here’s the bike with the Kojaks installed and the Shimano 600 single pivot brakes, with the rear brake installed “wrong” on the front of the seat stays. We will see what happens when I take this bike out to test both the tires and the brakes. I’m hoping for a more comfortable ride on the Kojaks and no decline in braking performance. A long test ride will prove illuminating.