Understatement: Brakes are very helpful.

Brakes allow we riders to react to those unexpected moments on the road and stop quickly, to help ensure our health and safety, as well as that of other road users.  They let us stop as we approach intersections when the light may change swiftly.  They let us stop to avoid emergency vehicles.  They come in many flavors, colors, and types.  From calipers, to disk, to center pull – the choices go on and on.

What happens when you ignore them?

Suddenly, when you really need them you can’t stop in time.  Recently my rear brakes had worn down to this:

worn out brake shoes

All worn out

When they ought to look a bit more like this.

new brake shoes

And so it came time for new pads.  But rather than just standard brake shoes, I wanted to step up the stopping power.  In New England, where Montague HQ is, right now we’re baking in heat each day.  Usually sometime in August there gets to be more rain, perhaps a hurricane or two (or their remnants), and the season begins to change to fall.  Autumn weather here is unpredictable in a legendary sort of way, and no matter what falls from the sky, or doesn’t, it pays to be prepared.  This is cycle commuting at it’s finest, new weather each day.

Having worn down brake pads is not the way to be prepared.  To step it up – both in terms of stopping power and safety preparations, I’ve opted to go with these:

Kool Stop brake shoes

New brake shoes

The joy of industry standard components is that you can swap them out for whatever reflects your preferences and experience.  So I began with this:

Took out the old, and the screw threads were filled with road grit, partially rusted, and one was mildly problematic.  Cleaned the brake arm slots

and put in the new shoes.  The directions suggest dealer installation, and if you are unfamiliar with this, that certainly is the way to go.  Following the advice of the sage Sheldon Brown, I did this myself and it took a bit of doing, finesse with wires and shoe placement, but now here they are, ready to go.

Tools of the trade and the old shoes.

Now we’re ready for miles of commuting adventure!

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