Monday, May 18, 2015

Add a Front Center Pull Brake to Vintage Bicycle

I have a vintage "Derby" brand single speed coaster brake bicycle with metal fenders.  It was probably made in the 60s or 70s and sold by Pep Boys. The design is similar to the classic Schwinn Speedsters of the same era.



I really like the bike but have a hard time trusting the chain during downhill braking, so I wanted to add a front brake.

Hopefully this will help people who are wanting to add a front brake to their vintage bicycles.


First make sure there is a mounting hole for the brake on the fork. You can tell this model was designed for a brake by the hole and also the indentation in the fender.
Get the parts you will need from a used parts shop, I got all the items from the Recycled Cycles Fremont location in Seattle for about $20.

Center Pull Brake [bolt, 2 spacers, pads]

Make sure the brake fits over your fenders and that the pads touch the metal part of the rim when closed.  I happened to find a "Center Pull" style brake that fit.  If you find a side pull style you won't need the Cable Carrier or Cable Hanger, just a longer Cable Housing.

Cable Carrier

Cable Hanger

Brake Lever - Make sure this will fit on your handlebar, I'm not sure if there are different sizes.
 Brake Cable
 Brake Cable Housing and Ferrules - I used 1.5 feet for this project.

To install the cable hanger you have to remove the handlebars. (only necessary for center pull style brake)

Unscrew the top bolt between the handlebars a few turns and give it a firm downward tap to remove the handlebar stem.

 Remove the top Lock Nut.

 Insert the Cable Hanger then reverse the process to reattach the handlebars.

Attach the Brake
I think I lucked out with these two spacers because they fit perfectly under the small chromed flange on the front and back. 

 Push the brake through the hole.
 Attach and tighten the bolt.
Remove the handlebar grip by twisting and pulling, attach the brake lever and tighten in desired position.
 Insert cable into ferrule and cable housing then install in brake lever.
Route cable housing and cable around handlebars and through the cable hanger.
Push cable through the bolt in the cable carrier and tighten. 
 I found that the best way to tighten the cable carrier bolt was to pull the cable out towards the front while holding the brakes closed then tighten.

Give a some good squeezes on the brake lever and do some test braking to stretch the cable out. Afterwards adjust the cable carrier bolt to take up the slack. 
Et voilà, celebrate with a beverage!

Bonus images found around the web showing the most info I was able to find on this model.








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