A survey done in the spring of 2017 found that more than 66 million people in America had gone cycling sometime in the previous year. Cycling has a lot of great benefits, and research by Glenn Stewart at Brunel University in London has found that the risk of premature mortality goes down by approximately 30% in regular cyclers. The risk of developing a cardiorespiratory disease also goes down by about 40%.
Cycling isn’t just good for us: it’s also good for the environment. A study done in Milwaukee and Madison Wisconsin found that if 20% of those car trips that are short enough to be replaced by a bike trip were so replaced, 57,405 tons of carbon dioxide could be kept out of our atmosphere in a year.
Let’s say you’re already convinced of the benefits of heading over to the bike shop and picking up the perfect bicycle. Once you really get into the sport, you realize that bicycles can be every bit as complicated as cars. What kind of chainring bolts should you use? What kind of bags for bikes are best? How about wheel choices, and do long reach caliper brakes or short reach brakes make a difference? There’s a lot to discuss, but read on here for a discussion of those long reach caliper brakes, why they work, and what it takes to use them.
OK, So What Are They?
The reach of a brake on a bike simply refers to the distance from the caliper’s mounting bolt to the high and low limits of the mounting slots for the brake pad. Since there are two wheels, there are always two measurements to this figure. This means that a brake’s reach is always measured with a number range rather than just one number. Short reach breaks are typically between 39 mm and 49 mm. Standard reach is 47 mm to 57 mm. Long reach caliper brakes are any measurement beyond 57 mm. Short reach brakes are generally the standard and are perfect for city bikes.
Why Not Be Happy With Short?
It’s a legitimate question considering that most bikes come with short reach brakes standard. The problem is that the limit to tire clearance for these brakes is only about 28 mm; and that’s without fenders. If you have long reach caliper brakes you’ve got plenty of room for fenders, big tires, or even big tires with fenders.
Ok, Great! Now What?
It’s not as simple as just getting some long reach caliper brakes from the bike shops and installing them. The problem is that the mounting bolts and the brake bridge on your average bike frame aren’t high enough for the brake pads to touch the wheel rim if you’re using long reach caliper brakes. So what do you do?
The answer is pretty simple. You need a specialty bicycle shop. The type that has all kinds of bike frames, bike stands, clips for your toes, and aftermarket options for changing up your ride. You need bicycle shops who can help you find those particular frames that are designed for long reach caliper brakes or who can custom build one for you.
Is It Worth It?
Once you have your long reach caliper brakes installed, your bike becomes more practical and versatile. You’re not tied to the road anymore. You can slide off onto the gravel or hit some off-roading options with bigger tires and better fenders. And while you could go with disc brakes, the long reach brakes are easy to take care of and are so light to work with. Put them on and your bike continues to feel like a normal bike, and handle like one, too, while giving you the versatility of an off-road bike.
One of the best things about biking is that there’s something for everyone. Your bike is yours and you can customize it in whatever way makes you happy. You can kit it out for a long city commute, keep it back for mountain biking only, or make it useful for a range of environments. In the end, it’s all up to you, and that’s what makes biking beautiful.