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Tech FAQ: on front brake mounting

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Jan. 24, 2012

Dear Lennard,
I just finished installing a Record 11 group on my Cannondale Cadd 8 frame.  Everything went great and works great with the exception of the front brake mounting. The longest center mounting bolt that was included is 24mm and does not have the 6 thread engagement, but only about 2-3. This does mount the brake tight against the fork. The old front brake mounting bolt that came off had about the same. It seems a bit disconcerting does it not?  Do you have any suggestions on this one?
― Zach

Dear Zach,
By current convention, it’s actually not the fault of Campagnolo or of whoever made your previous brake; it’s probably the fault of the person who mounted the first front brake on that fork and didn’t use the correct recessed nut.

Since carbon forks these days have such widely varying crown thickness, it’s unrealistic to expect a brake manufacturer to make different brake center bolts to fit every fork. Instead, there seems to be an unwritten agreement on a standard center bolt length that all brake makers adhere to (it’s based on what length worked with steel forks, whose crowns were generally within a few millimeters of being the same thickness). Rather than brakes coming with different center bolts (and perhaps requiring the consumer to disassemble and reassemble the brake—not a pretty sight from a liability perspective), each fork takes a unique nut. That’s why essentially all road forks these days come packaged with a recessed nut that is the proper length to ensure sufficient thread engagement on the front brake.

Of course, all brakes do also come with a nut, because to sell one without a nut is not really a complete brake, but, at least in our case at Zinn Cycles, we never use that nut and instead use the one that comes with the fork. We recycle lots of brake nuts each year, and they’re always the ones that come with the brakes, not the ones that come with the forks.

You need to find the right recessed nut for your fork, and your worries will be over.
― Lennard

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Technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder (www.zinncycles.com),a former U.S. national team rider and author of numerous books on bikes and bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides “Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” – available also on DVD, and “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,” as well as “Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes” and “Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists.”

Zinn’s regular column is devoted to addressing readers’ technical questions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn.

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