This is my eldest daughter’s bike and we have finally got around to upgrading to Sram Apex brakes and here’s the account. You see she has never really got on with the original Shimano 600 brakes, dating back to the 1980s because they required too much strength to pull them on hard.
We fitted Sram brake levers sometime ago and they are ergonomically far superior to anything else she’s tried and so going for the paired callipers seemed a logical choice. The only thing holding us back was the actual fitting. Modern bike frames are designed for a recessed allen key fitting, as opposed to a nut and bolt approach used when the frame was built (a custom made frame!). So as she was getting to the point of not riding the bike at all (because of the brakes) something had to be done….. we got some brakes (for a cool eBay price) and then I got my electric drill out.
I can tell you I was feeling very apprehensive about drilling the frame and forks. It seemed an irreversible step. Having offered up the brakes to make sure they would fit and the brakes themselves did have the right drop (i.e. the brakes blocks would reach the rim), I decided to press ahead today.
Although there was an element of problem solving along the way, the result is fine and she’s pleased. Most importantly she feels confident again now and, having tried it myself, I can confirm they work well. While it seems a shame to “spoil” a vintage bicycle as nice as the Argos with contemporary components, we have already moved passed that phase. It is a means of transport, a functional bicycle first and foremost. Thoughts of preserving the authentic nature of this bicycle have, I’m afraid to say, not hit the radar with even a tiny blip.
Related: Birthday bicycle project