brake advice (mech/990s)


Sep 2, 2004
McMinnville, OR
In short: my brakes lick chode.

My setup is:

tektro OEM 990-type mechs & lever
koolstop red pads,
odyssey linear cable &
sun machined sidewall rim.

I have the straddle cable as short as I can get it and the brake pads contact the rim with no toe. If I squeeze the lever as HARD as I can and unweight the rear wheel assuming that the sun, stars and mooned are aligned well, the rear wheel will lock up. chode licking.

So, what would you all advise?


Sep 6, 2005
North Carolina
I'm not sure with a machined sidewall. If you haven't done it already, skuff your pads with some sand paper or anything abrasive. I scuff mine a good bit to keep them feeling good. Also, make sure you have enough tension in the springs on both arms. Not a ton but a good bit. The last thing I could think of is trying black Kool Stops. I run black pads with my chrome rim and it works tons better than the salmon colored ones.


make sure the spacing between left and right sides and the rim is even. check to see if your cable/housing has any gunk on/in it, and lightly, and I mean very lightly rub the rim with some very fine sandpaper. also clean the rim with rubbing alcohol and let it sit for a few hours to dry, in case you got any oil or grease on the rim surface.


Turbo Monkey
Nov 17, 2006
the NUMBER ONE thing in 990 brake stregth/functioning is the brake cable. clean rims, pads, sandpapering etc. are all very minor issues. if you have a good lever, and a super-straight new/non-kinked cable that is literally FULL of tri-flow, (and 990s that are installed properly with the correct spring on the correct side, i.e. gold spring in top arm silver spring in bottom arm) the smooth pull will give you the power.

it is very common for complete bikes sold at shops to not have the brake cables lubed properly. if you have an ORYG, make sure to get tri flow inside the oryg cable housing as well.

if you want to cheat and just want your brakes to work instantly, go to the auto store and buy Auto Belt Dressing for fan belts. it is very sticky stuff. spray a LITTLE bit on your rims and presto. this is the lazy method.


Turbo Monkey
Jun 17, 2005
Longer straddle cable , try the long wind around the seat tube , also make sure your straddle cable is TIGHT , this will make actvation of the brake much faster and more percise .

Pads on machined rims try something a lil softer , I ran the Scott Mathauser or the WTB pads on my bmx bike .
Make sre your cable is pretty tight also if it has room to flop around this is lost breaking force also .

You can also try turing up the spring tension of the 990 to make them more on/off

I honestly hate cable breaks now , i've been spoiled by the world of disks .


Dec 10, 2007
DURANGO Colorado
chrome rim is the best, to get good working 990s but you can set them up fine on other rims. Longer stradle cable and maybe boil your brake pads in water this pulls out any oil left in them from produstion and helps them brake better. Coke on the rims is good but if you use to much it will be sticky and loud ad hell. Clean everything low tension on the return springs boil the pads on the stove in some water and you should be good with out a chrome rim.


Apr 13, 2007
one world...
trial and error everything. twice.

I've found I like the black kool-stop pads the best too.

chrome rim is a nice tip, but not really necessary to get 990's working decent IMO.

I'd agree that cable is obviously very important, but so is making sure all surfaces are FREE of grease/oil/even finger prints. You can have the best set-up in the world, the best pads in the world, the best rim, perfect toe-in, etc... but if there is any hint of lubrication and no friction, well, your brakes will "lick chode".


Sep 2, 2004
McMinnville, OR
OK. some good advice here. Thanks.

I thought I had read somewhere that the straddle should be super short and now I am reading advice to the contrary.

I just did a quick sketch and mental calculation. The result is that the straddle cable should be set up so that it is as perpendicular to the arms as possible. (at least that is what I can remember from Design of Machines 101, which was only 18 years of complete non-use ago.)

I am pretty careful about keeping grease & oil off the pads and the rims, so I suspect this is not the issue. My linear cable is brand new and doesn't have any burs or kinks, so it should be alright too.

If changing the angle of the straddle cable doesn't help, I'll try some black pads. Swapping the rim is last resort...Although, I do have a chrome rim on the front. :duh: