Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tektro R538s

They're nice!

I have been fretting about brake choice since I realized I'd need to use larger tires and wider fenders than what I'd originally planned on. The brakes I wanted to use, the Tektro 521AGs (the one on the right), are not well shaped to wrap around fenders — nor does their quick release release very far. They are very pretty, however.

After reading this on the Rivendell site and this on Tom Matchak's blog, I became aware of the existence of the newer R538, which is an improvement in nearly every respect: it has fender-shaped arms, it has more reach, and it has a mega-release QR. Unfortunately, it's not as nice-looking as the 521.

Well, or so I thought. I found these for sale for under $50 at a Canadian store and ordered them, thinking I'd just re-sell them if I didn't like them. I liked them right away. The cutout is not really to my my liking, especially since it shows the spring, but the brake is very nicely finished, and I don't mind the profile of the brake arm. I decided to use it: it will eliminate the headache of bending the fenders to clear the arms, and allow me to use larger tires if I ever choose to. (I still think the 521AG looks nicer...)

But I wanted that Tektro logo off. And it wasn't going to be easy: on the 521AG, and on the photo of the R538 on the site I bought them from, these logos were black. Those are easy to remove: a bit of Simichrome, and they come right off, leaving the finish beneath alone. Mine have the laser-etched logo (see the brake on the left in the first photo) — printed right into the brake arm, and requiring sanding to remove.

I didn't think this would a big deal, since these are shiny, polished non-anodized aluminum. I'd just use fine-grit sandpaper to get the logo off and then polish the spot up to an even shine. Well, I was wrong — the brakes are anodized! When I sanded the logo off and polished up the remaining spot, it left a very unsightly area slightly shinier than everywhere else, and with a black border cloud. I got myself out of this situation by just sanding all the anodizing off of that one section of the brake arm (it would be too huge a job to do the whole brake — very curvy!), and now it looks pretty much perfect. (The one on the right is "in progress.")

But my major discovery is this: Tektro's anodizing looks incredible! It looks almost exactly like really nicely polished non-anodized aluminum. It's very shiny, and there's no "rainbow" effect. Why doesn't everyone use this anodizing finish?

In other news, apparently there was a slight delay with my decals, so Niles won't be ready until next week. Well, I'll at least be able to get some work done this weekend!

2 comments:

steel said...

"The cutout is not really to my liking, especially since it shows the spring..." Then, you may prefer the R736 over the R538:

http://www.benscycle.net/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=4009

or http://tinyurl.com/427dda

Take care.

AH said...

It is genuinely baffling how many models of brakes Tektro makes. Those are definitely cool, but a bit, hmm, intimidating for Niles, who is a bit of a nerd. I don't really like the barrel adjuster, either. That finish really looks like polished bare aluminum, by the way. But I bet those Tektrians have fooled me again!

I vote Tektro for Best Current Component Maker.