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!


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:


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.