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I want to replace the non-Shimano rear brake that came with my bike with either Shimano 105 (BR-5700) or Tiagra (BR-4600) brakes, preferably the 105 model. The Shimano compatiblity chart says the 10 speed Tiagra (ST-4600) levers are compatible but the bike has the older Tiagra ST-4500 levers.

Will the ST-4500 levers be able to work well with these newer brakes or do I have to trudge off to eBay and try to find older Shimano 105s?

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As long as you use a Shimano brake caliper designed for a road STI lever, which is any Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, or Dura-Ace, they will work not just well, but perfectly. There may be a performance difference, but there will not be a compatibility difference.

Even most 3rd party brake calipers will work just fine.


New additional information: Starting with the Dura-Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800 groups, there are differences in the brake caliper design which require levers which match the design. They also recommend, but do not require, a specific type of cable to get full benefit from the new brake design.

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Thanks! Yes, the ST-4500 levers are STI according to the Shimano specs. I'm hoping to get BR-5700 brake by this weekend to try them out. I'll document any issue in another answer to this question but if all goes well, I'll add another 25 points to your impressive score. – Sixto Saez Jun 12 '12 at 15:03
1  
I appreciate the thought. I have no doubt though. I've been a professional mechanic for 18 years, and I've done the same type of parts upgrade many, many times. STI, btw, is a Shimano acronym which includes any brake lever shifter combination they make. In this case, any Road STI lever will work. That is not true if you are changing derailleurs, but for brake calipers, it is. – zenbike Jun 12 '12 at 15:58
    
Feel free to mark this answer as correct, assuming everything worked out? – zenbike Apr 15 at 18:09

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