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I noticed that caliper brake pads (holders) have little wings on the bottom that aren't present on v-brake pads.

What is the purpose of these little wings?

enter image description here

Photo by RoboKaren. Released to Creative Commons by-sa.

This other photograph on Wikimedia commons that @ojs linked to of the classic 1984 Campagnolo Delta brakes shows a more exaggerated form of the 'wings':

Campagnolo Delta

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They are to help guide the wheel/tire into place when you have to change the tire. Especially when in a hurry such as during a race.

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    This was my understanding as well. In a crit, you typically only have just a minute or two to get to neutral support and swap a wheel if you encounter a flat. Every little thing that makes a wheel swap easier is a good thing! – Rider_X Sep 18 '15 at 22:23
  • Let's take out the my understanding part. They guide the wheel when it's being installed, so that it easily fits into the gap between the brakes. Without the guides, it's a pain to get the wheel in. – andy256 Sep 19 '15 at 11:47
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    In older brakes the guiding function is clearer: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/… – ojs Sep 19 '15 at 21:18
  • ojs - nice image, but they do look like they could also serve as the squeeze levers in the answer below. Thoughts? – RoboKaren Sep 19 '15 at 22:28
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    @RoboKaren No, if you tried to push them they would bend. They're longer than in modern brakes and made of thin sheet metal. For grabbing the brakes, the brake arms are stronger, not sharp like these tabs and integral part of the brake instead of bolted on. – ojs Sep 20 '15 at 10:02
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Many brake holders are not symmetric. The lever is an indication of vertical orientation (and other possible uses). Many (in not most) brake pads are not symmetric. There is often a font and back and a top and bottom. In this example below clearly want the force in the direction of the insert.

Brake example from KoolStop

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    I'm not sure how this answers the question of the purpose of the 'wing'. – RoboKaren Sep 18 '15 at 17:33
  • @RoboKaren An indication of top and bottom. So it is installed properly. – paparazzo Sep 18 '15 at 17:35
  • Ahh, you may want to make that clearer in your answer. – RoboKaren Sep 18 '15 at 17:41
  • @RoboKaren "There is often a font and back and a top and bottom" How is that unclear? – paparazzo Sep 18 '15 at 17:44
  • One could easily argue that the screw serves the purpose of front/rear (it's always at the rear) and if there wasn't a wing, there'd be no up or down to worry about (since the pads are vertically symmetrical). – RoboKaren Sep 18 '15 at 17:51
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It mainly serves as a lever when you need to tighten the brake cable. You can use it to squeeze the brake together, and tighten the cable easily. You could also use it for centering the dual-pivot brake, adjust the brake pad, etc.

It is also a good indicator for the direction of the pad, for beginner. However, anyone has a little common sense would match the curvature of the brake pad with the rim.

I have read another comment about guiding the tire, it's also interesting.

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