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I'm overhauling a vintage Campagnolo caliper brake and the spring is extremely stiff. Unfortunatley I can't find new springs that fit (some almost fit, but are too short). Thoughts?

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    Springs weaken with age and have to be replaced when they are too weak. Stiff springs are usually a good thing - what makes being stiff bad in this case?
    – David D
    Dec 12, 2022 at 19:10
  • Do you have the other brake caliper to compare relative spring tension?
    – Criggie
    Dec 12, 2022 at 19:32
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    @Criggie I do have the other brake, it is similarly stiff. (This bike has been in storage many years) Dec 13, 2022 at 5:39
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    Usually the caliper spring, the geometry of the caliper (leverage) and the leverage imparted by the brake lever are designed to give a reasonable bit of resistance without being so hard to engage that it is unusable. Is this a mix of different components that is causing the lever pull to be too difficult?
    – Ted Hohl
    Dec 15, 2022 at 3:07
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    @TedHohl makes a good point - it may be worth connecting a caliper to a campag brake lever and see how they feel in action.
    – Criggie
    Dec 18, 2022 at 18:17

2 Answers 2

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I redid a shimano caliper brake recently, and on reassembly the spring was massively too strong.

Turns out I'd overtightened the pivot points and they were resisting in both directions. Check that the main bolt is not too tight.

Also look from the side and make sure the spring is not flipped and pressing on the metal adding friction.

You should be able to squeeze the brake closed with one hand using light-medium pressure between one finger and thumb.


I see three possible solutions

  1. find replacement sprints that have the same wire diameter (so they mount in the holder/slot) and the same general shape but are softer. You might be able to salvage some from any other caliper brakes, but the leg lengths may be hard to find.

  2. Squash your current spring a little using brute force, and perhaps some heat to anneal the metal. There's a big risk of overshooting the mark and ending up with insufficient tension, and having to go the other way. Risk is high.

  3. Make some new springs using the current ones as a pattern. Again this is going to be a lot of work, heat, bending, tempering and annealing. Risk is even higher than bending the current spring without snapping it.

You might consider making some kind of "standoff" that lets the brake spring sit under less tension, but that's a horrid idea too. Brakes just have to work.
Personally I'd rather have reliable working crappy brakes than something cobbled together.

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    I tried loosening the pivot points and verified that the spring is not touching the metal - unfortunately it doesn't help. the Amount of pressure I have to put is definitely much more than light-medium (probably around high-very high) Dec 13, 2022 at 5:43
  • @TomerWeller okay I've added some ideas, but none of them are easy and frankly some I'd not even do for my own bikes. Is it possible these brakes are just hard-sprung by design and they're all like this? Campy is rare here, I've not work on such brakes. Hopefully someone else has more experience with them, perhaps a European user ?
    – Criggie
    Dec 13, 2022 at 9:58
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    A lot of good ideas so I accepted this answer! Eventually when paired with the original lever they didn't feel that bad Dec 21, 2022 at 22:58
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This may be a stupid idea, but are you sure it's springs that is stiff? Or maybe dry grease, seized bushing somewhere?

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