Long Arch Brake Features and Upgrade Methods

Posted at: Nov. 29, 2021

Long arch brakes are used on road bikes and Hybrid bikes with large tires. Here is a summary of their features and how to upgrade them.

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Why are long arch brakes used?

There are two types of caliper brakes for bicycles: regular models with short arm sections and long arch models with long arm sections. The long arch model is characterized by a wider clearance between the tire and the frame.

If you want to use a caliper brake on a road bike or hybrid bike with large tires such as 28C or 32C, you will need a long arch brake because of the wide clearance (long distance between the frame and the wheel rim).

If the tire clearance is wide, disc brakes, which are not related to the distance between the frame and the rim, will be used, but for budget road bikes and Hybrid bikes, disc brakes, which are expensive parts, will not be used, and as a result, long arch brakes are the only choice.

Is it possible to replace long arch brakes?

Road bikes and Hybrid bikes equipped with long arch brakes cannot be used with regular short-reach caliper brakes. Even if they are installed, the brake shoes will not reach the rim of the wheel (they will rub the tire), so they will inevitably have to be replaced with long arch brakes.

The problem is that there are only a few types of long arch brakes available, the only Shimano choices being the BR-R650 and BR-R451, the BR-R650 is 105 grade and is sufficient for normal use, but unfortunately there are no higher grade parts available.

Can brakes other than long arch brakes be installed?

Can short-reach caliper brakes be installed?

If you really want to use ULTEGRA or DURA-ACE caliper brakes, there is an adapter called “Offset Brake Shoe” available that extends the length of the brake shoe.

Since it is not an official Shimano part, the durability of the part is unknown and the stopping power may not be transmitted properly, so the performance of the higher grade may be wasted.

Can I convert to disc brakes?

Road bikes and Hybrid bikes that use long arch brakes have a wide clearance between the tire and the frame, so the frame structure is similar to that of a disc brake bike.

However, disc brakes require a mounting base on the frame, so if the frame does not have a base, disc brakes cannot be installed.

Also, the wheels need to be replaced with disc-brake-specific models, which is a much more expensive upgrade than replacing the brakes.

How to deal with a bike with long arch brakes?

Bikes with long arch brakes have fewer options than regular road bikes in terms of upgrading the brakes, and you should understand this before you buy.

If the road bike/hybrid bike you bought is a long arch type, think about how you are going to deal with that bike in the future if you want to upgrade it. If you want to upgrade your road bike or hybrid bike, think about how you want to live with it in the future, because given the choice of parts, it is sometimes better to buy a new one than to upgrade halfway.

If you want to install larger tires such as 28C or 32C, you can sell your current road bike and switch to a disc brake model, as disc brake models are increasingly available even in the entry-level class.

The industry trend in the past few years has definitely been in the direction of disc brakes, with wheel manufacturers making their higher grade wheels available only as disc models, so it is a good idea to take that into consideration as well.

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