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What about brakes?

I live in an area with some steep climbs and after putting some miles on my new P38 I'm seeing a need to upgrade the brakes.
The bike now has LX and I'll looking at Shimano BR-6600 Ultegra for front and rear. Will it fit? Can it be placed in front of the front fork?
Also want to upgrade the levers from the Tektra 2 finger. Would like a road lever. Any suggestions?

Hey Howard,

You have roadie-style dual-pivot caliper brakes front and rear, correct? And you do not have V-brake studs on your fork or the rear end of your frame.

So you are limited to playing around with different brake levers, cables & housings, caliper brakes and pads.

I do not have much experience with caliper brakes. My bikes all have V-brake studs mounted, and use Magura hydraulic rim brakes or other V-style brakes. Magura hydraulic rim brakes are my favorites.

So I cannot give you useful advice about this, except to call up Tim Brummer at Lightning and explain the situation. You just got a new bike from him, and I am sure he will try to help you out somehow.

Sometimes something that might seem small can make a real difference for the better. Such as re-routing the brake cables, or trying different pads, or tweaking the pad position etc.

Wish I had something useful to say. Call up Lightning on the phone and ask for Tim. He is the expert.

Oh, and by the way, thanks for the kind words about the sidecar on my Phantom. I am not a motorcycle guy, but I did like the picture of your sidehack-equipped cycle with child.

Safe riding,

OK, I'll give Tim a call tomorrow.

Hi Howard

I’ve not yet ridden a Lightning, but I’ve done a fair amount of riding in hilly areas, often in rain, and on twisty single track roads where I might need to slow down or stop to allow other traffic to pass. Many of those miles have been on a fixed wheel bike with only a front brake calliper. When the bike was first built up the braking was woefully inadequate, but after a few upgrades it was superb. I changed the calliper to a Shimano Dura Ace one (I think it was a 7800 model, which was current at the time) and used good quality cables. From what I’ve read Campagnolo Record or SRAM Red callipers might be even better. I also changed the brake pads to Swiss Stop Green ones – the ones for alloy rims and all-weather use. This combination is fantastic for the sort of riding I do, and I’ve always felt confident of being able to stop. However, I’d be tempted to try the Swiss Stop pads with your existing callipers – that change on its own might bring about the improvement in braking performance you’re looking for. The pads are expensive compared with others, but they’re so good I don’t mind paying. I later splashed out on Campagnolo Record carbon levers (without the shifters). They’re really comfortable on a normal bike, with broad hoods, plus the ‘warm’ carbon is more pleasant to the touch than aluminium. I know you say you want a road lever, but I think they would only fit if you also changed your handlebars. Although I’ve never used them, if I was changing levers on something other than a drop bar, I’d probably buy one of the Paul Components sets – they do ones to pair with road callipers.

How are you taking to the P38 now that you have a few miles on it?


Hi David,
Thanks for the reply.
The problem is that I can't easily change the brake pads as they (Shimano R450's) have one piece pad/holders. To change would cost $50.
I'm looking at the Shimano R650. They have the long reach and replaceable pads.
I really enjoy the bike. It climbs better than I had imagined. It's got a comfortable seat and handles the twisties pretty confidently.

Hi Howard

Thanks for your impressions of the P38. It’s definitely on the shortlist for my next bike.

I’m not up to speed on the Shimano model numbers. However, one of my older bikes which I use on the turbo trainer had older 105 callipers which used a brake pad with an integrated holder and bolt, which I think is what you’re describing. When I decided to use the bike for some road rides, I wanted to improve the front brake’s performance, so I splashed out and bought a pair of the Swiss Stop pads along with a pair of Swiss Stop pad holders. It was quite expensive, but the pad holders are a one-off purchase. I think they came in a kit with two holders and two pads (ie enough for one brake), whereas the pad replacements come in a set of four.



I have a 2010 P-38 (performance wheels model) and live in the Texas Hill Country. My bike was put together by Mike Librik, who is a recumbent-friendly bike mechanic and owner of Easy Street Recumbents of Austin.

My bike has the stock Shimano caliper brakes with Dia Compe 7n levers. I regularly ride in hilly terrain and have no problems with braking on any of the downhills or in any other situation.

I currently have Ciamillo Zero Gravity brakes. They're fine for a lightweight guy like me, but they are a bit fiddly to adjust, and do not stay centered. They can be centered without a cone wrench, but its much easier with it. The centering issue has me thinking about KCNC C-7 calipers.

Anyone else out there tried them?

There is also a caliper-brake comparison at


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