Posted by: anotherclever | July 21, 2012

Tech Tip: Setting up a Trek SpeedConcept front brake with 28mm wide wheels

A new kind of post for me – pro tech tips from a totally non pro dude. Also titled, “I’ve been sick and haven’t been on my bike for 4 days and am bored silly.”

I ride a 2011 Trek SpeedConcept with HED Stinger crabon wheels when I race ITTs. The combination of the internal front brake and the 28mm wide wheels makes adjusting the front brakes for optimum stopping while not rubbing a challenge, to say the least.

With more and more wheels being made with wide profiles, like the Zipp Firecrest or Bontragers D3, Trek needs to also make sure that the front brake on the SpeedConcept will be able to accomodate the width on the internally hidden front brake.

Maybe they’ll do this in the 2013 models, but until then, here are my tips on how to make this work, based on real world, trial and error, experience:

  1. Get the Bontrager RXXL Aero brake levers. They have an adjustable barrel that makes fine tuning your brake setup on various wheel widths possible without having to pull of the brake cover. For me. that means being able to switch between 23mm wide HED Belgium training rims and my 28mm wide HED Stinger 9 race wheel.
  2. Shave down your carbon wheel brake pads. This sucks, because essentially, you are wasting money by cutting off braking life from the expensive pads, but that’s bike racing for you. If you already own a SpeedConcept, then losing a couple bucks on brake pads shouldn’t phase you. I use a Dremel tool and a utility knife to cut mine down. I like to imagine steep downhill descents as I grind down the pads to get at least some effect from the loss.
  3. Replace the spring in the front brake with a shorter spring of equal strength. My main problem was that once I had cut down the brake pads, the brake itself didn’t have enough power to snap back and return to the fully “off” position. This not only meant that the brake was occasionally rubbing against the wheel, slowing me down, it meant that brake was sticking out from it’s aero default position, negating all the money I paid to have a bike with a hidden front brake. Remember, time is money. For more details on this reality, see my previous post. I replaced the stock spring with a slightly shorter one that gave it more pull back. I used a 1″ length (9/32″ outer diameter) .045 gauge extension spring from Serv-a-lite at my local hardware shop. I bought several in case for when it fails.

That’s it. Now my front brake works awesome.

Now, just remember, if you have to use your brake in a time trial, you’re doing it wrong.



  1. instead of shaving down your pads, you could use zipp cork pads. they’re a little thinner, and allow for a bit more clearance than standard pads.

    • Thanks, I’ll give them a try. Looked at the Zipp pads before, but they are pricey.

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