Technical FAQ: Brakes under the chain stay, foot pain, shifting weakness

A reader tries to accommodate better brakes on a bike with tight tolerances, questions about foot pain, finding shifters that are easier to push, and more.

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Dear Lennard,
I have a 2014 Trek Madone, which has BB/chain stay mounted rear brake. I also have a dual-sided Pioneer power meter. The Bontrager brakes that came on the bike are not the best, but I have lived with them for the past five years, and they at least are able to clear the module for the power meter on the left side (barely). I recently bought a set of Ultegra BR-8010 front and rear direct mount brakes to replace them. The problem is that the arm with the cable bolt does not even come close to clearing the aforementioned module. I’m pretty sure there is no hope for this Ultegra brake, so are there calipers on the market that are better in a situation like this? I’ve read that the Cane Creek eeBrake G4 calipers work, but now I am not so sure.
— Vincent

Dear Vincent,
Cane Creek says that it is confident its fourth-generation (G4) eeBrake would solve your problem. You would need the model BEE0175 (Chain stay/BB mount) of the G4 eeBrake.
― Lennard

Photo: Vincent Tichenor

Dear Lennard,
I am getting significant pain in the balls of my feet when I ride over 25 miles. Anything I see on YouTube states that I should move my cleats backward on my shoe. Any thoughts?
— Glenn

Dear Glenn,
Yes, you should do that. Here are some things I wrote about it.

I did it originally due to Morton’s Neuroma pain on the balls of my feet, and it made a huge difference.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I had neck surgery (fusion of cervical vertebrae) a couple of years ago, and during it, one of the nerves to my right arm got irritated, making me less able to use that hand. Use of my hand has improved a bit, but it’s gotten about as good as it’s going to get, I think. I’m finally back on the bike with a higher handlebar position (since I can’t tilt my head up), but shifting is a problem. I basically cannot shift my rear derailleur to lower gears, especially to the largest three cogs — the push is just too long and hard for my hand anymore. I have 10-speed SRAM Force shifters, and I can do the single tap to shift to smaller cogs just fine. Any solutions for me?
— Frank

Dear Frank,
The SRAM DoubleTap shifting system probably is a longer push to downshift the rear derailleur than is Shimano STI or Campagnolo Ergopower, so you might try one of those — perhaps see if you can shift a friend’s bike or a bike at a retail shop.

That said, I suspect that if you cannot downshift yours at all, that those other cable-actuated shifters will only make a marginal difference, and that the solution for you is electronic shifting, since that only requires a light push of a button. Also, with electronic satellite shifters, you can shift from different hand positions, which could eliminate the need to push sideways with your fingers at all.

Since your bike has a 10-speed cassette, making this conversion will require you to upgrade more than just your derailleurs and levers, since electronic shifting is only available in 11-speed (and now, in 12-speed from SRAM and Campagnolo). First, you will need a 2mm wider freehub body to fit a SRAM or Shimano 11-speed cassette. Some rear hubs allow an interchange of the freehub body from 10-speed to 11-speed. Chances are good, though, that if your bike is old enough to have 10-speed shifting, that the hubs didn’t anticipate the width change to 11-speed, and you’ll need to get a new rear hub or wheel.

Then, you’ll need the whole drivetrain — new chain and cassette as well as front and rear derailleurs and levers. You can probably use your existing crankset and chainrings as well as your brake calipers.

The other conceivably major detail is that if your bike has external cable routing, you won’t be able to route the internal wires to connect together the Shimano Di2 or Campagnolo EPS electronic shift components. You won’t want to drill holes in your frame, but even if you did, that might not be sufficient. Metal frames, unlike carbon monocoque or semi-monocoque frames, likely would not have openings of sufficient size between the bottom bracket shell and the down tube, seat tube, and right chainstay to allow the routing of internal electronic wires. You need to be able to run a wire up the seat tube from the bottom bracket to get to the battery inside the seatpost, and you need a hole through to the right chainstay that allows the rear derailleur wire to go in without the bottom bracket bearing cup impinging on it. Most importantly, you need a very large hole from the bottom bracket shell into the down tube, because when you route the wires (with the bottom bracket out), you plug them all into a junction box hanging out of the bottom bracket shell. If the hole into the down tube isn’t large (at least golf-ball size or so), you won’t be able to shove the whole rat’s nest up into the down tube before installing the bottom bracket, much less retrieve it later to service it.

If you have a steel or aluminum frame lacking the holes I’ve described, your solution will be a wireless SRAM eTap electronic drivetrain. As there are no wires to route, eTap is a snap to install on any bike, and it has the same advantages of easy button push and satellite shifting options.
― Lennard