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Just started to realize I have to fix my bike up a little bit, but as I'm terribly non-gifted with this stuff, I was hoping for some help...

I have an old Hungarian fram, ca. 1975 or so, on which the brakes do not work very well. I have only a front brake, with the original (I think) calipers, but a straight handle bar with a TekTro inline brake handle. It brakes very poorly, even if I tighten the wire as much as I can.

I was thinking about buying new calipers, but I think the mounting is different - I have a bolt straight through right now, and the new ones have something else? Would it be as simple as changing the brake handle?
 

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It pretty easy, and doesn't have to be too expensive to replace your brakes. One of the principal things to be concerned with is the length of caliper you need. That's measured vertically from the center of the braking surface of the rim to the center of the hole through which the brake bolt passes. There are a number of different brands & types of brakes, but this measurement is critical. Brakes are made in long or short reach. I have a 70s bike that I use for commuting, and I needed long reach brakes for it. Nashbar www.nashbar.com has them for a very low price. I've been using them for 6 mo. or so, & they work very well.
 

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Easy modification.

abelmann said:
but I think the mounting is different - I have a bolt straight through right now, and the new ones have something else?
The brakes you have now probably have central pivot bolts which go through the fork and rear brake bridge and extend out the back far enough to put a nut on it.

The central pivot bolts on modern brakes are shorter—they will not go all the way through the fork/bridge. The long nut in the photo (comes in different lengths) reaches into the fork/bridge and screws onto the pivot bolt. That type nut requires an 8 mm diameter hole, so you may have to enlarge 2 existing holes. Easily done with a sharp drill.
 

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pads?

To improve function at minimum cost, you might try first getting new, better brake pads. The old ones are undoubtedly very hardened from exposure to the air. If you buy some good after-market pads, like Koolstops, you might find adequate braking power with no further changes. I'd suggest a new cable (inner wire), too, or at least remove, clean and lube the old one.
 
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