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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My current bike happens to have 10-speed 105 double (from 2008) STI shifters. I have a 7 year old bike with 9-speed 105 triple STI shifters. I've always felt the shifting and braking (especially the braking) was better on the old bike. Today, I realized that, for the braking anyway, the reason the old bike feels better is the brake levers move very easily before the pads hit the rim. On the newer bike, the force required to move the levers is several times greater. Again, this is all before the pads contact the rim.

Is this due to the cable housing/brake cables, the STI shifters, or the brake calipers? Both bikes have their original cables, and both bikes have always behaved the way they behave now (it's not like the cables on one of them got bad suddenly).

Thanks.
 

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The quality and routing of the cables can make a huge difference.

Are the cables on both bikes routed identically under the handlebar tape and making similar tight turns to follow the shape of the bar?

If water gets into cables it can wash away lubrication and start corrosion, making for a heavy pull. Water might get in when riding in the rain, or even just from regular washing.

I'd suggest installing new cables of top quality. (Shimano Dura Ace, Jagwire L3, Sram Flak Jacket, etc.) You'll need to re-wrap the handlebars, too, probably.

Brake pads can also make a very noticeable difference. I don't know about 2008 105 pads, but the ones originally on my 2007 Ultegra 6600 were simply awful. A set of Kool Stop Salmon pads made a world of difference. I have heard that for 2010 Shimano has gone to a different brake pad... good, they needed to!

Besides that, make sure the hinge points of the levers have a bit of lubrication on them... a drop or two of oil, and then it's a matter of having things adjusted well.

Since these are a safety item, if you are at all uncertain of your own abilities, have a bike shop work on the brakes for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. Yeah, I tried getting Kool Stop pads last year (but I ended up with black ones, I'll try salmon this year) and didn't notice a big difference. The bike isn't unsafe. I can still brake very quickly. I could easily lock the wheels if I wanted to (don't want to). But, it's just a feel thing. The old bike feels better. Initially I thought it was because the TekTro (I realize I implied the new bike has 2008 105 brakes, but it doesn't, it has Tektro - the old bike does have 105 brakes) brake calipers were worse, but now I feel it may be the cables. I will try buying a Shimano Dura ace cable kit and re-cabling it.

I did notice that Shimano seems to have changed the mechanics of the STI levers from 9 speed to 10 speed, though. For example, if I push the small black lever on the old bike, the brake lever moves slightly as well. Not so on the new bike.
 

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You may also want to check your spring tension on the brakes. I know with my DA (7800) brakes they have a adjustment allen screw that can be adjusted to make the spring tension greater or less depending on the feel you want.
 
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