Shimano 105 Brakes: BR-5500 vs 5501 vs 5600
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  1. #1

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    Shimano 105 Brakes: BR-5500 vs 5501 vs 5600

    Yes, I've searched for an answer on the forums and have come up with none.

    I'm looking to make an upgrade to my brakes on a $1k bike that has a set of no-name brakes. Just a few questions.

    First off I'm trying to figure out what the difference is between the Shimano 105 BR-5500 and the 5501. I believe the 5600 is just a newer model. Can somebody confirm?

    I've also heard that there are significant differences in quality/performance between the 5501 and the 5600 (the "56" being much better). Anybody know the difference?

    Finally, and hopefully not opening a can of worms, I'm wondering if anybody has an opinion on possibly going with some Campy brakes at the "105 level"? And if there is a suggestion what group name is that out of for Campy. Any issues with campatibility with my Ultegra levers? How about Sram Rival? I'd like to somehow keep this upgrade under $100 but realize I may be slightly above it.

    Thanks in advance for the advice/info!!

  2. #2
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    105 brakes

    I believe the 5600 series has an "improved" pad compound. I think Nashbar has the 5501 set, F&R, for $50. Cambria had Ultegra 6500 set for $60 a couple of months ago but they are not currently listing them. Campy calipers do not have a QR lever.

  3. #3
    wim
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    Cosmetics.

    The BR-5500 was made from 1999-2002. It came in silver with a black "Shimano 105" logo.

    The BR-5501-L/S was made from 2003-2005. On the black L version, the "Shimano 105" logo was white. On the silver S version, the "Shimano" was black, the "105" was yellow with a fine blue outline.

    In terms of function and reliability, there's no difference between the 5500, 5501 and 5600 brakes. Even the no-name brakes you have now will stop you as well as any of these Shimano brakes if you'd replace the stock pads with something better. Nothing wrong with that, but the brake caliper "upgrade" you're thinking about would be most noticeable when looking at the bike rather than riding it.

  4. #4
    I am not aero
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    Campy uses a quick release on the lever rather than the caliper, so you'll probably have to fiddle the barrel adjuster and let the air out of your tire to get the wheel off if you go with a Campy caliper. The opposite way (Campy lever with Shimano caliper) is supposed to be a good way to get clearance for wide tires.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim
    The BR-5500 was made from 1999-2002. It came in silver with a black "Shimano 105" logo.

    The BR-5501-L/S was made from 2003-2005. On the black L version, the "Shimano 105" logo was white. On the silver S version, the "Shimano" was black, the "105" was yellow with a fine blue outline.

    In terms of function and reliability, there's no difference between the 5500, 5501 and 5600 brakes. Even the no-name brakes you have now will stop you as well as any of these Shimano brakes if you'd replace the stock pads with something better. Nothing wrong with that, but the brake caliper "upgrade" you're thinking about would be most noticeable when looking at the bike rather than riding it.
    The BR-5500 won the product of the year for brake calipers by a well known cycling mag (Cycling Plus, I think) some years ago. Bang for the buck product made even better if you replace the brake pads with say, Kool Stops.

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