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  1. #1
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    "BEST" cantilevers?

    Of the many brands about (including discontinued models) who makes/made the best cantilever brakes? I'm interested in the cantilever calipers themselves - not the levers. Features of preference would include - individual spring adjustability, sealed pivots (?), reliability, etc.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I like the looks of the new Shimanos, but haven't tried them.
    Here's a few...
    http://www.bikepro.com/products/brakes/brake_canti.html
    Pauls makes nice brakes, hideously expensive.
    There was one I liked a lot, can't remember the name.
    I liked these guys when I had them
    http://cgi.ebay.com/NOS-Suntour-XC-P...QQcmdZViewItem
    Prob still have them somewhere,
    a lot of the old shimanos are good, but stick with xt or xtr. A couple of the cheapies weren't so good.
    These rod thingies actually work.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Odyssey-Straddle...QQcmdZViewItem
    I like them a lot.
    And don't forget to get good pads if you want top notch performance.
    Last edited by late; 09-19-05 at 06:31 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, late - great info.

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    Macaws Rock! michaelnel's Avatar
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    I have the new Shimano cantis, and I like them. I won't say they're the best, but of the cantis I've used (Avid Shorty 4 and Avid Shorty 6), I like the Shimanos the best. They're easy to set up and seem less squeal-prone than the Avids.

    Koolstop pads made a big difference over the Shimano pads, but I ran Koolstops on the Avids too when I had them.
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    San Francisco, California

  5. #5
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    Does Tektro make cantis? Are they worth a look?

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    Senior Member Surferbruce's Avatar
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    i've got new shimano's and they're great.

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Does Tektro make cantis? Are they worth a look?
    I doubt it.

  8. #8
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Also, do V-brakes, U-brakes, or roller-cam brakes have any advantages over cantilevers?

  9. #9
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Does Tektro make cantis? Are they worth a look?
    Tektro does make cantis, and they ARE worth a look - I'm running a pair on my bike. They're nothing special - $15 a pair basic cantis (link wire), but they work fine. In fact, I bought them to replace the old OEM Dia-Compe cantis that I was running in back, and the used Shimano XT wide-profile cantis that I was running in front. I actually liked the power that the XTs had, but they really didn't fit my bike very well - spring tension was a constant problem, and adjusting them was a major headache, and virtually impossible. The Dia-Compes were even worse. I picked up the Tektros, and while they don't seem to be quite as powerful as the Shimanos (it takes a bit more work to lift the rear wheel), they make up for it by being ten times easier to set up. They are close enough in power that I don't mind.

    Still, if you can fit your bike and the springs aren't shot to hell, which was part of the problem with my XTs, the old Shimano XT or XTR wide-profile cantilever brakes are powerful and reliable, and an excellent choice. But if you can't find them or fit them, the Tektro cantis are just as good as equivalent Shimano or other models.

  10. #10
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Also, do V-brakes, U-brakes, or roller-cam brakes have any advantages over cantilevers?
    V-brakes do, in my opinion, have major advantages over traditional cantilevers. The first of these is greater mechanical advantage, which remains constant throughout the movement of the brake arms. Correctly installed v-brakes are simply the last word in stopping power from rim-brakes, especially when paired with high-quality brake pads like Kool Stops. The second is one on which opinions may vary, but I find v-brakes to be considerably easier to adjust than traditional cantilevers. Traditional cantis aren't THAT hard to adjust, but I find them to be the greatest headache of any kind of brake, with the exception of older sidepulls, which truly can be hell-on-wheels.

    The disadvantages of v-brakes are (as I found) that they do NOT fit all bikes with cantilever posts. If your bike is around 20 years old or so, don't just assume that they'll fit! Also, v-brakes require special levers in order to work properly. If you're ever tempted to try and make them work with regular levers, including pretty much all but one model of drop bar levers, DON'T DO IT! It's a Bad Idea. And of course, some people find them harder to deal with than traditional cantis. I'm not one of them - I recommend v-brakes if you can possibly use them.

    As for U-brakes, there's not much to say. It's an obsolete design, you're not going to find new ones, and the only reason to buy a used set would be to replace a set on an old MTB that came with them. These brakes were usually mounted on the underside of the chainstays - a visually elegant but impractical design decision. The location made them extremely vulnerable to mud and grit thrown up by the wheels, not to mention a major pain in the butt to work on. I don't know anything about their performance, but since the main appeal was the cable routing, I can't imagine that they are any better than modern brakes. Plus, they mount on different, higher studs than traditional cantis or v-brakes, which use the same mounting point.

    Roller-cam brakes have much of the same problems as U-brakes, including the position of the studs (which makes the tires vulnerable to serious wear if the brakes aren't checked regularly as they wear), inaccessible location, and the complication of rear wheel removal. Additionally, they are trickier to set up properly than traditional cantis or v-brakes.

    Anyway, I guess that was a bit long, but that's the scoop.

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    What about the old touring cantis/frog leg design/ pauls canti?

    I run an old touring canti on one of my bikes, paired with kool stop slamon pads, up front and can do one finger nose wheelies.

    I can't really compare to any of the other cantis, as I don't have much esxperience with them.

    I think the power of my touring canti is very close to that of a well adjusted v-brake. Close, but not quite as much.
    I do like v brakes, very easy to setup, provide great stopping power, high modulation.

  12. #12
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    "What about the old touring cantis/frog leg design/ pauls canti?"

    They work great, hurt like a bastige when they gouge a hole in your leg.

  13. #13
    Steel and Leather Rich vSB's Avatar
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    Another problem with V-brakes is limited clearance for fat tires, fenders, etc.

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    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    My favorite cantilevers are the Suntour XCs with the Scott Pedersen Design self-energizing rear brake. I have them on my MB-2.

    The only experience I have with V-brakes is the vintage Hershey Longnecks I put on my daughter's Trek. They're too powerful, if anything.

    My wife's Peugeot MTB came with a Suntour roller cam rear brake. I got tired of trying to make it work right and replaced it with a Campy Euclid U brake. It works okay, but I'd rather have cantilevers.

  15. #15
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby
    V-brakes do, in my opinion, have major advantages over traditional cantilevers.
    Thank you very much, grolby! Excellent explanation. Since this is a scratch build, I can choose V brakes if I choose. What are the best brands of V brakes?

  16. #16
    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    I built up a touring bike several months ago and was going to install v brakes but my good friend and shop mechanic said I need to use the Shimano Cantis so the brakes don't interfere w/ my rack but also for better brake modulation. I tried the brakes for about 3 weeks and exchanged them for v brakes. The modulation argument doesn't hold any water at least for me. Get my 225 frame on my fully loaded bike and there is more modulation that I ever could want. Even if its not loaded. Also, I had a hard time stopping w/ the Shimano Cantis. They were set up correctly and double checked by the above mechanic but the stopping power was not there. Finally, I couldn't obtain equal lever resistance for front and rear. I/we tried every conceivable combination of spacer etc... but the rear was way to soft. Anyway, I am glad I tried them again because it reminded me how much I dislike them. Last thing I want to sound like is a know it all and I realize they must have value because there still plenty out there and people like them. I need to add that I just built a bike for my girlfriend and it is a small frame so installing the rear rack w/ v-brakes was a challenge. Fortunatley I had a Tubus rack w/ bendable struts which made it doable.

    I used Avid Single Digit 5s on my bike and Deore LX on hers and they are both great. I would save a few dolars and get the LXs on my next bike.

  17. #17
    blithering idiot jhota's Avatar
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    Mafac. since they aren't available new, Paul's Neo-Retro.

    yeah, they do hurt a lot when you encounter them with your leg. but they are worth the pain, imho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich vSB
    Another problem with V-brakes is limited clearance for fat tires, fenders, etc.
    That's the main reason I prefer canti's. A close second is that if you don't have any V-brakes in your stable all of your levers on any bike you own can work on any other bike you own.

    I really don't know how one could name one set of canti's "the best", but here's a list of ones that have been on bikes I've rode and are good enough to be on any bike.

    Dia-Compe 986
    Shimano XT
    Paul's
    Tektro Oryx

    I'm sure there are many others.

  19. #19
    cs1
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    I have had very good luck with the cheap Radius brand cantis. When I was down to one part left to finish my Waterford I couldn't find a set of cantis anywhere in the greater Cleveland area. Finally one shop said they had some Radius brakes and their cyclocross guys used them with some success. I bought them and installed them thinking I would upgrade later. To my surprise they perform very well. They are the wide profile style and easy enough to set up. Actually I'm going to keep them and spend my money on something else. $40 for 2 pair at the LBS, with cables, yokes and straddle wires. Well worth the money.

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  20. #20
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich vSB
    Another problem with V-brakes is limited clearance for fat tires, fenders, etc.
    That's certainly true, but I don't think it's really an issue until you start getting into really big tire sizes, as in over 2.1" or so. If you're building a bike for riding on the beach, or snow, or other surfaces that call for really huge tires, then cantis are pretty much what you have to use, and they are more than adequate for the task. Traditional cantis are great.

    BostonFixed, I think that you're referring to wide-profile cantilevers? I've used them, and you're right - they're absolutely fantastic. Not quite as good as v-brakes, but they are up there. I had some fit and spring tension issues with mine, and they are currently out of style, perhaps due to the clearance issue on some frames, but they are certainly powerful.

    FarHorizon, as far as brands of v-brakes go, as with pretty much anything else, you get what you pay for. Shimano, Tektro and Avid should all have good v-brakes. Nashbar makes a decent set as well. You can get a good brake for around 15 bucks or so. Obviously, things get better as the price tag goes up, but I don't know what the best value is. Just stay away from Promax, cause they're crap, and if you see brake arms that are stamped rather than forged, RUN AWAY IN FEAR! Same goes for steel. In fact, steel and stamped usually go together. Luckily, it's actually kind of hard to find bad aftermarket v-brakes. Most of what you'll find is pretty good, it's the OEM stuff that you need to watch out for.

  21. #21
    Long Live Long Rides
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    Hey jhota,
    Which Pauls Neo-Retros do you have? I saw a set for around $75 and another set for $170. So far I've seen nothing but good write-ups.

    This is my next purchase. My current brakes (XT) aren't that good.
    Jharte
    Touring...therapy for the soul.

  22. #22
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Perhaps it's worth mentioning that the Tektro oryx cantis as well as being good value do work with all road brake levers which can be very good to know given the problem with gaining sufficient amount of cable-pull encountered with other makes.

  23. #23
    blithering idiot jhota's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jharte
    Hey jhota,
    Which Pauls Neo-Retros do you have? I saw a set for around $75 and another set for $170. So far I've seen nothing but good write-ups.

    This is my next purchase. My current brakes (XT) aren't that good.
    i wasn't aware there was more than one type. i've only rode friends' bikes with them - but they are straight knock-offs of the old Mafac canti's. lots and lots of power, and they look sweet.

    if i had the room for the straddle cable, i'd put 'em on my Trek for rear brakes. but i don't.

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    Actually it is cantis that have a problem with fat tires. You can run up to at least a 2.5" tire with vees, but you will have to deflate the tire to remove the wheel. Cantis have the most power when the straddle cable is set low, almost touching the tire. Larger tire = higher straddle cable = less power. You can run the crappy shimano low profile cantis, but they don't have as much power..

    Cantis can be setup to have obscene rim-pad clearance, for mud and the like. My bike has 1/2"+ of rim-pad clearance with my touring canti. I don't even come close to running out of cable to engage the brake, either.

    Vees can only be setup with up to a few milimeters of rim-pad clearance.

    However, vees are many times easer to setup and adjust than cantis.

  25. #25
    Zippy Engineer Waldo's Avatar
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    I've always had good luck with the Avids. Not a huge Shimano fan after replacing broken plastic spring covers on about the 1,000,000th customer's bike. Not that the new ones are lousy, just I've had enough fun with their past efforts and am a little biased towards Avid/non-Shimano. I do like the Paul's but don't know that they're worth the coinage (and didn't have a huge amount of love for their v brakes, as I found them to be a bit finicky). Bottom line is that any remotely decent brake will work quite well for you if set up at all properly.

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