I recently rebuilt a hybrid frame using an assortment of parts I had from previous projects. this bike has 700 x 38 tires at 60psi on 20mm wide rims, goal being a quick, agile town bike.
the donor bike had cheap noname mtn bike style canti brakes, but I built the bike with some cheapest new shimano v-brakes. my brake levers are the tekro ones that can be converted from regular (caliber,canti) to long pull (linear/vbrake).
I decided for kicks to swap the front vbrake for the canti to see how well it worked. it took way more effort to stop, even with the brake lever in the regular position, and hard braking felt much sketchier. I put back on the vbrakes (I hadn't even disconnected the front cable from the brakes), and wow, what a difference, linear and strong with only a light pull.
these cantis had salmon colored koolstop pads that looked almost unused. I deglazed them with some 400 grit before installing them.
are those sorts of late 90s cheap mountain bike cantis that ineffective? or maybe these almost unused koolstop pads were aged and hardened? I'm pretty sure I had them setup AOK, they were firmly on hard when the brake lever was maybe 1/2 way to the bars.
they look like these,
versus my cheap vbrakes,