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  1. #1
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    Can I choose what type of link wire to use with my cantilever brakes?

    Hi all,
    I need to replace the "link wire" that connects my cantilever brakes together. Currently it's just a steel cable, nothing special. It has the quick release thing on the end so I can pull it onto and out of one side of the brakes. My brakes look similar to this.

    shimano-altus-cantilever-brake.jpg

    It's an old schwinn impact mos, from the late 80s I believe. According to the internet, it has shimano 300 LX canty brakes. (According to my bike sitting outside they are dia compe XCM master brakes. )

    My question is this, can I use any type of link wire? If you look on amazon there are "A" type and "B" type and "Z" type and then there are these things.

    31A32l9HSjL._AA160_.jpg

    The A and B type look the same and look like this. My current one is literally just a steel cable, it doesn't have a solid side (right side) like the thing below has.
    31LdUtIUBNL.jpg

    Do some work better than others?

    Can I use any of them?
    Last edited by corrado33; 11-24-14 at 01:19 PM.

  2. #2
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    Most experienced mechanics who are used to Canti brakes prefer the classic plain wire yoke cable to the "link" types that run the main wire to the pinch bolt. The reason is that a plain yoke gives the greatest freedom to fine tune the brake geometry to out personal preference for travel vs. leverage.

    However, as long as you replace the carrier according the the type of cabling, either system is fine. Don't forget though that link types come in premeasured lengths and you need to choose according to the brake, vs. being to adjust later with the classic system.
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  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Shimano Z link (example: .) Tektro Z Link Wire > Components > Brakes > Brake Parts and Service Kits | Jenson USA
    was created because people tend to ignore safety inspecting their bike before riding.

    the type you are showing , when the main cable Broke you have a clothes line effect ..

    with a Knobby front MTB tire the wheel is stopped suddenly , and the momentum transferred to the rider
    Flinging them forward on their Face.

    NB mudguards or leaving a reflector bracket to catch the transverse cable is a way to cope with the situation,
    if not Your bike, so unable to just replace cables before they fail.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Shimano Z link (example: .) Tektro Z Link Wire > Components > Brakes > Brake Parts and Service Kits | Jenson USA
    was created because people tend to ignore safety inspecting their bike before riding.

    the type you are showing , when the main cable Broke you have a clothes line effect ..

    with a Knobby front MTB tire the wheel is stopped suddenly , and the momentum transferred to the rider
    Flinging them forward on their Face.

    NB mudguards or leaving a reflector bracket to catch the transverse cable is a way to cope with the situation,
    if not Your bike, so unable to just replace cables before they fail.
    Interesting. I knew about the dangers of cantilever brakes, hence why I still have reflectors (and a rear fender.) on this bike. The only annoying thing is that with the reflector and fender mounted, I have to make the link wire significantly longer, therefore when I apply the brakes they pull much more up rather than sideways. I like keeping the link wire short, with the triangle thing close to the tire to provide maximum sideways pull (think vector math.) My rear brakes squeal when I adjust the brakes to accommodate both the fender the reflector. (Even though the pads are relatively new.) I think I may end up getting a new center triangle thing. The ones on my bike are... tiny and hard to adjust.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    NB: there are several lengths of link wire assembly.. sold.

    squealing is a pad and adjustment issue. and a FAQ to look up in past responses.

    the basic ones are not hard to cope with if you own a Hozan 4th hand tool

    http://www.jensonusa.com/!ua7F-r1y9n...OLfxoCztvw_wcB

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    NB: there are several lengths of link wire assembly.. sold.

    squealing is a pad and adjustment issue. and a FAQ to look up in past responses.

    the basic ones are not hard to cope with if you own a Hozan 4th hand tool

    Hozan 4TH Hand and Cable Puller > Accessories > Tools > Cable Tools | Jenson USA
    Thanks for the info, but none of the wires are under tension when I tighten them. (Although that tool does seem optimal for other types of brakes/front derailleurs.) If you disconnect the quick connect on the brake, both the line to the lever and the line to the other side (where the adjustment nut is) is slack, therefore pretty easy to adjust. The problem comes in that the triangle point is free floating(hanging off of the cable from the lever), and bent in such a way that you cannot get a good socket/wrench on the nut/bolt.

    I think the squealing is also possibly due to the out of true back wheel. But I've adjusted it before to where it doesn't squeal, so that can't be the entire problem. I'll try to work on it tonight to see if I can get it to go away.
    Last edited by corrado33; 11-24-14 at 02:14 PM.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    No return spring on the brakes them selves ? thats unique.

    I use a box/open end combination wrench in those situations .

    I own a 8, 9, 10mm wrench for that sort of job.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-24-14 at 02:18 PM.

  8. #8
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    If by return spring you mean the tension spring then yes, there are tension springs. Otherwise if I disconnect the quick connect both cantilevers spring out and the cable goes limp (because the "link wire" can slide back and forth in the triangle thing, you get extra slack.) I have all the metric wrenches I need, but the head of the bolt is... shallow? There is a lip on the triangle thing that prevents me from fully seating the wrench on the nut/bolt.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Kopsis's Avatar
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    Note that if you switch to a Z link, you'll almost certainly need new brake cables. You need enough length to run not just to the "fork", but all the way down one leg to the canti arm. Your existing cables are likely cut to go just a little past the hanger and won't be nearly long enough.

    Also, don't try to buy Z links online. Take your bike to your local shop so they can grab a handful of different sizes and see what's going to be correct for your setup. Even if they have 100% markup over the online price the additional $3 per wire will be money well spent.

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