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Old 03-12-08, 04:32 PM   #1
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U-brakes....deal? Or no deal?

Folks,
What's the C&V collective's opinion and experience on those mtb U-brakes?
I may have the opportunity on a cheap Trek 830 with one of these at the chainstays.
Looks like an 80s vintage mtb, but the frame looks clean.
Are these deal breakers? I know mud was a problem with these calipers.
May flip this one if it's worth it.

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Old 03-12-08, 04:35 PM   #2
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They do stop well, very strong brakes from my experience. As Sheldon noted on his site, you have to watch the pad wear because as they wear the contact point between pad and rim moves closer and closer to the tire. Eventually, you can end up with the pads contacting the tire.
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Old 03-12-08, 04:41 PM   #3
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My mountain bike uses that same under-the-chainstay U-brake system, and it works extremely well with KoolStop pads. (My front brake is a SunTour RollerCam, which requires the same above-the-rim mounting bosses, which are incompatible with standard cantilevers or V-brakes.) U-brakes and RollerCams may be evolutionary dead ends, but they are definitely not deal-breakers, in my opinion.
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Old 03-12-08, 04:44 PM   #4
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Used a U-brake on our Colin Laing road tandem back in the '80s, mounted under the chainstays. Worked great!
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Old 03-12-08, 05:36 PM   #5
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My Peugeot has a Campy Euclid U-brake under the chainstay. It replaced a Suntour roller brake. It works well. Almost every MTB had the brake under the chainstay in 1987. If you run a fender all the way through the brake it will stay cleaner.
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Old 03-12-08, 07:12 PM   #6
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U-brakes can be very powerful, and if that caliper is made by Shimano then it's very likely the kind I recall to be well-regarded.
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Old 03-12-08, 07:40 PM   #7
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Thanks guys for the encouragement and feedback. I hope the rest of the bike checks out and he'll accept my offer.
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Old 03-12-08, 08:03 PM   #8
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Brake porn!

('87 Stumpjumper w/Suntour roller cam)
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Old 03-13-08, 10:30 AM   #9
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^^^^
Man, that bottom end is showroom clean!
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Old 03-13-08, 11:19 AM   #10
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the ones i have had experiece of are very very powerful, even with old pads and cables. Stop in an instant.
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Old 03-13-08, 02:09 PM   #11
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Man, that bottom end is showroom clean!
I'll bet he never rides the bike. Seriously, crud accumulation was the main objection to chainstay-mounted brakes and probably the reason for their ultimate demise.
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Old 03-13-08, 05:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WNG View Post
Folks,
What's the C&V collective's opinion and experience on those mtb U-brakes?
I may have the opportunity on a cheap Trek 830 with one of these at the chainstays.
Looks like an 80s vintage mtb, but the frame looks clean.
Are these deal breakers? I know mud was a problem with these calipers.
May flip this one if it's worth it.
Definitely not dealbreakers...and definitely "flipworthy." That's a sweet bike, looks all original. If that cleans up as good as it looks like it will, you'd have offers at $200 once the weather breaks (but that's me assuming that Boston's bike market is as good or better than Philly's).

I'd put 1.25" slicks on it and advertise it as the perfect city bike. For that type of use, a U-Brake is fine. Plus, it's a vintage Trek--a sure seller.

...so, have you scored it yet?

EDIT: On second thought, if those tires are still serviceable, I'd probably keep those on it and still call it the perfect city bike.
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Old 03-13-08, 05:37 PM   #13
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Paul components makes really expensive U brakes... wait is there a difference between a U-brake and a center pull that is mounted by braze-ons? I really like the velo-orange randonneur that uses these brakes.

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Old 03-13-08, 06:08 PM   #14
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I have a U-brake on my Nishiki Ariel. I rode it on trails without a problem. Now I use it on gravel MUPs, I never had a problem with the U-brake. In fact, until you raised the question, I didn't know they were an issue.
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Old 03-13-08, 06:38 PM   #15
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I'll bet he never rides the bike. Seriously, crud accumulation was the main objection to chainstay-mounted brakes and probably the reason for their ultimate demise.
The photo was taken right after I built the bike. I will admit I've never had a problem with mud though... but then I've never ridden it in mud either.

PS I've seen covers to keep the mud off the brakes. Ritchey made leather ones and used them on some of his bikes, iirc. I recently bought some scrap leather but haven't gotten around to making covers yet.

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Old 03-13-08, 06:50 PM   #16
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Paul components makes really expensive U brakes... wait is there a difference between a U-brake and a center pull that is mounted by braze-ons?
Yes. U-brake and Roller Cam post braze-ons are further down the chainstays, closer to the rims, than centerpulls and cantilevers (on the seatstays). Better leverage.
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Old 03-13-08, 07:03 PM   #17
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I've ridden a U-brake in the mud. It was affected as much as the front cantilever brake, no more, no less. I don't know what all the concern is. I read somewhere on BF that 80% of the brake effort comes from the front brake and only 20% comes from the rear. I'm not sure if those numbers are correct or not, but we're still discussing the effectiveness of the brake that povides less than half of the braking effort.
I have found one distinct disadvantage to U-brakes, they can not be upgraded to V-brakes.
I wouldn't think twice about flipping a bike with a U-brake and I wouldn't discount it.
Of course, That's my opinion.
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Old 03-13-08, 09:09 PM   #18
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U-brakes and RollerCams may be evolutionary dead ends...
That was my understanding too, until I saw the picture of the Slipstream/Chipotle team on the cover of VeloNews with one of their time trial bikes which appeared to be using a U-brake-like setup. From the website photos of the Felt time trial bikes its clear that they are mounting the rear brake (a Dura-Ace Super SLR Dual Pivot ) on the chain stay. Jamis bicycles also appear to be using a chain stay mounted u-brake-like technology for their time trial bikes.

So maybe not technically a u-brake (single pivot?) as much as a chain stay mounting of the rear brake.
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Old 03-13-08, 09:17 PM   #19
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I'd consider a v-brake a bit of a downgrade... the u-brake on my Kuwahara Cascades always work flawlessly, have massive stopping power in all conditions, and don't seem to get any cruddier than other brakes.
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