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  1. #1
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    Speak to me of Brakes and Tires

    I just got a "new" 2009 Surly LHT. (I guess there's not a lot of demand for 42cm bikes). Anyway, I really like the ride, but the brakes concern me. It seems like I need to put in a lot of effort to stop, and even then, it takes a bit. The LBS where I bought it did a few adjustments on the brakes, but it's still has me feeling like I wouldn't be comfortable if I was going down a hill, loaded or unloaded, and had to stop fast.

    Prior to this bike I had an old Schwinn touring bike. That stopped on a dime after I replaced the old brake pads with kool-stops. While the bike store guy did say that the brakes on the new bike would be better once the pads softened up a little, I'm skeptical that that will do it. I'm also feeling doubtful that new pads will be enough.

    So, anyone have cantis that they like? I've seen a few recommendations, and I think I'd rather stick with this style than switch to side-pull. I mostly do commuting and some rides carrying some amount of stuff (other than myself), but not looking to do a lot of loaded touring, at least not in the near term. Any thoughts?

    My second issue is tires. I have whatever came on the thing stock. They're 26x1.5. I ride mostly city streets and want to change to something more durable for the urban experience -- already had my first flat, which was from broken glass. Again, mostly I plan on commuting. Should I stay with this size. What difference does it make if I go a little bigger on the tire (e.g., 1.75, 2.0)? Any recommendations for a replacement tire that can take a bit of abuse? Mostly paved riding, but may be some gravel/limestone along the way.

  2. #2
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    42 cm frame and 26" wheels. (only in biking would they mix metric and imperial measurements, but that discussion is for another day) "new" LHT ! Sweet bike!

    Last year I put Schwalbe Dureme tires on my bike. They are excellent. Way less rolling resistance than the Continental Contacts they replaced. Seem to have good flat resistance, but don't have a whole lot of miles on them yet. They are expensive, but its a hobby. We're supposed to enjoy spending money doing it.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  3. #3
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    1.5 s is like a 38 so they should be wide enough. Make sure some oil didn't get on the rims causing poor brake performance.

  4. #4
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    I agree with the above poster. Try cleaning your brake track, also lightly sand the surface of your pads to get any oils/grease and glazing off. If that doesn't work check the distance between the straddle cable and the cable hangar vs the manufacturer recommendations. If this distance is not long enough, which it could possibly well be with a 42cm size bike combined with Surly's notoriously short headtube, it will give you the same type of feeling at the lever. Especially if the straddle is riding all the way up and hitting the stop when you pull the lever.

  5. #5
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    Cantis are not particularly easy to set up so there is sufficient mechanical advantage when you need it. You don't mention what levers you are using. I have just finished building two new touring bikes (not Surlys) and opted for sidepull (Shimano LX V-brakes) with Travel Agents because the set-up works so, so well on our tandem. However, it has required some rethinking on the set-up for our racks from the seat-stays.

    I would track down the article at www.sheldonbrown.com on cantis and how they work and how they should be adjusted. It might help, rather than going to the trouble of buying new brakes. The issue with the straddle cable mentioned above being too short can also apply when the cable is too long (hence the problem of getting the Goldilocks' "just right" feel).

    In addition, try Koolstop Salmon, or in fact just about any Koolstop, brake pad to boost the stopping power with what you have.

    Can't help with the tyres as we run 700c except for our MTBs.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sueb2b View Post
    My second issue is tires. I have whatever came on the thing stock. They're 26x1.5. I ride mostly city streets and want to change to something more durable for the urban experience -- already had my first flat, which was from broken glass.
    Your problems come from the type of tires you're running and not the size.

    My wife was getting more flats on whatever 38mm tires (about 1.5") came with her comfort bike than I do with my 25mm (about 1") Continental Gatorskins in spite of riding less. I added a set of Mr Tuffy tire liners which stopped the problem but have been meaning to order a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Supremes for her which come in relatively large sizes for 700C (and 26") rims and have a good ride with flat protection. The Mr Tuffys are a lot less expensive (< $20 vs. < $100 for a pair of nice Schwalbes shipped from Europe and much much more in the states).
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 04-13-12 at 01:05 PM.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    So, anyone have cantis that they like?
    German made Magura HS33.. The hydraulic rim brake , I use trekking bars,
    so the fact that its a 22,2 straight bar clamp type, is no problem.

    They Bolt the 2 slave cylinders on V/Cantilever bosses , but don't use it as a pivot.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post

    I would track down the article at www.sheldonbrown.com on cantis and how they work and how they should be adjusted. It might help, rather than going to the trouble of buying new brakes. The issue with the straddle cable mentioned above being too short can also apply when the cable is too long (hence the problem of getting the Goldilocks' "just right" feel).

    In addition, try Koolstop Salmon, or in fact just about any Koolstop, brake pad to boost the stopping power with what you have.
    +1 on the Sheldon Brown article and the kool stop pads. No need to replace the cantis unless they are really broken. Consider a simple straddle cable and carrier rather than the "dot style" that is usually standard.

  9. #9
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    Argh. I had a big long reply written out, and the site ate it when I timed out.

    First, I had a Schwinn Voyageur last year that I got rid of because it was a wee bit too tall for me. That bike was from the 90's, and so were its brake pads. I switched those out for koolstops and the bike did stop on a dime. I'm just not convinced I'll get the same type gain on this bike with these brakes. I'm not sure what the levers are; they're whatever was stock for that year. The whole bike is basically stock, except the horrible saddle that went away immediately, and extras like racks.

    I hadn't considered hydraulic brakes. Those looked interesting. I was looking at the Paul cantis (neo retro and/or touring). Not sure if that's the way to go.

    For the tires, I had put marathons on the Voyageur, and was thinking of getting either the Supremes or Duremes for this bike. I'm not exactly sure the difference. I know the LBS has armadillos, which are my standard city tire, and most of my riding is city riding. But then I hear terms like rolling resistance, but I don't know if that's really a concern for me. I'm already slow; will they make me slower? Similar with the tire width. Do I gain anything w/a wider tire, e.g., carrying capacity. What do I lose? E.g., speed. But since I'm slow, do I notice these things?

    Anyway, I'll probably spend a bit more time thinking about these things. I still welcome all input.

    If I make a change to the brakes, I'll probably look at something like the Mr. Toughies for the tires in the short term. Can't really afford changing out both brakes/tires at once. I do agree with the posting that the problem is the tires themselves.

    Thanks again.

  10. #10
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    Change the pads to Kool stop salmons. That will really help.

    As far as tires go; Bigger tires you can run less pressure in and soften up the ride.

    No tire, that you put air into is flat proof. I run marthon Supreems plus and have still gotten a flat.
    DRAT on the stupid nail.
    Gravity hates us all, but it hates me more than thin people!

  11. #11
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    I never expect anything to be flatproof. I just doubt that the glass that got me a couple weeks ago would have been an issue on different tires.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sueb2b View Post
    If I make a change to the brakes, I'll probably look at something like the Mr. Toughies for the tires in the short term. Can't really afford changing out both brakes/tires at once. I do agree with the posting that the problem is the tires themselves.

    Thanks again.
    I personally don't think that you need to completely change out your brakes. Try some of the suggestions that have been posted or take the bike to a different shop where the mechanic might be a bit more knowledgeable about cantilevers. As myself and other posters have mentioned they can be a bit tricky to get "right". Try looking for a shop that has a lot of cyclocross bike experience or a shop with a mechanic who was wrenching back when canti's were predominantly used(up to mid 90's)becuase those would be the guys who most likely have the most experience setting up them up correctly.

    Even if you feel more comfortable changing out the brakes, it need not be something super expensive. I use these with this straddle cableand they stop my bike with more power than I could possibly need.

  13. #13
    自転車整備士 oldskoolwrench's Avatar
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    I've used nothing but canti's on both my mountain and 'cross bikes and have had very good luck with them overall, considering I've used just about every cantilever brake ever made, from old Mafac Racers, to 1st gen Deore XT, to Avids and Paul's. Pads make a big difference; so does the lever choice and the straddle wire setup. Are we talking a spongy feel, or is the action too stiff and hard to pull?

    I agree... try and find a shop that has an 'old school' guy on staff that was brought up around cantilever brakes.

    If you lived near me, I'd say just bring your rig over and I'd adjust them right up! Wouldn't take any time at all, and you'd notice a BIG difference!

    Alan

  14. #14
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    For tires, I have found Conti Sport Contact 26x1.6" to be fast and very flat resistant. For brakes, replace the pads with the Kool Stop and shorten the strattle cable. The mechanical advantage of the cantis goes away if the strattle cable is too long.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Captlink's Avatar
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    Cantilever brakes on my bike work much better than a drum and coaster brake.Many rims have a coating on them that must be worn away and the brakes must be alined to hit the rim with the maximum contact.If your brakes are mushy something is not set up right.
    A mistake is simply another way of doing things.
    Katharine Graham

  16. #16
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    I was never happy with the canti's on the LHT, even with Koolstop pads. Cheap Tektro V-brakes did the trick, but then I also put Northroad type bars on it so there was no need for Travel Agents.

  17. #17
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    For the brakes, they're not mushy...they're stiff and hard to pull. I have had them adjusted once at the store. When I get a chance, I'll bring them in again.

    I'm going to order some koolstops and give those a try.

    Believe it or not, I do appreciate what y'all have been telling me. Sorry if it's not always coming across that way.

  18. #18
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    I've swapped out the Tekto Oryx's with Tektro cr720's on my LHT and there was a noticeable improvement in braking power. I still have Oryx's on one bike and will also be swapping them out sooner or later. The cr720's can be found for about $40 for two pair, so they're not nearly as expensive as most other brakes that would be an upgrade.
    Last edited by dehoff; 04-14-12 at 11:09 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Captlink's Avatar
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    They should be hard you may need more leverage or you need to build up your strength.The length of the cantilever arms will add leverage and keep brake lever pull lower.My brakes are first generation cantilevers and have long arms that more than likely came from a tandem design.I saw some pictures of the model bike you have and its a beautiful bike if the pads don't work look into replacement brakes that are more efficient.
    A mistake is simply another way of doing things.
    Katharine Graham

  20. #20
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    The bike itself has been great fun to ride. I'm really glad I made the investment. Just spending a little time in getting it all set up to my liking.

  21. #21
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    The most durable tyre available is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. It comes in a host of sizes including 26x1.75. It's a heavy tyre, but that doesn't matter much for commuting. I have run them for over 7000 miles (now onto my second set) with only one puncture.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  22. #22
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    Schwalbe's! The big Apples are awesome, check the Schwalbe site though because some of the new ones are pretty heavy. Marathon Supremes as have been mentioned. I have a set of Duremes which are very nice, but I got them for all around to include some off road. If I was sticking to the road and light gravel I'd go with a smoother one. The regular Marathons have been around a long time cause they work too.

    I have also used Vittoria Randonneur Cross tires which never flatted and rolled much better than the street version of the same tire. Not bad for a $25 tire. Come in 700 x 35's.

    I had a new wheel which caused less than optimum braking. I cleaned both the rim and pads with rubbing alocohol which improved performance. Also I use a wax based lube which doesn't get thrown onto the rim.
    Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

  23. #23
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    Start with the easy/cheap stuff before you buy all new brakes...

    Replace the brake pads. Old pads can get very hard, and braking performance suffers significantly.

    The Salmon Kool Stop pads are great but don't fret if the local store has another brand; whatever they have will probably be fine.

    I hadn't ridden in several years, and I was amazed at how poor the braking was. Checked the pads... very hard. Replaced the pads and all was well.

    So that is my $0.02...

    -Tom in SoCal

  24. #24
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    I've ordered some koolstops. They should be in some day this week, so I haven't tried them yet. If they don't work, I'll probably look at new brakes. I had a few downhills w/a group last week, and got a bit nervous.

    The pads that are on there shouldn't be that "old." The bike is a few years old, but I'm the first owner. I had a Schwinn Voyageur last year w/21 yr old brake pads...those were rocks. Once they got the koolstops, no probs on that bike.

    Also looking at Marathon Supremes; just waiting for payday.

    I'm waiting for the Ragbrai lottery. That's my plan for a long summer ride, so I need to start upping the mileage.

  25. #25
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    Got new pads installed. Went on an approx. 50 mi ride. The pads are definitely better, but still having brake issues. Probably going to swap out the brakes.

    On the ride I ran into two guys w/new LHT's. One was probably a Clyde, one wasn't. The Clyde was having the same issues -- don't know if that's causal or coincidental. Also don't know which wheel size each had. It was near the end of the ride, and I wasn't at my most awake when I'd started.

    So, pads help. But, so far, not enough. I'll probably do one more long ride this weekend before I make a final decision, just to give them the break-in time.

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