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  1. #1
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Cantilever Brake Recommendations for an UberClyde

    I am currently about 340 pounds, and I am looking to build up my mountain bike frame. It is a nice (but older) NOS steel mountain bike with integrated hangers and cable routing for cantilever brakes. I could use V-Brakes, as I do on my hybrids, but I think it adds to the essence of this particular bike to use cantis... plus I think my brakes on my vintage touring bike need to be improved as well, so will take what I learn from this experience into preparing that bike.

    I don't plan to do any extreme mountain biking, mostly just some sedate off-road trails... At my size, I don't expect to climb hills big enough to have a massive downhill run. However, based on my experience with brakes of all sorts at my size, I need to make sure to get it right, or I might as well just Flintstone it.

    I am not looking to be period correct, no need to look like a restoration, just nice functional cantilevers on a budget.

    Has anyone had good experiences with a particular cantilever brake and/or have any setup advice? Would springing for expensive cantis get me significantly better braking?

    Or am I pipe-dreaming, and should just use V-brakes?
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  2. #2
    Senior Member 1speeder's Avatar
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    Hello,

    If your mtb has cantilever brakes right now, the cheapest thing to do is to replace the pads with a good know brand. Old brake pads seem to harden with time and the newer brake pad compounds tend to work better. Setting up the cable hanger correctly will also give you more stopping power. Check out Sheldon Browns site for the setting up the cable hanger correctly.

    V brakes (linear pull brakes) are a good way to go, but you will have to change out your brake levers to match the V brakes, which means you may also have to change out your shifters depending on your setup.

    Mike

  3. #3
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    I am a clyde and have pretty much used cantilever brakes for more than 15 years. IMO, there is nothing wrong with keeping a vintage bike period correct.

    My current bike comes with Tektro Onyx cantis which, though some on this forum don't like, has worked OK for me. Maybe someday I will consider an upgrade, but so far they perform adequately.

    Tektro makes other canti brakes as well, so look around. Some folks swear by Avid cantis. And Shimano still makes canti brakes.

    I wouldn't spend big bucks on brake levers or pads. (better wheels and tires is a better place to put any extra funds). Get something reputable like Tektro or Avid and you should be fine.
    Last edited by MRT2; 04-02-14 at 11:10 AM.

  4. #4
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1speeder View Post
    Hello,

    If your mtb has cantilever brakes right now, the cheapest thing to do is to replace the pads with a good know brand. Old brake pads seem to harden with time and the newer brake pad compounds tend to work better. Setting up the cable hanger correctly will also give you more stopping power. Check out Sheldon Browns site for the setting up the cable hanger correctly.

    V brakes (linear pull brakes) are a good way to go, but you will have to change out your brake levers to match the V brakes, which means you may also have to change out your shifters depending on your setup.

    Mike
    Thanks.

    I bought the bare frame, so there are no existing brakes.

    And I forgot all about Sheldon's site for canti setup, even though I refer to it often. Thanks for the reminder.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  5. #5
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    .

    I've found that most cantilever brakes are okay. Really crappy ones are nearly useless, but mid-range ones on up work just fine as long as they are set up correctly, which can be a little tricky. I find I get the most out of cantilever brakes by getting the straddle carrier wire as close to horizontal as possible, this increases their power significantly. If you have fixed straddle cable carriers, replacing them with adjustable ones is cheap. Good pads definitely help, especially if you ride in wet conditions.

    If you are looking to replace a set of cantis, the Tektro 720's are very good. I had a conflict with my front rack and my old XTR's that I picked up used a long time ago and ended up buying the these and have zero complaints. I also replaced a pair of useless super low end cantis on a beater bike with the Nashbar cantilevers and was blown away at how good these were, definitely can recommend those for a budget build. Great brakes.

    Upgrading to pad carriers with replaceable pads really helps with cantilevers, because you only have to set them up once.

    I'm ~280 pounds and have done loaded touring, in mountainous areas, on a heavy steel bike and can't pack light to save my life, and have always been happy with decent cantilever brakes that are set up right. I also commute daily in wet conditions.

    ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model

  6. #6
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    I am a clyde and have pretty much used cantilever brakes for more than 15 years. IMO, there is nothing wrong with keeping a vintage bike period correct.

    My current bike comes with Tektro Onyx cantis which, though some on this forum don't like, has worked OK for me. Maybe someday I will consider an upgrade, but so far they perform adequately.

    Tektro makes other canti brakes as well, so look around. Some folks swear by Avid cantis. And Shimano still makes canti brakes.

    I wouldn't spend big bucks on brake levers or pads. (better wheels and tires is a better place to put any extra funds). Get something reputable like Tektro or Avid and you should be fine.
    I have a set of Oryx brakes that I bought a few years ago but was hesitant to use them because of the negative comments I have been reading. But, if they work for one person, they may work for me too. At least it is worth a try.

    I do have a set of 36 spoke wheels with Aeroheat rims I decided I will use on this bike... They should be reliable and durable.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  7. #7
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Darwin View Post
    I have a set of Oryx brakes that I bought a few years ago but was hesitant to use them because of the negative comments I have been reading. But, if they work for one person, they may work for me too. At least it is worth a try.

    I do have a set of 36 spoke wheels with Aeroheat rims I decided I will use on this bike... They should be reliable and durable.
    Maybe it depends on your expectations. I remember what old school brakes on steel rims were like on the bikes I rode as a kid. Use the Tektros you have before upgrading. Cool stop makes good brake pads, fwiw.

  8. #8
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    Maybe it depends on your expectations. I remember what old school brakes on steel rims were like on the bikes I rode as a kid. Use the Tektros you have before upgrading. Cool stop makes good brake pads, fwiw.
    That's the truth. I remember being jealous of a neighbor because he got a Peugeot with textured steel rims that were supposed to brake better... I don't really know if it was any better, but I was impressed.

    I grew up in the Seattle/Tacoma area where it rains quite a bit, and I hooked up two sets of caliper brakes to my rear wheel. I wouldn't stop real quick without a front brake, but I could stop consistently, about the same regardless of precipitation.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  9. #9
    I WILL BE YOUR LARRY arex's Avatar
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    I have Cane Creek SCR-5's with salmon Kool Stops. Pricey if you buy them retail, but if you scout around on Fleabay you can find some good deals. I couldn't really say whether they're the best, but they've done the job for me.
    "Ahab knew, baby...I lust." -- Vet-san

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    They keep making subtile improvements to these : HS33 R*| MAGURA

    I have a set from '03 , on an '04 bike, I got in '08. .. work superbly.. straight bar lever ..
    WB Bicycle Gallery: Robert Clark's Koga Miyata WTR


    Cable operated, Tandem bike makers R&E offer this Brakes designed for tandem and cyclocross bicycles, also brakes for touring bikes and bicycles..

    another USA made very effective Cantilever brake is Pauls, Out of Chico Cal. Neo-Retro from Paul Component Engineering

  11. #11
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    If I were you I would go with V brakes. They are much easier to set up to give acceptable performance, and have good linear performance. Cantilever brakes have more variables to work with and, because of the triangle of cable, you actually have less leverage the harder you pull the lever, and have less power for a given force at the lever as the pads wear.As for cantilevers, I find that the basic Shimano ones are still pretty good - easy to set up, not too expensive - and because of the super low profile, can be set up with a super low straddle cable to give maximum braking power with a mushy feel.

    edit:

    THe brakes I am talking about can be found here: Shimano Altus CT91 Front Cantilever Brake Includes Link Wire

    Very similar brakes are made by both Shimano and Tektro.
    Last edited by Wilfred Laurier; 04-02-14 at 03:43 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member 1speeder's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=fietsbob;16635970]They keep making subtile improvements to these : HS33 R*| MAGURA

    Man, I had a set of these back in the mid 90's, I put them on my Ritchey Skyliner tandem hoping for some better braking than the cantilever in front and the U brake in the rear. The good news was the brake lever feel was solid, the bad news was these brakes were worst at stopping than the old brakes. Yes, they have made major improvements since then, like how about good brake shoes that will really work.

    Mike

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Running salmon pads on them. KS in Oregon molded the pads ships them to Germany then they came back in distribution to the US.

    they work fine once the install is dialed in .. unlike any cable brake that has a leverage arm that rotates around a Pivot.

    the pads as they wear don't move off the edge of the rim. since they travel in a straight line.

    IDK FWIW, maybe you run hard and stay on the edge of the Tandem thrill/crash-event-horizon.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    Maybe it depends on your expectations. I remember what old school brakes on steel rims were like on the bikes I rode as a kid. Use the Tektros you have before upgrading. Cool stop makes good brake pads, fwiw.
    Steel wheels, nothing like 'em in the rain.
    Well, a broken brake cable comes close...

    I had horrible luck with Oryx on my Fuji. Used kool stops and had them set up by a bunch of different shops...
    I was 285 w/ 35lb pack...

    clean rims, toed in seemed to do best.

  15. #15
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Well, after starting this thread I know what I will be installing (initially). I remembered that I had bought a couple of sets of Oryx brakes, and when I went down to my shop this morning to make sure I could find them, I discovered that I also have two sets of Tektro CR720 brakes on the same shelf.

    So, I will be mounting up the CR 720s to see how they work for me.

    I really need to quit buying components before I need them... I so easily lose track of what I have. I didn't even remember the Oryx until I started this thread. I'm guessing I bought both when I was going to upgrade the vintage brakes on my tourer, when I thought I would lose my gut instead of gaining girth.

    Thanks everyone for your input.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  16. #16
    Senior Member breadbin's Avatar
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    i built up a cross bike with XT cantilevers which were great. i used 105 brifters. no squeaking and very easy to setup. i then changed the handlebar to flat because of wrist, neck and general upper body pain and of course had to change the levers to something that worked. had regular lx/xt levers on it for a while and the brakes seemed to work really well but didn't stop the bike! not recommended. found out later through sheldon brown that they were either pulling too much or not enough cable and weren't compatible.i found it was easier to put v-brakes on it then so i have the xt cantis lying around somewhere.

    bottom line is make sure you have the right levers! i'd recommend xt just because i haven't tried anything else and they worked fantastically well for me.
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