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Old 07-15-12, 02:11 PM   #1
veryhumid
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Cantilevers worthless for commuting?

Hi All,

I recently bought a Miyata 615 GT with cantilever brakes on it. They are the original brakes with ancient pads. The braking performance is poor compared to my last bike that had v-brakes. My local shop is building me a wheelset and they encouraged me to ditch them for some relatively cheap v-brakes for more stopping power. I ride in all weather and stopping distance is very important because my bike is my main means of transportation. However, I like the idea of preserving the mechanical operation and appearance of the bike (v-brakes require adding brake stop, leave empty braze-ons).

Is it ridiculous to think I can get great braking from a new set of cantilevers?

For example the Tektro CR720... http://www.tektro.com/_english/01_pr...e&sort=1&fid=2

What are your thoughts?

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Old 07-15-12, 02:18 PM   #2
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That is ludicrous. Cantilever brakes are fine. I would have them adjusted and put new brake pads on. Once that is finished you can see if they are still inadequate and pick up the tektro.
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Old 07-15-12, 02:23 PM   #3
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If you swap cantilevers for V-brakes you'll also have to change the brake levers to V-brake compatible ones.

IMHO I would change the pads out to something like Kool Stop Salmon colored cantilever pads... a lot of times
that will make a huge difference in braking efficiency. The OEM cantilevers on your 615 GT should provide more
than enough stopping power.

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Old 07-15-12, 02:28 PM   #4
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With nice new pads and when properly adjusted those cantilevers should be plenty good enough to chuck you over the handlebars wet or dry.
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Old 07-15-12, 02:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldskoolwrench View Post
If you swap cantilevers for V-brakes you'll also have to change the brake levers to V-brake compatible ones.

IMHO I would change the pads out to something like Kool Stop Salmon colored cantilever pads... a lot of times
that will make a huge difference in braking efficiency. The OEM cantilevers on your 615 GT should provide more
than enough stopping power.
+1

Use these: http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=15110

Upgrade to these if needed: http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=19516
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Old 07-15-12, 02:31 PM   #6
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You CAN get good performance from cantis - especially the older style, wide armed cantis. If they're set up well with good pads, they work very well with excellent modulation. Added bonus, they can fit fenders. They also don't have to be as tight on the rim as a v-brake. If you use v brakes, you'll need specific levers like these:



Unless you use a travel agent.

These are the best canti's I've used, but they're hard to find:





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Old 07-15-12, 03:26 PM   #7
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Thank you for your responses everyone. I added some pictures to the first thread showing the Shimano brakes and levers on the bike. I feel much better requesting a pad replacement and adjustment now.
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Old 07-15-12, 03:29 PM   #8
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Those look good but I have a different style of pad, it doesn't have any threads on it. Maybe the Salmon version of these?

http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...04&category=36
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Old 07-15-12, 03:39 PM   #9
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That brake was on my mid 80s SBI Expedition Touring bike,
they stopped a Loaded touring bike just fine.

Is a said 'a poor mechanic blames their tools'.
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Old 07-15-12, 03:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veryhumid View Post
Those look good but I have a different style of pad, it doesn't have any threads on it. Maybe the Salmon version of these?

http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...04&category=36
Yes, good eye!
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Old 07-15-12, 03:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veryhumid View Post
Hi All,

I recently bought a Miyata 615 GT with cantilever brakes on it. They are the original brakes with ancient pads. The braking performance is poor compared to my last bike that had v-brakes.
Does poor equate to increased required stopping distance or are there other issues? I recently test rode a new Felt F35X with cantilevers, but I didn't care for the feel, especially the shuddering. However, I have no doubt that the the brakes could quickly stop the bike.
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Old 07-15-12, 05:13 PM   #12
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Does poor equate to increased required stopping distance or are there other issues? I recently test rode a new Felt F35X with cantilevers, but I didn't care for the feel, especially the shuddering. However, I have no doubt that the the brakes could quickly stop the bike.
Good question. The brakes feel smooth but they don't "bite" the rim. Even with strong grip on the levers, the response is soft and the bike stops much more slowly than my old v-brake bike. I can squeeze as hard as I want but it just won't slow down very fast. Even at low speeds I doubt I could lock up the front wheel. With my last bike, I think this would have been possible, or at least plausible.
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Old 07-15-12, 05:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veryhumid View Post
Hi All,

I recently bought a Miyata 615 GT with cantilever brakes on it. They are the original brakes with ancient pads. The braking performance is poor compared to my last bike that had v-brakes. My local shop is building me a wheelset and they encouraged me to ditch them for some relatively cheap v-brakes for more stopping power. I ride in all weather and stopping distance is very important because my bike is my main means of transportation. However, I like the idea of preserving the mechanical operation and appearance of the bike (v-brakes require adding brake stop, leave empty braze-ons).

Is it ridiculous to think I can get great braking from a new set of cantilevers?

For example the Tektro CR720... http://www.tektro.com/_english/01_pr...e&sort=1&fid=2

What are your thoughts?

I think you need to replace your break shoes like others have recommended. Kool Stops will restore the braking to those cantilevers so you'll literally stop on a dime.
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Old 07-15-12, 05:23 PM   #14
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OP,

The canti's you have on your 615 GT are early Shimano AT-50 canti's, the more basic version of the Deore XT's that fietsbob had on his Expedition.
Properly adjusted, with those A400 aero levers and Salmon pads you should be able to stop on a dime and make 8 change.
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Old 07-15-12, 05:39 PM   #15
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With proper adjustment, new pads and new rims will make all the difference in the world.
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Old 07-15-12, 06:31 PM   #16
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Without reading the other responses, the cantilevers are fine. They're just trying to soak you for more $$$!
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Old 07-15-12, 06:43 PM   #17
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Um, no. My "modern" Tricross is spec'd with "ancient" cantis. And the bike stops just fine. Simpler the better my friend.
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Old 07-15-12, 11:41 PM   #18
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Not really new information, but I agree with all of the above posts. Properly adjusted cantilever brakes with new and decent pads can and should stop you just as effectively as v-brakes. If you do go with v-brakes, new levers will be required due to the difference in mechnical advantage. Look up Sheldon Brown's article online about this if you want to know specifically why - but the short version is that your current levers are not compatible for safe stopping on v-brakes.
There are a few options (Tektro makes a popular set, as mentioned) but most drop bar levers are made to work with cantilever or traditional center/side pull brakes - you'll pay a premium for mixing things... I would be suspicious of a shop that tells you to replace the entire braking system instead of just re-greasing the moving parts and putting on new pads and cables.
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Old 07-16-12, 01:26 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldskoolwrench View Post
If you swap cantilevers for V-brakes you'll also have to change the brake levers to V-brake compatible ones.

IMHO I would change the pads out to something like Kool Stop Salmon colored cantilever pads... a lot of times
that will make a huge difference in braking efficiency. The OEM cantilevers on your 615 GT should provide more
than enough stopping power.

Great point. The combo of RB levers and Kool-Stop pads should be fine. No need to spend extra money on Vs and new levers. Make sure your wheels are true and centered. Take all the slack out of the arc cable. Then squeeze the levers hard 20 times to stretch the cable and you should be good to go.

My main commuter has cantis and I just put new pads on them about a month ago. Aztecs from Nashbar. They work great. It's a CX bike and the brakes do rs a little better to the flat-bar lever than to the hood levers, but either way cantis are fine.
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Old 07-16-12, 06:56 AM   #20
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I commute with canti brakes every day. They work fine, even on lolheug hills.
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Old 07-16-12, 07:34 AM   #21
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Second everyone's thoughts above. I'd also consider using a different mechanic/LBS - biggest reason to switch to v-brakes is ease of installation, not added braking power. As mentioned above, it'll require new levers too - I like to have an LBS that will give me the cheapest options that keep me riding safely, not try to sell me on unnecessary "upgrades".
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Old 07-16-12, 08:27 AM   #22
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http://sheldonbrown.com/canti-trad.html see "Mechanical Advantage." I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this, but you can try a more shallow link wire, from your picture it looks to be very long. New pads are still a good idea, but I would try to adjust that first to see what effect it has.
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Old 07-16-12, 08:53 AM   #23
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Wow.

I can't believe a bike "mechanic" would make that statement. I commute on cantilevers all the time, and I've ridden a ton of hard mountain biking miles on them too.

The key to your problem is your "ancient pads." They don't look like they were very good pads to begin with, and over the years the rubber has probably become very hard. As noted several times above, a simple pad switch should have you stopping fine.
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Old 07-16-12, 09:57 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veryhumid View Post
Good question. The brakes feel smooth but they don't "bite" the rim. Even with strong grip on the levers, the response is soft and the bike stops much more slowly than my old v-brake bike. I can squeeze as hard as I want but it just won't slow down very fast. Even at low speeds I doubt I could lock up the front wheel. With my last bike, I think this would have been possible, or at least plausible.
That sounds like an adjustment issue in conjunction with the "ancient" brake pads. I've been rolling Tektro CR720s on all my canti equipped bikes for a few years. I use Kool Stop salmon pads and they work very well in all but the worst of conditions... I'm talking about *really* bad; like, iced over middle of winter packed full of snow and road slush on the commuter, or slick wet muddy CX course with fresh-cut grass so a combo of that crap packs in around the brakes.
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Old 07-16-12, 09:59 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
http://sheldonbrown.com/canti-trad.html see "Mechanical Advantage." I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this, but you can try a more shallow link wire, from your picture it looks to be very long. New pads are still a good idea, but I would try to adjust that first to see what effect it has.
+1
I was considering commenting on that.
I've never seen such a long straddle cable on a canti.


Also, that is a tall frame, with a long head tube, and a cable stop mounted up by the stem. That is a recipe for a front brake that shudders and grabs on steep descents. In my experience, it made my front brake unusable in descents of more than 9%.

Lennard Zinn explains it here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/...o-cross_101807

The solution is a cable stop mounted at the fork crown. Tektro and Specialized make them.

Last edited by Shimagnolo; 07-16-12 at 10:06 AM.
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