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  1. #1
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    50+ Cantilever Brake Advice Thread...

    I'm thinking -- just thinking -- about taking the plunge and getting a Rivendell Atlantis. But, I have a phobia about cantilever brakes. Those of you who use cantilevers...what do you think? Are they as hard to set up and keep in trim as their reputation indicates?

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Jezz, I used cantis for decades. They're fine. Actually, I prefer them.

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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Newer, quality, cantis are much easier to setup and adjust than ones from the 1980s and 90s. You should be just fine. You could also go with mini-Vs too.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Look at how the brake pads attach to the arms.

    The older ones that gained the reputation for being hard to set up used a post so you had to hold the brake pad aligned in 3 different directions while you tightened the anchor bolt. Most of the newer ones use a threaded connection with a spacer. They're a lot easier to work with.

  5. #5
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    I didn't realize the Rivendell Atlantis came in white.
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  6. #6
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    I have canti brakes on two of my bikes. I much prefer V brakes. And I have a Parks third hand brake tool.

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    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Go for it Paulie.....they can still require somewhat more attention than set 'em up and mostly forget 'em calipers. But, I have older Shimano LX canti's on my Bridgestone and, after you familiarize youself with them, the mystery resolves itself. Cycling friends tell me newer cantilevers are all around easier. And the people at Riv can be extraordinarily helpful until you get the hang.

    I slaver for that lovely Atlantis celestey green. Drop bars on yours? Truely a go anywhere, do anything, road warrior bike-- yet elegant. Send us pics after delivery...hope you decide to go for it. Carpe diem!
    Last edited by CrossChain; 10-14-07 at 02:57 PM.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    Jezz, I used cantis for decades. They're fine. Actually, I prefer them.
    That's great to hear. What is it about them that you prefer over sidepulls?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee View Post
    I didn't realize the Rivendell Atlantis came in white.
    Add that to the lengthy list of sentences starting with "I didn't realize" that have effused from your lips in the past 50 plus years!
    Last edited by Big Paulie; 10-16-07 at 06:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho View Post
    I have canti brakes on two of my bikes. I much prefer V brakes. And I have a Parks third hand brake tool.
    What is it aobut the V Brake that you prefer over cantilevers?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain View Post
    Go for it Paulie..... Drop bars on yours?
    Yes, I want to set it up like a road bike, and ride it in that manner., My inner ear balance issues are resurfacing after about a 5 year lapse, and at times my Rambouillet feels like I'm riding with no hands. Very scary. So, I would like some more front end stability. I think the Atlantis would be the right fit for me.

    I have to drive up to Rivendell for a test ride before I even think about a purchase.

    Another option might be a Kogswell P/R...although it has 650B wheels, which I have no experience with.

  12. #12
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Tough choice. The Kogswell would be cheaper, the 650B's are retro kool and sound tough and stable...not to mention that Kogswell yellow cream paint. Both bikes have long, stable wheelbases and can be set up creatively-- and should last a lifetime. Hopefully Riv will have an Atlantis fitted with 650 wheels you can test. What about the Homer Hilsen? Good luck with you search.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

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    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Paulie View Post
    What is it aobut the V Brake that you prefer over cantilevers?
    V's are somewhat easier to set up and tune. Maybe a little lighter. And maybe have a smoother feel. Depends on matching the right road lever to them...one that pulls enough cable. They're also cleaner and simpler looking. Both will give plenty of stopping power for road use. (You just want to make sure you don't have the lever hitting up against the front of your road bars and the bike is still rolling.)

    Most of my V knowledge is based on helping my son set-up and replace the brakes he thrashes on his BMX cruiser. The lever issue I've heard from others and experienced myself with my cantilevers.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain View Post
    What about the Homer Hilsen?
    I'm considering that bike too...but there's something about the Atlantis that's alluring. The geometry of both bikes are similar, in terms of wheelbase and head tube angles. I can use side pull brakes with the AHH, and it's a bit lighter.

  15. #15
    But on the road more MTBLover's Avatar
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    I have Cane Creek SCX cantis on my 'cross, and they're fine. Easy to set up, and very simple to disengage for tire/wheel changes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Paulie View Post
    What is it aobut the V Brake that you prefer over cantilevers?
    BP...hard to pinpoint exactly. They just seem easier to adjust. The V brake is direct pull so it seems so much easier to set up the clearance and the angle and everything else. With the canti you have to get the straddle cable just right and when the canti brake pad contacts the rim it is coming "up" at more of an angle than the V-brake. This shouldn't be a big deal but it seems to be for me.

    Some time back I decided to change to some new Kool stop pads on the LX cantilvers on my 520 Trek. They squealed like a a pig stuck under a gate. I carried a 10mm wrench and a 3 way allen in my jersey for several hundred miles. Never could fix it. Finally went back to the old pads, which at least got rid of the sqeak. I believe the newer 520's have V-Brakes.

    On my 90's MTB it took forever to get the front brakes adjusted after I changed wheelsets. The old Rock Shock fork is showing its age, so if I change it out I plan to go to disc brakes on the front at least.

    Maybe I just need a better mechanic.

  17. #17
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I think cantilevers look better, have better modulation and you can use normal brake levers without having to use a device to increase the cable pull. But V-brakes are easier to set up and to avoid the dreaded squeal. The new type posts do make it easier to adjust the pads, but still, it always takes me several trial and error attempts to dial in canti's to work quietly.

    The old style canti's that look like the old Mafac brakes look too cool.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  18. #18
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    I have the old cantis on my Cannondale touring bike, and, while they take a little time to adjust, once set-up they are quiet and stop well. Last time I did a short tour my total weight was around 260#, and the cantis don't fade when hot.
    Have you thought about a custom steel frame? Does the Atlantis have custom options?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by big john View Post
    Have you thought about a custom steel frame? Does the Atlantis have custom options?
    Yes I have thought about a custom. But so far the cost is high and the wait time is expressed in years, not months.

    The Atlantis does have a lot of options, but I think they are all in terms of componants, not the frame itself. I believe there are canti bosses front and back.

  20. #20
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    http://store.somafab.com/somasmoothiees.html
    You could get a Soma frame and fork for about $500. My friend has one and says it rides almost as nice as his Moots. I know it's not the same as an Atlantis, but it is along the lines of a more relaxed, softer riding frame.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Paulie View Post
    My inner ear balance issues are resurfacing after about a 5 year lapse...
    Meniere's?
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  22. #22
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Going back 10 years and My Kona Explosif came with canti's. Never had any problems adjusting them but when they wore out I replaced them with V Brakes. Boy what a difference- I wore rims out at twice the speed- but Did stop in a shorter length aswell. Then came the Tandem. It came with V brakes again and they stopped the thing on a sixpence (A Small coin of the realm that is now defunct thanks to metrification) Only problem we had- or rather the pilot had- was on our first long ride. At 65 miles- the brakes stopped working and we don't know if it was the pads going off- or the Pilots hands getting weak. The Tandem went disc within a couple of months and they stop the T on 1/2 a sixpence (For any musical lovers out there).

    Now the bikes that are in the shed- that do not belong to me- Namely the wifes and the daughters- all have canti's fitted. They work and work well. I find them easy enough to work on and they don't have any problems- But theses 3 mountain bikes don't even go out in the rain- Let alone see any mud.
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    What reputation? Maybe it's because I started on mountain bikes and that's what I learned to work on, but I've been riding more than 30 years as an adult, and I've never heard cantis were hard to adjust OR to work on. I have them on three bikes, and I don't even think about them.
    Speaking specifically of Atlantises, I built mine four years ago with some low-end cantilevers I got from Rivendell (I can't even remember if they're Shimanos or DiaCompes, only that they cost $28), and I haven't touched them since the first day. They must have at least 8,000 miles on them. If I had to judge, I'd say they work AT LEAST as well as the 105 sidepulls on my Rambouillet, probably because they have Matthauser pads and the 105s are stock Shimano.

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    Thanks VDog, that's some good feeback...as are all the responses.

    VDog, as an owner of both a Rambouillet and an Atlantis, you're the pup I need to talk to!

    Am I correct in assuming that the Atlantis is much more stable ride than the Rambouillet? Or am I off base on this?
    Last edited by Big Paulie; 10-16-07 at 10:59 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    Meniere's?
    I believe so. All my symptoms point in that direction...

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