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  1. #1
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    Recommended Brakes for Offroad Bike

    ... for dirt roads and unpaved bike paths. I would probably mostly use 32mm tires, and may on occasion use 35mm tires. Down the road, I might add fenders to the offroad bike, but I may never put fenders on them.

    My roadie will weigh around 18 lbs, with sidepull brakes that will work good. My tour bike (with bags and tools) weighs 36 lbs, with sidepull brakes that work good.

    The offroad bike could weigh around 22 lbs. Is there any logic in having the same (sidepull) brakes on all three bike styles ... with an assumption there would be the same brake lever feel ... to have the same brake-reflexes for all three bikes?

    From what I've researched, it appears that cantilever brakes are the preferred brake for offroad bikes. Why is that, and would this apply for an offroad bike with tires ranging from 28 mm to possibly 35 mm?

    So, along with the generic question (recommended brake for offroad bike), what are the pros and cons of sidepulls vs. cantilevers ... for an offroad bike?
    For example, while I've never used cantilever brakes, I've heard one comment that a rider's front cantilever squeeked and did not provide the braking power he wanted. The commenter did not specify bike style or tire size or wheel size.

  2. #2
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    If we are talking about an offroad bike with 700c wheels (roady) then the cantelever brakes are often used because they are easy to disconnect to open them up for the removal/replacement of the wheels.
    Dual pivot brakes have the lever that opens them up (but not enough for large tires).

    Braking power "may" be slightly better with side pull brakes but that and the squealing can be minimized by good installation. (toe in on the pads for the noise and good clean cable work for the power)

  3. #3
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    The brake question will be answered by the frame. If you don't have bosses for cantilever,(or Vee), brakes, then you can't use them.
    I think cantilever brakes fade less than caliper brakes, but neither has the pucker power of vee brakes.

  4. #4
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I think my head will explode if you don't stop overanalyzing everything about your bikes.

    Get V-brakes and be done with it. Or disks. What kind of frame are you planning to use offroad? Define offroad.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  5. #5
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    Cantilevers are preferred to sidepulls on offroad bikes mostly for clearance for bigger tires and mud. Depending on which cantilever brakes you get, they can offer more stopping power than sidepulls too.

    Cantilevers for offroad bikes (like real, full on mountain bikes) are a product of yester-year. They're still used on touring and cyclocross bikes, but mountain bikes, more often than not, use a vee-brake or disc brake. Vee-brakes fit on normal canti posts, but require a special brake levers. Both brakes offer a lot more stopping power than either canti or sidepull.

    as big john pointed out, your frame will determine your brake choice. If you have canti-bosses and plan to use road drops, here are some options:

    Avid Shorty 4 or 6 offer a lot of power, easy set up, and work with road levers.

    For even more power, try vee-brakes (I like avid or shimano) with this lever. That link also does a pretty good job explaining why you need special levers with vee-brakes.

  6. #6
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Tektro has a new version of their Campy shaped lever that works with linear pull (V) brakes and disc brakes. Works like the Dia-Compe 287V, but a shape more people find comfortable. It also has the quick release feature built into the levers for extra tire clearance.

    Everyone is out of stock right now, but I heard they expect more in January.

    I have also heard that a Cane Creek version will be out soon.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Tektro has a new version of their Campy shaped lever that works with linear pull (V) brakes and disc brakes. Works like the Dia-Compe 287V, but a shape more people find comfortable. It also has the quick release feature built into the levers for extra tire clearance.

    Everyone is out of stock right now, but I heard they expect more in January.

    I have also heard that a Cane Creek version will be out soon.

    That would be great! I just spent 3 months and 4500 miles on Dia-Compe 287V levers and I gotta say... most uncomfortable hood I've ever ridden, but they've been the only thing out there for a while.

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    Given that you don't say what the frame is our answers cannot be very specific.

    Cantilevers are used because they have wide clearance for crudded-up wide tires. Plus, they are attached to large studs on the fork (front) and seat stays (rear) and can bring a huge leverage to bear on the tire rims for enormous braking force.

    V-Brakes, also known as Linear Pull Brakess, are a variant which put greater leverage down at the brake (as opposed to at the brake leaver). Although they can be prone to squealing, I use these (Avid Single Digit Ultimates) on my touring bike and the modulation is exceptionally smooth fully loaded or not...As good as the hydraulic disks on my mountain bike. Mine seldom squeal except when they are wet (but dry immediately after a few revolutions). The down side of linear pull is that they have a bit less clearance for fenders than cantilevers although in my case they just work very well.

    Note that the quality of the wheel rim also has a great effect on the quality of your bicycle's overall "braking experience" (for rim brakes).

    Hope this helps.

  9. #9
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    My bad. The frame I was thinking of was the Waterford X-14:
    < http://www.waterfordbikes.com/site/designs/x.php >
    * Responsive handling-ideal for today's mixed road/trail courses.
    * Long top tube geometry to keep your weight well balanced.
    * Plenty of ground and tire (700 x 38C) clearance.
    * Support for classic, functional cantilever brakes.

    The riding I'm thinking of, would be club rides offroad, so moderate speed (not racing) would be a consideration. Also, solo riding on unpaved bike paths.

    The sidepulls I have: Rivendell's "silver sidepulls". I like these a lot on the Saluki.
    The cantilevers I'm considering: Rivendell's "IRD Cafam cantilevers". Never tried them.

  10. #10
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    I'm married. Ergo, my wife volunteers me all the time ... AKA, the honeydo list.

    Another use for the bike I'm thinking about: winter riding. There's a club in Ann Arbor that apparently rides year round, so it's possible the wheels could get snow on them, as far as braking. So, along with the riding description above ... would winter riding help to recommend brakes?

  11. #11
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Oh, a cyclocross frame. Why didn't you say so?

    Since you are considering both types of brakes, I assume Waterford will build it with or without cantilever bosses. I would go with V-brakes, cantis or discs, not sidepull. Keep it versatile for wider tires, mud clearance etc.

    The IRD brakes look good. Kind of an updated version of the the old Mafac cantis. Paul also makes some similar brakes.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Oh, a cyclocross frame. Why didn't you say so?

    Since you are considering both types of brakes, I assume Waterford will build it with or without cantilever bosses. I would go with V-brakes, cantis or discs, not sidepull. Keep it versatile for wider tires, mud clearance etc.

    The IRD brakes look good. Kind of an updated version of the the old Mafac cantis. Paul also makes some similar brakes.
    Have to agree about the V's. How we ever stopped MTBs before they came along- I do not know. Problem will be with the brake levers on drop bars. V's do take a special lever with a different Pull ratio and I know on Tandems- There has been a difficulty getting the right lever. I know they are made- but not by whom.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motorad View Post
    I'm married. Ergo, my wife volunteers me all the time ... AKA, the honeydo list.

    Another use for the bike I'm thinking about: winter riding. There's a club in Ann Arbor that apparently rides year round, so it's possible the wheels could get snow on them, as far as braking. So, along with the riding description above ... would winter riding help to recommend brakes?
    I have ridden an mtb extensively in the snow and I would suggest disc brakes, if possible. The snow packs into the canti's, and melts with use, so they stay wet. The other thing is the snow holds sand and dirt which goes into the pads as the snow melts. The end result of this is the pads wear quickly as do the rims. To me, it's worth trashing the wheels because it's so much fun.

  14. #14
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    There are some nice looking cyclocross setups I found from this email thread. We can get an idea on types of brakes used for their setups. They look very efficient, and it appears like a cyclocross would make a good Michigan bike ... at least in December thru February.
    < Show us your cross bike... >




  15. #15
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    This looks like a good one.
    http://www.salsacycles.com/laCruzComp08.html
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  16. #16
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    I totally agree BluesDawg,

    Disc brakes are my first choice for off-road (or even on-road in the ice and snow). Cable are easier to maintain than hydraulic (at least for me), but both work well.

    Rick / OCRR

  17. #17
    use your best eye kenhill3's Avatar
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    I would highly recommend discs, the Salsa above uses Avid BB7's. The wet conditions will hardly affect how well they work, and you can say goodbye to wearing out rims due to cantis or V-bakes. I've worn out lots of rims that way.

    You can get BB7's in a road-specific version, tho' I'm not sure how they differ from the MTB ones.
    "I tell you, We are here on earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different." - Kurt Vonnegut jr.

  18. #18
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenhill3 View Post
    I would highly recommend discs, the Salsa above uses Avid BB7's. The wet conditions will hardly affect how well they work, and you can say goodbye to wearing out rims due to cantis or V-bakes. I've worn out lots of rims that way.

    You can get BB7's in a road-specific version, tho' I'm not sure how they differ from the MTB ones.
    Now to an extent- I disagree. I do have Hydraulic discs on the Tandem- but that thing needs it. It used to work fine with V Brakes aswell- but on the longer rides- Hand fatigue sets in big Time. Plus the fact that trying to stop an all up weight of 400lbs does require a top rate brake.

    But back to ordinary MTB's. Both mine are used for XC riding and a bit of playing. Both are fitted with V's and these brakes work fine. Only time they don't is when the Mud is so claggy that it gets round the Forks and Chain stays and builds up and then acts as a brake. Don't even get that on the Bianchi so disregard that. It does not matter if it is dry- wet- Muddy or icey- I never have a problem with V's working. Rim wear is a problem but it takes about 18months to two years before a rim gets thin enough to be a problem. I would say around 4 to 5,000 miles. But by that time- The hub has seen a lot of wear and the wheel needs respoking. It is cheaper for me to buy a new wheel than to have it rerimmed. If I do have it re-rimmed then I still have a hub that is on its last legs so I do not bother. Incidentally- I am not talking a Rubbish wheel- XT hubs and Mavic rims with DT double butted Spokes and I get these from a wheel builder in England. As I say- rerimming and spokes and labour work out more than a new wheel. And hand built at that.

    Disc brakes do work-If you get the right type. You have to get the disc size right aswell and that depends on the strength and type of Fork you have on the front- and that will also denote the size of the rear disc too. Then there are a few "Poor" quality brakes out there that are a pain to get working efficiently.(Mainly due to wrong disc size and poor leverage from the levers on the cable discs.). But taken that you have a Disc brake that works efficiently and you do the same sort of riding as I do. How long will the hub last? How long will the spokes last before they start failing- and How many dings will the rim get that mean retrueing or even a new rim? I would estimate around 4 to 5,000 miles.

    This is a retro type rider talking here on his preferences- But Nothing wrong with V Brakes- even if you do take Rim wear into consideration. But sitting at the back of my mind is the fact that a Good Hydraulic Disc brake does have the advantage of NO rim wear- Possibly better braking and less maintenance. But Given a choice- It would still be V's on the MTB's.
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  19. #19
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    disks are the way to go.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    Have to agree about the V's. How we ever stopped MTBs before they came along- I do not know. Problem will be with the brake levers on drop bars. V's do take a special lever with a different Pull ratio and I know on Tandems- There has been a difficulty getting the right lever. I know they are made- but not by whom.
    The Dia Compe 287-V is the drop bar brake lever. Apparently, this year, some alternatives suppliers are coming out with levers that will also work.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    disks are the way to go.
    I use Avid Juicy Seven hydraulic brakes on my mountain bike. Their modulation is second to none which is important on downhills on loose gravel.

  22. #22
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    Nice bike you recommend, BD. I could go with the size 47, because its top tube is the same length (53 cm) as my Saluki's size 50's TT. With shoes, I would clear the TT's standover height (75.9 cm), but if I rode the bike in Arkansas (wait for it ...), my PBH (75.5 cm) would barely clear if riding in the State-required barefoot dress code.

    How much does the Salsa go for complete?

    One reason I'm considering the Waterford's cyclocross frame is to see if it can be made custom to my short legs. The X-14's smallest (stock) size is 48 with a standover of 78 cm.

    I haven't given thought to a disc brake ... which leads to an embarrasing question: Does the disc brake mount on the wheel ... or on the bike frame? I ask, because I was thinking how nice it would be to share wheels between the Serotta Legend (sidepull brakes) and the Waterford X-14 (canti or disc?).

    Would I be able to share wheels between a roadie (sidepull) and a CX with disc brakes ... or for that matter ... between a roadie (sidepull) and a CX with cantis?

  23. #23
    use your best eye kenhill3's Avatar
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    I have no intention of starting a hot debate, just stating my preferences. For MTB on challenging, difficult trails, AND maintenance-wise, (hydro) discs have been superior to cantis and V's in every way. JMHO.
    "I tell you, We are here on earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different." - Kurt Vonnegut jr.

  24. #24
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    The road version of the Avid BB7 has a pull ratio that matches road brake levers. The regular BB7 is matched to MTB livers. This allows the use of the disc without a travel adjuster.

  25. #25
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenhill3 View Post
    (hydro) discs have been superior to cantis and V's in every way. JMHO.
    Now I'm getting more confused. How many types (i.e., hyrdro) of disc brakes are there, and which ones would apply to a cyclocross bike?

    Also, does the disc brake mount on the wheel ... or on the bike frame?

    Would I be able to share wheels (without having to adjust any brakes) between a roadie (sidepull) and a CX with disc brakes ... or for that matter ... between a roadie (sidepull) and a CX with cantis?

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