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Old 07-14-08, 01:43 PM   #1
itsthewoo
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Changing brakes on a bike... let the LBS do it?

I've got a decent maintenance kit (27-piece), and I was wondering how hard it is to change brakes.

I just bought a Cross Check, and due to the typical weather in Florida as well as the need for adequate fender clearance, I've decided I'd swap out its cantis for v-brakes.

The LBS wants to charge me $38 on top of cost for parts, and I'm thinking that's a bit pricey if I can just do it myself.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-14-08, 02:20 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by itsthewoo View Post
I've got a decent maintenance kit (27-piece), and I was wondering how hard it is to change brakes.

I just bought a Cross Check, and due to the typical weather in Florida as well as the need for adequate fender clearance, I've decided I'd swap out its cantis for v-brakes.

The LBS wants to charge me $38 on top of cost for parts, and I'm thinking that's a bit pricey if I can just do it myself.

Thoughts?
It's not difficult but there are somethings to consider. First you will either need new levers or travel agents. My experience with the travel agents is that they make the brakes work about as well as a set of poorly adjusted cantis so why bother with the change. Adjusted properly, a set of cantis are capable of stopping me, bike and a 50 to 60 lb touring load in short enough distance that I've never thought they were dangerous.

You will also need to rewrap the bars for the new levers (if you go that route). You can sometimes reuse the tape and sometimes not. It's not difficult but it can be frustrating the first few times.

The brakes themselves are easy enough to change out but there is a little fiddling that goes along with any brake work. Toe-in on the pads, centering, etc. need to be done correctly to get the maximum out of your system.

Finally, V-brakes don't usually allow for more clearance for fenders. Cantis allow for about the widest fender clearances (and mud clearance) you can get. I'm not sure this is a step forward.
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Old 07-14-08, 02:25 PM   #3
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It's not really hard at all. Though I could see it as nearly a one hour job for the shop when you include clean up and test ride, and the risk of you being unhappy if the new brakes you pick out turn out to squeak.. $38 doesn't seem out of line to me.

You'll also need different hand levers(V-brakes need more cable travel) you realize?

In addition, you will need:

You will likely distroy the grips getting them off, so get some new ones.

New cables, ask for end crimps when you buy..lbs will probably not charge.

A few feet of brake (NOT shifter) sheath. Read about cutting this and dressing ends at Sheldonbrown.com

You will probably spend the most time getting the pads adjusted just so, but this is easier with V-brakes (sperical washers) than with most of the old cantis. Read (or youtube) up on this, especially the part about toeing the pads, and using shims (I like matchbook covers) to do it simply. Properly operating brakes are too important, and going to the LBS to have them looked after is too easy to put off...This is something I think every bike rider without a live-in mechanic should know how to do, so you might as well learn now.

Fastening the cables will seem like it requires three or four hands the first few times you try it. It gets simple after that.
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Old 07-14-08, 02:26 PM   #4
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$38 seems pricey. do it yourself. you'll learn that way. you can always use google/bike forums if you get stuck.
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Old 07-14-08, 02:27 PM   #5
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Brakes are about as simple to install as anything on a bike, although canti's are a ***** to adjust.

Like cyccocommute said, V-brakes open up a lot of issues, I'd avoid.
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Old 07-14-08, 02:51 PM   #6
itsthewoo
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Yeah I had already read that v-brakes require more line and a different type of lever. I'll be buying all that at the LBS (I bought the Cross Check online, since I would have had to pay tax otherwise).

Thanks for the info, I'll probably try to install them myself (I've always preferred doing that... working on my bike is pretty enjoyable ).

Edit: For the record, Googling did NOT help me with this lol.

Last edited by itsthewoo; 07-14-08 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 07-14-08, 07:37 PM   #7
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Forgive me for asking, but are you sure you can't fit fenders with the stock brakes? Maybe try some other fenders? I don't have a Surly, but there are a lot of them around town with fenders, and I can't believe everybody swapped brakes to put them on. Two of my road bikes have cantis, and they both wear fenders half the year, too.
On the other hand, this could be due to my unreasoning bias against V brakes, which I've found to be finicky and no more effective than cantis....
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Old 07-14-08, 07:43 PM   #8
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On the other hand, this could be due to my unreasoning bias against V brakes, which I've found to be finicky and no more effective than cantis....
V-brakes finicky?
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Old 07-14-08, 09:13 PM   #9
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I have a Cross Check and had fenders on it for awhile. What exactly is the problem with the stock brakes? Mine seem to work fine, even in the rain with the bike loaded with camping gear. I have been through a set of pads, but that seems reasonable for 4,000 miles of riding.
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Old 07-14-08, 09:54 PM   #10
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V-brakes finicky?
Probably because I grew up with cantis, learned to work on them early, and the only V-brakes I've dealt with are on my wife's mountain bike. I've probably installed or adjusted cantis 75 times--I don't even think about it anymore.
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Old 07-14-08, 11:46 PM   #11
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I've installed and adjusted cantis hundreds if not thousands of times...and I still prefer linear brakes or discs...even hydraulics are preferable. Cantis are a PITA and I wish they'd go away.
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Old 07-21-08, 10:47 AM   #12
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FYI,I upgraded my old Fuji cross bike to V's. The Problem Solvers pulleys worked great. Clean to install since they replace the stock noodle,and give great feel.
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