I am reworking an 84 fuji series 5 touring bike and would like to fit it out for centuries and my first brevet... the current brake set up is canti , I would prefer side pull and something 55mm to 65mm should fit .. the wheels are the stock 27 ukai and i am running with 27 x 1 1/4 tires.. the canti seem finicky to set up , work un even, i just don't like them due to ignorance as much as anything.. is there a compelling reason for my " touring bike " to keep these brakes ????
Cantis have been the choice of countless vintage touring bikes and true randonneuring bikes (Singer, Herse, etc.) and cyclocross bikes. They allow plenty of clearance for fenders and fatter tires with still being able to get the wheel out to change a flat.
I agree that reading Sheldon's explanation of canti setup would be the place to start if you haven't done so already. Just that small investment of time and the purchase of upgraded pads might make a huge difference for you. The only cantis I've set up are the modern type that use stacked washers for positioning the pads which are probably easier to set up than those that require you to bend the posts. If you're having issues with pad adjustment/toe-in, then an updated canti might help as well.
I have one bike with long reach (55-73mm) Tektro 556 calipers. They are easy to set up and adjust, and they do feel nice; however, I feel they lack the stopping power of properly installed cantis. I don't know if that's because a less expensive caliper (like a Tektro) lacks the stiffness of a higher-end brakeset, or if the longer arms will just be prone to more flex. Also, unlike cantis, I don't think there's anything the user can do to improve the braking performance of sidepulls (other than install aftermarket pads...which I've also done).
If it's mostly a matter of not wanting to deal with the fuss, have you considered having another mechanic do the setup? If your cantis had brake shoes that used replacement "v-type" cartridge inserts, you really wouldn't need to mess with the brakes after they're properly installed; it's a 5-minute, no fuss job to replace the pads.
thanks for all the comments.....gonna keep the cantis ... new pads Kool stop . I pride myself in my own builds and maint. on my bikes.. it's time to learn the canti thing.....plus i want to keep the fuji orig..( as much as possible ) ... i am thinking about changing out the diacomp levers ... thinking tektro since they are just so darn comfortable for me....it is a fine pc of steel bike and can't wait to put some miles on it.... ( don't you love winter project bikes ! )