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Thread: V-Brakes

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    V-Brakes

    So, why do cross bikes still use cantilevers instead of V-brakes? I'm building up a cross bike for next season, and it sure would make routing the front brake cable easier if I didn't have to fit a front cable hanger in there under the stem somehow.

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    Get the stick. darkmother's Avatar
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    V brakes are designed to work with levers that pull about 2x as much cable as regular cantilevers or road brakes. It is difficult to make a road lever that pulls enough cable, because the pivot point has to be fairly high up on the lever to allow you to actuate the brake while on the hoods. To my knowledge, only diacompe makes a V brake specific road lever. If you go that route, you obviously won't be able to use integrated shift brake levers. The other way around this is to use a travel agent witch allows you to use road levers with v brakes. It works, but is fussy to set up.

    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=5221

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    V-brakes are not used in 'cross racing because they tend to collect too much mud, they need to be set closer to the rim to operate correctly, and even if you use the travel agent they just don't perform well. If you are building up a bike for commuting instead of racing you can get by on v-brakes. Tektro mini-v's seem to work the best if you aren't going to race and still want to use v-brakes.


    Buddy B

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    "Even if"? I would understand if a travel agent or brake booster or other device degrades v-brake performance to the point that it isn't worth mounting them on a competition 'cross bike, but even el cheapo linear-pull brakes have clearly superior braking performance compared to my wide-profile cantis. That and the fact that v-brakes are considerably easier to setup and adjust makes the desire to mount them pretty understandable. In fact, I've been thinking about installing a set on my bike. I found a link to that Dia Compe v-brake road lever - Not Cheap! It's 61 bucks for a pair here: http://www.bikemannetwork.com/biking/p/CXBRL/BR5062.
    The model is the 287-V. If it performs reasonably well, it might be worth picking up a set. Those would actually be perfect. Has anybody used them? It would be good to see a few reviews before plunking 60 bucks down on new levers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby
    "Even if"? I would understand if a travel agent or brake booster or other device degrades v-brake performance to the point that it isn't worth mounting them on a competition 'cross bike, but even el cheapo linear-pull brakes have clearly superior braking performance compared to my wide-profile cantis. That and the fact that v-brakes are considerably easier to setup and adjust makes the desire to mount them pretty understandable. In fact, I've been thinking about installing a set on my bike. I found a link to that Dia Compe v-brake road lever - Not Cheap! It's 61 bucks for a pair here: http://www.bikemannetwork.com/biking/p/CXBRL/BR5062.
    The model is the 287-V. If it performs reasonably well, it might be worth picking up a set. Those would actually be perfect. Has anybody used them? It would be good to see a few reviews before plunking 60 bucks down on new levers.
    No! Don't do it! Try some low- profile canti's (like shimano XTs). They'll stop with less work than your wide profiles- but Vbrakes suck with road levers, with travel agents or even special levers. Look at pictures of pro-level cross bikes. How many Vbrakes do you see (and they ARE UCI legal...)? Just learn how to set up your cantis properly- the right adjustment makes all the difference.

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    I have had V brakes with a travel agent on my cross bike. They worked essentially as well as the same brakes on my MTB, with the proper lever. It is relatively hard to get the TA set up initially though. I took it off and replaced it with an old school set of diacompe 987 cantis for several reasons.

    First, the TA and V brakes just kind of looked funny on the bike. It bugged me.

    Second, and more importantly, I was convinced the brake cable was going to fail at one of the sharp bends in the TA sooner or later. Not cool IMO.

    Third: V brakes have poor modulation, but good power. Ok for a MTB with big gnarly, soft tires, but for a cross bike with small hard sketchy knobbies it can be a little much.

    Finally, I know how to set up cantis properly. I like them because, with an adjustable straddle cable, I can tune the mechanical advantage of the brake system to meet my needs. For example, in the rear, where I don't require as much stopping power, I can trade power for modulation, and pick up some more clearance between the pad and rim as a bonus (no rubbing brakes for me!). In the front, I can drop the straddle cable down, and pick up some stopping power, or tune it for as much power as I require.

    Personally, I like cantis better on the cross bike. Mine work just great. The pads last way longer too.

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZenNMotion
    No! Don't do it! Try some low- profile canti's (like shimano XTs). They'll stop with less work than your wide profiles- but Vbrakes suck with road levers, with travel agents or even special levers. Look at pictures of pro-level cross bikes. How many Vbrakes do you see (and they ARE UCI legal...)? Just learn how to set up your cantis properly- the right adjustment makes all the difference.
    Whoops! Levers are here, and brakes are on the way . Looks like I'm stuck for the time being. I'm still optimistic, though - I really like the feel of a good pair of v-brakes. Never had problem with modulation, in fact. One of things I don't like about cantis is the fact that mechanical advantage gets lower the more you squeeze the lever. Also, for what it's worth, I don't ride cyclocross. This is for my touring bike. 'Cross just happens to intrigue me, and I was skulking around in the forum when I came across this discussion.

    As far as the cantis go, I do know how to set them up. Unfortunately, the ones that came with my bike were crap, with no stopping power, and the used Shimano XT wides that I bought used frankly don't fit my bike very well and have spring problems, which has made even brake application pretty much impossible. This also results in clearance issues with set-up - it's almost impossible to set them up so that they clear the rim adequately, and yet provide enough stopping power. On top of all that, they just look ugly sticking out from the fork like that.

    Anyway, looks like I'll be giving v-brakes with road levers a shot. If it doesn't work out, I can always hold onto the v-brakes for another bike and sell the levers. Avid and Shimano both make some pretty looking cantilevers .

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    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...sPageName=WDVW
    or new http://www.paulcomp.com/ killer brakes buit the price is not cheap.

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    For the road, if you really want Vbrakes then consider Tektro Mini-V's. They work well on my road tandem with STI road levers and no travel agent. I just wouldnt use them for cyclocross because of the mud and rim clearance issues. Keep the Tektros in mind if you end up cursing your new Vbrakes-you can always return them or sell them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby
    One of things I don't like about cantis is the fact that mechanical advantage gets lower the more you squeeze the lever.
    Excellent point. That is one of the things that makes V brakes so easy to set up-and a better overall design. I also like the lighter return spring "feel" of them. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with V brakes on a cross bike once you get them set up properly with a TA. One thing that helped setting up my brakes was an article I saw on Sheldon's site. Before taping the cable housing to the bars, put the brake cable in tension by holding pulling the brake lever to the bar with a toe clip strap. This makes a huge difference. Takes a lot of the mush out of a high mechanical advantage brake system. Let us know how you like the brakes.

    The other thing about cantis is they are more prone to front chatter than V's. Nice to sidestep that issue too.

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZenNMotion
    For the road, if you really want Vbrakes then consider Tektro Mini-V's. They work well on my road tandem with STI road levers and no travel agent. I just wouldnt use them for cyclocross because of the mud and rim clearance issues. Keep the Tektros in mind if you end up cursing your new Vbrakes-you can always return them or sell them.
    Well, I'm cursing my new v-brakes - they don't fit! The problem is that clearance between my fork and rim is fairly tight - this has even caused problems with cantilevers with thick brake pads. I think that this is from a combination of my rim size and the placement of the cantilever posts. Anyway, from looking at pictures of the mini-V, I'll have the same problem. For the time being, I'm going to try to see if I can get my wide-profile cantis to work (Kool Stop thinline pads might help). If they don't, well, then I guess I'll be in the market for some new centerpull cantilevers. I'm particularly annoyed about this because I used an old v-brake arm that I had lying around to check the fit, so I really didn't expect a problem. Obviously, I was wrong...

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby
    Well, I'm cursing my new v-brakes - they don't fit! The problem is that clearance between my fork and rim is fairly tight - this has even caused problems with cantilevers with thick brake pads. I think that this is from a combination of my rim size and the placement of the cantilever posts. Anyway, from looking at pictures of the mini-V, I'll have the same problem. For the time being, I'm going to try to see if I can get my wide-profile cantis to work (Kool Stop thinline pads might help). If they don't, well, then I guess I'll be in the market for some new centerpull cantilevers. I'm particularly annoyed about this because I used an old v-brake arm that I had lying around to check the fit, so I really didn't expect a problem. Obviously, I was wrong...
    You can also try Avid rim wrangler pads- they are very thin profile, cartridge style so you just slide the rubber inserts into the pad when you want to replace. I'm not a big fan of Avids, but these pads are pretty good.

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    Some V brakes and canties hold the pad further out in front of the fork legs-I think the shimanos (LX and UP) with the parallelogram linkage are like this-might get you some more clearance. Thinner brake pads may work too. How wide is your rim? Could you move to a narrower one to free up some clearance?

    I ran into the same problem you are having with one of my bikes. Really annoying.

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Wow, I forgot about this thread! I ended up solving the problem by purchasing some Tektro basic cantis. I just installed them today, and even took a test-ride in the woods. It's hard to say for certain, as I haven't tried any panic stops, but they seem to work perfectly, and what's more, they fit great!

    Anyway, I suspect that my fitting problems may have more to do with the age of the bike (and subsequently, it's design); modern cantilever posts stick out further from the fork. This was easy to see when I was installing my new brakes - the screws for securing the brakes to the posts were too long! I had to use the old screws from my wide-profile cantis - they're considerably shorter.

    Rim width is of course another consideration, but I'm really not in the mood to shell out the dough for a new front wheel, especially when I am otherwise perfectly happy with the one I have.

    In any case, I have decided to hold onto my (expensive) levers and v-brakes so that I can use them on the Surly LHT dedicated tourer I hope to build sometime in the next year or so. I have had numerous other fit and compatibility problems with equipment for my Miyata, so it will be nice to convert it to a singlespeed/fixed runabout bicycle while having a more standardized bike for touring. I think I'll keep using the Miyata for running about in the woods, though!

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