...the Shimano 105 STI brakes are almost useless offroad. the front cantilever is especially crappy. it shudders violently even when I apply only a 15-20% squeeze on it. i've re-toed the pads a few times and messed with the cable but nothing seems to help. if i could get a little more performance from the front unit, the brakes on the bike would be passable. aside from swapping out the entire brake set, any suggestions?
Don't know what kind of cantilevers your bike come with but if they are the low profile type they'll need help. Look at the angle of the straddle cable and how cantilevered the arms are, this will tell you a lot. With the low profile cantilevers a good deal of force is used pulling up on the brake arms not pulling them together. You can move the arms farther apart by resetting the pads and lowering the straddle cable this will help. Also check to see how hard the pads are, Koolstop makes softer pads that will help improve braking performance. If the arms are flexi (weak) you may need to set in a lot more toe in along with new softer pads to eliminate the shudder.
If you don't mind spending the money, try Paul's "Neo-Retro" cantilever brakes ($150 for both wheels). They use ball bearings instead of bushings, so they are amazing precise/smooth. They use a high profile design (popular in cyclocross) which has greater mechanical leverage. You can also opt to run Paul's "Touring Cantilever" in the rear. It is the same design but in a low profile (which has less mechanical leverage). This helps to proportion the front/rear braking better (more power in front, less in rear to prevent wheel lockups). The low profile cantilever in the back also provides added heel clearance.
Last edited by dessert1st; 08-15-04 at 12:42 PM.