I have shorty 4s on my bike now, but they just don't seem to do the trick. I can apply the front brake with full force and the bike just creeps to a stop. There is no feer of doing an accidental endo, but there is also a big problem if I need to do an emergency stop. Looking at reviews of the shortys, its not just me, so I'm thinking of upgrading (or at least changing).
I've gotten suggestions to get pauls, but don't really want to drop 160 on brakes. Shimano has new caliper brakes for 80 (pair) that I've seen a few good reviews on, but want to know if anyone here uses them that can compare them to shorty 4s. I'm going to try new pads (koolstops, but I don't know which ones to try) before getting new brakes, but based on reviews I think I'll probably still want something with more stopping power. I'm 220, and with a day-tour load (30 lbs) & a loaded kid trailer (65 lbs) & the bike (20 lbs) the brakes need to stop almost 340 lbs worth of me & precious cargo.
the ever shifting stable loaded with comfortable road bikes and city and winter bikes
I've got a set on my LHT and they work just about like any other canti, maybe a little stouter. I can't directly compare them to Avids because I can't remember the last time I had a bike with shorty 4's. The Shimano cantis still fade in the wet a bit, and it's tough to drop the hangers on them for some reason. Overall, they're very solid.
I just did a century on a new pair of Shimano BR-550 "road cantilevers". They're hooked up to Cane Creek SCR brake levers with pushbotton QR. I generally followed Shimano's instructions for installation, although I gotta say there are a lot of tedious steps and so unsure if I really dialed it in exactly. That said, I found so far that they feel a little softer than Ultegra caliper brakes. Each pad is about 3mm from the rim, so perhaps if I get them closer then they'll stop a little quicker. But then there is a tradeoff between performance and clearance/wheel removal. The 550's are definitely stout construction, and look pretty nice on my new Co-Motion Nor'Wester.
Your original question is comparing two "short" cantilever brakes, Avid and Shimano. From an engineering/physics perspective, any short canti will have less stopping power, and consequently require more exact adjustment, then a traditional "wide" cantilever. So perhaps if you don't have pannier or heel clearance issues, you might consider a true cantilever design. There are lots of good Shimano XT and Suntour cantis selling NOS at a discount online. Definitely try better brake pads first...
I'm a 200 lbs rider and my loaded trailer is no light weight. I had the same issues with the canti-brakes that came stock on my Cannondale t2000, they never stopped very well. I recently changed to a different kind of canti-brakes. Linear pull shimano, better known as V-Brakes. V-brakes are so much better that regular canti-brakes. The stopping power is at least 50% more and very easy to adjust. I got the parallel pull models that keep the brakes pads parallel to the rims at all times. This gives very even braking and longer lasting pads. I know that suggesting that there is anything better that canti-brakes causes many on this board to go Ape Sh*t, but try for yourself and you will be sold.
I have had two pair of Avid shorties and both barely made it a season. Avid replaced the first set when all the spring posts came loose. The second pair fit so sloppy on the brake bosses I couldn't get the squeal out of them. I ended up giving them away after a few months of use. However the Avid Ultimate V-Brakes on my tandem has been awesome and trouble free, they should be they cost $100 each wheel. The best cantilever I have ever used is the old shimanos from the mid to late 80's like the BR535 XT or the XT2's which you can buy NOS from Sheldon Brown I have these now on two of my bikes and they work flawlessly.
There's no reason that any decent canti shouldn't be able to lock the wheels. They just need to be set up right. I was able to leave skid marks in my driveway with the Shorty 6s on my old bike. I have 80's XTs on my touring bike that, fully loaded, pushes 260 pounds and they stop quite well. The only v-brakes I've had gave me endless trouble with centering and rim rub.
If you've got cantis, make sure you've got them set up right before investing money in something else.
Paul's also seem like a lot of extra money for marginal, at best, improvement.
I had a set of wheels with a wider rim (A719 vs MA3) and put them on and adjusted the brakes and got some koolstop pads. This made the angle of the pull chord more obtuse, giving greater mechanical advantage and the Shortys are actually stopping me. Go figure.