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Old 08-03-09, 06:37 PM   #1
gueuzeman
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Cantilever vs. V-brake

I am trying to buy my first touring bike and am wondering if there are any glaring differences between these two types of brake systems. Is one better for wet stopping or loaded or more durable, etc. Thanks.
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Old 08-03-09, 07:44 PM   #2
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I feel strongly both ways. I have one of each on my tour bike. Really.
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Old 08-03-09, 08:05 PM   #3
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Here is link to discussion, pros and cons.
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Old 08-03-09, 08:17 PM   #4
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There are really only 2 reasons to use cantilever brakes;

1. Your using drop handlebars with short pull brake levers. Even in this case it's probably better to use a travel agent and use linear pull brakes (V-brakes).

2. Your into the retro-look thing, fashion. Nothing wrong with this reason unless you are a heavy person or have a heavily loaded bike where safety really should prevail.

Linear pull brakes out perform Canti's in every category. Get the Shimano parallel pull models and have the best in braking, equal to most disc brakes. The heavier you and your bike are, the more important brake selection is.
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Old 08-03-09, 09:12 PM   #5
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Rodriguez Bicycles makes a strong case for canti's over V-brakes for touring (or tandems).
http://www.rodcycle.com/articles/brakes.html
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Old 08-04-09, 12:38 AM   #6
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Rodriguez Bicycles makes a strong case for canti's over V-brakes for touring (or tandems).
http://www.rodcycle.com/articles/brakes.html
Properly adjusted cantis are an absolute joy... when I was building up my touring bike I opted for cantis (XTR's) because they provide excellent braking power, don't interfere with racks and fenders, and have great pad life. That, and the actual brake itself will outlast a v-brake and is less prone to failure.

I have also used cantis on my fixed gear touring bike and fixed gear winter bike... and I really am a fan of being able to stop quickly and with a great deal of control.
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Old 08-04-09, 05:41 AM   #7
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Rodriguez Bicycles makes a strong case for canti's over V-brakes for touring (or tandems).
http://www.rodcycle.com/articles/brakes.html

Here is a good review of the Rodriguez article. (I did not write this but do agree with it)

Their main argument is that v-brakes necessitate a "problem-solver" in order to make them work with drop-bar levers. Thus, they contend that rack-fitting problems and lever compatibility issues will stymie most riders. This problem is extinct now because of the wide availability of drop-bar v-brake levers. No need for "Road V-brakes" or any type of bulky leverage-amplification device.

Also they contend that v-brake pads are too thin and wear out too quickly, but this also has been countered by modern offerings and on my current touring bicycle I am using relatively thick, inexpensive easily replaceable slide-in style Kool-Stop pads (check this link and look at the "V-type brake insert pad" www.koolstop.com/brakes/index.php).

When I was using cantilever brakes I ALWAYS used the "Kool-Stop Eagle 2" smooth stud pads. I've compared a new set of those with the thickness of the current v-brake inserts I'm using now and the difference in usable pad thickness is negligible: perhaps .75mm, and I'd trade that thickness for the increased braking power any day of the week. Especially in the rain. Anyhow, the replaceable slide-in v-brake pads are less expensive, less wasteful, and SO MUCH easier to adjust. I can easily take a replacement set on tour with me and negate any benefit of a marginally thicker pad.

Furthermore, the Rodriguez webpage contends that tandem riders will be facing extreme high speeds on their bicycle. They state that touring cyclist and tandem riders will be" barreling down a pavement highway at speeds of over 60mph". Sorry, but I can't remember the last time I wanted to go over 35 or 40 mph, and even then I was uncomfortable. My wife and I will most certainly not be "barreling down a 7 mile descent at an 8% grade at over 60mph". That's just stupid and dangerous. Most tandems (except for Rodriguez) have a hub brake for a reason: to avoid such dangerous situations and alleviate the strain and wear on the brakes and the rim. Anyone who is planning flying down a hill at those speeds on a heavily loaded tandem and trying manage their speed (ha!) using just rim brakes, either cantilever or v-brakes, or whatever, is bound to super-heat their rim, melt a tube, have a blow-out, and kill themselves and their partner. Period.

Rodriguez Cycles is sticking with outdated propaganda and downright sensationalistic reasoning to promote their very expensive custom $250 dollar cantilever brakes (which I personally guarantee will not stop a bike anywhere as quick as my $40 dollar v-brakes with my $25 dollar levers, especially in the rain). Worse yet, Rodriguez doesn't even include a drum brake on their bikes! What are they thinking?
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Old 08-04-09, 05:48 AM   #8
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Since I like STI shifters, cantilevers make sense to me. I have used them on plenty of high speed descents with a loaded bike and found them quite adequate.
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Old 08-04-09, 08:03 AM   #9
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Here is a good review of the Rodriguez article. (I did not write this but do agree with it)

Their main argument is that v-brakes necessitate a "problem-solver" in order to make them work with drop-bar levers. Thus, they contend that rack-fitting problems and lever compatibility issues will stymie most riders. This problem is extinct now because of the wide availability of drop-bar v-brake levers. No need for "Road V-brakes" or any type of bulky leverage-amplification device.

Also they contend that v-brake pads are too thin and wear out too quickly, but this also has been countered by modern offerings and on my current touring bicycle I am using relatively thick, inexpensive easily replaceable slide-in style Kool-Stop pads (check this link and look at the "V-type brake insert pad" www.koolstop.com/brakes/index.php).

When I was using cantilever brakes I ALWAYS used the "Kool-Stop Eagle 2" smooth stud pads. I've compared a new set of those with the thickness of the current v-brake inserts I'm using now and the difference in usable pad thickness is negligible: perhaps .75mm, and I'd trade that thickness for the increased braking power any day of the week. Especially in the rain. Anyhow, the replaceable slide-in v-brake pads are less expensive, less wasteful, and SO MUCH easier to adjust. I can easily take a replacement set on tour with me and negate any benefit of a marginally thicker pad.

Furthermore, the Rodriguez webpage contends that tandem riders will be facing extreme high speeds on their bicycle. They state that touring cyclist and tandem riders will be" barreling down a pavement highway at speeds of over 60mph". Sorry, but I can't remember the last time I wanted to go over 35 or 40 mph, and even then I was uncomfortable. My wife and I will most certainly not be "barreling down a 7 mile descent at an 8% grade at over 60mph". That's just stupid and dangerous. Most tandems (except for Rodriguez) have a hub brake for a reason: to avoid such dangerous situations and alleviate the strain and wear on the brakes and the rim. Anyone who is planning flying down a hill at those speeds on a heavily loaded tandem and trying manage their speed (ha!) using just rim brakes, either cantilever or v-brakes, or whatever, is bound to super-heat their rim, melt a tube, have a blow-out, and kill themselves and their partner. Period.

Rodriguez Cycles is sticking with outdated propaganda and downright sensationalistic reasoning to promote their very expensive custom $250 dollar cantilever brakes (which I personally guarantee will not stop a bike anywhere as quick as my $40 dollar v-brakes with my $25 dollar levers, especially in the rain). Worse yet, Rodriguez doesn't even include a drum brake on their bikes! What are they thinking?
Nice review Greg. I thought some of Rodriguez cycles' writeup might not be current with regards to the levers. Good to know about your pad comparison too.

FWIW, my fastest speed ever was 54mph [unloaded] on a standard diamond frame Cannondale w/cantis in NM. On that same downhill run I was passed by an unloaded tandem doing 65mph. This couple didn't look nuts and I didn't notice what breaks their bike had. But some people do like to fly when the opportunity presents itself. I would agree with the desire for something other than cantis on a tandem.
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Old 08-04-09, 08:31 AM   #10
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I would agree with the desire for something other than cantis on a tandem.
Maybe, but the OP wasn't asking about a tandem.
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Old 08-04-09, 08:43 AM   #11
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braze on some extra brake posts and have both. while your at it, throw on some disc brakes. All I know is that rod cycles have some good points about not going with discs. Ive seen what happens a wheel, fork, and frame when a disc brake goes wrong. As for a good opinion, I want to know why half the major complete touring bikes for 2009 have cantis (see my excel sheet). I want to hear what the manufactures have to say.

of the 28 touring bikes for 2009 Ive analyzed
15 have cantis
7 have v brakes
4 have disc
2 calipers
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Old 08-04-09, 08:59 AM   #12
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Fenders
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Old 08-04-09, 09:00 AM   #13
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If I were having a custom Rodriguez built, it would have disc brake tabs and no canti posts.

Pretty much all tandem makers have moved to disc brakes now - the big ones (203mm) at that.

Back to OT, you can go either way really, it's largely a matter of personal preference. V-brake compatible (long cable pull) drop levers with V brakes, conventional (short cable pull) brake levers with cantis or conventional levers with V brakes with PS travel agents.

In a rush to get an order out, I bought some Cane Creek SCX-5 cantis (tektro oryx 992 clone, which were out of stock everywhere at the time), and they work as good as my best V brakes - really!

I also tried some Tektro CR720s - I could never get these to actually brake well. They had a great lever feel, felt like they clamped well, but the dang bike kept rolling along. I suspect hard pad compound, but I was unwilling to waste more time wrenching when I could be riding. Saved this evaluation for future.

I run Avid BB7 road discs on front of my LHT now (using campy veloce brifters). They beat both the Vees and cantis I've tried, especially in the rain, and work exactly like the popular, proven mountain BB7.

Disc brakes are unsurpassed for wet braking - there's just no question about this. If you believe differently, you must not have tried them. I pondered "the disc question" for years, then 2 separate but identical circumstance near-death experiences motivated the relatively expensive move to disc braking (rolling down a hill in pouring rain at 10mph, absolutely could not stop before intersection/traffic, had to "Fred Flintstone" it to finally stop a foot before lane).

If OP is looking for a good V brake, allow me to suggest Tektro 857s. Cheap, arms are ~1cm longer then Avid SD 3-5-7s. Very nice finish, weight-relieved in rear, they're clearly nicer looking than the Avids and cost less. The longer arms allow you to run 2" tires with 60mm SKS fenders spaced off for mud and still have adequate clearance. My Avid SD7s would scrub the top of the fender at the noodle holder mechanism, these don't. They brake pretty good. At $13 they're cheap enough to try even if you end up not liking them.

http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30...ils&sku=BR7417
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Old 08-04-09, 09:09 AM   #14
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... I want to know why half the major complete touring bikes for 2009 have cantis ....
Uh, sales and profit.

People are averse to risk, discs are not common on tourers, thus harder to sell. More to the point, they cost much more, at >$100 a bike (brake calipers and special built fork) that could go towards profit.

Same reason barcons are so "popular". Barcons used to be $30, now $75. Plain ole brake levers are $20 a pair. STI levers are $150 (wholesale) and up.
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Old 08-04-09, 10:45 AM   #15
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V-brakes with Tektro RL-520 levers. Just switched over my touring bike to this from Avid Squealie 6s and broken STI levers JB-Welded together. My new setup is superior in the following ways:

-the RL-520 levers have a superior hood shape which supports my palm across its entire span, vs the STI hoods which only support my palm at both ends, which lead to huge calluses at those two points and lots of pain on long touring days.

-the RL-520 levers have a shorter reach than the STI levers which works well with my shortish fingers.

-the RL-520 levers, combined with the reduced lever forces required for v-brakes, allow for secure emergency-intensity braking from the hoods. This was not previously possible.

-the V-brakes (just deore-level tektros) are far more powerful than my squealies ever were and they modulate just as well. The older design Avid Shorties are not considered to be a very good example of a canti brake, however.

-the canti-cable setup conflicted with my top shelf front rack; large items placed on the top shelf would push the cable against the top tube and braking required the extra force of pushing the entire load forward out of the way. This could easily have led to cable failure with a sufficiently restrained top load.


More than the other issues, I'm happy with my switch because I'm happier with the ergonomics of the RL-520 levers, which I think are fantastic. I think if you're going to run a drop bar setup, that's probably a more important consideration than V or canti.
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Old 08-04-09, 10:47 AM   #16
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V-brakes are powerful, but lack modulation (i.e it's easy to lock the wheel). There are some drop-bar levers available. Apparently the Tektro is better than the Dia-Compe. Won't work with STI/ergo levers.

Cantis are more than adequately powerful but can be difficult to set-up sometimes (try setting the yoke so that the tranverse cable pulls at 90deg from the pivot-anchor line, when the brake is closed). They have better modulation thus arguably perform better than Vs on wet roads (if they have equivalent pads).

But usually you can get used to the modulation of either type.

Both types are good for loads. Both are equally durable, depends if the pivots/bushings are sealed. Some high-end Vs have a parallelogram linkage to keep the pad parallel to the rim as it travels. Those extra bushings have the potential to wear and cause a tiny bit of play.

edit: while it's true that the canti cables can get in the way of the loads with some racks, some Vs have limited fender/tire clearance because of the transverse cable.

Last edited by tuz; 08-04-09 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 08-04-09, 02:51 PM   #17
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I have cantilevers and they're fine. I have V-brakes on my mountain bike and think they're better than canti's. Maybe one of these days I'll switch to V-brakes on my tourer, but I'd have to do something to make the levers compatible. Seemingly not a big deal.

Whichever you choose will be fine.
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Old 08-04-09, 05:24 PM   #18
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I use Avid Ultimate Digit linear pulls with Dia Comp 287V brake levers on my LHT. The Ultimate's will easily pull my loaded LHT to a stop with complete control even in the pouring rain. On other bikes I use caliper (Ultegra level) and disc (Avid Juicy 7's). The Ultimates are superior in modulation control to any of the others and have better stopping power than all but the Juicy's. I prefer them to disc brakes because they have better modulation.

I get >4000 miles between brake pad changes riding under a wide variety of weather and road conditions.
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Old 08-06-09, 08:38 PM   #19
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In relative terms, a v-brake requires a long cable pull to operate properly, a canti brake requires a much shorter amount of cable pull. Why does this matter? Well, if you do have road handlebars, most road handlebar brake levers only are short pull -certainly STIs only have short pull. Of course, you can use some short pull brake levers for v-brakes by using converters, but (at least from my friend's comments) are difficult to use and install. He ended up not using them. You can also use long pull road brake levers with v-brakes too.

Both types of brakes can cause rack issues, though I'd say usually cantis are less likely to have issues with racks (as well as fenders). V-brakes are much easier to adjust, though this is not as pronounced as it once was as newer cantis use v-brake like brake pads, which makes adjustment far easier. Cantis may also be adjusted by using adjustable cable hangers versus the unadjustable static through cable that come standard on most cantis (a personal note here, I have cantis with a through cable that work terrifically well, but some people swear by the hangers -I've personally not found them necessary).

One thing I do very much like about cantis is that I find them to have a greater degree of modulation, whereas v-brakes tend to be very digital -either on or off. This can be certainly exacerbated by poor brake pads (Shimano supply concrete brake pads, I swear!). On either brake, I'd recommend Koolstop salmons -a brake upgrade that is a huge bang for the buck as far as I'm concerned. On the flip side, V-brakes are much less susceptible to off true rims as they sit further away from the rim, and are incredibly easy to adjust. If I was pushed to give a preference for either brake, I'd have to say cantis. However, both brake types, assuming they are well setup and of reasonable quality, are more than fine IMHO.

Course, my touring bike has Avid BB7 road discs anyway..... which I do consider to be the best choice for the type of touring I do, and certainly out perform most if not all v-brakes/cantis in wet braking as well as power (just my opinion!).

On a final note, cantis are nothing to do with fashion, being retro grouch or accepting inferior or dangerous braking for heavy people (that's me!) -that's just plain ridiculous and inaccurate. Well set up good quality cantis are fine, as are v-brakes.

Last edited by Nigeyy; 08-06-09 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 08-07-09, 05:52 PM   #20
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On either brake, I'd recommend Koolstop salmons -a brake upgrade that is a huge bang for the buck as far as I'm concerned.
BBB 3-compound pads are also good and much more widely available than the Koolstops, eg in Australia most bike shops wil have BBB but you'd have to get Koolstops shipped.
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Old 08-07-09, 05:56 PM   #21
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You need to take brake lever compatability and fender/wheel clearance into consideration. But all things being equal, V brakes are the better performers.

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Old 08-07-09, 06:17 PM   #22
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Some high-end Vs have a parallelogram linkage to keep the pad parallel to the rim as it travels.
Anyone else notice what those cheap b*st*rds at Shimano have been doing over the years with their V-brakes?
I have a set of LX V-brakes with the parallelogram linkage, and also a set of XT V-brakes which also have it.
Both sets were purchased in the late '90's.

Today you can only get that feature at the XTR level.
XT & LX have both gone back to the cheap one-piece design.
I regarded the parallelogram linkage as the biggest advantage over canti's.

And for the record, the XT V-brakes are on a bike that has fenders AND rack with no interference from either.
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Old 08-07-09, 06:24 PM   #23
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I've owned and used both types on touring bikes.

There are pluses and minuses of both, but -- It wouldn't be a factor in my decision of which bike to buy.
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Old 08-07-09, 08:08 PM   #24
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Anyone else notice what those cheap b*st*rds at Shimano have been doing over the years with their V-brakes?
I don't think the parallelogram feature actually helps much in braking. I know it looks like it should, but once you try something else you've got to wonder what Shimano is thinking.

I had XTs and switched to Avid SD Ti in 2001. As I was installing them I marveled at their weight (less than half the weight of the XTs) but wondered if I had made a mistake. After a short break-in I realized they were at least as good as the XTs, weighed a lot less and seemed to be quieter.
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Old 08-07-09, 09:07 PM   #25
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I am trying to buy my first touring bike and am wondering if there are any glaring differences between these two types of brake systems. Is one better for wet stopping or loaded or more durable, etc. Thanks.
Glaring differences, No. IMO both work equally as well when properly adjusted. My own experince is that cantilever brakes are not as finicky as most V-brakes. A cantilever will tolerate an out of true wheel better. Cheap V-brakes are a PITA to keep adjusted. My touring bikes and MTB's have had XT cantilevers forever but some times I can't find studded brake pads at the LBS.
My tandem has Avid Ultimate V-Brakes and they are awesome, absolutely trouble free. I wouldn't hesitate to use them on all my bikes .But at $100 per wheel ( plus new levers)it is difficult to justify replacing the 20 year old canti's that still work excellent
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