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Old 03-04-10, 09:49 PM   #1
Derailed
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Is it time for V-brakes on non-STI touring bikes?

Now that there are appropriate drop-bar brake levers for V-brakes without the use of a travel agent, does it make sense to go with V-brakes on a new build?

I'm building up a LHT and will need to buy both brake levers and brakes. I have a strong preference to go with barcon-style shifters, so I don't need integrated brake lever / shifter compatibility (e.g. Shimano's STI).

Other than having an unused cable stop, is there any downside for me to go with V-brakes and the appropriate levers from Cane Creek or Diacomp?

I apologize in advance if this has been discussed to death... I couldn't find quite the same angle covered in a search.
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Old 03-04-10, 10:42 PM   #2
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Tektro RL-520 drop V compatible levers have the most comfortable hoods I've ever used on a bike. The Cane Creeks are the same, they just cost more.
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Old 03-05-10, 12:00 AM   #3
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I just installed Cane Creek Drop V levers on my new bike. I got them in black and they are sexy (if that's even possible). These levers are way more comfortable than Sora STI's that came on my 'cross bike. They even have a 'cable QR pin' to reduce cable tension to aide wheel removal. Tektro has the same pin.
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Old 03-05-10, 12:09 AM   #4
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Avid v-brakes have been on the trek 520 for a long time, they work great.
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Old 03-05-10, 01:01 AM   #5
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I use Avid Ultimate's on my LHT and have used the Dia Comp brake levers since before there were any other choices. They are gr8.
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Old 03-05-10, 03:14 AM   #6
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I prefer v-brakes over cantis because they have somewhat better stopping power, but mainly because I find that they are easier to adjust. However, I have had problems when I tried to put a Blackburn (rear) rack on a mountain bike with V-brakes. I suspect this may have been a peculiarity of the frame (20" Diamondback Topanga) and the rack, but when I built my touring bike, I used cantis to preclude this problem. Has anyone else experienced difficulty making v-brakes work with racks?
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Old 03-05-10, 04:44 AM   #7
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10,000km and counting and they are still working great. Yes definitely.
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Old 03-05-10, 05:39 AM   #8
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Has anyone else experienced difficulty making v-brakes work with racks?
Good point, gorskhov. My tandem has V-brakes, and mounting a rear rack was a bit of a pain -- the brake cable totally blocked the mounting point for the rack. Fortunately, I was able to get around this by using a special seat-post binder clamp with rear-facing rack mounts, but I'll want to avoid that for the LHT.

I suspect fenders could also be a problem, and I definitely want fenders.

I'm getting the frameset through my LBS, so I should be able to temporarily mount a variety of V-brakes to see exactly how much fender clearance I'll have, in addition to whether or not they block the rack mounting points.

Last edited by Derailed; 03-05-10 at 06:21 AM.
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Old 03-05-10, 05:40 AM   #9
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No downside I can see unless you prefer STI (like I do). Personally I don't see v-brakes as a big plus either though.
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Old 03-05-10, 12:49 PM   #10
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I kinda think about it liek this

V-brakes set up easier because there are fewer variables to mess around with. Serriously, with cantilever angle and all that, canti's get rediculous.

However, when it comes time to fine tune them, canti's have the advantage, because of all the extra variables. When things get a little wierd, due to rack mounts, or just strange cable routing, canti's almost always have the advantage.

What it really boils down to though, is I like wrenching on my bike, and canti's give me ample opportunity to do so.
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Old 03-05-10, 06:04 PM   #11
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I prefer v-brakes with the appropriate levers also for the ease of adjustablity, light feel at the lever and power. I have three road bikes set up like this with either Avid Single Digit brakes or Pauls. The Avids are more than adequate. You do not grab a handful of brake with these - just a light touch and bring the rig to a stop happens as fast and sure as you want. Almost no effort. I have Avid BB7's (disks) on a 29er and the v's on the road are on par with the offroad disk set up. The only thing that would be better is to hav disks on my LHT - not for the power but for the superior wet weather performance and the fact that there are no worries with wearing out rim sidewalls from braking. That is true for any rim brake and is not limited to v's.
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Old 03-05-10, 06:10 PM   #12
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As a former cantilever hater, I can say honestly that with proper set-up they are as powerful as my v-brakes. That said, v-brakes are great and very easy to install/adjust.

Use what you like, they can both work great . My preference for my cantilevers is only for their ease of use with my huge drop bar. With upright bars I would almost certainly use v-brakes.
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Old 03-05-10, 07:09 PM   #13
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Purely aesthetics, I build up my LHT using cantis. And +1 on the Tektros for comfort.
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Old 03-06-10, 09:45 AM   #14
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toured on both and can honestly say i like the feel of cantis over V brakes. i suspect this is very subjective but i like the modulation of the cantis rolling down a large grade for instance. Vs always felt a bit more on/off.
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Old 03-06-10, 10:39 AM   #15
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I suspect that there will always be compatibility issues with rear racks and V-brakes. When you have a 5-inch-long V-brake, and your rear rack mounting points are only 5 or 6 inches from the bottoms of the seatstay brake pegs, trouble will ensue. A frame maker couldn't very easily move the rear rack mounting points up, particularly on smaller frames, and in any case you might have to put a mean kink in the supports that are shipped with your rack so that the supports can reach up to the higher mounting points. And you don't want to shorten the V-brake arms too much and lose the leverage that you need to stop the bike.

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Originally Posted by Derailed View Post
Good point, gorskhov. My tandem has V-brakes, and mounting a rear rack was a bit of a pain -- the brake cable totally blocked the mounting point for the rack. Fortunately, I was able to get around this by using a special seat-post binder clamp with rear-facing rack mounts, but I'll want to avoid that for the LHT.

I suspect fenders could also be a problem, and I definitely want fenders.

I'm getting the frameset through my LBS, so I should be able to temporarily mount a variety of V-brakes to see exactly how much fender clearance I'll have, in addition to whether or not they block the rack mounting points.
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Old 03-06-10, 11:57 AM   #16
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I use Old Man Mountain racks on pretty much all my bikes and there is no issue with v-brakes at all.

If I bought a bike and it came with cantis I'd use 'em. When I build up my bikes from scratch I go with Deore v-brakes - cheap and effective.
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Old 03-06-10, 04:31 PM   #17
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The Cane Creek and other V brake levers don't really have as much travel as a V brake mountain bike lever. I ended up ditching my V brakes for cantilevers because the distance from the pad to the rim had to be too small. Any little out of true on the wheel, or off center action in the brakes, and the pads would rub. If I set the pads further out, I ran out of lever travel. I am certainly not the only one to have this problem as there was a thread years ago that went into detail about this. That thread made me switch to cantilevers. Before that I just thought I was a crap bike mechanic.
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Old 03-07-10, 07:52 PM   #18
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I just got a new bike with V-brakes and there were no rack complications. And, they work much better than the last two sets of cantilevers I had on previous bikes.

Edit: Avid Single Digit 7, if you're interested.
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Old 03-07-10, 09:05 PM   #19
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Edit: Avid Single Digit 7, if you're interested.
Would you please let us know what rack you're using, and the frame model also? At least from what I can tell, it seems like the V-brake is the least variable of the parts that we're looking at.
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Old 03-08-10, 06:06 AM   #20
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Thanks for all of the helpful comments, everyone! My frameset came in so I got to check it out this past weekend. I mounted some linear-pull brakes, and it looks like they'll safely go over fenders yet stay under the mounting points for the rack. My frame is a 60cm.

Crock: have you measured the difference in cable pull for drop-bar vs flat-bar levers designed for V-brakes. It seems strange to me that brakes designed for this purpose would not pull the same amount of cable, so I'm quite curious to quantify the diparity. I suppose when I get my new levers I could simply measure how far the cable moves with a ruler and then compare that to a mtn bike on the floor of my LBS.

In any event, I'm going to give the linear-pull brakes a try. I ask my LBS to order some Tektro RL520 levers and some Avid Single Digit 5 brakes.

I'll post back once it is all up and running (it might be a little while.... I'm doing this build slowly).
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Old 03-08-10, 08:44 PM   #21
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Would you please let us know what rack you're using, and the frame model also? At least from what I can tell, it seems like the V-brake is the least variable of the parts that we're looking at.
I have a 2010 Co-motion Nor'wester tour and (at the moment) a cheap Bor Yueh rear rack. I have to say this cheap rack I bought for commuting works great. I have some Axion panniers on order and a couple short tours planned for this summer. We'll see how it goes.

Here's a photo of the rack and v-brake.

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