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Cantilever brakes, proper pads installation?

Old 04-28-23, 01:10 PM
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Cantilever brakes, proper pads installation?

Unlike V-brakes, I can apply the lever to press new pads onto the rim, and then slowly tighten them. I even use a shim to toe them in.

I don't work on many really old bikes, so when it comes to cantilevers all I do is just eyeball it while it's all loosened up and hopes it the pads flattens out onto the rim after a few miles.

But is there a proper install procedure?
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Old 04-28-23, 01:21 PM
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I'm sure someone will come in with the "proper" or "best" way to adjust cantis. In the meantime, tightening the brakes, then tightening the adjustment will (at least on my brakes) give me a sub-optimal setting, as you'll run the blocks all the way down against the arms; on my brakes, that really compromises the pull angle.

My best approach is to get the bike ready to go, get a cold beer, and start tweaking the pad extension, up/down position, and toe-in. Tighten everything up, see what moved, have a sip of beer, loosen it and try again. Repeat as necessary. If I succeed in locking it down in a good position before I run out of beer, I may try the other wheel's brakes if there's a lot of beer left. Otherwise, get it as close to "optimal" as I can -- and make sure the brakes aren't rubbing the tire -- lock it down, and take the beer can to the recycle bin.
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Old 04-28-23, 03:32 PM
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It is what is called an iterative process.

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Old 04-28-23, 04:34 PM
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I apply the brakes to where the shoes engage the rim, and use some elastic on the levers to keep it there.

Now I can fine tune each pad to hit squarely at the center of the rim's brake area.

Also take a look at your photo, and note that the pad is supported by the brake arm. This is correct. Moving the pad out so it's only supported by the post will lower rigidity, causing unnecessary chatter and squeal.
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Old 04-28-23, 05:07 PM
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As important as pad adjustment is the brake cable length. The silver line on the yoke of the link wire must line up with the wire (as shown in the photo).
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Old 04-29-23, 05:57 PM
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Are you specifically talking about the post-mount pads on older cantis vs the nutted pads on typical V-brakes?

the same sort of adjustment process applies as v-brake pads with the spherical washers, but where you make the adjustment changes: get your straddle cable and arms centered, then use the nut on the back of the brake arm to get the pad post snug.

A couple-three tips; First, if possible, pull off the tires and set up the brakes on the bare rim. More room to work, and it’s easier to see if both sides are the same

I use a long T-handle Allen wrench to hold the post in position from the front while I tighten the nut on the back (I can get a better idea of the toe-in and it keeps my other hand out of the way.

I also like to do the setup with any cable adjusters backed all the way out; that way you don’t necessarily have to hold the brake lever in during setup. Once everything is set, then slack off the adjuster to get back to “operating” clearance.
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Old 04-29-23, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
As important as pad adjustment is the brake cable length. The silver line on the yoke of the link wire must line up with the wire (as shown in the photo).
If I bought a set of cantis that same with the yoke-style cable the first thing I would do is can it and use a regular cable along with a traditional straddle cable and the old-style clamp yoke. I've always adjusted straddle cable length to provide the braking I like. The odds of my setup matching that little silver line are pretty small.
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Old 04-29-23, 09:47 PM
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Something I've done with v-brakes for years is: unhook the arm return springs when I want to adjust them. Eliminates having to use a 3rd arm tool or find odd sized elastic bands. I have some new canti's I want to try as an experiment. I've never been happy with the rear brake feel or action on our tandems. Not even compressionless housing keeps them crisp at the lever. They bottom out against the bars even though they rub on the rim when retracted. So I want to try using canti (short pull) calipers with the long pull levers at the rear only. I don't need power at that end just control during low speed maneuvers. I've found a way to unhook the return springs on the canti arms just like on v-brakes. I never see anyone mention this. It makes setup a breeze. Get a couple of millimeters of play in the pad to rim clearance, re-hook the return springs and see how things feel. Adjust as necessary.
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Old 04-30-23, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
Something I've done with v-brakes for years is: unhook the arm return springs when I want to adjust them. I've found a way to unhook the return springs on the canti arms just like on v-brakes. I never see anyone mention this. It makes setup a breeze. Get a couple of millimeters of play in the pad to rim clearance, re-hook the return springs and see how things feel. Adjust as necessary.
I'd like to know what this newly discovered method is. None of the cantis I have (except the Machine Techs) have an external spring. They're all inside the arm, by the pivot post; the only way to unhook the spring is to remove the arm from the pivot.

I'm genuinely curious: I'd like some more details/ pictures of the setup/ technique
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Old 04-30-23, 01:28 AM
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I didn't say the method was new, and I did say I have only done it on v-brakes. The canti's are new Forte canti's. They are dead ringers for the discontinued Tektro CR720's and the spring is external. The long end hooks under a tab on the brake arm exactly like on any v-brake I have seen. I have unhooked it off the bike but have not actually done it with the brakes mounted. I can't see why it won't work.

Last edited by Leisesturm; 04-30-23 at 01:35 AM.
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Old 04-30-23, 02:12 AM
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Gotcha. I see how that brake is set up. The Tektro 992 Oryx appears to be the same way.

I've primarily got 1990's vintage Shimano (550) and Dia Compe (998) cantis, which, like the CT-91s on the OP, have the more "conventional" internal spring mounting.
Seems like there's a couple different styles, depending on what you're using
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