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cantilever verses v brakes

Old 07-06-16, 01:28 PM
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cncwhiz
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cantilever verses v brakes

I have a few older mountain bikes. One is my commuter and the other I use to ride dirt trails. What I am wondering is if I change from cantilever to v brakes will there be any gain in braking performance? Which on is better for street and the same for dirt.
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Old 07-06-16, 01:34 PM
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You asked, Moses, aka as Sheldon Brown, tells:

The Geometry of Cantilever Brakes
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Old 07-06-16, 01:38 PM
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You can change from canti's to V's - BUT you will need to change the brake levers to ones compatible with V's, which require more cable pull.

V-brakes are less expensive, and easier and much faster to set up.

Once set up correctly, both V-brakes and Cantilevers work very well.

I have bikes with both types, and would not change them just for the sake of change.
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Old 07-06-16, 01:39 PM
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For all practical purposes, V-brakes are way better. The main advantage of cantilevers is that they can be adjusted to fine tune mechanical advantage versus rim clearance. The down side of that is that it is possible to set them up poorly, and depending on the design of the cantilever it may be easy to do so. V-brakes are way easier to set up and adjust.

I would switch any bike with a non-drop handlebar to V-brakes as soon as budget allowed. Note that you will need to replace the brake levers too, as V-brakes require more cable pull.
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Old 07-06-16, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
...
I would switch any bike with a non-drop handlebar to V-brakes as soon as budget allowed. Note that you will need to replace the brake levers too, as V-brakes require more cable pull.
Which raises the question: what drop bar brake levers would work best with V-brakes?
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Old 07-06-16, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Which raises the question: what drop bar brake levers would work best with V-brakes?
Tektro linear pull levers, of course! They are also known as the RL520.
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Old 07-06-16, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Which raises the question: what drop bar brake levers would work best with V-brakes?
Originally Posted by TimmyT View Post
Tektro linear pull levers, of course! They are also known as the RL520.
Yeah, the Tektros work great with V-brakes. Gevenalle sells a variant of them (still made by Tektro) which can be switched between long and short pull by changing where you route the cable during installation. It's a pretty nifty trick IMO.
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Old 07-06-16, 02:33 PM
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I had a pair of V brakes on my C-dale ST600 when I bought it. They worked great, but were very grabby. I switched back to cantis and got the better modulation I was looking for.


@cncwhiz, PM me if want to pick up a pair of Shimano BR M600 brakes cheap.
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Old 07-06-16, 08:55 PM
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I've been running Nashbar v-brakes on my primary commuter for the last couple of years, both with drop bars and with upright bars (and different levers, of course). Braking power is excellent, and modulation is just fine.
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Old 07-07-16, 02:47 AM
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I've been at it since 1976 and never had a problem with cantilevers. I only 150 lbs so just about any brake works well for me. Folks read way too much internet BS and believe it as Gospel. Cantilever brakes work well when set up correctly.
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Old 07-07-16, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cs1 View Post
I've been at it since 1976 and never had a problem with cantilevers. I only 150 lbs so just about any brake works well for me. Folks read way too much internet BS and believe it as Gospel. Cantilever brakes work well when set up correctly.
Agreed.

I have Paul Neo/touring combos on two bikes and Campy CX cantis on another.

Zero issues.

The best thing you can do to any brake is add Kool Stops.

All three are ridden hard on mud, gravel and our city streets.

I am pleased to report that I have not been involved in fiery crashes while riding these bikes.
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Old 07-07-16, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by cncwhiz View Post
I have a few older mountain bikes. One is my commuter and the other I use to ride dirt trails. What I am wondering is if I change from cantilever to v brakes will there be any gain in braking performance? Which on is better for street and the same for dirt.
If you don't have Kool Stop brake pads on your bikes, I would do that pronto.

Best "fix" you can do right now.

Yes, they are better than stock pads.
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Old 07-07-16, 04:58 AM
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Looks like Cane Creek also offers a lever for V's. Dia Compe made some as well, often found on tandems. One of them usually has dual cable capability for operating two calipers at one time while using the the other for the rear drum brake.
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Old 07-07-16, 05:37 AM
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My canti's are pretty much as powerful as my v-brakes and they have better modulation as mentioned. That's important on a MTB with tight singletrack. The trick is setting your toe in and yoke height correctly. You know you have it right when you have a firm lever, otherwise they'll feel a little mushy. Black (not red) Kool Stop pads are freaking awesome. I do love v-brakes, they're very easy to set up.
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Old 07-07-16, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by gomango View Post
Agreed.

I have Paul Neo/touring combos on two bikes and Campy CX cantis on another.

Zero issues.

The best thing you can do to any brake is add Kool Stops.

All three are ridden hard on mud, gravel and our city streets.

I am pleased to report that I have not been involved in fiery crashes while riding these bikes.
I have the same thing a bike I am putting together now. I can't comment on performance because it's not complete. I will post pics sometime.
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Old 07-07-16, 08:31 AM
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If you don't want to change your brake levers you can also look up mini-V brakes as an option. They're made to work with road levers.

Last edited by hairnet; 07-07-16 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 07-07-16, 09:15 AM
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In my experience, linear pull brakes work very well, it's just that they are too ugly to go on any of my bikes.
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Old 07-07-16, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by cncwhiz View Post
I have a few older mountain bikes. One is my commuter and the other I use to ride dirt trails. What I am wondering is if I change from cantilever to v brakes will there be any gain in braking performance? Which on is better for street and the same for dirt.
I dont like how Vbrakes look, and have avoided them for old MTB, touring bike, and gravel bike builds based only on the look.
Its also because I find cantis to work perfectly fine for how and where I ride. I am 230, no lightweight, yet I stop in a distance that I find acceptable with cantis.


Vbrakes seem to grab and 'stick' much faster, at least based on how I use them. I dont want to lock up the wheel every time I touch my brakes.


As was just mentioned, you can get mini-Vs and use the same brake levers as you have for cantis(or caliper) brakes.


I have old DeoreXT cantis from 1987(I think) and a couple sets of Diacompe which are XCM and XCE level. These are all 35+ years old and work perfectly fine with new pads installed. As mentioned, it just requires setting them up properly and vbrakes for sure set up faster .
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Old 07-07-16, 11:19 AM
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I love v-brakes. Even the cheaper ones I've used feel really smooth and stop great. I plan on converting both of my mountain bikes to v-brakes at some point.

They don't look as good as cantilevers but I'm more interested in being able to slow down my bike efficiently.
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Old 07-07-16, 11:43 AM
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MA is lower in the V brake Hand lever ,. because the MA/ cable pull demand is Higher in the V brake ,

Cantilever is a Higher MA in the hand lever and a bit lower MA in the calipers.

The pad to rim requirement for operating clearance , is much tighter with V brakes .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lever

'Better' in the end, is just an Opinion.
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Old 07-07-16, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
I had a pair of V brakes on my C-dale ST600 when I bought it. They worked great, but were very grabby. I switched back to cantis and got the better modulation I was looking for.
One man's "grabby" is another man's "stops the bike when I squeeze the lever."

I think this is kind of like single pivot versus dual pivot caliper brakes. Pretty much any brake out there will be capable of generating enough braking power to exceed the traction of your tires. It's just a matter of how hard you have to squeeze the lever to get that power and what it feels like between initial engagement and max power.

If you're the type to obsess about brake feel cantilevers are pretty much perfect because you can adjust them to get nearly any feel you want. If you're the type who likes to attach a cable and be done with it, cantilevers are awful because you have to adjust them to get the feel you want.

I have relatively weak hands so I like really responsive brakes. Even my otherwise vintage road bikes have dual pivot caliper brakes. For rim brake bikes with post mounts, I prefer V-brakes over cantilevers. For the bikes with disc brakes, I really like hydraulic discs.

The one exception to the above is my cyclocross race bike. I'm still using cantilever brakes on that because modulation is extremely important and easy brake engagement gets me in trouble. In almost every other situation, I prefer being able to stop with minimum lever pressure.

In theory, it is possible to set up cantilever brakes to have the exact same feel and mechanical advantage as a V-brake, and with flat bar levers this is even possible in reality. The big difference is that with V-brakes the only thing you have to worry about is attaching the cable so that the pads are the right distance from the rims. With cantilevers, the braking power varies with yoke height and a small difference in yoke height can make a pretty big difference in braking performance.
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Old 07-07-16, 11:57 AM
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BTW, if you want to really geek out over cantilever brakes check out this online tool that gives you a visual model:

MAITOY: Cantilever Brake Geometry

For some reason it doesn't work in Chrome (at least, it doesn't for me) so you might need to dust off Internet Explorer if you're a Windows user.
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Old 07-07-16, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
The one exception to the above is my cyclocross race bike.
I'm pretty familiar with two local cross teams.

They use "mostly" cantis, with a few using Vs.

All of them seem to be doing pretty well with their choices.

To quote a friend, "brakes, who needs brakes? "

Look folks, if you really want an upgrade go with Shimano discs.......
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Old 07-07-16, 01:43 PM
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The thing I don't like about V's is that the pads have to be very close to the rim in order to brake properly. Canti's allow a little more space which is better when your rim is slightly out of true so it doesn't rub.
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Old 07-07-16, 06:53 PM
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I like the look of cantis than any other brakes- better than any sidepull or centerpull brakes.

As far as the differences between canti and V-brakes... I haven't messed with a whole lot of V brakes- but they've both been great brakes. I've had issues with roller cam brakes- but I figured out the problem was the levers I was using, not the brakes or their setup.
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