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Suntour roller cams and touring

Old 08-31-18, 04:20 PM
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Suntour roller cams and touring

I picked up a Schwinn High Sierra with mid fork mounts in my size and have outfitted it with a rear rack (tubus) and fenders as well as Schwalbe marathons and a ok set of rim brake rims.

The bike itself has suntour roller cams and they appear to stop on a dime. I even picked up some koolstop salmons but havent fitted them yet.

I am wondering how the rollercams are for a bike tour? They are standard mount and not under the rear stay and seem to work well. I am just wondering if i should keep going with this frameset as a touring rig being that it has roller cams. Any real reason not to ? I have found a ARKEL AC front rack locally that i could outfit on this bike at a very reasonable cost but have held off.

The brakes seemingly work well and look great. I am a big suntour fan but all of this may not amount to a hill of beans if there is some glaring reason to not expect them to tour well.
I think the grand vision in the end is a drop bar conversion with barend shifters and perhaps a 8, 9 or 10 speed in the rear. I havent picked up my barcons yet so that will likely dictate what i end up doing.



Thoughts?
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Old 08-31-18, 09:11 PM
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Keep them adjusted and you should be okay. I've worked on the brakes but never owned them.
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Old 09-01-18, 05:57 AM
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yeah i guess there doesnt seem like to much that can go wrong with them. I figured i best ask before taking this project any further......but even that is silly. I have no plans to do a major tour.....so for around town and a hobby bike it will be fine. If i ever do tour i will probably find out by then if they will work out or not. I figure thy have lasted 30+ years and still work great so why wouldnt they be fine.
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Old 09-01-18, 09:03 AM
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I think roller cams are cool looking. I also think they're as reliable and functional as any other type of brake- stronger than sidepulls; maybe even stronger than cantis- as the cam plate sort of acts as a fulcrum. If I were to think of what could go wrong out in the middle of nowhere... first- the pads swing up= so as the pads wear, you have to lower the angle of the arm so it stays the brake track of the rim- not into the tire. The other thing is- the nut on the back of one of the roller wheels could come off and the roller wheel could conceivably come off. I think it would take a lot of doing- and not paying any attention for a long period of time.

The only other thing is they can appear grabby like V brakes. It may have just been the pads I was using- but they've settled in.


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Old 09-01-18, 05:08 PM
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I have them on the rear of my 1985 Cannondale SM600. (They were originally on the front too, but when I replaced the fork with one with cantilever mounts, I installed Pedersen SR brakes on the forks.) I never had a problem with the Rollercams and found them easy to adjust. I'm using grey Kool Stop pads. Mine originally came with threaded pad-posts but the smooth-post pads fit fine. The only "problem" is releasing them if I want to remove the wheel. I just pop the cam plate out of the rollers while pressing the pads against the rim.
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Old 09-01-18, 06:16 PM
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If you are worried about on the fly adjustment, you could replace them with U brakes, which are the only other brake style that use the same mounts as the roller cams. U brakes are easier to adjust. They are a cross between a center pull and a V brake.
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Old 09-01-18, 08:00 PM
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My Schwinn mountain bike has a RollerCam up front, with the cable routed down through the handlebar stem, and an under-the-chainstay U-brake in back, with those wonderful motorcycle-style 4-finger Shimano brake levers. I have no complaints whatsoever regarding the brakes, thanks to KoolStop pads.
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Old 09-02-18, 08:21 PM
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The primary design flaws of the Suntour roller cams were the incredibly stupid resin rollers introduced on the XC Sport calipers, and the rollers/cam getting easily fouled by dirt/sand/mud. Both problems worsened by under-chainstay placement. Suntour poured tons o' money into a huge bottomless hole replacing all those resin rollers, which cracked in the field from day 1. We were air-shipping pallet-loads of brass rollers from Japan. Don't know why/if anybody ever thought about sourcing them in the US/Europe instead of air-shipping from Japan. We also introduced a little booty/diaper to cover the cam/rollers to prevent mud fouling during off-road use.

If you've got brass rollers, standard fork/seatstay mounting, and fenders to prevent cam/roller fouling, you should be good.
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Old 09-02-18, 09:44 PM
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I had a cannondale SM800 (I think) with roller cams I converted to a drop bar tourer. Great bike, and honestly touring is probably the best application for these brakes. Low profile so racks won't interfere, adjustable, so if you're fully loaded you can dial up the mechanical advantage and still stop on a dime pretty easily. Also, many of the problems these brakes have are mitigated by using them for touring vs. real MTB off road riding or whatever. In my own personal use, they get clogged up with debris pretty easily when off road and they make it very difficult to remove a wheel quickly and without having to mess with too much if you're using big fat tires. All things that aren't a problem if you're touring with them, as you're going to be on roads and your tires will most likely be skinny enough to slip through. I wish I had a picture of the bike at least. Unfortunately I sold it to a co-worker when I moved who promptly let it sit in the rain for months and turn into a rusty mess.
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Old 09-03-18, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by pcb
The primary design flaws of the Suntour roller cams were the incredibly stupid resin rollers introduced on the XC Sport calipers, and the rollers/cam getting easily fouled by dirt/sand/mud. Both problems worsened by under-chainstay placement. Suntour poured tons o' money into a huge bottomless hole replacing all those resin rollers, which cracked in the field from day 1. We were air-shipping pallet-loads of brass rollers from Japan. Don't know why/if anybody ever thought about sourcing them in the US/Europe instead of air-shipping from Japan. We also introduced a little booty/diaper to cover the cam/rollers to prevent mud fouling during off-road use.

If you've got brass rollers, standard fork/seatstay mounting, and fenders to prevent cam/roller fouling, you should be good.
Again, my High Sierra is an 87- it has the resin XC Sport levers, but brass rollers on the roller cams. I suppose the idea was the weight savings, but on the XC Sport budget rather than XC budget. Is that why the brake arms aren't drilled all the way through? Melt forged instead of cold forged?

I'd see the aftermarket roller cam booties every once in a while- so there must've been *some* market for them at one point.
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Old 09-03-18, 09:02 PM
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XC Sport was designed to be cheaper than XC, so possibly lower-quality metal for the caliper arms. I'd suspect the resin rollers were primarily to lower production costs. But all those details were quickly forgotten in the spectacular cluster-fook of the roller recall. The XC Sport roller cams initially all shipped with the resin pulleys---we're talking tens of thousands of bikes. And the first bike Bicycling tested with the XC Sport brakes had the resin rollers crack during testing, prominently featuring a photo of the cracked rollers in the test report. We wanted to stay ahead of the CPSC and avoid a full recall, and, of course, prevent any possible injuries. All those plastic rollers had to be replaced, for free, under warranty. We stopped answering the dealer phones, asked dealers to leave messages on the answering machine with their name/address and how many brass rollers they needed. Waited for the air shipments, then 12-hour days with all of us dealer support guys doing nothing but packing/shipping replacement rollers. One of my buddies started having recurring nightmares about mis-packed and mis-shipped brass pulley orders.

It was not the first, and would not be the last, ill-conceived and insufficiently-tested Suntour product to find its way into the marketplace.

The booty came a little later, offered as an accessory/retrofit, not a warranty item.

Originally Posted by The Golden Boy
Again, my High Sierra is an 87- it has the resin XC Sport levers, but brass rollers on the roller cams. I suppose the idea was the weight savings, but on the XC Sport budget rather than XC budget. Is that why the brake arms aren't drilled all the way through? Melt forged instead of cold forged?

I'd see the aftermarket roller cam booties every once in a while- so there must've been *some* market for them at one point.
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Old 02-26-24, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by pcb
The primary design flaws of the Suntour roller cams were the incredibly stupid resin rollers introduced on the XC Sport calipers, and the rollers/cam getting easily fouled by dirt/sand/mud. Both problems worsened by under-chainstay placement. Suntour poured tons o' money into a huge bottomless hole replacing all those resin rollers, which cracked in the field from day 1. We were air-shipping pallet-loads of brass rollers from Japan. Don't know why/if anybody ever thought about sourcing them in the US/Europe instead of air-shipping from Japan. We also introduced a little booty/diaper to cover the cam/rollers to prevent mud fouling during off-road use.

If you've got brass rollers, standard fork/seatstay mounting, and fenders to prevent cam/roller fouling, you should be good.

I just picked up a 1986 Fisher Montare that came stock with a XC Sport roller cam w/ “roller cam cover” under the chain stay. Unfortunately it has a faulty u brake currently installed and I need to find a replacement. Wondering if I should go back to original and get a roller cam (w brass rollers) or if I should find something else considering the location and not being able to find a cover/booty.

I have 2.1” Gravelking SKs installed for some dirt usage. So clearance and dirt are a thing.
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Old 02-26-24, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Bucksauce
I just picked up a 1986 Fisher Montare that came stock with a XC Sport roller cam w/ “roller cam cover” under the chain stay. Unfortunately it has a faulty u brake currently installed and I need to find a replacement. Wondering if I should go back to original and get a roller cam (w brass rollers) or if I should find something else considering the location and not being able to find a cover/booty.

I have 2.1” Gravelking SKs installed for some dirt usage. So clearance and dirt are a thing.
Given how obscure both are, your decision may ultimately be determined by what's available. As for a "booty", I can't help but wonder if one could be fabricated for a U-brake, similar to those for the roller-cam.

What exactly is wrong with the existing U-brake? Can it be repaired?
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Old 02-26-24, 11:23 AM
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There seems to be a lot of posts recently about roller cams. Or this is the first time I'm noticing it.

But i think my next bike will have to have them
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Old 02-26-24, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Bucksauce
I just picked up a 1986 Fisher Montare that came stock with a XC Sport roller cam w/ “roller cam cover” under the chain stay. Unfortunately it has a faulty u brake currently installed and I need to find a replacement. Wondering if I should go back to original and get a roller cam (w brass rollers) or if I should find something else considering the location and not being able to find a cover/booty.

I have 2.1” Gravelking SKs installed for some dirt usage. So clearance and dirt are a thing.
My 85 Montare had (I sold long ago) the Suntour XC roller cam on rear chainstays from new, not the lower tiered Sport model. When I subsequently bought my 85 Comp frame set in very late 85/early 86, common wisdom was to use the Sport as it was stiffer owing to its thicker profile, so thats what I installed. Both were put through their paces and I really didn’t notice a difference other than the polished finish and thinner profile of the XCs. I have multiple boots including the one that came on Fishers starting in 86. They work great at keeping the mud off the brake. I wouldn’t hesitate to put a roller cam on.

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Old 02-26-24, 05:19 PM
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If you're dedicated to the roller cam lifestyle, paragon has a limited production brake set called the FMC Megaforce Cam Brake that appear to be close in equivalence to the original WTB units, with bearing rollers and linear springs. But they're not cheap!!
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Old 02-26-24, 09:41 PM
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I have one bike (Ross Mt Hood) with roller cams. IMHO they are really nice brakes. Mine has the brass rollers so I have never had to deal with the broken plastic roller issue.
I wouldn't hesitate to use these for touring. Just try to keep them clean (like any brake).
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Old 02-27-24, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 3dvvitch
If you're dedicated to the roller cam lifestyle, paragon has a limited production brake set called the FMC Megaforce Cam Brake that appear to be close in equivalence to the original WTB units, with bearing rollers and linear springs. But they're not cheap!!
Rollercam lifestyle? Yes, please sign me up!

I just spent part of the evening detailing the front brake on my recently acquired Ross Mt Ranier.


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Old 02-27-24, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by cjefferds
Rollercam lifestyle? Yes, please sign me up!

I just spent part of the evening detailing the front brake on my recently acquired Ross Mt Ranier.

Oooo, drillium! Okay, I'm sold.
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Old 02-28-24, 05:31 AM
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Back in the day I sold and worked bikes with roller cam brakes, but never owned a bike with them. Last year I picked up an 86 Fuji Sundance with roller cams and changed it over to a drop bar touring rig that will be used for several cross country rides.
Aside from the rear brake being mounted under the chain stays, the brakes themselves are easy to adjust, have very good lever feel with road levers and stop very well. I have salmon pads for them, but have not installed them yet. I did make a leather boot for the rear brake and then made one for the front because it seemed like a good idea. Waterproofed the leather with Snoseal.
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