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1990s mtbs and cantilever brakes

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1990s mtbs and cantilever brakes

Old 11-03-18, 09:39 AM
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scale
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1990s mtbs and cantilever brakes

I have always found modern cantilevers dont fit older 90s frames and forks well. I have had clearance issues with tektros. Perhaps i was using an incorrect style of canti. DId standards change at one point? Who knows.

While working on a couple of older 90s framesets i realized i was going to need brakes. The brakes that i am most familar with from this era are the ALTUS style canti which where lowend and the SLR model which are perhaps slightly better.
Perhaps i am crazy but the DEORE LX and XT stuff are getting harder to find at fair prices and in the end......are they any "better" than the ALTUS or SLR stuff? You can still get the ALTUS style ones for ~$14. IN the back of my mind i want to day that DEORE LX and XT are better but why? Lighter perhaps? That has to hardly matter at all. IN the end i have a stumpjumper and i will likely just put whatever i find from the era (since no other modern stuff i have tried lines up) on the bike. It will likely be ALTUS or SLR with salmon koolstops. I suppose i could run v-brakes but ...no thanks. I never liked them much. People say they are better but i think anything with the proper pads is just as good as disc brakes if not better.
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Old 11-03-18, 09:50 AM
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The changes between the levels of the Shimano brakes has to do with the durability of the spring assembly and a little for wieght. That said, Shimano components 'slide down' with time. What is now Alivio is comparable(within reason) to a couple levels up a few years ago. XTR will trickle down to XT or LX with time and new developments.

With canti's there is a tremendous amount of variability in how they are adjusted. The height of the bridge cable and the span can both adversely or favorably affect grip or modulation. That was a large part of why shimano developed the feed-through set value bridge cable assembly. If adjusted properly, I prefer the wide span adjustable model for the early style much like the tektro cyclocross models.
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Old 11-03-18, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by mtbikerinpa View Post
The changes between the levels of the Shimano brakes has to do with the durability of the spring assembly and a little for wieght. That said, Shimano components 'slide down' with time. What is now Alivio is comparable(within reason) to a couple levels up a few years ago. XTR will trickle down to XT or LX with time and new developments.

With canti's there is a tremendous amount of variability in how they are adjusted. The height of the bridge cable and the span can both adversely or favorably affect grip or modulation. That was a large part of why shimano developed the feed-through set value bridge cable assembly. If adjusted properly, I prefer the wide span adjustable model for the early style much like the tektro cyclocross models.

interesting. I have tried some tektro onyx cantis that i had on hand i could NOT get them to fit and light up with the rim with standard pads. I maybe could have made it work with the koolstop thinline pads but i didnt have any of those on had to try with canti posts. Perhaps just the onyx cantis are weird and more modern. They sure look nice. I went back to altus which were bigger in size by comparison and are period correct so they worked fine.
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Old 11-03-18, 10:52 AM
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The problem lies with the distance between the canti post. Older bikes ran them closer together, newer were further apart.

i prefer canti’s As well.
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Old 11-03-18, 10:55 AM
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Anecdotally, I've used old cantilevers on old bikes- and they've worked. I've only used upper level stuff because... it's upper level stuff- it's for my bike and my enjoyment.

Generally speaking, you still see a lot of this upper level stuff still in use- and it's still polish-able. Cheaper parts, being plastic coated, and having plastic covers and parts do crack, can't be rejuvenated... Which then goes to - why do you need to replace the brakes? Another thing is that by the early 90s, low profile brakes became the thing. IMO- the wider profile, big triangle lookin' arms look cool and classy- but may not have the leverage/advantage/clearance that the low profile brakes have.

I guess a lot of it has to do with what you're doing. If you're just trying to get an old bike running for flipping or whatever, use what's available and inexpensive. If you're building something for yourself to enjoy- use what you want on it.

I wish I had a picture that captured the *gleam* off these MT-62 brakes.


Miyata 1000LT MT-60 Cantilever Brakes by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr



Grail Brakes by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


EDIT:

I suppose I should note what brakes are in this pic- In the center are DiaCompe GranCompe 450 centerpulls. Then counter clockwise from upper left:

BR-MC70 Deore XT from the M700 Deerhead group.
M732 Deore XT
M900 XTR
Suntour XC Pro
DiaCompe 981
Spooky Carbon
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Old 11-03-18, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Anecdotally, I've used old cantilevers on old bikes- and they've worked. I've only used upper level stuff because... it's upper level stuff- it's for my bike and my enjoyment.

Generally speaking, you still see a lot of this upper level stuff still in use- and it's still polish-able. Cheaper parts, being plastic coated, and having plastic covers and parts do crack, can't be rejuvenated... Which then goes to - why do you need to replace the brakes? Another thing is that by the early 90s, low profile brakes became the thing. IMO- the wider profile, big triangle lookin' arms look cool and classy- but may not have the leverage/advantage/clearance that the low profile brakes have.

I guess a lot of it has to do with what you're doing. If you're just trying to get an old bike running for flipping or whatever, use what's available and inexpensive. If you're building something for yourself to enjoy- use what you want on it.

I wish I had a picture that captured the *gleam* off these MT-62 brakes.


Miyata 1000LT MT-60 Cantilever Brakes by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr



Grail Brakes by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr

I really like those SLRs. I dont know where they fall in the line up but i assumed likely a step above ALTUS but below XT> I believe they are the best value.
I dont see much of anything in the way of USED cantis at the coops and used shops i frequent. Mostly i think this is due to so many small parts and it is hard to make a set of 4 that is complete. Ebay ...most of that stuff is Deore XT and XTR and that is quite spendy stuff. I love the good gear for my bikes too but on some level i will trade utilty/function for fancy high end. Sure the high end is great stuff but......i do like to see that go to folks that are doing full restores and will pay a premium for NOS and good high end stuff. I have always been a upper middle of the road guy. I know when i use the best good stuff out there i feel quite guilty when it gets "used"....scratched etc. I dont know why
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Old 11-03-18, 03:05 PM
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There was a point early on in my acquisition of spare parts, when I was enamored with canti brakes, apparently. I have a large ziploc bag full of them, their springs, and other accoutrements. I even have a couple braze-on posts in that bag. I'll have to check and see if any of them are worth anything. I doubt I'll ever use any of them.
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Old 11-03-18, 03:36 PM
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With canti's there is a tremendous amount of variability in how they are adjusted.
That's my humble experience. I've been trying to adjust shimano lx cantis with another levers, Campy and Weinmann, and suddenly I made them work with almost no adjustment with a very old worn pair of 105 levers.
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Old 11-03-18, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by scale View Post
I really like those SLRs. I dont know where they fall in the line up but i assumed likely a step above ALTUS but below XT> I believe they are the best value.
I dont see much of anything in the way of USED cantis at the coops and used shops i frequent. Mostly i think this is due to so many small parts and it is hard to make a set of 4 that is complete. Ebay ...most of that stuff is Deore XT and XTR and that is quite spendy stuff. I love the good gear for my bikes too but on some level i will trade utilty/function for fancy high end. Sure the high end is great stuff but......i do like to see that go to folks that are doing full restores and will pay a premium for NOS and good high end stuff. I have always been a upper middle of the road guy. I know when i use the best good stuff out there i feel quite guilty when it gets "used"....scratched etc. I dont know why
SLR is "Shimano Linear Response." It was Shimano's system of putting lighter return springs in conjunction with sprung levers. The model number is stamped on the back of the arm- the SLR decal just shows they're SLR compatible. The brakes pictured on the fork are MT-62 Deore/Deore DX, one step below XT, but the brakes in the 'brake collection' picture are Deore XT M732 brakes- although they look pretty much identical.

My secret plan for my next bike build is to use the XT M732s in the front and the XTR M900s in the rear- Nothing wrong with mixing and matching as long as it "matches" for you.

As far as the old "good stuff." Part of what makes that stuff awesome is that it can be sanded and polished when it does get scuffed. The brakes above were pretty scuffed up and shined up really really nice. I got these M730 cranks- I think they were like $25-30- scuffed up. A little sandpaper and Mother's polish and they look sweet. I'm really bad at capturing that- but they look really good.


1990 Miyata 1000LT by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


I paid a little more for these Avocet cranks, but after sanding off the anodizing and sanding out the scuffs and polishing them- they turned out really sweet.


1986 Trek 400 Elance by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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Old 11-03-18, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post

My secret plan for my next bike build is to use the XT M732s in the front and the XTR M900s in the rear- Nothing wrong with mixing and matching as long as it "matches" for you.
I say XTR in front. Since I finally started using the front almost exclusively, in & around the Rockies last summer, I finally realized how much better it is. Just like some of the old-timers said, lol. 😁 Plus it's way cheaper to replace a front rim or wheel. 👍
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Old 11-04-18, 03:49 PM
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My '92 Univega Via Carisma included the original Shimano Exage 500CX group, including can'tdeliver brakes. These have the gently bowed arms shown in the photo earlier in this thread. Not really hardcore mountain biking brakes, more hybrid/MTB-lite suiting the market for this model bike. I occasionally ride a bit of groomed gravel/chat trails and dry grass, but that's about all. Mostly city bike stuff.

Actually I finally quit calling them "can't deliver" brakes after replacing and tweaking a few things.

First to go were the original brake shoes, which had all the stopping power of wooden blocks. Koolstop Eagle 2 pads are great and easy to toe-in (the built-in plow shaped end solves that problem), but wouldn't clear the fork or tires wider than 700x32 without deflating the tire. So the front brake wears Jagwire thin-line long pads, which are just as good as the Koolstops for half the price, but do require a bit of toe-in adjustment -- easily done with a rubber band, zip tie or whatever around the pad.

Next to go were the old cables and housings, which were so oxidized half my grip energy went into overcoming friction. Seriously, even the cheapest new galvanized cables and low end housing were a huge improvement.

But after a couple of years I still wasn't satisfied with the effort needed to stop. I decided to redo pretty much the whole bike while I was out of commission with a busted up shoulder (I was hit by a car in May), and needed to replace the original wheels that were bent by the car bumper.

For some reason I always get the urge to tweak bikes while classic horror and sci-fi movies are on, so I redid the brakes while Invasion of the Body Snatchers was on TV (Donald Sutherland remake). The canti arms were on the stiffest spring setting so I cleaned and regreased the arms and posts and set 'em to the middle setting. Huge difference in grip effort without sacrificing any braking feel. I could probably go to the lowest effort spring setting -- those original springs were really strong, unlike the horrible cheap paper clips that pass for springs on my comfort hybrid's Tektro linear pull V-brakes. I have to physically re-bend those nasty things every few weeks.

But there's no getting around it -- canti brakes are a PITA to set up, at least the smooth post types with infinitely variable sliding, pivoting, slippery bushings. Turns out it's much easier to eyeball the pad-rim alignment with the Jagwire thinline pads than the Koolstop Eagle 2 pads.
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Old 11-04-18, 08:29 PM
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New to bikeforums, but not new to cycling. I did work for a few years in a bicycle shop as a mechanic/salesman ...

Lot's of great brakes out there. My old Bridgestone MB-4 had Diacompe 985 cantis and SS-4 levers. They always seemed to work, but I threw out stock pads and installed Koolstop (grey compounds pads IIRC). I always wanted a set of Onza aftermarket brakes, but was never able to afford/find any.

Stock Shimano cantis can be set up easily to have incredible stopping power. Unfortunately bike shops almost always set them up to be "snappy" (read: sellable). Adjusted so the straddle cable is as low as practically possible and the spring tensions properly balanced will give a "squishy" feel to the brake levers as they are applied, but provides a mechanical advantage. Any brake that can lock up via the levers have plenty of power, just not appropriate "feel"

V-brakes allow for good modulation, but in practical terms no more stopping power. Discs with hydraulic assist can seem like they have tons of applied force and stopping power, but the only advantage is the ability to radiate heat and cool the braking surface, which is only a concern with heavier riders, on long downhills. (I have a friend who at the time was 275 ibs. of muscle who ruined a set of Specialized rims on his Stumpy on a downhill run). Problem with discs is that they require heavier spokes, tougher rims, stronger hubs, etc., so is there really a true advantage? Mechanically, perhaps.

Cantis, properly set up, using good pads, and appropriate springs have more than sufficient stopping power. The "low profile" cantis do have some aesthetic appeal, nut even the eldest of the Schimano off road types have the potential to be an incredible brake set.

Oh, I forgot to mention the infamous and powerful "servo-wave" brake levers? Now those are something special, but not lightweight.

Last edited by Nu2Miele; 11-04-18 at 09:37 PM. Reason: incorrect brake levers, SS-4 levers rather than SS-5 as originally posted
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Old 11-04-18, 09:30 PM
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One point to ponder on the power debate is that without the advantage dialled up to grip well, my carpal tunnel hands get extremely tired by the end of even a city ride let alone a trail race. Hydraulic disc may have a primo power advantage but the modulation with one or two fingers is a life saver that cantilevers were very lacking in.(my first three mtb race seasons were on canti before developing said condition in my late teens.)
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Old 11-05-18, 08:30 AM
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I find the modulation comments interesting.

My experience with V Brakes is lacking (one Trek 7.1 I worked on with our son)- but my understanding is V brakes have excellent stopping power, but lack in modulation- whereas cantilevers have great modulation, but don’t have the same stopping power as V Brakes. (Assuming both are set up correctly, with the appropriate levers in use)
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Old 11-05-18, 09:27 AM
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V-brakes are so much easier to set up (for me). But at the same time, they are modern contraptions, like cartridge bbs, and only get used when there is no other option.
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one general tip for when the exact hub cone is not readily available. discovered that the curvature of the bearing surface on the shimano 600 was a pretty good "skeleton key" for many applications. it would sometimes require a small change in ball size to make everything come out correctly.
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Old 11-05-18, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mtbikerinpa View Post
One point to ponder on the power debate is that without the advantage dialled up to grip well, my carpal tunnel hands get extremely tired by the end of even a city ride let alone a trail race. Hydraulic disc may have a primo power advantage but the modulation with one or two fingers is a life saver that cantilevers were very lacking in.(my first three mtb race seasons were on canti before developing said condition in my late teens.)
The url takes me to a blank page.
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one general tip for when the exact hub cone is not readily available. discovered that the curvature of the bearing surface on the shimano 600 was a pretty good "skeleton key" for many applications. it would sometimes require a small change in ball size to make everything come out correctly.
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Old 11-09-18, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Philistine. There are no 986's in that photo. And in a mountain bike thread, no less. Just kidding, you know. You have quite the stash. I have parts bin envy.
[...now I bet you post a pic of your 6 spare sets of 986's....3 in silver and 3 in black!]

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Old 11-09-18, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by simmonsgc View Post
Philistine. There are no 986's in that photo. And in a mountain bike thread, no less. Just kidding, you know. You have quite the stash. I have parts bin envy.
[...now I bet you post a pic of your 6 spare sets of 986's....3 in silver and 3 in black!]
It is overkill, isn't it...

To be fair, the XC Pros are effectively fancy 986/987s... (with a little less bend in the arms)
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Old 11-09-18, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
To be fair, the XC Pros are effectively fancy 986/987s... (with a little less bend in the arms)
True enough!
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Old 11-09-18, 09:56 PM
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FWIW- here's a bit of a comparison between the old XT, XT II and Deore II/DX canti brakes.


M732M62Front by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


M732MT62Rear by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


MC70M732MT62 by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


MC70M732MT62FrontRow by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


MC70M732MT62BackRow by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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Old 11-10-18, 12:51 PM
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I havent found my brakeset yet that i am going to run but i do have my fork/frame and headset together. The question i have now is probably personal preference but i thought i would ask before heading down to the lbs and grabbing what i need.

Should i run a front fork brake hole mount cable guide or should i get one that goes on my threaded fork under the lock nut? I do have room for spacers here so i will either need to run a combo of spacers and the hanger or just spacers to take up the slack.

My gut tells me to run one of the headset guides and leave the fork hole open for mouning fenders if you never need them...but that can be done either way.
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Old 11-11-18, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by scale View Post
I havent found my brakeset yet that i am going to run but i do have my fork/frame and headset together. The question i have now is probably personal preference but i thought i would ask before heading down to the lbs and grabbing what i need.

Should i run a front fork brake hole mount cable guide or should i get one that goes on my threaded fork under the lock nut? I do have room for spacers here so i will either need to run a combo of spacers and the hanger or just spacers to take up the slack.

My gut tells me to run one of the headset guides and leave the fork hole open for mouning fenders if you never need them...but that can be done either way.
Get whichever front brake cable hanger lets you adjust the handlebar stem as desired without affecting cable tension.

Right now my Univega's original stem is also the front canti brake cable hanger. Very inconvenient because I'd need to adjust the cable tension if I adjusted the stem height.

So I'm swapping to a road bike stem (horizontal rather than upward angled top) and a cable hanger mounted on the headset under the lock nut. That will allow me to adjust the stem height without affecting cable tension, and get the cable under the handlebar. Right now the front brake cable is the only one over the bar, because it's the only way to get a gentle enough curve to enable smooth braking. Moving the cable hanger lower will accomplish the same thing and get the cable loop out of the way, so I can attach my Klickfix handlebar bag mount adapter for when I want to carry the bag.
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Old 11-11-18, 07:26 AM
  #23  
scale
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i never thought about the stem mount. That would be a pain. I will likely go under the top nut as well. The ones that mount in the fork brake mount hole re typically only for recessed brakes from what i see. Most of the under nut ones are so shallow the cable bend is pretty agressive if you run your housing under the bar tape. I have had it work though on those oid diacompe mounts with the quick release. They have a bit more drop than a fixed mount and the quick release is a nice touch. They are mainly used on road bikes though and may not fit my application. They make some 1 inch threadless hangers with a nice drop but of course that wont work with a threaded headset.
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Old 11-11-18, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by scale View Post
i never thought about the stem mount. That would be a pain. I will likely go under the top nut as well. The ones that mount in the fork brake mount hole re typically only for recessed brakes from what i see. Most of the under nut ones are so shallow the cable bend is pretty agressive if you run your housing under the bar tape. I have had it work though on those oid diacompe mounts with the quick release. They have a bit more drop than a fixed mount and the quick release is a nice touch. They are mainly used on road bikes though and may not fit my application. They make some 1 inch threadless hangers with a nice drop but of course that wont work with a threaded headset.
I use Technomic stems and have short headtubes- so there's generally a lot of room to come out from under the tape to the headset mounted hanger.

There's a few out there that have drop similar to the QR units- Probably the fanciest is the Paul Funky Monkey Front.

I like the idea of the big block that is the Suntour Head Binder- I got one- before I figured out that it actually goes with a specific headset nut. My 1990 Miyata came with a similar unit-

1990 Miyata 1000LT by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr

IMG_0220 by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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Old 11-11-18, 10:32 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by scale View Post
I went back to altus which were bigger in size by comparison and are period correct so they worked fine.
Are these the Altus you're talking about? https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/shimano-altus-ct91-cantilever-brake/rp-prod38378?gs=1&sku=sku130942&pgrid=54137515364&ptaid=pla-424561441581&utm_source=google&utm_term=&utm_campaign=PLA+All+Products&utm_medium=base&utm_content=m kwid|su1H1IwJ3_dc|pcrid|253659801802|pkw||pmt||prd|130942US&gclid=Cj0KCQiAw5_fBRCSARIsAGodhk-cp900xG_KKJvhRtDrBHQupMY3NKO69Yntb0bkxOl0Z4wL7jy2df4aAkpDEALw_wcB


I have faced the same brake compatibility issues as you and those brakes have worked very well for me. Easy to adjust too!!
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