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thoughts on brakes?

Old 11-18-11, 05:50 PM
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tony_merlino
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thoughts on brakes?

I didn't know where to put this post, so please pardon me if this is the wrong place.

I'm about 210 - 215 lbs, and have been converting a 1990s Specialized Hardrock for utility use - max load so far just about 40 lbs, in Wald folding baskets that probably add another 5-7 lbs to the bike. (I didn't weigh them, but the back of the bike is noticeably heavier now, with them on there.) Altogether, the bike could be carrying 270-275 lbs, including me, the baskets, the stuff in the baskets, ... I also plan to maybe add a front rack, but that will be to balance the load - I don't think the actual weight will get to be much more than it's carrying now.

The bike has 26" wheels, 36 spokes - good and strong. But it was built with cantilever brakes, which are recommended on the touring forum for fully loaded touring bikes, so they should be fine. But ... they've never given me a very confident feeling - braking, especially loaded, doesn't seem very decisive, even dry. The pads don't seem very worn, but they are probably over 15 years old.

Would new pads solve the problem? New levers? (The originals are still on there.) Or is this just something I have to live with when I'm riding such a heavy bike with a heavy me? Converting to disk or drum brakes isn't an option I'm considering right now.

Thanks.
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Old 11-18-11, 06:16 PM
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I have cantilever brakes on three of my bikes, and never had an issue with stopping ability. As long as the pads are fairly new & aligned properly with the rim, and your cables are lubricated & smooth, there should not be an issue. From what I know, disc brakes are best used on mountain bikes, not road bikes.

Of course, the heavier the load on your bike, the harder it will be to brake quickly, even with disc brakes.
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Old 11-18-11, 06:22 PM
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How old are the pads and how worn. Pads can make a huge difference. Many hereabouts really like KoolStop, either black/salmon or salmon (colored). Salmon are particularly recommended for the wet, but we've had them on our tandem front brake and they have performed extremely well.
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Old 11-18-11, 06:25 PM
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"The pads don't seem very worn, but they are probably over 15 years old. "

You have found the cause of poor braking on this bike......

Hard old dried out pads!! New softer grabbier pads will improve your bikes braking by a factor of 15 years!!!!!!!
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Old 11-18-11, 06:41 PM
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15 you old pads might not be the best for stopping power. They dry out and harden over time, so it might be a good place to start by replacing them. Also, going to a set of Tektro CR720 did wonders over my original set up along with some Kool-Stop black MTB pads. The nice things is the Tektro's are fairly inexpensive and not to hard to set up. Might be worth a try if pads alone are not enough.
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Old 11-18-11, 06:43 PM
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The salmon koolstop brake pads are my favourite because they stop like silly even when the rims are soaking wet. I produce far more drag than you and have never had a problem stopping whether it was downhill or quickly because some a$$hat driver decides to see how quick my reflexes are that moment.
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Old 11-18-11, 09:35 PM
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Thanks, everyone. I'm ordering the koolstop salmon pads this weekend. I'll hold off on new brakes until I see if the pads work out. If they don't, I'll try the tectros.
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Old 11-19-11, 07:16 AM
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Is it more likely to lock up the wheel if it has such great stopping power?
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Old 11-19-11, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
Thanks, everyone. I'm ordering the koolstop salmon pads this weekend. I'll hold off on new brakes until I see if the pads work out. If they don't, I'll try the tectros.
When you get the pads, do a proper adjustment on the brakes. Most cantilever brake problems are due to poorly adjusted brakes. Sheldon Brown has an excellent article on how to adjust your cantilevers. I have 3 sets of cantilevers and, since they are properly adjusted, they stop just as well as the two sets of discs, one set of linear brakes and one set of dual pivot road calipers.

That said, you might consider switching over to linear brakes. They are cheap and extremely easy to set up. You will need new levers, however.
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Old 11-19-11, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
Is it more likely to lock up the wheel if it has such great stopping power?
i have said this many times over on this forum. KOOLSTOPS!!!!!!!!!!!! if my fat but can lock up a rear wheel with single pivots while puling the suicide lever then they can stop you also.

i almost went out and bought new brake calipers decided to try koolstops first, glad i did!

p.s. i still need new calipers, not due to braking, because the single pivot wont stay centered.
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Old 11-20-11, 06:38 AM
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You may also look at replacing your Canti's, the older models can be a real chore to adjust. The new styles like Avid Shorty's are much easier.. As far as brake pads, Kool stops are fine, I'm not a big fan of the flared tips. I prefer Yokozuna / Mathauser pads..

http://store.yokozunausa.com/brakepadsshoes.html
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Old 11-20-11, 08:25 AM
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Try the Kool Stop pads first.

If they do not perform to your satisfaction, change to linear pull brakes - you will need new levers.

Our T50 came with canti's; Kool Stop pads were not enough for my liking and I installed Avid SD5 linear pull brakes with Tektro Eclipse levers - now good.

My SR also has Avid linear pull brakes, the Schwinn and Miyata have dual pivot Tektros. The GT will have Avid linear pull brakes when it gets that far.

Discs are better in the mud, marginally better in the wet, but only initially; and you need a disc specific fork.

Last edited by nfmisso; 11-20-11 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 11-20-11, 09:11 AM
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The easiest brake upgrade would be from cantilever to V-brakes. You would need a brake lever with a long-pull action but these are easy to find. V brakes have a much more direct action than cantilevers and less flex in the system.
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Old 11-20-11, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
The easiest brake upgrade would be from cantilever to V-brakes.
No, the easiest is to install new quality pads like KoolStops and properly set up the existing cantis. Properly set-up cantis can stop fully loaded touring bikes just fine (my old Rivendell Atlantis used to weigh 93lbs set up for touring).

They'll be just fine for the OP.
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