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Cantilever Brakes... 🤬

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Cantilever Brakes... 🤬

Old 04-29-20, 12:21 AM
  #1  
Dwillems26
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Cantilever Brakes... 🤬

Are just there worst! Yes they work great, yes they center themselves pretty well. But holy coconuts they are the biggest pain to adjust. Spent an hour on these things and they still aren't perfect. It's a beach cruiser though so I'm calling it done.


This style is even worse! There's 2 cables to pull and adjust 🤬
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Old 04-29-20, 12:32 AM
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Feeling your pain - knocked the rear out of whack and took a bit to adjust. Still not completely happy with it.
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Old 04-29-20, 01:58 AM
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Never had them myself but are the bosses not in the same position as for vee brakes?
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Old 04-29-20, 02:16 AM
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Get some plastic tubing that fits tightly over the posts , cut to the right length to have everything set up properly and put on the post between the pad and the mount. Even lengths on both sides. That way at it's one less octopus arm you need to hold the pads in place. You can set up the pads, gently squeeze the brake lever to hold everything and then tighten the mounts.
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Old 04-29-20, 05:07 AM
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Two cables going to front left?
the cable from the brake lever should terminate at the bridge/yoke, not continue to the left arm.
lots of videos on youtube on how to set up and adjust these. Example: starts at about 3:15
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Old 04-29-20, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by hazetguy View Post
Two cables going to front left? No.
the cable from the brake lever should terminate at the bridge/spreader thing, not continue to the left arm.
lots of videos on youtube on how to set up and adjust these.
You're right about the front brake but, as you can see from the rear brake, on some canti brakes the cable from the brake lever does not end at the straddle cable, it goes through the "A" link and continues on to the anchor bolt. (Note: I had to use Google to find the term for the "A" link, I've had canti brakes since ... 1995 (yikes!), and I never knew the correct term.)

OP: yes, setting up canti brakes is a pain, it never takes me less than an hour, and I've been doing it for 25 years. (Route cable. Wrap velcro strap around brake lever. Position pads. Put shim under rear of pad for toe-in. Squeeze pads against rim. Move the pads so they are flat and level. Shim(s) falls out. Pick up shim(s). Try again. Try to tighten anchor bolt. Pad moves and/or shim falls out. Try again. Change CD because it's finished. Go back and start from beginning. After you finish, repeat for the other brake. Remind self to look into getting a third hand brake tool, but forget until it's time to replace brake pads again.) Unfortunately, those of us who (attempt) to work on our own bikes rarely get the practice needed to become truly proficient, since we only fix stuff that needs it and that only happens a few times a year. Brake pads can last a long time, I change out chains, cables/housing and bar tape about 3x for every brake pad replacement.
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Old 04-29-20, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Dwillems26 View Post

This style is even worse! There's 2 cables to pull and adjust 🤬
That's not the correct set up.
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Old 04-29-20, 06:12 AM
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I agree with your cable routing observations noimagination.

I was referring specifically to, and the video shows, the style the op is dealing with on the front of his bike.
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Old 04-29-20, 06:35 AM
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Oh yeah, forgot to add, as well as the tube on the post, use small zip ties around the pads to set up the toe in. Not too tight so you can slip them off when you finish. Can use different sized zip ties for different toe in. Works for bolt mount pads too.
Reckon the weird cabling on the front brake is just the excess cable tucked behind the straddle cable bolt.
Personally on both brakes I'd have the pads further out from the arms to straighten the straddle cable, increases the sensitivity and power of the brakes.

Last edited by Trevtassie; 04-29-20 at 06:42 AM.
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Old 04-29-20, 07:08 AM
  #10  
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Uncorrect.


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Old 04-29-20, 08:50 AM
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I don't get what's so hard.

Before connecting the straddle cable, flex each arm to the rim and adjust the pad so it contacts correctly.
Connect straddle cable.
Tension brake cable to pull arms to desired position off the rim.
IN the video above, the guy tensions the straddle cable. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

There is no need to try to position the pads while applying tension to the brake cable holding them in final position, at the same time. It's two separate jobs. Position pads. Adjust tension. The pads will go where they go.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 04-29-20 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 04-29-20, 09:48 AM
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What do you mean it"s not the right setup? I haven't looked up how to properly configure or adjust cantilever brakes so I might be wrong indeed.

As for the toe in adjustment problems, I did watch park tool's video on brake adjustment. They used a rubberband to set the toe in. Tie it up to make a small loop, place loop around the pad. Gives the right shim amount and stays in place.

To maybe clear things up with my setup... the rear brake has the original A link that came with the bike. The front was missing when I got the bike. I do have some on order, well did, but they were taking so long to arrive I borrowed the straddle cable setup from another bike for the front. The front brake looks like there's 2 cables going to the cantilevers, but it is only 1. The 1st terminates at the link, and the excess length is just wound around the straddle cable to keep it from getting into the wheel. I left it long for when I do get my replacements I'll have enough cable to do it over. I was getting anxious and wanted to test ride the bike so I used what I had. Even had my wife's mountain bike rear wheel on this cruiser for a week lol. Finally got my freewheel tool yesterday to fix this bike's wheel.

Happy Feet, it's hard because I'm making it hard. It's my first time with this type of brakes, and I was never great at adjusting brakes to begin with lol. I'm still learning, getting there.
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Old 04-29-20, 10:13 AM
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Those particular brakes were the subject of a recall around 25 years (1/4 century) ago. There is a gray plastic sleeve that contains the return spring. Those sleeves would commonly (virtually every single one) crack and cause that brake pad to drag.

If it was my bike, I'd throw those damm things away and replace them with an inexpensive Shamano brand V-brakeset. To do it right, you'll also need to replace the brake levers. Once you do that and see how easy it is, you'll never look back.

Also, it's easy to tell a bike mechanic who is also a liar. If (he/she) says adjusting those particular brakes is easy to do, (he/she) is a liar.
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Old 04-29-20, 12:54 PM
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Depending on the brand and age I have really come to hate cantilever brakes. I did finally figure out how to adjust them better but for some they don't seem to really work right somehow. Those look really old you might consider a v brake kit with new levels cables and brakes.

Last edited by Oneder; 04-29-20 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 04-29-20, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Those particular brakes were the subject of a recall around 25 years (1/4 century) ago. There is a gray plastic sleeve that contains the return spring. Those sleeves would commonly (virtually every single one) crack and cause that brake pad to drag.

If it was my bike, I'd throw those damm things away and replace them with an inexpensive Shamano brand V-brakeset. To do it right, you'll also need to replace the brake levers. Once you do that and see how easy it is, you'll never look back.

Also, it's easy to tell a bike mechanic who is also a liar. If (he/she) says adjusting those particular brakes is easy to do, (he/she) is a liar.
Srly?

Liar isn't a word one should throw around lightly. Especially when one also suggests replacing brake levers to "do it right".

If a mechanic told me I had to replace the brake levers when replacing canti arms I would more likely suspect motivations that fit that word. If they said they could adjust canti's I would just think they were competent. If they said they would struggle to adjust them I would doubt their skills.

It's not rocket surgery.
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Old 04-29-20, 01:07 PM
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That's good to know about the recall. If I end up keeping the bike I'll look into replacing them. If I sell it I'll add in that info. It's a 1996 bike, has been neglected and left outside for who knows how long. I picked this and a nishiki up for $20 to give me something to do, so I'm trying to keep it low cost as much as possible. My plan was to just get them going again and find a new home for them, but I'm starting to like the bikes. My garage went from 4 bikes (mine, wife's, kids) to 9 in a matter of a few weeks lol
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Old 04-29-20, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Srly?

Liar isn't a word one should throw around lightly. Especially when one also suggests replacing brake levers to "do it right".

If a mechanic told me I had to replace the brake levers when replacing canti arms I would more likely suspect motivations that fit that word. If they said they could adjust canti's I would just think they were competent. If they said they would struggle to adjust them I would doubt their skills.

It's not rocket surgery.
When you move to v brakes you have to get new cables and levers, The pull distance is about twice as much, so your brakes will be basically useless if you don't.
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Old 04-29-20, 01:18 PM
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I have cantis on my CX bike (we're a dying breed unfortunately). Took a bit of futzing first time out, but once I got it dialed, they are solid. I found this article to be helpful: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/cantilever-geometry.html
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Old 04-29-20, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Dwillems26 View Post
What do you mean it"s not the right setup? I haven't looked up how to properly configure or adjust cantilever brakes so I might be wrong indeed.

As for the toe in adjustment problems, I did watch park tool's video on brake adjustment. They used a rubberband to set the toe in. Tie it up to make a small loop, place loop around the pad. Gives the right shim amount and stays in place.

To maybe clear things up with my setup... the rear brake has the original A link that came with the bike. The front was missing when I got the bike. I do have some on order, well did, but they were taking so long to arrive I borrowed the straddle cable setup from another bike for the front. The front brake looks like there's 2 cables going to the cantilevers, but it is only 1. The 1st terminates at the link, and the excess length is just wound around the straddle cable to keep it from getting into the wheel. I left it long for when I do get my replacements I'll have enough cable to do it over. I was getting anxious and wanted to test ride the bike so I used what I had. Even had my wife's mountain bike rear wheel on this cruiser for a week lol. Finally got my freewheel tool yesterday to fix this bike's wheel.

Happy Feet, it's hard because I'm making it hard. It's my first time with this type of brakes, and I was never great at adjusting brakes to begin with lol. I'm still learning, getting there.

In your original post, you said "This style is even worse! There's 2 cables to pull and adjust." And the picture just below seems to show the cable running from the brake lever, and the cable from the straddle cable, both running to the anchor bolt on the brake arm.
As Hazetguy pointed out, this is wrong.

The cable from the brake lever runs to the anchor bolt on the straddle cable pull. It stops there (well, it runs through the hole and ends a little way after the bolt, but it does not run through the straddle cable anchor bolt and then over to the anchor bolt on the brake arm). The straddle cable runs from the toggled end that fits into the slot on the right brake arm to the cable anchor bolt on the left brake arm. Each cable anchor bolt anchors one cable.

Now, perhaps your post is a little misleading, and you have the cables routed properly. It could be that it just looks like the cable from the brake lever runs from the lever through the straddle cable anchor bolt to the anchor bolt on the brake arm, and that the wording of your post is just misleading. Which could cause confusion for everyone since we would be talking about a problem that doesn't exist. But it sure looks like you have two cables running through the anchor bolt on the brake arm.
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Old 04-29-20, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
In your original post, you said "This style is even worse! There's 2 cables to pull and adjust." And the picture just below seems to show the cable running from the brake lever, and the cable from the straddle cable, both running to the anchor bolt on the brake arm.
As Hazetguy pointed out, this is wrong.

The cable from the brake lever runs to the anchor bolt on the straddle cable pull. It stops there (well, it runs through the hole and ends a little way after the bolt, but it does not run through the straddle cable anchor bolt and then over to the anchor bolt on the brake arm). The straddle cable runs from the toggled end that fits into the slot on the right brake arm to the cable anchor bolt on the left brake arm. Each cable anchor bolt anchors one cable.

Now, perhaps your post is a little misleading, and you have the cables routed properly. It could be that it just looks like the cable from the brake lever runs from the lever through the straddle cable anchor bolt to the anchor bolt on the brake arm, and that the wording of your post is just misleading. Which could cause confusion for everyone since we would be talking about a problem that doesn't exist. But it sure looks like you have two cables running through the anchor bolt on the brake arm.
gotcha. Yes, there's only 1 cable on each bolt, the one from the brake lever I just left long, but I can see the confusion.
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Old 04-29-20, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I have cantis on my CX bike (we're a dying breed unfortunately). Took a bit of futzing first time out, but once I got it dialed, they are solid. I found this article to be helpful
Thanks for the article, helpful read. Plan to take another look at the rear brake again for some more fine tuning. For someone newer to these types of brakes I think it's more just have patience (something I struggle with at times!).
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Old 04-29-20, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Oneder View Post
When you move to v brakes you have to get new cables and levers, The pull distance is about twice as much, so your brakes will be basically useless if you don't.
TRP makes mini-v's that work with standard road levers. I ran them on my CX bike for a while with 105 levers and they worked great. I didn't need new cables or levers to install these.
https://www.velonews.com/gear/gravel...rox-magnesium/

They're super powerful, but the brake feel is a bit mushy and you have to run the pads really close to the rims which can be problematic in muddy conditions.

As for the OP, I eventually went back to old-school canti's on my CX bike (Avid shorty ultimate) and have spent many evenings trying to get them dialed in before races. I learned to love this process, and would make a point to drink a beer (or two) and have lots of patience. Adjusting cantilevers is a bit like gluing tubulars. Part skill, part experience and part magic.
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Old 04-29-20, 03:48 PM
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Caloso, that is a good read. I missed that post.

Msu, I kinda know what you mean. There's some things that get tedious but I enjoy doing. Like painting. And other things that just frustrate me, like brakes lol. I'm sure with a little more practice I'll start enjoying it some. For now, they work as is. When I finally get new parts I'll have a beer or 2 and try to relax and enjoy it. Reading that article makes me think my yoke is too high, if that's even the right term, I need to study some more.
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Old 04-29-20, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Dwillems26 View Post
To maybe clear things up with my setup... the rear brake has the original A link that came with the bike. The front was missing when I got the bike. I do have some on order, well did, but they were taking so long to arrive I borrowed the straddle cable setup from another bike for the front. The front brake looks like there's 2 cables going to the cantilevers, but it is only 1. The 1st terminates at the link, and the excess length is just wound around the straddle cable to keep it from getting into the wheel. I left it long for when I do get my replacements I'll have enough cable to do it over. I was getting anxious and wanted to test ride the bike so I used what I had. Even had my wife's mountain bike rear wheel on this cruiser for a week lol. Finally got my freewheel tool yesterday to fix this bike's wheel.
The problem with the extra cable like you have now is that it put pressure on the left brake and moves the brake off center. It should be trimmed at the straddle wire carrier like this

Untitled by Stuart Black, on Flickr

As for the rear, Iíd ditch the stupid Shimano straddle cable and go with the same one as on the front. The Shimano cable can also put pressure on one brake over the other making it difficult to center as well as not allowing the brake pads to open up wide enough when the cable is unhooked.

Originally Posted by Dwillems26 View Post
Happy Feet, it's hard because I'm making it hard. It's my first time with this type of brakes, and I was never great at adjusting brakes to begin with lol. I'm still learning, getting there.
Iíll be the first to admit that you particular brand and model of cantilever brake isnít the best example of a good cantilever brake. If they have a spring balancing screw, itís only on one side...it needs to have one on both sides. Looking at them, the pads need to come at the rims in a flatter position. The ones in the back are tilted up. They should come in to the rim at a horizontal level if you can. You might also widen the arms a little. Put a little more space between the arm and the pad.

There are better cantilevers that are easier to adjust and work quite well. They are more expensive but that expense buys you brakes that are easier to set up and adjust. Hands down, the best ones Iíve used have been Paul cantilevers. They are great brakes but they arenít cheap.
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Old 04-29-20, 05:22 PM
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I think your straddle cable for the front brake is too long. Just my obs, not a criticism.
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