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Calipers - Vee, Mini-V, Conventional Canti, or Low-profile Canti?

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Calipers - Vee, Mini-V, Conventional Canti, or Low-profile Canti?

Old 04-15-17, 08:49 AM
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Road Fan
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Calipers - Vee, Mini-V, Conventional Canti, or Low-profile Canti?

My steel Meridian build is progressing - New Shimano BBs enabled the crankset to install correctly, and now i'm moving on to wheels, brakes, derailleurs and seatposts. Today's question is brakes.

I have a bunch of brakes in the Brake Box, all caliper. The frame has canti posts, stout seatstays and fork blades, and zero provision for a rear disk. I've read everything in the Santana site and they clearly prefer disks in the rear or Vee, and DuraAce caliper in the front or Vee. But in their excellent technical discussion, they did not consider standard cantilever (with the levers sticking straight out the side), low profile cantilever, or mini-V.

I have a set of Paul Neo Retros on my Terraferma, and they put a lot of force into the frame - the rear lever is a bit squishy and you can see the seatstay bowing even without laying a straightedge on it! Paul even mentions this on his site, but it was not a known issue when I bought them. So the tandem would be a good place to use those. But I also have a set of Paul Mini-Moto that are a little too much for the WifeBike, and they certainly have the width to suit the Meridian as well. Then there are a few random sets of low-profile cantis.

I plan to use Gen 2 or 3 Campy Ergopower 10 speed gear/brake levers for control. WifeBike has these and the travel is barely adequete for the Mini-Motos. The brake response is sensitive. I don't have a Travel Agent installed but I'm not against it for the tandem. i plan also to use 700c tires, 28 mm to 32 mm, with possible fenders up to 50 mm width. The frame was designed for very neat fender mounting. It might also get a Tubus rack in the rear, but I'm really not setting it up for loaded touring. Our terrain is rather flat.

Would any of these be wrong for a tandem that may weigh 50# with human cargo up to 350# all told?

What would be best?
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Old 04-15-17, 09:40 AM
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Don't know about best but I've got a 2000 Burley Duet that came with 105 9-Speed STI levers and Tektro mini-v's. As the second owner I got it in untouched condition as far as components. My initial feeling was that the mini-v's up front worked fine-lever travel didn't feel excessive but the rear was another story. Felt like I was very close to bottoming the lever and it did not give me a feeling of confidence. I opted to install a travel agent and the difference was pretty dramatic. Much less lever travel and much more confidence in it's performance. My rear rack clears it without any difficulty.

I imagine the long cable run back to the rear brake is the reason it felt so much "mushier" than the front. I'm pretty satisfied with the mini-v's at this point....even though they are definitely price-point components.
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Old 04-15-17, 10:07 AM
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Do you think a Travel Agent would have the same result with cantilevers?

On my rando bike (the Terraferma) I've tackled squish by really careful cable routing, housing end squaring, good, tight ferrules, cleaning/lubing levers and calipers, and eliminating play from caliper pivots and bolts. As I did all this "blueprinting," the squish reduced with every step, but the rear still was softer than the front. All that could have been left were the seatstays being forced apart by the leverage of the caliper against the rim.

On other single bikes the same treatment has resulted in very little difference between front and rear brake feel. I think brake cable length is overblamed as a cause of squishy braking.

It's good to hear that a Travel Agent solves the leverage issues that are involved in this kind of problem!
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Old 04-15-17, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
Do you think a Travel Agent would have the same result with cantilevers?

On my rando bike (the Terraferma) I've tackled squish by really careful cable routing, housing end squaring, good, tight ferrules, cleaning/lubing levers and calipers, and eliminating play from caliper pivots and bolts. As I did all this "blueprinting," the squish reduced with every step, but the rear still was softer than the front. All that could have been left were the seatstays being forced apart by the leverage of the caliper against the rim.

On other single bikes the same treatment has resulted in very little difference between front and rear brake feel. I think brake cable length is overblamed as a cause of squishy braking.

It's good to hear that a Travel Agent solves the leverage issues that are involved in this kind of problem!
Have you considered a brake bridge reinforcer, like DaVinci Designs "stiffy": http://www.davincitandems.com/components/. I've never used one myself, but have talked to others that reported a marked improvement.

I'd take anything read on Santana's site with a fine dust mote of salt. They spent years disparaging competitors for making open-style frames, going so far as putting willing suckers' non-Santana bikes on some flex measuring jig to prove their assertion, (yet never publishing the results). Lo and behold! Their latest "innovation" is an open frame bike.
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Old 04-16-17, 04:13 AM
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The frame with the thin seatstays is the Terraferma, with 13 mm OD and thinwall tubing - probably too thin for canti brakes. On that one I have lever squish. The Meridian has 19 mm OD seatstays at the canti posts, and the tubing gauge is not known. I'll have to check out the DaVinci part, it might be able to help on the Terra. So far my guess is that the Meridian will stand up better to rear canti brakes.

I can't say about the overall integrity of the Santana info. The sections about brakes seem to make sense.

As an engineer we test our own products to failure and those of the competition, to know if our designs are first valid (did we meet our specifications?) and second competitive (are the competitors' designs better according to our specifications?). We don't know if our specifications are better for the product use than those of the competition - that is judged by the users. I was surprised Santana could invest in such a capability - I'm in automotive and pretty much no bike company has this kind of capital available. But in the testing, sometimes the differences you find are reasonable and sometimes not. The reality is that it's not possible to judge from outside the company. You just won't have all the information that exists in-house.

If a recent frame design is based on a major tubing change, it could be reasonable to eliminate the inner diagonals. But how would any of us know? In any case i don't think absolute consistency to past advertising is necessary.
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