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Down the Wabbit Hole ...

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Down the Wabbit Hole ...

Old 10-06-21, 01:21 PM
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Leisesturm
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Down the Wabbit Hole ...

Warning. Select facts in this post have been adjusted. No reputations have been harmed in this reportage. So, I just finished assembling a Bike Friday tandem we bought off of a nice couple on the West Coast. I puzzled over getting the brakes adjusted but draggy rear brakes are no rare thing on tandems, but the front brake was sploogy as well and I couldn't figure it out until I realized the bike is set up with Shimano brifters and Tektro v-brakes! I doubt this was OEM, the brifters, possibly, but the calipers look quite new. It does stop, but the levers hit bottom no matter how gentle the stop and that is with just me on it. I haven't (and will not) tried it fully loaded. Just a heads up to anyone else considering a bar or caliper swap, check on the compatibility of your choices!

So I am on the hunt for a solution. I've tried to find Travel Agents, but they are out of stock everywhere. I see knock-off's on Ebay and Amazon but the more honest delivery estimates are for Thanksgiving. Even the inviting ones are for the beginning of November. So now I think my choices are mini-V's and Canti's. Sigh ... my understanding is that mini-V's don't always play nice with fenders. There aren't any fenders on the bike now but we will be riding this right through a Pacific Northwest winter. We will need fenders. I have no experience with Canti's. I've always removed them and replaced them with V-brakes when I encounter them. Now I may actually need them. I have no real justification for not liking Canti's except looks. Some are pretty gawky looking. The more attractive ones get to three. figures. Each!

So, I guess my question is: what Canti's are folks using? I don't really want to pay $100+ each for Avid Ultimates or Paul's. Shimano CX70's don't seem to be available, but CX50's are, and they don't seem that bad at $40ea. Is there anything else I should look at? I don't think waiting two months for the knock-off Travel Agents will be acceptable to the Stoker. Thoughts?
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Old 10-06-21, 02:35 PM
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mtreloar
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This Travel Agent works for me, although I do not know what delivery time it today
Do a web search for problemsolversbike.com products brakes travel_agents_-_6416 (I am not allowed to post a URL apparently)

An alternative brake we use on a full sized tandem is MiniMoto from Paul Components - may be too pricey for your needs.
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Old 10-06-21, 03:17 PM
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surak
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Tektro CR710s with Kool-Stop pads, dual-compound front to reduce squealing and salmon rear.

The CR720s would also work.
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Old 10-06-21, 04:02 PM
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I recommend the Avid or Paul Cantilever brakes. You need the short pull of the cantilevers. Both brands I linked to are modernized versions of the old Mayfac brakes.
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Old 10-06-21, 04:24 PM
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If you are switching to cantilevers from vbrakes you will also have to change out your brake levers (and if you are running all in one brifters that will be difficult). If the brake levers and shifters are separate you could try upgrading the levers to avid speed-dial levers. These levers have the ability to control how stiff or spongy the feel is and may reduce the problems you are having. This upgrade probably made the biggest difference (after good pads) in performance when I used to have V-brakes on my mountain bike. I also wonder if there is something with how your cables are setup that is introducing a lot of flex into your setup (compression-less housing, bracing for anything that flexes, etc).
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Old 10-06-21, 05:44 PM
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Happy Travel Agent user here, although the current bike isnít STI for the moment, so Iím just running longer pull levers.

If you get your rims dead true and donít mind an occasional rub due to running the brakes really close to the rims you can sort of get by for a few weeks, although I wouldnít want to do that in a hilly area, for loaded riding, or in traffic in the rain as you might need to.

Can you pick up a set of used ugly canti brakes from a local co-op to hold you over until a pair of travel agents arrives?
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Old 10-06-21, 06:58 PM
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If you are switching to cantilevers from vbrakes you will also have to change out your brake levers (and if you are running all in one brifters that will be difficult). If the brake levers and shifters are separate you could try upgrading the levers to avid speed-dial levers. These levers have the ability to control how stiff or spongy the feel is and may reduce the problems you are having. This upgrade probably made the biggest difference (after good pads) in performance when I used to have V-brakes on my mountain bike. I also wonder if there is something with how your cables are setup that is introducing a lot of flex into your setup (compression-less housing, bracing for anything that flexes, etc).
Correct me If I am wrong. From the OPs description of his braking problem. It appears the long pull V brakes are a bad match for the short pull brifters. Cantilevers are the correct solution for his lack of braking.

Last edited by Rick; 10-06-21 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 10-07-21, 09:11 AM
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I'm running Paul Mini-Motos on my tandem with road drop levers. The wheels are 26" with Panaracer RibMo 1.25 (32mm) wide tires. The front fender is 50mm wide. My rear fender is 60mm wide. Both have plenty of clearance.
I've used travel agents in the past, but the extra complexity and cable path doesn't feel great to me - especially on the rear of a tandem. These brakes feel great and I have no issue stopping in the rain. (Oregon - did you see the fenders?)
simon



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Old 10-07-21, 09:56 AM
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Update: I 'chatted' online with an employee at Bike Friday, and we have dated my tandem at 15 years old. They set this up as a fast club rider with 451 wheels and tires and Shimano Flight Deck brifters and Tektro RX5 mini-V's. They admit that the only way the setup worked optimally was with absolutely straight wheels and clearances set so tight that the noodle could not be released from the clip and the tire would need to be deflated to be removed. Obviously the owner of the example I bought opted to later on run looser clearances and deal with the less than optimal braking. Bike Friday says they have installed a lot of Travel Agents on this model. I may just have to do what an earlier poster in this thread suggested and put in the Travel Agent (knock-off) order for long term joy. In the meanwhile I will see just how tight I can get things. It helps that the rims are pretty true.
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Old 10-08-21, 09:55 AM
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Trying to make the STI brake levers work with linear brakes is difficult and seldom results in a good outcome. Travel agents, in my experience, are futz. You would get better results with a reasonable priced cantilever than with even a high end linear brake. It’s not impossible to get the cable hangers needed to adapt the bike for cantilever if it doesn’t have integrated hangers. My Cannondale has a mount for the cable hanger on the fork and uses a Surly cantilever hanger for the back brake. See pictures below







As for the cantilever caliper, Paul’s are exceptional. I have 3 bikes with Paul cantilever and I feel they are worth every penny I paid for them. There are others around that will work well without the cost. I hear good things about Shimano CX50, although I haven’t really used them. Check out Tektro as well.
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Old 10-09-21, 01:29 PM
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That's a nice looking bike. Perfect vehicle for either the Pumpkin Patch Tour, or the Trick or Treat sorties that are popular this time of year. I've decided to go with CX50's and I found a pair locally, kind of. Universal Cycles decided to move out to a suburb 15 miles away so I am going to do a mixed mode light rail and bike errand to pick up a pair. They have the Surly hanger but I may go for the Origin 8 version. They also have the stick up from the fork crown cable hangar. I think Tektro makes it. I don't think the rear housing will make it to the anchor though ... is there a way to extend housing? Some kind of join for ferrules or bare housing? Or can you just butt housing ends together? Seems to me that the compression forces would hold the ends without buckling?
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Old 10-09-21, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
That's a nice looking bike. Perfect vehicle for either the Pumpkin Patch Tour, or the Trick or Treat sorties that are popular this time of year. I've decided to go with CX50's and I found a pair locally, kind of. Universal Cycles decided to move out to a suburb 15 miles away so I am going to do a mixed mode light rail and bike errand to pick up a pair. They have the Surly hanger but I may go for the Origin 8 version. They also have the stick up from the fork crown cable hangar. I think Tektro makes it. I don't think the rear housing will make it to the anchor though ... is there a way to extend housing? Some kind of join for ferrules or bare housing? Or can you just butt housing ends together? Seems to me that the compression forces would hold the ends without buckling?
You want a continuous run of cable housing or you want some kind of socket to put the two pieces of ferrule into. Just butting them into each other wonít be sufficient. If you look at the front of my bike picture, you can see a black inline barrel adjuster (green arrow in picture). This will let you splice the two pieces without them buckling.



A picture of your bike would help in seeing how the cables run so that we can provide advice.
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Old 10-10-21, 03:44 PM
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A simple solution for cantilever cable hangar, going from V-brake to cantilever is the link. It takes the place of a spacer in the headset.

Tektro Cable hanger
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Old 10-10-21, 11:39 PM
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I don't usually use my Mac for anything other than music production so getting photos out was a bit of a learning curve because the photos want to upload in .heic format. I 'think' I have things ready to go. The Bike Friday Tandem

is an odd duck. It still uses threaded headsets so the cool spacer type cable hangers won't work. Anyway, the front end isn't what keeps me up late. It's the rear:



the entire hanger and caliper assembly need to be contained away from the seattube so the whole rear end assembly can fall away from the seattube when the bike is folded.
Ideas from most desirable to least include:
1. Vintage 1" cable hanger/stop with cable pulley to double the cable back and aim it at the straddle wire.
2. Current seat clamp cable hanger/stop and quick disconnect at the straddle anchor.
3. Canti up front only and the mini-v with, or without, a Travel Agent in the rear

The last option may well be the most practical. The tandem we ride most often hasn't had a working rear brake in months and I don't find that any big deal. So less than optimal braking at the rear end is fine but for my OCD which would like to have the same type of brake at both ends of the bike.
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Old 10-11-21, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
I don't usually use my Mac for anything other than music production so getting photos out was a bit of a learning curve because the photos want to upload in .heic format. I 'think' I have things ready to go. The Bike Friday Tandem

is an odd duck. It still uses threaded headsets so the cool spacer type cable hangers won't work. Anyway, the front end isn't what keeps me up late. It's the rear:



the entire hanger and caliper assembly need to be contained away from the seattube so the whole rear end assembly can fall away from the seattube when the bike is folded.
Ideas from most desirable to least include:
1. Vintage 1" cable hanger/stop with cable pulley to double the cable back and aim it at the straddle wire.
2. Current seat clamp cable hanger/stop and quick disconnect at the straddle anchor.
3. Canti up front only and the mini-v with, or without, a Travel Agent in the rear

The last option may well be the most practical. The tandem we ride most often hasn't had a working rear brake in months and I don't find that any big deal. So less than optimal braking at the rear end is fine but for my OCD which would like to have the same type of brake at both ends of the bike.

Thanks for the pictures. Yes, it Ďtis an odd duck. You might try a front cable hanger using the fender bolt (red arrow below). I canít tell for sure but I doubt the hole goes all the way through the frame but that shouldnít matter. Just get a shorter bolt.



You might also consider using the rack bolts and an old cable hanger like this one. You might also consider a Tektro seat clamp hanger . The Surly (or similar) hanger would probably work as well. The Surly type hanger will probable be easier to use since it the bolt of the clamp just goes through the hanger. You could use the existing seat clamp.

For all of these, youíll have a long loop of cable housing (zip tie it to the seat tube) and you are likely to have to run new cable and housing because they are longer but thatís a fairly minor details.
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Old 10-11-21, 11:52 AM
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Now that we can see the problem It looks like short pull V Brakes like someone else mentioned before would work.
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Old 10-13-21, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Now that we can see the problem It looks like short pull V Brakes like someone else mentioned before would work.
Well, apparently the Tektro RX5's that are on this bike are mini-v's. They sure don't act like it. Even Bike Friday admits that the combination with the Flight Deck brifters has some customers running for Travel Agents. I've decided to hunt around in my garage and swap out the front end for a flat-bar (riser bar) setup. Avid Speed Dial 7 levers can find just the right mechanical advantage necessary to work with the calipers I've got a set I pulled off another bike. About the only things I didn't have were shifters. Amazon Prime to the rescue. Should have something to test ride next week. Thanks all.
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Old 10-19-21, 05:11 AM
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For what it’s worth, we’ve had Travel Agents on our Cannondale with full length 108mm V-brakes and either 105 or Ultegra 9-speed brifters for 10+ years. No issues. So YMMV, but they work fine for us.
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