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Cantilever Brakes vs V-Brakes for Touring

Old 09-30-16, 06:42 AM
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Cantilever Brakes vs V-Brakes for Touring

Hi,

I've built up the Windsor tourist. It took a few hours about half of which were spent fiddling with the cantilever brakes as I've never used them before. Those brakes don't exactly fill me with confidence.

I have a set of v-brakes and mini v-brakes as well which would fit on the cantilever posts and I could use those as well.

So what are the pros/cons for touring for:

a) Cantilever brakes
b) V-brakes
c) Mini v-brakes

I have Tiaga (9 speed) STIs.
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Old 09-30-16, 06:59 AM
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Inpd, Look at Sheldon Brown's web site (Mechanic's Forum) for tips on canti set-up.

Linear pull (V-brake) require a dedicated brake lever or an adapter due to a cable pull difference than that of caliper and cantilever brakes. Mini-V is compatibele, but may limit fender clearance. Linear pull brakes can also limit fender clearance.

Brad
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Old 09-30-16, 07:12 AM
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I am touring with a bike similar to the Windsor Tourist, with drop bars and brifters. Originally it was equiped with v-brakes and travel agents pulleys to adapt cable pull. It got issues with cable being worn prematurely and breaking in the travel agent. So I installed cantilevers, and it works fine. It is true that braking power is slightly lower and tuning a bit messier, but I find it still OK.
I have to admit that my definition of a correct braking power hasn't been polluted by the use of hydraulic disk brakes. I have learned to ride with Weinmann side pull brakes on wet steel rims, so I have kept some sense of anticipation.
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Old 09-30-16, 07:24 AM
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cantis work perfectly well, if you are unsure of setup, get a good bike store to inexpensively set them up for you, ie proper cable angle, proper pad to rim angle. I would suggest putting on some softer brake pads on like kool stop salmon coloured ones, they improve braking power by a marked amount in my experience.
Keeping your rims and brake pads clean after wet rides goes a long way to maintaining the best braking power, quiet braking, and rim and pad life. Wipe your rims down with a rag in 30 secs after wet rides and you will not accumulate that road grit that decreases braking power and mucks up pads.
I have toured on cantis and v's for a long time and cantis work well, V's are a bit stronger but I have always felt V's are more "on or off" for modulation compared to cantis. In any case, with your tiagra sti levers, as noted, V's will require a work around with travel agents.
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Old 09-30-16, 07:35 AM
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This should be good.
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Old 09-30-16, 07:59 AM
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I've got canti brakes on 4 bikes and they work great as long as they are set up properly and have good pads. I recommend Kool Stop salmon pads for all-around versatility and good stopping power in wet or dry conditions. The advantage to cantis over V-brakes is they open wider and are easier to install and remove wheels with larger tires. They are also less susceptible to rubbing if your wheels get out of true. V-brakes are set with the pads very close to the rims to function properly, which means they will rub if the rims are out of true.
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Old 09-30-16, 08:07 AM
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Canti
Pros- open wide, and dont need to be as precise to work.
Negatives- some people struggle to set them up, and they can shudder when a long headtube is used in conjuction with a stem spacer hanger. Simple fix is to use a fork cable stop instead.

Vbrake
Pros- easier to set up vs cantis
Cons- they arent made for use with STIs so you need to used adapters, and wheel tolerance is limited

MiniV
Pros- easier to set up than cantis
Cons- less space when opened and wheel tolerance is limited.



Just take the bike to a shop and ask them to set the cantis up. If braking is bad, get some oads that arent cheap (stock ones are almost for sure cheap quality).
Itll cost $25 at most to get em adjusted.
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Old 09-30-16, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
Just take the bike to a shop and ask them to set the cantis up. If braking is bad, get some oads that arent cheap (stock ones are almost for sure cheap quality).
Itll cost $25 at most to get em adjusted.

+1. I have some 15,000+ touring miles under my belt, all with cantis. Never had any problems with braking, even when crossing the country riding a bike/gear combo weighing 90 lbs. plus 195 lbs. of me.


And another vote for Kool Stop Salmon. When my pads need replacing (I commute in the big city on my LHT and thus am constantly stopping for lights and stop signs) I take the bike to the shop. They replace the pads and make sure the brakes are set up correctly. Can't remember what the labor charge is, but I don't think it's even as high as $25.
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Old 09-30-16, 08:45 AM
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Good stuff above but I will add one point about mini v's, not all mini v's are equal because of their different length arms and therefore the required amount of cable pull from your brifter. Plenty of articles on this subject can be found but over all I would recommend you consider the 80 mm lengths and no more than 84 mm max for those particular brifters. The good news is that even the 80 mm should give you adequate stopping power without the need for travel agents. And with that being said, canti's work fine (now.....all in unison) "if set up properly"
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Old 09-30-16, 08:59 AM
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Nobody has mentioned that cantis look cool and v-brakes look stupid.
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Old 09-30-16, 09:02 AM
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As long as they aren't smooth post Cantis, I'd happily use either.
Mini-Vs, I've had issues with lever compatibility even in supposedly compatible combinations.
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Old 09-30-16, 09:10 AM
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Don't know about V's or Disc, never used them. Have used a lot of caliper and steel rims though!

As far as Canti's. Just ran down the Kicking horse(dry), Rogers(wet) and Coquihalla(wet) passes with them and didn't have any problems stopping.
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Old 09-30-16, 09:19 AM
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V-brakes are incompatible with your Tiagra brake levers, or any other road levers. If you want to use v-brakes you would need to install a travel agent pulley.

I use v-brakes on my touring bike with v-brake specific drop levers. They require significantly less hand strength compared to my old cantilevers to operate. The cantilevers I used were the very nice Shimano BR-R550s. The v-brakes I now use are some dirt cheap Tektros. V-brakes are simply a fundamentally better design than cantilevers. The reasons so many touring bikes use cantilevers are road lever compatibility, visual appearance, and tradition.

Last edited by Yan; 09-30-16 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 09-30-16, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston
nobody has mentioned that cantis look cool and v-brakes look stupid.
+ 1.
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Old 09-30-16, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
V-brakes are incompatible with your Tiagra brake levers, or any other road levers. If you want to use v-brakes you would need to install a travel agent pulley.

I use v-brakes on my touring bike with v-brake specific drop levers. They require significantly less hand strength compared to my old cantilevers to operate. The cantilevers I used were the very nice Shimano BR-R550s. The v-brakes I now use are some dirt cheap Tektros. V-brakes are simply a fundamentally better design than cantilevers. The reasons so many touring bikes use cantilevers are road lever compatibility, visual appearance, and tradition.
You are correct; however there is a fix as you have mentioned.


My wife wanted V-brakes on her bike after she saw them on another bike in the shop that was building her frame. If a Travel Agent is used, they do work exceptionally well with STI shifters. The Travel Agents have over 17,000 miles on them, and I just recently changed the cables. They never needed adjustment during that time. She is a firm believer in function over form, especially where brakes are concerned.

I run Paul cantis on 2 of my bikes. Coupled with Kool Stop salmon pads they are more than adequate. But, what happens when you put the same brake pads on v-brakes; they work exceptionally well


Last edited by Doug64; 09-30-16 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 09-30-16, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston
nobody has mentioned that cantis look cool and v-brakes look stupid.

+2
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Old 09-30-16, 11:33 AM
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Cantis are fine in my experience. I used them on the Trans America and the southern half of the Sierra Cascades route among other routes so I have ridden plenty of long steep hills with them. I always found them adequate.
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Old 09-30-16, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
This should be good.
Waiting....
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Old 09-30-16, 12:42 PM
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I Got in several Multi Month Tours over 10 years and had NO trouble with my cantilever brakes on those long tours. ..
I have Mafac Cantilever brakes on a bike Frame I Built in 1974, they still work just fine.

I suspect your skill as a Mechanic in getting them set up May Be at issue. not the parts themselves .

1st thing I'd do in your situation; buy New Kool stop Brake pads . You got a BD bike for it's low price..
to get that down they pick some parts that can be improved on. after the sale.







./.

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-30-16 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 09-30-16, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Dream Cyclery
Waiting....
Maybe Stuart's Internet service is down. Give it time.
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Old 09-30-16, 01:47 PM
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Lots of things work. The real limit on performance with drops is the levers you can use. Travel agents or special levers all work by changing the cable pull ratio, so you loose the power that Vs have on flat bars. There is no way around this, so I wouldn't personally change anything at significant cost as the "improvements" are likely illusory. A note on the special levers is that they drop the pivot point a lot, which makes braking from the hoods anything from more difficult to nearly impossible depending on hand size.

With cantis, get the straddle cable as flat as reasonable, and at least 90 degrees to the arms at contact, and you should be fine. Then try to take your wheel off, sometimes there is interference and you better figure out what will be required before your trip.

One problem that can crop up is that cantis are available in different geometries as are forks. I discovered the problem with that when with 20 years of canti experience I got into touring bikes and saved money on my first build by recycling old MTB cantis onto new touring forks. The stopping power was hardly functional at all. The caution here is to be careful before changing to another, better style of canti. I bought pauls thinking the crappy cantis I had were the problem when the real problem was the geometry. The Pauls were identically bad. Later I sold the bike with a pair of 14 dollar Nashbar cantis on it that stopped very well. I am not dissing the Pauls, they are great, but the effectiveness vs any other identical brake is marginal. With something like the Windsor Tourist, you are safest sticking to cantis of similar geometry since I imagine they got it right at the factory.

Basically cantis are the best all around brakes for drop touring bikes save for the poor stopping power. The slickest solution there is to use self energizing brakes. They got killed off by discs, but the stopping power remains massive, almost too good. The solution to that is to use standard blocks or sintered blocks. You can have brakes that have all the advantages of cantis, and are powerful, and stop well in the wet. I think some of the stories about them locking up wheels are probably because people used Kool Stop with them. You don't need or want grabby pads with these, and that is a further touring advantage as far as pad durability and resupply.
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Old 09-30-16, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Inpd
Hi,

I've built up the Windsor tourist. It took a few hours about half of which were spent fiddling with the cantilever brakes as I've never used them before. Those brakes don't exactly fill me with confidence.
If you have a pic of the build-out on the front brake that would help see where the angles can be improved.
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Old 09-30-16, 01:55 PM
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Another thing that will help with cantis is to be sure you have top quality cables and that they are lubricated. On most bikes the actual distance of housed cables is pretty short, and as a result you can get top end cables for not too much money.

Another thing that might be an improvement, but I have never owned side by side systems is old style exposed cables, both in power and easy of working on them (anyone know). One downside is that they are more easily damaged by baggage handlers.
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Old 09-30-16, 02:33 PM
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I set up the brakes okay

Hi,

So I set the cantilever brakes up fine, just took me a lot longer since it was my first time.

I just found the mechanism to be a bit primitive compared to calipers or v-brakes and wondered what the pro's /cons's were.

I agree that v-brakes are a bit more grabie.
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Old 09-30-16, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by MassiveD
One problem that can crop up is that cantis are available in different geometries as are forks. I discovered the problem with that when with 20 years of canti experience I got into touring bikes and saved money on my first build by recycling old MTB cantis onto new touring forks. The stopping power was hardly functional at all. The caution here is to be careful before changing to another, better style of canti.
Yes, there are many different styles of cantilever brakes. Wide profile, medium profile, low profile. Each needs to be set up differently. Wide profile will have more than 90deg, medium is about 90, and low profile are set up with less than 90deg.

I have built up 2 bikes this year, a gravel bike and a touring bike, with old cantilevers. Perhaps I just lucked out and both fit and work great with each frame's geometry, but both sets were originally on 80's 26" mountain bikes.
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