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V-brakes on a new LHT?

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Old 03-22-08, 10:06 PM
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V-brakes on a new LHT?

Hi everyone. I've been test riding new bikes today and I think the Surly Long Haul Trucker feels the best. However the v-brakes on the Trek 520 stopped that bike on a dime and I LIKED that. Is there any reason I shouldn't swap the Tektro canti's that come on the LHT for a set of v-brakes? Will that harm the frame? Interfere with tires or fenders? Anyone have experience with v-brakes on a touring bike?

-Chirs
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Old 03-22-08, 11:02 PM
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I've had both kinds of brakes on my LHT- the only issue will be that you will either need Dia Compe 287-v brake levers or Problem Solver's "Travel Agents" if you plan on using drop bars. Every other road-type lever is made to pull cable for cantilevers and caliper brakes.

In my opinion, a lot of people prefer Vs over cantis because they've never had a good pair of cantis, but they're both great.
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Old 03-22-08, 11:05 PM
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They could interfere with fenders or racks. It all depends on the set up. On one of my bikes, the brakes just barely miss the rack. But the major factor is the brake levers. Cantilever brakes use a short pull lever and v-brakes use a long pull. You would need to either change the levers or use a Travel Agent.
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Old 03-23-08, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Txthroop View Post
Hi everyone. I've been test riding new bikes today and I think the Surly Long Haul Trucker feels the best. However the v-brakes on the Trek 520 stopped that bike on a dime and I LIKED that. Is there any reason I shouldn't swap the Tektro canti's that come on the LHT for a set of v-brakes? Will that harm the frame? Interfere with tires or fenders? Anyone have experience with v-brakes on a touring bike?

-Chirs
I have Paul's V-brakes on my LHT. I have found no problems in connection with these brakes or their placement, etc. They do not interfere with my fenders (black plastic Planet Bikes that I got for free) or racks (Surly Nice racks front and back). I use Dia-Comp 287-V brake levers. I use Paul's Thumbies for my (friction) shifters. The Thumbies take up quite a bit of room on the bar but I have an accessory bar for my light, bell and computer. I got the V-brakes because I like the way they stop a loaded bike.
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Old 03-23-08, 07:37 AM
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Thanks you guys. I searched some more after posting my original thread and found some pictures of LHT's with v brakes so I figured it was workable. Has anyone tried the Tektro road levers made for v brakes? The Dia-compe levers get such mixed reviews...
58Kogswell, do you have any complaints about your levers?
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Old 03-23-08, 07:49 AM
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Tektro and Cane Creek have drop bar V-brake levers coming out one of these days...
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Old 03-23-08, 09:08 AM
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try swapping the cones on the brake pad posts around, so that the wider ones are on the inside. then, move the cable yoke/hanger down as far as you can. I wasn't satisfied with the stopping power of the stock brakes on my lht until i had them set up like this. after adjustment, they are as good as any v-brake i've ever used. alot of shops have highschool kids assembling bikes, and setting up a canti well is kind of a dying skill. not trying to push you away from vbrakes, but this might save you some hassle/$$
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Old 03-23-08, 11:33 AM
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I have Avid SD7 V-brakes on my LHT. They work very nicely.
I'm using them with the Tektro RL520 levers -- much better (and cheaper) than the Dia-Compe 287-V levers.

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Old 03-23-08, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Txthroop View Post
Thanks you guys. I searched some more after posting my original thread and found some pictures of LHT's with v brakes so I figured it was workable. Has anyone tried the Tektro road levers made for v brakes? The Dia-compe levers get such mixed reviews...
58Kogswell, do you have any complaints about your levers?
No. I don't have any complaints about the levers but I readily acknowledge that they are not exactly like some of the other brake levers I have on other bikes. The two other bikes that I have which have V-brakes (RedLine MonoCog and Marin Belvedere) have riser bars and use mountain bike levers. The 287-V (for drop bars) take more force and are shaped in a way that makes it slightly less comfortable to grasp and apply them (I use my 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers but not my index finger on the lever) and pull them tightly when working off the tops of the hoods, which is the way I almost always do it. When hands are in the drops there is no problem or any real difference from brakes on other (drop bar) bikes. I would say it takes a little getting used to - the V-brakes are more difficult to apply forcefully.

What follows is opinion and comment and spew but not responsive to the original question.

I was only responding to the original question of whether folks have tried these (V-brakes, etc.) on an LHT and definitely not trying to persuade anyone that this is the way to go. My LHT is something of an experiment - V-brakes, Thumbies, an 11-32 cassette, an XT (42-32-22) crank / bottom bracket combination with external bearings, 700x35 Panaracer (TG) Paselas, Black B-17, the obviously heavy Surly racks and a Schmidt generator hub in front. While this combination has worked very well for me I would not recommend it to anyone because everyone is different and there are a lot of things about my setup that someone could object to, primarily weight.

For me a bike that I spec and build myself is unique. It is based on what I was thinking and what I wanted to try (experiment with) at the time. While I am happy to share my experience with any piece of equipment I do not try to persuade anyone of anything. (In regard to bikes or anything else.) The fun of bikes is deciding for yourself what you like and putting that combination of items together. My goal is never speed and I like this touring LHT as a kind of all-weather, all-conditions, very reliable and sturdy piece of equipment that can go nearly anywhere I might wish. It is my less-costly Atlantis clone.

I also am ready to swap out any components that fail to please me or fail to perform for something more appropriate. In a few years I expect the LHT to have at least a few different components than it does now but i can't say what is most likely to go since these have all worked well so far.
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Old 03-24-08, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
In my opinion, a lot of people prefer Vs over cantis because they've never had a good pair of cantis, but they're both great.
I think canti's are probably more difficult to adjust for stop on a dime feel as well. All my V's are easily adjusted but I've never been able to get a set of cantis to feel great.
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Old 03-24-08, 01:02 AM
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I'm still thinking self energizing brakes are the ticket, all the set-up and lever advantages of canti, best braking power of anything. Not always the best modulation, but nothing scary. Doesn't use high cost cool stop pads that can make wheel changes difficult, aren't as easily found, don't last as long.
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Old 03-24-08, 09:20 AM
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I use Avid Single Digit Ultimate brakes with Dia Compe 287-V levers on my LHT and am very pleased. Tremendous stopping power and good modulation (important when unloaded). As good as the Avid Juicy Seven hydraulic brakes on my mountain bike.
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Old 03-25-08, 08:56 PM
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Thanks for the input. Seems like there's no reason NOT to go v-brakes if I want to (except for the $). And I like those Tektro levers in black.

What is modulation? Is it the ability to increase the amount you are breaking evenly and smoothly without having the brakes grab?
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Old 03-26-08, 06:38 AM
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Take this for what it's worth.....

First, modulation. Modulation is the ability distribute stress evenly, smoothly and consistently. In other words, good modulation is when you pull on your brake lever, you feel it bite, and you know that if you pull it a bit more, it will bite just that little bit more, and then if you pull just a little bit more, it will bite just that little bit more, and so on. At the other extreme, bad modulation is when you pull on your lever and it locks up your wheel almost instantly; you just can't get a good feel as to how much you need to pull on your lever as all the power is applied very quickly without giving you the chance to modulate your braking.

Secondly, v-brake modulation: the biggest problem I have with v-brakes is modulation -most especially when you have non-adjustable brake levers and the usual black concrete stock pads. I know you are thinking of using road brake levers with long pull, but best modulation I've been able to get with a non-road bike setup for v-brakes is by using Salmon Koolstops and a long pull v-brake specific brake lever that has the least amount of cable pull possible. Only then do I feel like I have reasonable "feel" to the brakes.

I have to be honest, after using cantis and then moving to v-brakes, I thought v-brakes were the bees knees. However, looking back, I realized I seemed to have the following factors blinding me:

i. I was obsessed with having a brake that had the power to lock a wheel at any speed -now I realize this is just not necessary. The best brake has a combination of power and modulation, not digital braking with values of "off" and "stops you on a dime". Until I had decent levers and pads, I think I was being too easily mesmerized by the allure of easy power and setup offered by most v-brakes.

ii. the cantis I used previously had atrocious brake pads, and I was definitely put off by the setup woes (anyone who has had to setup a canti brake and do toe in can surely attest to that!). Further, the brake levers I had were not of high quality. Interestingly, many new canti brakes now have brake pads that are in the style of and used by their v-brake brethren (a very good thing in my opinion!). New canti brake setup is soooo much easier now!

Getting over my temporary braking insanity and having a better knowledge of brake pads and levers, I now sheepishly realize that good cantis offer not only good power (admittedly not quite the power of equivalently good quality v-brakes particularly at the rear wheel) but most especially excellent modulation. I've got a set of Nashbar brand cantis (I think they were $30 a set and are probably Tektro Oryx) and Koolstops pads and some old style full length brake levers that offer slightly more cable pull than the usual canti brake lever -well setup they are more than fine. If I was equipping a touring bike with road bars, I'd prefer cantis over v-brakes due to modulation and wider availability of brake levers.

Generally speaking, I believe that pads have the most effect on braking (obvious when you really think about it) given a reasonable quality brake and setup. Before you do anything, check your setup and see if you can change the pads to Koolstops (plus if your current canti brakes take v-brake pads, then you can always keep them for the v-brakes if you go that route). If you still have problems, you then might want to consider Tekto aero levers or Cane Creek SCR-5s which have a slightly longer cable pull than other road levers versus going all out for v-brakes.

Good luck!

Originally Posted by Txthroop View Post
Thanks for the input. Seems like there's no reason NOT to go v-brakes if I want to (except for the $). And I like those Tektro levers in black.

What is modulation? Is it the ability to increase the amount you are breaking evenly and smoothly without having the brakes grab?
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Old 03-26-08, 07:38 AM
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Thanks, everyone, for all your input on this one. Nigeyy, your explanation was very clear and I (and others, no doubt) am now that much better informed.

I have never had v-brakes on a bike and my test drive recently of a Trek 520 with them as the stock brakes was sort of a revelation to me: lo, I could stop myself instantly with an effortless squeeze of my fingers! It was love at first use. And then to ride the canti-equipped bike right afterward really made those old-technology brakes seem weak and inadequate. But I soon began to wonder if there was something that was escaping me. Perhaps it was not love but just a school-yard crush and if I held out long enough I would be able to clearly see that we weren't really made for each other. Here's the problem though: I know myself well enough to know that there will always be a question in my mind about those v-brakes if I don't give them a try.

So when I get my new bike I think I'll give the cantis some attention. Some adjustment, some pads and see how well they can do. But at some point I imagine I will be seduced by the irresistible pull (!) of the v-brake. On they will go. And only then I will have the EXPERIENCE to be able to answer the question for myself. And I am a big fan of experience...
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Old 03-26-08, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Nigeyy View Post
Interestingly, many new canti brakes now have brake pads that are in the style of and used by their v-brake brethren (a very good thing in my opinion!). New canti brake setup is soooo much easier now!
Including '07 LHT completes, at least.
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Old 03-26-08, 06:43 PM
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As a person who remembers when all mountian bikes had Cantilever brakes and watched v-brakes replace all of them....v-brakes are basicly better.

Not to say that both kinds of brakes work well when set up right and newer model cantilevers (like Shimano's BR550) are good.

I'm going to try those new Trektro levers and a set of nicer v-brakes on my next bike project.
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Old 03-26-08, 07:46 PM
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Canti's are old school fashion, if you go for fashion over function, fine get some canti's, their OK.

But if function is your desire, V-brakes are the ticket. It's all about leverage, force x lever arm = braking power. V-brakes have a much longer lever arm than canti's and with their longer cable pull, they also have much better modulation. Now add in individual pad adjustment and they are even better. Now add the better parallel pull models and the pads wear more even and last longer. There is plenty of clearance for fenders and racks. V-brakes are canti's with the lever arm turned up and lengthened, just a better design.
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Old 03-26-08, 08:34 PM
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Check out Sheldon's site on this -I think you might be confusing a long pull as being better for modulation -this is not always going to be the case. It's a combination of factors including brake design and pretty much how far you wish the brake pads to travel in relation to the rim when you move the lever a set distance.

Though I have my v-brakes setup with good modulation, i have to say my personal experience is that usually cantis have better, not poorer modulation (brake pads usually travel less of a distance), but usually less raw braking power unless the rims are really true (v-brakes with relatively longer brake pad travel relative to the rim can put up with less than true rims). Having said that, I think both are fine if you take the time to set them up well with good components and appropriate settings.

By the way, one trick to get a better feel for v-brakes is to toe them in, this can work very nicely.



Originally Posted by gregw View Post
Canti's are old school fashion, if you go for fashion over function, fine get some canti's, their OK.

But if function is your desire, V-brakes are the ticket. It's all about leverage, force x lever arm = braking power. V-brakes have a much longer lever arm than canti's and with their longer cable pull, they also have much better modulation. Now add in individual pad adjustment and they are even better. Now add the better parallel pull models and the pads wear more even and last longer. There is plenty of clearance for fenders and racks. V-brakes are canti's with the lever arm turned up and lengthened, just a better design.
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Old 03-27-08, 08:18 PM
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One problem with the default Tektro cantis is the poor brake pad. I replaced mine with Koolstop pads and the braking is much improved.
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Old 04-01-08, 11:46 PM
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Help me out here guys. I'm planning on using Ultegra STI's with Avid Single Digit 7's. Will I need the Travel Agents?
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Old 04-02-08, 12:00 AM
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I have V-brakes on my LHT with 287V levers and like the combo a lot, but if I bought a LHT complete I wouldn't replace the cantis. I'd probably throw some salmon Koolstop pads on the cantis and I'd tweak them to optimize their performance, but that's it.
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Old 04-03-08, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by johnxorz View Post
I have Avid SD7 V-brakes on my LHT. They work very nicely.
I'm using them with the Tektro RL520 levers -- much better (and cheaper) than the Dia-Compe 287-V levers.


I just bought some, should be here in about 5 biz days...what do you think of them? I'm going to give a thorough review here because no one has yet. I'll also have the review on my blog. I'm stoked to get back to drop bars for my Surly Xcheck as the flats make me hurt so bad, and I love having the options of drops.
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Old 04-04-08, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by climbhoser View Post
I just bought some, should be here in about 5 biz days...what do you think of them? I'm going to give a thorough review here because no one has yet. I'll also have the review on my blog. I'm stoked to get back to drop bars for my Surly Xcheck as the flats make me hurt so bad, and I love having the options of drops.
The levers work well. They've eliminated the awkward cable routing of the dia-compe 287-V, and the shape feels more ergonomic. They also have an in-lever quick-release like campagnolo levers, which is admittedly of little utility when used with V-brakes.
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Old 04-13-08, 09:17 PM
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Avid Vs and 287s here. Awesome feel and great stopping power.
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