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Cantilever Brakes: Any reason other than fender clearance?

Old 06-16-13, 07:21 PM
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Cantilever Brakes: Any reason other than fender clearance?

Doing my first touring build, and I've never been fond of canti-levers, but I've also never had any experience with any other than low-end crappy ones. I have had plenty of experience with v-brakes, though, and they're so simple to set up and have great power and modulation, even when using the cheap ones. Is there any reason to choose cantilevers over v-brakes if v-brakes fit with my fenders?
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Old 06-16-13, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
Doing my first touring build, and I've never been fond of canti-levers, but I've also never had any experience with any other than low-end crappy ones. I have had plenty of experience with v-brakes, though, and they're so simple to set up and have great power and modulation, even when using the cheap ones. Is there any reason to choose cantilevers over v-brakes if v-brakes fit with my fenders?
Depends on the levers. Road bike levers...until Shimano started monkeying around with the pull ratios...work directly with cantilever brakes. They won't work with v-brakes without travel agents which are more of a pain to set up than cantilevers every thought of being.

If you are working with flat bars and v-brake levers, there's no real advantage to cantilevers, other than fender clearance which can be a problem.
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Old 06-16-13, 07:50 PM
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Cantis tend to have less interference issues with fenders, tires and racks than any other style of brakes. But this might be a good time to point out that V-brakes are also another form of cantis. V-brakes are also available in different arm lengths, different build qualities and so braking performance between different kinds can vary enormously. Its possible to spend over $100 on a high end V-brake and over $100 on a high end canti. Decent ones all work well when set up properly and brake pad choice is a big factor.

Buy what you're comfortable with.

Last edited by Burton; 06-16-13 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 06-16-13, 07:54 PM
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My first touring bike came fitted with cantis...I hated them. I could never get enough stopping power no matter how I adjusted them. I read hours worth of materials in books and online about how to adjust them, I tried so many different configurations. Every time I REALLY needed to brake quickly, I felt like I was gonna break my levers and I still couldn't stop fast enough. I really can't see why people use them anymore. They are a huge hassle to set up and maintain. I work in a bike shop and every time someone orders a touring bike I cringe when I see that it comes fitted with cantis because it just takes so damn long to set up. I think they used to be praised for their ability to reach around wide tires and fenders. In some extreme cases this may still be true but most "v-brakes" or linear-pulls now have no problem reaching around. Like I said, my first tourer, had them, I hated them. Then when I sold that bike I bought a different tourer, and immediately swapped out the stock cantis for Shimano XT linear-pulls. I'm a much happier cyclist now...

EDIT:
Oh right, and as someone mentioned, most road levers (Shimano STI for example) are short-pull, so are cantis. I think this is really the only reason why so many touring bikes are still equipped with cantis, they need to make more long-pull road brake levers so that people can use good brakes.

Last edited by urbanescapee; 06-16-13 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 06-16-13, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
Is there any reason to choose cantilevers over v-brakes if v-brakes fit with my fenders?
Maybe. If you intend to use drop handlebar, know that normal brifters and brake levers are incompatible with normal V (linear pull) brakes, because they don't pull enough cable. You can buy special V-brake compatible levers from Tektro or Cane Creek or use Travel Agent adapters. The "V" levers are longer in reach and harder to actuate than normal road levers, and the cable adapters tend to wear out cables much sooner, plus add a little effort/friction to the actuation of a std road lever. So either way it's a little compromise.

If you intend to use a handlebar that accepts mtb levers, then the answer to your question is NO, unless you are highly susceptible to peer pressure. Be aware that you will be hazed a little by some conformists for not having proper cantilever brakes, or for lacking the skill and perserverance needed to adjust cantis properly, and for denying some forum posters the opportunity to share diagrams that depict the ideal straddle cable angle, length, and geometric basis for the under-appreciated, misunderstood magnificent cantilever brake.

I used Avid SD7 brakes for at least 40,000 miles, they are an outstanding value in brakes.

BTW AEbike is not the cheapest place to buy, I use them for links because their shopping cart software is among the best/easiest to use. They are a fine place to buy, I have many times. You can google the brand plus QBP part number (BR7070 for example) and find better prices.
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Old 06-16-13, 08:01 PM
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My bikes with cantilevers Pre date The V brake thing ..

1), the interruptor levers (other than Pauls@$105) are short pull to go with Brifters and similar pull aero levers.

2), they set up with more pad to rim clearance so a slightly out of true wheel wont drag, &
Still Cross racers prefer them if the course is muddy... for that reason

NB there are low profile and wide profile types in the cantilever sector they differ a bit.

MA less = more pad movement to rim, for less cable pull

Mafacs from the 70s, on a bike I built, then..

Scott Pedersen SE on my loaded touring rig, very powerful stopper
rotating rim pulls them in Tigher.

and Spooky Carbon fiber ones on the cross bike, with the Empella 'Froglegs' interrupter levers.

have another bike came with Magura's HS33, the hydraulic V brake post mounted, rim brake.

They are excellent.. smooth as Butter on a Hot Day..

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-16-13 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 06-16-13, 09:25 PM
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I actually have a set of Tektro RL520s for linear style brakes. I wish I had never sold the XTR brakes that went with them. In any case, the lever isn't an issue. I think I'll go with some decent quality v-brakes vs. cantilever. Thanks, all, for the advice.
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Old 06-16-13, 09:35 PM
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Good choice, since I don't like the lower position on drop bars anyway, I went with the Paul Reverse Levers on bull-bars. I like those because I can run any kind of brake (short or long pull).
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Old 06-17-13, 04:06 AM
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In my opinion Cantis are fine, but so are quality versions of other types of brakes. Most of cantis aren't especially hard to maintain. Some of them have annoyingly fussy cams to adjust toe in. I have some 1990 ish Shimano ones on my MTB that are a pain in that regard, but others I have used are very simple to set up and adjust. Power and feel with cantis are both fine IMO, but I'd say the same for the brakes on most of the bikes I have owned regardless of brake type other than some older long reach ones whose arms flexed excessively.
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Old 06-17-13, 07:13 AM
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This thread is rather timely for me since I finally decided last week to pull the plug on my 6-year "experiment" of fiddle-farting around with cantis on my tourer and swap them out for v-brakes, for pretty much the reasons the OP stated: they are a lot easier for me to set up for optimal (or at least pretty darn good) braking performance. Judging from the (lack of) wear on my rear (canti) brake pads, I'm pretty sure I was never able to get them to do anything.


Originally Posted by fietsbob
My bikes with cantilevers Pre date The V brake thing ..

1), the interruptor levers (other than Pauls@$105) are short pull to go with Brifters and similar pull aero levers.
If you can find them, Tektro used to make the RL740 which was a cross-top / interrupter brake lever compatible with V-brakes for ~$25. I use them on my commuter bike with the Tektro RL520 v-brake compatible drop bar levers, and I just acquired another set (via Ebay, as I couldn't find them anywhere else) for my touring bike. The RL520s still appear to be in ready supply.

Mike
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Old 06-17-13, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by dubes
... ... If you can find them, Tektro used to make the RL740 which was a cross-top / interrupter brake lever compatible with V-brakes for ~$25. I use them on my commuter bike with the Tektro RL520 v-brake compatible drop bar levers, and I just acquired another set (via Ebay, as I couldn't find them anywhere else) for my touring bike. The RL520s still appear to be in ready supply.
Mike
Thanks. I was unaware of these.
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Old 06-17-13, 10:13 AM
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All else short pull for both levers, then a 'travel agent' instead of the V noodle.
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Old 06-17-13, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by dubes
If you can find them, Tektro used to make the RL740 which was a cross-top / interrupter brake lever compatible with V-brakes for ~$25. I use them on my commuter bike with the Tektro RL520 v-brake compatible drop bar levers, and I just acquired another set (via Ebay, as I couldn't find them anywhere else) for my touring bike. The RL520s still appear to be in ready supply.
I've also got some Tektro interrupters I plan on putting on the touring bike. I'm figuring a nice double wrap of bar tape across the top straight part of the bar will make for a nice comfy alternate resting position for when I want to just sit upright and relax a little during a ride, but still be able to brake without a problem if needed.
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