Cantilever brakes upgrade

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Colin, Jan 22, 2003.

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  1. Colin

    Colin Guest

    Hello,

    I've been thinking about upgrading the cantilever brakes on my old tourer. My son's mountain bike
    has V brakes and I'm very impressed with their stopping power but I've been told that I can't fit
    them to my bike. Is this true?

    I've also been recommended a combination of Suntour SE cantilever brakes with Dia Compe brake levers
    that I understand are designed especially to work with cantilever brakes. The total for this
    combination would be roughly gbp 150, which seems rather high, but not out of the question if they
    really work well. Is this worth the money? Would I be better off replacing the bike with something
    more modern? Could anybody suggest other brake upgrades that would work?

    The bike is a Tony Oliver 531 tourer that was custom built (though not for me!) in the early 1980's.
    The current cantilever brakes and levers are both by Weinmann. I commute to work by bike most days
    and I ride with the CTC most weekends, but I have no immediate plans to tour.

    Cheers,

    Colin
     
    Tags:


  2. Tony Raven

    Tony Raven Guest

    Colin <[email protected]> wrote:
    > Hello,
    >
    > I've been thinking about upgrading the cantilever brakes on my old tourer. My son's mountain bike
    > has V brakes and I'm very impressed with their stopping power but I've been told that I can't fit
    > them to my bike. Is this true?
    >
    > I've also been recommended a combination of Suntour SE cantilever brakes with Dia Compe brake
    > levers that I understand are designed especially to work with cantilever brakes. The total for
    > this combination would be roughly gbp 150, which seems rather high, but not out of the question if
    > they really work well. Is this worth the money? Would I be better off replacing the bike with
    > something more modern? Could anybody suggest other brake upgrades that would work?
    >
    > The bike is a Tony Oliver 531 tourer that was custom built (though not for me!) in the early
    > 1980's. The current cantilever brakes and levers are both by Weinmann. I commute to work by bike
    > most days and I ride with the CTC most weekends, but I have no immediate plans to tour.
    >

    Set up properly your cantilevers should be as good (some say better) than v-brakes. Have a look at
    Sheldon Brown's setup page at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cantilever-adjustment.html before you
    spend any money. Normally where you have cantilevers you can fit v-brakes unless there is something
    oddball about them. You can get drop bar brake levers for v-brakes from Dia Compe (model 287V)

    Tony

    http://www.raven-family.com

    "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" George
    Bernard Shaw.
     
  3. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    "Colin" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Hello,
    >
    > I've been thinking about upgrading the cantilever brakes on my old tourer. My son's mountain bike
    > has V brakes and I'm very impressed with their stopping power but I've been told that I can't fit
    > them to my bike. Is this true?
    >
    > I've also been recommended a combination of Suntour SE cantilever brakes with Dia Compe brake
    > levers that I understand are designed especially to work with cantilever brakes. The total for
    > this combination would be roughly gbp 150, which seems rather high, but not out of the question if
    > they really work well. Is this worth the money? Would I be better off replacing the bike with
    > something more modern? Could anybody suggest other brake upgrades that would work?
    >
    > The bike is a Tony Oliver 531 tourer that was custom built (though not for me!) in the early
    > 1980's. The current cantilever brakes and levers are both by Weinmann. I commute to work by bike
    > most days and I ride with the CTC most weekends, but I have no immediate plans to tour.

    If you wish to use V (linear) brakes, there are small cams, similar to the cams found on compound
    bows, that increase the cable travel at the brake end so your classic levers will pull enough cable
    to give good performance with these brakes. Not cheap, but they work just fine. Standard equipment
    on Santana for example.

    Alternately, note that your classic Mafac/Weinmann cantilevers can be modified by
    lengthening/shortening the transverse wire from its neutral ( sides form a 90-degree angle when the
    pads touch the rim) position. You should be able to get a cantilever set up to your taste
    (stiff/soft) easily.

    I'm told that linear brakes have a clear benefit in mountain biking. I would not know. However,
    since your brakes can easily skid the rear wheel and can lift the bicycle when applying the front,
    how much more "braking power" is needed? I find linear brakes a bit of a hassle as they must be set
    up quite close to the rim to be effective. That doesn't bother other people at all.

    Suntour's self-actuating SE cantilever is an unusual brake to say the least. I would recommend you
    ride a bike with them before buying. And it hasn't been made in a long while so we'll assume part of
    that cost is due to its being vintage /collectible. Hard to recommend IMHO.

    Of course there's no reason _not_ to indulge yourself if you feel the linear brakes have a benefit.
    They are cheap and available. You should be able to ride a current model bike with Ergo/STi levers
    and VBrakes to decide if that's how you expect a brake setup to feel/respond/work before you buy.

    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  4. Colin <[email protected]> wrote:
    >I've been thinking about upgrading the cantilever brakes on my old tourer. My son's mountain bike
    >has V brakes and I'm very impressed with their stopping power but I've been told that I can't fit
    >them to my bike. Is this true?

    Don't bother. Fit Kool Stop Salmons, adjust the straddle cable (Sheldon talks about that), and try
    not to get a free flying lesson first time you squeeze.

    If cantilevers cannot lift the back wheel (braking on the front) or lock it (braking on the rear)
    they are improperly set up (on a single - tandems are another matter); and if they can, you couldn't
    use more braking anyway.
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> flcl?
     
  5. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On 19 Jan 2003 14:21:59 -0800, [email protected] (Colin) wrote:

    >I've also been recommended a combination of Suntour SE cantilever brakes with Dia Compe brake
    >levers that I understand are designed especially to work with cantilever brakes.

    Got your flameproof suit ready?

    I bought the SunTour brakes and was roundly chastised for doing so, especially since I bought them
    from a shop in Bridgewater. I have found them to be excellent, far more effective than the old
    Weinmanns they replaced (on my mid-80s Claud Butler) especially when going fast in the wet. I have
    absolutely no complaints. They have also required very little maintenance, even with the Shimano
    cartridge brakes (Kool Stop Salmons are the thing, really).

    I had tried every kind of brake shoe under the sun and adjusted the Weinmanns to the nth degree but
    they never did work terribly well, especially after I moved from 27" to 700c. The difference with
    the SunTours was startling and immediate.

    Top Tip! Get the Kool-Stop Salmons first, they might do the job on their own :)

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    work. Apologies.
     
  6. Colin

    Colin Guest

    Wow! A lot of suggestions!

    I've already tried new cables and Aztec pads, but somehow the brakes just don't seem to have the
    "bite" they once did. Would the Kool-Stop pads really make such a difference? It seems a bit of a
    faff to be sending brake pads across the Altantic!

    Somebody suggested replacing the levers. This would seem like a cheap option, but I don't understand
    how this would make a difference. Surely a lever is just a lever?

    I'm not sure that I would like the complexity of hydraulic brakes. Are spare pads for the Maguras
    easy to find?

    I've received a couple of e-mails mentioning Avid Shorty brakes, available from www.gearshift.co.uk
    . One suggestion is to use these with WTB "abrasive" pads which are apparently (?) the same as
    Kool-Stop?

    It sounds like opinions are divided about the SunTour brakes. It sounds like a good idea to use the
    force of the wheel to multiply the braking power rather than just a simple lever, but perhaps they
    might be "grabby"?

    Cheers,

    Colin
     
  7. lisated

    lisated Guest

    "A Muzi" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > If you wish to use V (linear) brakes, there are small cams, similar to the cams found on compound
    > bows, that increase the cable travel at the brake end so your classic levers will pull enough
    > cable to give good performance with these brakes. Not cheap, but they work just fine. Standard
    > equipment on Santana for example.

    Considering that multistrand steel cables have an increasingly short life as the radius of a bend
    decreases, it should be pointed out that is a potential problem with devices such as the Travel
    Agent. These wind the brake cable around fairly tight turns. I don't have any direct experience with
    these but I have heard some reports of broken cables attributable to the small radii bend.

    These things do serve a useful purpose as long as you want to use road levers and linear brakes. But
    regular inspection would serve the owner well. I think that lubrication at the bends would be a
    benefit also.

    Ted Bennett
     
  8. Jeff Wills

    Jeff Wills Guest

    "Tony Raven" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > Set up properly your cantilevers should be as good (some say better) than v-brakes. Have a look
    > at Sheldon Brown's setup page at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cantilever-adjustment.html before
    > you spend any money. Normally where you have cantilevers you can fit v-brakes unless there is
    > something oddball about them. You can get drop bar brake levers for v-brakes from Dia Compe
    > (model 287V)

    I have these levers on my 'cross bike (Dia-Compe 287V levers operating Avid SD-7 brake calipers).
    They're dandy- good braking power and modulation.

    Jeff
     
  9. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    "Tony Raven" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > Colin <[email protected]> wrote:

    > > I've been thinking about upgrading the cantilever brakes on my old tourer. My son's mountain
    > > bike has V brakes and I'm very impressed with their stopping power but I've been told that I
    > > can't fit them to my bike. Is this true?

    You can fit them, but you'll need new levers too, or some kind of adaptor.

    > > I've also been recommended a combination of Suntour SE cantilever brakes with Dia Compe brake
    > > levers that I understand are designed especially to work with cantilever brakes. The total for
    > > this combination would be roughly gbp 150, which seems rather high, but not out of the question
    > > if they really work well. Is this worth the money?

    No!

    > > Would I be better off replacing the bike with something more modern? Could anybody suggest other
    > > brake upgrades that would work?

    > > The bike is a Tony Oliver 531 tourer that was custom built (though not for me!) in the early
    > > 1980's. The current cantilever brakes and levers are both by Weinmann. I commute to work by bike
    > > most days and I ride with the CTC most weekends, but I have no immediate plans to tour.

    > Set up properly your cantilevers should be as good (some say better) than v-brakes. Have a look
    > at Sheldon Brown's setup page at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cantilever-adjustment.html before
    > you spend
    any
    > money. Normally where you have cantilevers you can fit v-brakes unless there is something oddball
    > about them. You can get drop bar brake levers for v-brakes from Dia Compe (model 287V)

    Here's another good article:

    http://www.bontrager.com/keith/rants.asp?id=27

    It really *is* all in the setup. Pads are important too -- so get some good ones. Kool Stop Salmon
    are the best, and Kool Stop Black aren't too bad either. Avoid Shimano pads.

    No need to spend all that money.

    Matt O.
     
  10. David Damerell wrote:

    > Colin <[email protected]> wrote:
    >> I've been thinking about upgrading the cantilever brakes on my old tourer. My son's mountain bike
    >> has V brakes and I'm very impressed with their stopping power but I've been told that I can't fit
    >> them to my bike. Is this true?
    >
    > Don't bother. Fit Kool Stop Salmons, adjust the straddle cable (Sheldon talks about that), and try
    > not to get a free flying lesson first time you squeeze.
    >
    > If cantilevers cannot lift the back wheel (braking on the front) or lock it (braking on the rear)
    > they are improperly set up (on a single - tandems are another matter); and if they can, you
    > couldn't use more braking anyway.

    Also, you're more likely to get interference between brakes and fenders/mudguards with V-brakes (I
    had to cut a slot across the top of my fender to prevent the brake from rubbing it on one of my
    bikes). This may not be a problem with thinner tires and correspondingly smaller fenders.

    --
    Benjamin Lewis

    Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
    -- Mark Twain
     
  11. Clive George

    Clive George Guest

    "Colin" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > Somebody suggested replacing the levers. This would seem like a cheap option, but I don't
    > understand how this would make a difference. Surely a lever is just a lever?

    Sheldon (who else?) says otherwise. Search the archives for 'sheldon tiagra' for some quotes of his
    previous answers to this question.

    > I'm not sure that I would like the complexity of hydraulic brakes. Are spare pads for the Maguras
    > easy to find?

    Magura hydraulics are one of the simplest brakes it's ever been my pleasure to install. Getting the
    brake piston aligned is the worst bit, and that's only as tedious as adjusting a cantilever brake
    pad. And you only need to do it once! No more adjusting angles as the pads wear out - one 2mm allen
    key does it all. Pads are pull out and clip back in - so easy! No need to adjust left-right bias. No
    more cable woes.

    I've had no difficulty in finding spare magura pads. Harder than normal ones, but not hard enough to
    be a problem. I'd carry a spare set while touring.

    > It sounds like opinions are divided about the SunTour brakes. It sounds like a good idea to use
    > the force of the wheel to multiply the braking power rather than just a simple lever, but perhaps
    > they might be "grabby"?

    Well, they were crap on our tandem. Not much better than the cantis they replaced. The maguras were
    some orders of magnitude better. Decent braking at last! There's not much point in SE rear brakes on
    a solo - it's the front where you need the power. And 100sq for f+r is looking quite expensive -
    maybe 130 with new levers. Magura are cheaper from venhill than SJSC - give them a ring for a price.
    (www.venhill.co.uk for phone no.)

    If I actually used the brakes on my solo bike, I'd definitely consider a set of HS66. Avids would
    probably be second choice. As it is the LX cantis are good enough. In your position I'd be
    considering a set of aero levers and reading sheldon's articles on getting my cantis working better.

    cheers, clive
     
  12. Tony Raven

    Tony Raven Guest

    Colin <[email protected]> wrote:
    > I've already tried new cables and Aztec pads, but somehow the brakes just don't seem to have the
    > "bite" they once did. Would the Kool-Stop pads really make such a difference? It seems a bit of a
    > faff to be sending brake pads across the Altantic!

    Yes

    >
    > Somebody suggested replacing the levers. This would seem like a cheap option, but I don't
    > understand how this would make a difference. Surely a lever is just a lever?

    No

    >
    > I'm not sure that I would like the complexity of hydraulic brakes. Are spare pads for the Maguras
    > easy to find?
    >

    Yes. They are very nice brakes but probably over the top for your bike.

    > I've received a couple of e-mails mentioning Avid Shorty brakes, available from
    > www.gearshift.co.uk . One suggestion is to use these with WTB "abrasive" pads which are apparently
    > (?) the same as Kool-Stop?
    >

    No. I assume you are probably on 27" wheels. Those rims are hard to come by. Unless you are sure you
    can adapt to 700c rims (brake positioning) you do not want brake pads that will wear away the
    sidewalls of the rim.

    Tony

    http://www.raven-family.com

    "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" George
    Bernard Shaw.
     
  13. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Colin wrote:
    > I've already tried new cables and Aztec pads, but somehow the brakes just don't seem to have the
    > "bite" they once did. Would the Kool-Stop pads really make such a difference? It seems a bit of a
    > faff to be sending brake pads across the Altantic!

    It's really not much of a faff.

    > Somebody suggested replacing the levers. This would seem like a cheap option, but I don't
    > understand how this would make a difference. Surely a lever is just a lever?

    No, one lever can pull more or less cable than another, for a start. Changing levers can make more
    difference than anything else.

    > One suggestion is to use these with WTB "abrasive" pads which are apparently (?) the same as
    > Kool-Stop?

    No, the compound is unique to Kool Stops and Mattsomethingorother

    ~PB
     
  14. "Matt O'Toole" <[email protected]> wrote
    > "Tony Raven" <[email protected]> wrote
    > > Set up properly your cantilevers should be as good (some say better) than v-brakes. Have a look
    > > at Sheldon Brown's setup page at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cantilever-adjustment.html before
    > > you spend
    > any
    > > money. Normally where you have cantilevers you can fit v-brakes unless there is something
    > > oddball about them. You can get drop bar brake levers for v-brakes from Dia Compe (model 287V)
    >
    > Here's another good article:
    >
    > http://www.bontrager.com/keith/rants.asp?id=27
    >
    > It really *is* all in the setup. Pads are important too -- so get some good ones. Kool Stop Salmon
    > are the best, and Kool Stop Black aren't too bad either. Avoid Shimano pads.

    I agree completely. Setup is everything. I've found that if you set the brakes up so that there is
    roughly a 90 degree angle between the straddle wire and a line from the point where the straddle
    wire attaches to the brake and the pivot point of the brake, you get very good stopping power.

    Also second Kool Stop Salmon pads! They are the best; I've been using them for many years (since the
    same pads were made by Scott and called Matthauser). If by any chance you are putting in an order
    for stuff with Sheldon Brown at Harris Cyclery in the US, toss in a couple sets of these pads and
    you won't be dissapointed.

    -Myra
     
  15. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > "A Muzi" <[email protected]> wrote:
    > > If you wish to use V (linear) brakes, there are small cams, similar to
    the
    > > cams found on compound bows, that increase the cable travel at the brake
    end
    > > so your classic levers will pull enough cable to give good performance
    with
    > > these brakes. Not cheap, but they work just fine. Standard equipment on Santana for example.

    <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Considering that multistrand steel cables have an increasingly short life as the radius of a bend
    > decreases, it should be pointed out that is a potential problem with devices such as the Travel
    > Agent. These wind the brake cable around fairly tight turns. I don't have any direct experience
    > with these but I have heard some reports of broken cables attributable to the small radii bend.
    >
    > These things do serve a useful purpose as long as you want to use road levers and linear brakes.
    > But regular inspection would serve the owner well. I think that lubrication at the bends would be
    > a benefit also.

    Ted's right in that multiple installations/removals/reinstallations with an adapter cam are very
    hard on brake wires.

    I haven't seen any problems with one-time installations though.

    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  16. Wondered if anyone could recommend a uk web site to order the Salmon pads from?

    "Just zis Guy, you know?" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On 19 Jan 2003 14:21:59 -0800, [email protected] (Colin) wrote:
    >
    > >I've also been recommended a combination of Suntour SE cantilever brakes with Dia Compe brake
    > >levers that I understand are designed especially to work with cantilever brakes.
    >
    > Got your flameproof suit ready?
    >
    > I bought the SunTour brakes and was roundly chastised for doing so, especially since I bought them
    > from a shop in Bridgewater. I have found them to be excellent, far more effective than the old
    > Weinmanns they replaced (on my mid-80s Claud Butler) especially when going fast in the wet. I have
    > absolutely no complaints. They have also required very little maintenance, even with the Shimano
    > cartridge brakes (Kool Stop Salmons are the thing, really).
    >
    > I had tried every kind of brake shoe under the sun and adjusted the Weinmanns to the nth degree
    > but they never did work terribly well, especially after I moved from 27" to 700c. The difference
    > with the SunTours was startling and immediate.
    >
    > Top Tip! Get the Kool-Stop Salmons first, they might do the job on their own :)
    >
    > Guy
    > ===
    > ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    > dynamic DNS permitting)
    > NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    > work. Apologies.
     
  17. Colin <[email protected]> wrote:
    >I've already tried new cables and Aztec pads, but somehow the brakes just don't seem to have the
    >"bite" they once did. Would the Kool-Stop pads really make such a difference? It seems a bit of a
    >faff to be sending brake pads across the Altantic!

    I have used no other pads that don't either;
    a) provide inadequate "bite".
    b) appear to do nothing in the wet.
    c) abrade the hell out of the rim. or d) wear away to nothing in no time at all.

    Some pads do more than one of the above.
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> flcl?
     
  18. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Gary Brunsdon wrote:
    > Wondered if anyone could recommend a uk web site to order the Salmon pads from?

    It's hard to find the full salmon versions in the UK.

    http://www.edinburgh-bicycle.co.uk/catalogue/index.cfm had them at one time, but don't seem to now.
    Try phoning/emailing them to make sure. The "coloured" versions are not the same. Might be worth
    getting the Dual Compounds (if they're the proper half salmon ones) - which might also be available
    from www.wiggle.co.uk

    If keen, then it's worth ording from Sheldon's. Shipping is $10. They'll probably be no customs
    charge if order restricted to a couple of pairs of pads.

    I wouldn't pin all your hopes on new pads though. Optimising cable and cleaning rims (with meths)
    will be more effective.

    ~PB (UK)
     
  19. Dvt

    Dvt Guest

    Pete Biggs wrote:
    > Colin wrote:
    >> It seems a bit of a faff to be sending brake pads across the Altantic!
    >
    > It's really not much of a faff.

    For those of us not on your island, what is a "faff?"

    Dave dvt at psu dot edu
     
  20. Rory

    Rory Guest

    "Clive George" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > "Colin" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...

    > > I'm not sure that I would like the complexity of hydraulic brakes. Are spare pads for the
    > > Maguras easy to find?
    >
    > Magura hydraulics are one of the simplest brakes it's ever been my pleasure to install.

    Well, you are a better bike mechanic than me, which is quite likely - I only took-up wrenching cuz
    my LBS was so crap, and were ripping me off.

    > Getting the brake piston aligned is the worst bit, and that's only as tedious as adjusting a
    > cantilever brake pad.

    It took me several attempts to get it right, but taking the tyre off really helped align the pads.
    Also - beware rounding-out the allen head bolt that goes into the canti braze-on... DAMHIKIYKOK?

    > And you only need to do it once! No more adjusting angles as the pads wear out - one 2mm allen key
    > does it all. Pads are pull out and clip back in - so easy! No need to adjust left-right bias. No
    > more cable woes.

    I got mine set-up two years ago (9000 miles) and I've done nothing but plop new pads in. Worth the
    effort for the best brakes I've used (Discs are a silly idea on push-bikes...).

    > I've had no difficulty in finding spare magura pads. Harder than normal ones, but not hard enough
    > to be a problem. I'd carry a spare set while touring.

    My LBS has them in stock, inc. kool stop reds, which work great and eventually bed-in and stop
    squeaking.
     
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