Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

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DaveP
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Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby DaveP » 24 Apr 2016, 4:41pm

This is intended as a perfectly straightforward question, inspired by nothing more than a desire to learn :)
When I returned to cycling in the late nineties the bike I bought had cantilever brakes. They worked well, as I recall, but I found them desperately tedious when it came to maintenance.
A bit later aftermarket v brakes became available and were much touted as the most powerful stoppers ever, etc. I took the plunge, was delighted, and never looked back.
I have since realised that the cantilever design still has its aficionados, despite much recent development in cycle brakes. I'm hoping that an enthusiast will be kind enough to enlighten me...
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully...

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Si
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby Si » 24 Apr 2016, 4:56pm

If you are running STi levers it is much easier to use cantis than Vs as with Vs you either have to go for the short ones that can interfere with some mudguards or large tyres, or you need some sort of adapter. The adapter solution can work fine for some, but I never got on with it.

You also have to remember that there are cantis, and there are cantis......those shimano low-pro ones are awful, but others, if set up properly can be more or less as good as Vs.

As for setting up cantis - not really found it an issue.....if the particular brake that you have is a decent one. However setting up the shimano lo-pro ones is a PITA as they just don't work that well no matter what you do with them IME.

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Lance Dopestrong
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby Lance Dopestrong » 24 Apr 2016, 5:01pm

They're fine, easy to set up once you know how.
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Brucey
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby Brucey » 24 Apr 2016, 5:24pm

it is a fair enough question I suppose.

I agree with Si re compatibility with various road STIs, although the full implications of the latest 'New Super SLR' lever pull are perhaps not yet 100% clear in this respect. NSSLR has a longer cable pull than previous road levers, which may well tip the balance in favour of mini-Vs for some applications. If the bosses are mounted a little lower than normal (about 5mm), it may be possible to specify full V's with NSSLR levers.

CJ has never liked mini-Vs, saying that they compromised mudguard clearance, gave a spongy feel, and would get knocked off-centre too easily etc.

But my main reason for liking cantis over Vs or mini-Vs is that the MA is adjustable with most cantis (all except wide profile ones), whereas it isn't adjustable in the same way with any other kind of brake. This adjustability is arguably their Achilles' heel, too, because not everyone understands how to set them up correctly.

One of the shortcomings of mid or low profile cantis is that MA of the brake varies as the brake blocks wear. However if these brakes are run with holders for insert-type V-blocks (which are available in post-mount as well as bolt-mount) then the inserts are easily replaced when they have worn ~2mm (as with good V brakes) thus the variation in MA is far less than with chunkier brake blocks.

So once insert-type V-pad holders are fitted, the maintenance requirement is very similar to that of V brakes, but (unlike V's) they can be set up to give the feel/MA that you prefer to have.

Ultimately I guess the brakes are not likely to be quite as powerful as V brakes simply because (even at the same system MA) the cable tension (and consequent friction losses) is/are greater.

It occurs to me that most decent cantis and Vs use a kind of 'dummy boss' in that there is bushing part to the brake pivot that mounts over the brake boss and doesn't rotate with the rest of the brake arm. Quite small differences in the way this is engineered and lubricated make a significant difference to any brake. However there is no real reason why the dummy boss/bushing shouldn't be a larger diameter than it is, with a larger hole up the middle. This (when combined with some means of indexing the adjustment) would allow the actual pivot centre of the brake arms to be moved away from the brake boss centre. This would allow further variations in brake MA and (on road bikes) a welcome departure from the current (somewhat absurdly wide MTB-hangover) boss spacing.

cheers
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531colin
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby 531colin » 24 Apr 2016, 6:07pm

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Vantage
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby Vantage » 24 Apr 2016, 6:10pm

Along with the other posts regarding compatibility issues surrounding v-brakes and sti levers, I just don't like the look of v-brakes. They're fugly imo.
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gaz
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby gaz » 24 Apr 2016, 7:59pm

My cantis stop me predictably. As a result I've never tried Vs. It ain't broke, I don't plan to fix it.
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MikeDee
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Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby MikeDee » 24 Apr 2016, 8:19pm

531colin wrote:
Brucey wrote:..........One of the shortcomings of mid or low profile cantis is that MA of the brake varies as the brake blocks wear. However if these brakes are run with holders for insert-type V-blocks (which are available in post-mount as well as bolt-mount) then the inserts are easily replaced when they have worn ~2mm (as with good V brakes) thus the variation in MA is far less than with chunkier brake blocks. .............


Or, put a barrel adjuster in the straddle wire and use the whole brake block (have i been in yorkshire too long?)

Image

Low-profile cantis are the worst afflicted by loss of MA due to pad wear. A half-day roughstuff can have users reaching for their Allen keys.


Beware of pad dive! Put a buddy of mine over the handlebars on Mothers Trail on Mt. Diablo back in the day.

I kind of wonder why they never came out with an adjustable leverage brake lever, like Avid Speed Dials on MTB levers.

scottg
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby scottg » 25 Apr 2016, 1:29am

If you are bad at maths, or the phrase "mechanical advantage" gives you pause,
Skip cantilevers.

More than any human should know about cantilevers is covered here.

http://www.circleacycles.com/cantilevers/
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby Brucey » 25 Apr 2016, 8:12am

scottg wrote:If you are bad at maths, or the phrase "mechanical advantage" gives you pause,
Skip cantilevers.

More than any human should know about cantilevers is covered here.

http://www.circleacycles.com/cantilevers/


use with caution; the relative values of canti brake power (one to another) are correct on that site, and it is a useful calculator. But last time I checked, their idea of 'mechanical advantage' was wrong by a factor of two, i.e. according to those values;

'work in at the brake lever' x2 = 'work out at the caliper'

-which is a nonsense situation, in the same vein as perpetual motion machines and the like.

It would also lead you to suppose that a moderately good canti brake has an MA that is about double that of a dual pivot caliper, which is most certainly not the case.

cheers
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531colin
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby 531colin » 25 Apr 2016, 8:40am

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edocaster
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby edocaster » 26 Apr 2016, 12:13am

Brucey wrote:
So once insert-type V-pad holders are fitted, the maintenance requirement is very similar to that of V brakes, but (unlike V's) they can be set up to give the feel/MA that you prefer to have.



I thought I was being smart by fitting road pad holders rather than have to fiddle with the smooth post cantilevers every time I changed a pad.

Unfortunately, the grub screw that holds the pad from sliding out backwards is blocked by parts of the canti (for the front brakes). So I still have to realign everything!

Bicycler
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby Bicycler » 26 Apr 2016, 12:24am

Mud/guard clearance with very wide tyres. Also they used to take brake blocks with a decent amount of rubber on them. Aesthetically I think they look better than v-brakes too.

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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby blackbike » 26 Apr 2016, 12:47am

I can do all my own bike maintenance and have taught myself how to do it. With the right tools nothing seems difficult.

But I could never master the mysterious art of getting cantilever brakes to work well.

So I have eradicated them from my bikes.

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531colin
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Re: Why do some folk like cantilever brakes?

Postby 531colin » 26 Apr 2016, 6:47am

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