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  1. #1
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    mistakes were made: do i move forward with U brakes?

    I was looking for a higher quality, rigid vintage MTB with more relaxed geometry than the mongoose iboc pro (full deore DX components) that i am using as a donor bike. I saw, bid and bought on ebay an '86 schwinn high sierra that looks to fit me perfect and was exactly what i was looking for. In my excitement, i neglected on crucial detail. The bosses are for roller cam/ U brakes, not cantis!

    After my initial DOH! i started doing some research and am thinking about setting it up with U brakes. there seems to be a lot of differing opinions about whether U brakes are trash or whether they, if properly set, work as well as anything else. I am confident that they will work, because they've worked on a lot of bikes before. But, i've never ridden U brakes before and wanted to get some insight in how the brakes feel. I know cantis and V brakes feel significantly different from one another, and imagine U brakes have their own character as well. So, folks who ride (or more likely) can remember back when they rode U brakes, how do they compare in feel to cantis or v brakes?
    thanks. Here's a pic of the frame in question, just because pics are good. mistakes were made: do i move forward with U brakes?-high-sierra.jpg

  2. #2
    the new Gilbert Grape
    Reputation: laffeaux's Avatar
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    U-brakes work fine. They brake as well as a canti-style brake. The big complaint was that they capture mud better than other styles of brakes - but if you don't rind in mud that is a non-issue (and may not be that big an issue anyway).
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
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    Double U-brakes would be my preferred set-up.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainlyfats View Post
    Double U-brakes would be my preferred set-up.
    seriously?! why? I'd prefer cantis, but i have a good pair and am used to them.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjwall View Post
    seriously?! why? I'd prefer cantis, but i have a good pair and am used to them.
    Tremendous power and great feel. Less flex.

  6. #6
    VENI VEDI BIKI
    Reputation: skankingbiker's Avatar
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    I had a hell of a time setting up a u-brake. Very finicky, but once set properly, seems to work ok.
    Veni Vidi Biki

    I came, I saw, I biked.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by skankingbiker View Post
    I had a hell of a time setting up a u-brake. Very finicky, but once set properly, seems to work ok.
    Suntour or 990? Those take a bit - especially the post-pad or threaded post-pad ones - but most U-brakes are plug and play. The Shimano ones almost seemed invented to save shop assembly time...

  8. #8
    sftrydr
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    The pro's are well documented above, and I wholly agree w the strength aspect.
    My personal take on e'm...As the pads wear, they have a tendency to ride up ever so slightly on the rim, potentially resulting in tyre sidewall slice-blowout.
    Keep a keen eye on e'm, maintain the pads being centered on the rim, you'll be OK

  9. #9
    VRC Illuminati
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    I think U-Brakes are actually easier to set up than cantilever brakes.
    Agreed on the amount of power you can get out of them....though they are a bit on the heavy side and not that attractive to look at.
    No reason you can't get a couple XT U-brakes for cheap though. Put on some fresh Koolstops and you'll be set.
    -eric-

    http://www.rumpfy.com

    Wanted: Syncros 27.2 x 425 seatpost, 26.8 x 400 IRD seatpost

  10. #10
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    thanks for all the replies. this frame is 100% what i'm looking for minus the brake bosses. i was worried they were going to be a deal breaker, but i'm feeling better about investing in building it up after all......i read on sheldon brown's website about the tendency for the pads to ride up onto the tire, so will watch that, also.

  11. #11
    Stokeless Asshat
    Reputation: jeff's Avatar
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    Don't count out roller cams.
    Zip ties? Not on my bike!

    Want:
    650B rims or wheel set. 80's vintage 32 or 36 x 135mm

  12. #12
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    U-brakes work great and as others said are very easy to set up.

  13. #13
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    Been using a u-brake on my beater Scott Team (seat stay) for over 20 plus years. Set 'em and forget 'em. Also chain stay on my old FAT. even though they collect mud, they stop just fine.

    Be not afraid of the U.

  14. #14
    slower than you
    Reputation: rockychrysler's Avatar
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    Ain't nothing wrong with ol' u-brakes that a little fine tuning and a booster can't fix.

    hint: run 'em with v-brake pads and they work even better. that's what I think...

    mistakes were made: do i move forward with U brakes?-6337850962_6aa95086b5_b.jpg
    "Let our people travel light and free on their bicycles." Ed Abbey
    http://www.rockychrysler.com/

  15. #15
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    i no longer fear the U! thanks for the responses. looking forward to this build. frame should arrive later this week. the only new parts i'll need are going to be a front cable hanger and the U brakes.

  16. #16
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    Well now that you feel all warm and fuzzy about the U, I'll muck it up with my experience. I only have one bike with a U (a tandem) so my experience is limited to that, but I just cannot get that thing to work to my satisfaction. I've tried various pads (including Kool Stops, that have never let me down before), various pad adjustments, various cable adjustments, rigged up a brake booster, and even tried a newer wheel with a nicer machined surface. I got a little improvement, but that brake still sucks.

    Granted, I'm picky about brakes (I like them to be able to stop the wheel from moving when called upon), and a tandem is certainly more of a challenge, but I've about given up on that brake. I was going to try giving a roller cam a shot, but we haven't been riding the tandem much this summer and that brake has moved way down on my list of things I need to work on.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville View Post
    Well now that you feel all warm and fuzzy about the U, I'll muck it up with my experience. I only have one bike with a U (a tandem) so my experience is limited to that, but I just cannot get that thing to work to my satisfaction. I've tried various pads (including Kool Stops, that have never let me down before), various pad adjustments, various cable adjustments, rigged up a brake booster, and even tried a newer wheel with a nicer machined surface. I got a little improvement, but that brake still sucks.

    Granted, I'm picky about brakes (I like them to be able to stop the wheel from moving when called upon), and a tandem is certainly more of a challenge, but I've about given up on that brake. I was going to try giving a roller cam a shot, but we haven't been riding the tandem much this summer and that brake has moved way down on my list of things I need to work on.
    Could be too wide, narrow, high, or low (ie outside spec) brake bosses to blame.

    In my experience U brakes are decent-good performers (maybe they can be better on different setups), but limited in their tunability. A roller cam or canti's can be tuned to have more power and better feel I think.

  18. #18
    TrinityRiverKerplunk
    Reputation: unicrown junkie's Avatar
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    U-brakes rock. I have several pairs left in my stash, and have two bikes which I use them on.

    My Shimano U-brakes are modified somewhat. I usually grind down the "ridge" that goes along the length of the brake to a flat surface. These things are way overbuilt unlike my kick-butt IRD's I used to have back in 1990.
    Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....

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