Cantilever Brakes: How tight do you like your brake pull?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Cantilever Brakes: How tight do you like your brake pull?

    All you SS'ers with cantilever style brakes...

    How tight do you like your brake lever pull? All the friends that I ride with have their brake levers pretty slack to engage the brakes. I can't give an exact measurement, but I'd say roughly around a little less than half of the space between the lever and grip.

    I personally like my brake lever to be very tight and almost hairpin like... Maybe that's a recipe for disaster, I don't know.

    Are there any advantages or disadvantages to either? Would one or the other do any harm our cause additional wear on brake components?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    IdontShootPeopleAnyMore
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    I occasionally ride an old GF with canti's and I have to say that when properly toe-ed in I like them to be very tight...

    Since by nature they are going to be high in modulation and low in power it helps to have them tight incase u really need to stop fast... which may or may not happen...

    I have yet to crash due to them but have had some really close calls...

    And no they will not casue harm to your brake components to be tighter... just maybe more pad wear, rim wear and cable stretch... but ull get that anyways just by using ur brakes...
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  3. #3
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    Only thing to remember if running canti's or V's real tight to the rim, is have some slack built into your barrel adjusters so you can dial them out on the trails if you whap a rim. If your adjusters are screwed down tight, then you'll have to break out a allen key to loosen up your brakes.

  4. #4
    Yo.
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    Do you mean old-school, straddle-cable, cyclocross cantilevers, or "modern", V-brake, linear-pull cantilevers? Not that it makes a ton of difference, but SSer's can be a picky bunch

    I think answers are going to vary a lot due to hardware and personal preference.

    Personally, I run an Avid Ultimate setup - Single Digit calipers, paired with Speed Dial levers. I have them set to contact the rim when the long part of the lever blade is about 10-15 degrees from parallel to the bar, with the speed dial adjuster set to about the middle of the range, and when I am applying the maximum amount of force, i.e. the brake lever body is starting to bend, and/or the seatstays and fork blades are starting to visibly bow outwards, the lever blade is about parallel to the bar; I think this point is pretty close to half of the available travel in the lever, as you describe your friends' setups.

    I find that if I have my brakes set to on/off, as it sounds like you do, modulation becomes more difficult, and I can't take advantage of the mechanical advantage that v-brakes offer, which translates into less braking power overall.

    I imagine that running your setup "too loose" can lead to bottoming out the lever on the grip, which would translate into a decreased maximum braking force, and require more frequent cable retensioning as pads and rims wear.

    I can't imagine that either way is going to significantly impact wear and tear on your components, unless you get a lot of material embedded in your brake pads; in theory, since you're not applying as much force with the on/off setup, you're not grinding the rims down as much, and you might realize longer rim/pad life, all else remaining equal.

    Sheldon Brown has a good article on cantilever adjustment, BTW.

    Bottom line, if you like the feel, and you stop when you need to, there's no need to change. IMHO.
    Last edited by Slow Eddie; 06-10-2010 at 09:24 AM.
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  5. #5
    Out spokin'
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    Quote Originally Posted by byoo79
    All you SS'ers with cantilever style brakes...

    How tight do you like your brake lever pull? All the friends that I ride with have their brake levers pretty slack to engage the brakes. I can't give an exact measurement, but I'd say roughly around a little less than half of the space between the lever and grip.

    I peIfrsonally like my brake lever to be very tight and almost hairpin like... Maybe that's a recipe for disaster, I don't know.

    Are there any advantages or disadvantages to either? Would one or the other do any harm our cause additional wear on brake components?

    Thanks in advance!
    If you're talking about lever engagement point, this is 100% personal preference. I base my preference on comfort and whatever affords my hands the least amount of fatigue on long descents. Size of hands, power of brake system, position & shape of lever all come into play.

    No difference in brake component wear in any case.

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  6. #6
    master blaster
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    i like most brakes tight but i keep my cantis a bit looser. it also depends on the levers. most of my lever or shorter, but my cantis are pauls and are pretty long so it works best a bit loose.

  7. #7
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    I like mine tight. In fact, I have to let the air out of my front tire to get it out for transporting.

  8. #8
    Yo.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkie
    I like mine tight. In fact, I have to let the air out of my front tire to get it out for transporting.
    Even if you unhook the noodle/straddle cable? Man, that is tight.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Eddie
    Even if you unhook the noodle/straddle cable? Man, that is tight.
    Probably cause his cable is so tight, he cant unhook the noodle even if he squeezes the brakes together!

  10. #10
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    I like them very loose,two thirds of lever travel before they engage.

  11. #11
    Eli Broccoli
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    i run the front pretty slack and the rear touchy tight just in case the front isn't going to do hte job

  12. #12
    master blaster
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    i ride with all my brakes pretty tight but with how the paul lever sit far from the bar i have them loose like stated above.
    <img src="https://www.definitivecycles.com.au/images/Paul_Canti_lever_thumb.jpg">

  13. #13
    Ariolimax columbianus
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    your hands are stronger with the lever closer to the bar.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LIFECYCLE
    I like them very loose,two thirds of lever travel before they engage.
    ^^^ this.

    --Sparty
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  15. #15
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    If your brakes work then why is it an issue if you have them set up with the lever close to the bar.Stops your hands cramping,you can use one or two fingers and trials riders prefer it.With v brakes buckled wheels are not so much of a issue and mud wont irritate you as you scrape your way down the trail.Plus small animals can squeeze through without getting hurt,and small people aswell.

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