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  1. #1
    CS2
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    Roller Cam or U-Brake

    I have a new project in the works. Looking for any pros, cons or opinions on either using roller cam or U-brakes. I have both on the shelf and a frame waiting.
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

  2. #2
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    Roller Cam 150%! Make sure you have the stepped cam (two profile angles). Set up properly there is no better cable-actuated rim brake.

  3. #3
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    I had a u brake on my first mtn bike and i remember nothing about it.. meaning it did what it had to do w/ no drama. I donīt even remember adjusting the brake.
    WTB: Bomber Z2 1 1/8 steerer, in good to excellent shape OR bomber rebuild kit.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CS2 View Post
    I have a new project in the works. Looking for any pros, cons or opinions on either using roller cam or U-brakes. I have both on the shelf and a frame waiting.
    Depends on the bike right? I mean a classic seat stay mount calls for a roller cam in my opinion; a gary fisher or old ritchey. A chainstay mount though is a different consideration, a ubrake is more apt to that location. Though I do recall a Miele fillet brazed beauty at my LBS in the day that had the ubrake on the seat stay and it was still a gorgeous bike, but would have even been better with a roller cam.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CS2 View Post
    I have a new project in the works. Looking for any pros, cons or opinions on either using roller cam or U-brakes. I have both on the shelf and a frame waiting.
    The Deore and XT U-brakes are excellent, simple brakes. I'd pick them over anything other than WTB. WTB are the only Rollercams worth the effort in my opinion and if you set them up right, are amongst the best brakes ever.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainlyfats View Post
    The Deore and XT U-brakes are excellent, simple brakes. I'd pick them over anything other than WTB. WTB are the only Rollercams worth the effort in my opinion and if you set them up right, are amongst the best brakes ever.

    Best brakes ever? Don't think I'll be trading my hydro discs for them
    I brake for stinkbugs

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Best brakes ever? Don't think I'll be trading my hydro discs for them
    IMO, of course... I've been out of hydro discs since the Juicy era, but I'm not kidding. A properly set up WTB Speedmaster is a thing of almost inexplicable beauty. The combination of light touch, solid feel and reliability just can't be beat.
    Last edited by mainlyfats; 09-06-2019 at 09:08 PM.

  8. #8
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    I usually prefer a roller cam over a u-brake. I always thought the roller cams were easier to set up and more powerful.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainlyfats View Post
    IMO, of course... I've been out of hydro discs since the Juicy era, but I'm not kidding. A properly set up WTB Speedmaster is a thing of almost inexplicable beauty. The combination of light tough, solid feel and reliability just can't be beat.


    Ha ha, I love old bikes and old tech, such beautiful craftsmanship. Working in shops during that era though I thought a good v-brake knocked the pants off any canti, U or roller brake, WTB included. None of them can match the performance of a modern hydro disc though, which is also the most reliable brake I've used. Just my opinion of course.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgltrak View Post
    I usually prefer a roller cam over a u-brake. I always thought the roller cams were easier to set up and more powerful.

    Hmm, I always preferred the U's, though I was never too thrilled with those either. My judgement may have been clouded by working on too many crappy roller cam brakes though.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Hmm, I always preferred the U's, though I was never too thrilled with those either. My judgement may have been clouded by working on too many crappy roller cam brakes though.
    Saw this today... Brought back shop nightmares. Roller Cam or U-Brake-e1823054-c7c8-4870-be29-ff8b3fa50377.jpg
    Last edited by mainlyfats; 09-08-2019 at 12:33 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Ha ha, I love old bikes and old tech, such beautiful craftsmanship. Working in shops during that era though I thought a good v-brake knocked the pants off any canti, U or roller brake, WTB included. None of them can match the performance of a modern hydro disc though, which is also the most reliable brake I've used. Just my opinion of course.
    Nothing that mounts on a cantilever boss ever came close to a WTB cam or a IRD Rotary. Both were night and day better. Modern discs are another story but anything short of that the WTB's were and still are king. There are some other cool brakes from those times as well but all of the great performing ones mounted on the big bosses.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKamp View Post
    Nothing that mounts on a cantilever boss ever came close to a WTB cam or a IRD Rotary. Both were night and day better. Modern discs are another story but anything short of that the WTB's were and still are king. There are some other cool brakes from those times as well but all of the great performing ones mounted on the big bosses.

    Like I said, just my opinion. V's were the pinnacle before hydraulic discs came along in my experience. No experience with the IRD[s though.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  14. #14
    CS2
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    Maybe some details will help. The frame is an 86 Stumpjumper with a SunTour rollercam on the chainstay. I have the original fork but picked up another with U-brake/rollercam mounts. I was thinking about some modern BMX U-brakes. Love the wild anodized colors. But Iím not sure whether I should keep it retro or not. Obviously Stumpjumper Sport models arenít too valuable.
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

  15. #15
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    Hmmmm. Good question. If youíre not ocd and donít mind mismatched brakes, you could do what makes your heart sing. Personally, that would drive me crazy and I would use roller and but you know yourself best.

  16. #16
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    I do appreciate all the comments in this thread as well. Yay team!

  17. #17
    CS2
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    Quote Originally Posted by girlonbike View Post
    Hmmmm. Good question. If youíre not ocd and donít mind mismatched brakes, you could do what makes your heart sing. Personally, that would drive me crazy and I would use roller and but you know yourself best.
    Sadly I am VERY OCD. I do like the idea of matched brakes front and rear. Personally I think U-brakes are a pain to set up correctly. But they look good especially the current generation of BMX brakes.
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CS2 View Post
    But they look good especially the current generation of BMX brakes.
    I bought a set of spendy Revenge sealed bearing BMX U-brakes for my 26" cruiser and they were terrible. Replaced them with Dia-Tech 990 style brakes - not a ton better - until I could find two NOS XT U-brakes (which I now have). I was tempted to try and track down the machinist in Germany making WTB re-pops, but decided in the end to go Shimano.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by girlonbike View Post
    Hmmmm. Good question. If youíre not ocd and donít mind mismatched brakes, you could do what makes your heart sing. Personally, that would drive me crazy and I would use roller and but you know yourself best.
    I always lean towards mismatching everything. It just gives me a warm feeling to look at a mongrel knowing it is dialed and working. Currently i have an aheadset cane creek part on the bottom of the headtube and a shimano 105 race over a tange cup on top. Fork is purple and frame is wildcherry; w/ all possible color combinations those two sure do not match. To top it off, bars are greenish.
    I built the bike... so i make sure it wonīt look like something specced by a designer.

    Forgot to mention i have suntour gold tinted brakes. Seat collar qr is salsa black. Wheel qrs are salsa silver. Cranks are shimano m737 silver.
    And yet i think the result works visually... somehow. I may be wrong.
    WTB: Bomber Z2 1 1/8 steerer, in good to excellent shape OR bomber rebuild kit.

  20. #20
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    From the braking-power perspective, roller cam brakes produce better stopping power. But they have less clearance between the cam blade and tire for snow & mud, which can cause caking. The U-brake is entirely adequate and has more clearance between the arch and the tire, so caking isnít so much of an issue.

    On my Cannondale SM600 I compromised and mounted a U-brake on the back and the rollercam on the front where the clearance between the fork crown and tire was no bet than between the roller cam blade and the tire. Has worked great for 35 years.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  21. #21
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    Another thing to consider with brakes is using Shimano Servowave levers with cams. Some cam profiles (wtb) are designed for more brake movement at the start of pull and then less as the pull continues. That is the big hump on the cam. Some profiles donít have that hump like the majority of the suntour ones. Servowave and wtb I have always felt were a horrible combination. Dia Comp Ss-5 or SS7s were fantastic. The important part is getting the brake pad to the rim and and then build the power in the correct part of the cam.

    UBrakes donít have that non linear pull other then the IRD rotarys. The Servowave works well with UBrakes because the Servowave pulls more cable at the first part of the pull and then less as the lever gets close to the bar.

    So basically make sure to match the correct type of lever to the caliper. Not all combinations feel or work well together. And some work very poorly if you run the reach adjuster in.

  22. #22
    CS2
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKamp View Post
    Another thing to consider with brakes is using Shimano Servowave levers with cams. Some cam profiles (wtb) are designed for more brake movement at the start of pull and then less as the pull continues. That is the big hump on the cam. Some profiles donít have that hump like the majority of the suntour ones. Servowave and wtb I have always felt were a horrible combination. Dia Comp Ss-5 or SS7s were fantastic. The important part is getting the brake pad to the rim and and then build the power in the correct part of the cam.

    UBrakes donít have that non linear pull other then the IRD rotarys. The Servowave works well with UBrakes because the Servowave pulls more cable at the first part of the pull and then less as the lever gets close to the bar.

    So basically make sure to match the correct type of lever to the caliper. Not all combinations feel or work well together. And some work very poorly if you run the reach adjuster in.
    Thanks for the heads up. I did not realize that. I thought cantilevers, u-brakes and roller cam all used the same lever.
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by CS2 View Post
    Thanks for the heads up. I did not realize that. I thought cantilevers, u-brakes and roller cam all used the same lever.
    You can use any lever, bit some will definitely feel better then others. Just like you can use cantilever levers with v brakes. They donít work well because the cable pull is off, but they do work. Shimano brakes work great with Servowave levers but other calipers from the same era not so much.

  24. #24
    CS2
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKamp View Post
    You can use any lever, bit some will definitely feel better then others. Just like you can use cantilever levers with v brakes. They donít work well because the cable pull is off, but they do work. Shimano brakes work great with Servowave levers but other calipers from the same era not so much.
    @AKamp I have a several sets of Deer Head XT levers and some of the later Devore II levers. Maybe one set of Dia Compe but Iím not too sure. Specialized specíd roller cam and U-brakes with both of those levers. One better than the other?
    A garage full of steel frames means happiness.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by CS2 View Post
    @AKamp I have a several sets of Deer Head XT levers and some of the later Devore II levers. Maybe one set of Dia Compe but Iím not too sure. Specialized specíd roller cam and U-brakes with both of those levers. One better than the other?
    If you are using the roller cam the dear head levers will feel better. The Deore levers will be fine with the u brakes. It will allow you to set them up a little further away from the rim and give a little more mud clearance.

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