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Rim brakes on a touring bike

Old 04-29-20, 07:05 PM
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Chrisp72
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Rim brakes on a touring bike

Hello all!

I wanted to get some opinions on what brakes work for the bike you're riding. I have an older bicycle that uses canti's to stop. Is this enough or should I at least upgrade to V brakes? I've got new Kool Stop pads on my cantis and they're fairly well set so I think it should be decent for loaded touring. I would consider disk brakes for a bikepacking rig but I don't know if they're a good upgrade for the road...
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Old 04-29-20, 07:13 PM
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If it makes economic sense to upgrade to disc brakes, I would approve of your choice. If not, I sort of remember that the v brakes and cantilever brakes worked, more or less. I would add that disc brake pads will be less effective if you let chain lubricant get on them or the rotors. Don't ask me how I know this.
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Old 04-29-20, 07:53 PM
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Do your frame and fork have mounting tabs for disc brakes ?. Are you wanting to buy new wheels with disc hubs ?, plus disc brake specific brake levers, calipers, etc... ?.

Well setup canti’s stop very well. Discs better in wet conditions. My Miyata tourer is a canti/V brake frame and I’d cross the US no problem on this bike.
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Old 04-29-20, 08:14 PM
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As an avid touring cyclist,cantilever brakes worked just fine for me(275lbs) and a fully loaded Surly Long Haul Trucker. Even in the rain, properly set up, rim brakes will do the job hassle free. I realize this is just anecdotal opinion.
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Old 04-29-20, 08:21 PM
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Some of us rode older model bikes when they were new... while I appreciate the disc brakes I have now more than what I had... at the time, I didn't see cantilever brakes as a big encumbrance on my 1992 Cannondale T1000
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Old 04-29-20, 08:25 PM
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If I had cantis that worked ok and wanted to tour and add more weight I'd get a real nice set of v-brakes and travel agents to make them work with my road levers. If the frame had disc tabs or I wanted an excuse to get a new bike I'd totally go disc. But I wouldn't spend the money if I liked the bike I had unless an unpassable deal came up.
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Old 04-29-20, 08:32 PM
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Ditto on cantilevers. I have bikes with cantilever, disc, and a disc front/linear rear. Plus I’ve ridden mountain bikes since the days of cantilever. I’ve done 50mph downhill in the rain off New Found Gap in Tennessee with cantilever and never had a problem. Frankly, it ain’t really the brake that limiting factor. The limit is literally where the rubber meets the road. That doesn’t change with a brake system.

I’ve never found one brake to be vastly superior to any other brake as long as you are comparing them fairly. Expensive brakes work very well. Cheap brakes don’t.
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Old 04-29-20, 08:41 PM
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The only thing I'd say is if you have post mount cantis get some post mount insert pad holders so when your pads wear out you just have to swap the pad inserts, not re-set up the entire pad/post system. Also means you can carry spare pads and swap types, like Salmons in wet mountains or normal pads in the dry. Or grab some canti's with bolt mount pads, since they are way easier to set up.
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Old 04-29-20, 09:17 PM
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I'm another person who believes canilever brakes are fine for touring. We have 7 touring bikes and 1 CX bike in our family; 7 of them have cantis. My wife wanted to try V-brakes on a new bike I was buiding up for her so I set it up with Travel Agents and linear brakes so she could use her road STI shifters. It is not difficult to set up the Tavel Agents, and they work well. They have not casued any significant problems in the 25,000 miles she's put on that bike.. They do seem to stop a little better than my cantilever brakes, but both are more than adequate.

I also agree with Stuart, good brakes are cheap insurance.

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Old 04-29-20, 10:31 PM
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Ditto all of the above. I have 4 road bikes, all with canti's - two racing bikes with Ultegra/105 that work great, my Waterford with Orange Velo Grand Cru that feel as strong as discs, and my Jamis Quest which has lower end Shimano long reach canti's that are only so-so but the pads are several years old. Good quality cantilever brakes are fine for touring, especially with new pads.
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Old 04-30-20, 04:15 AM
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Cantis are fine. I don't necessarily even see v brakes as an upgrade. Good and bad quality brakes are made in most styles. Truth be told I like the old (~1990 vintage) dual pivot 105 brakes on my old road bike as well as any rim brake I have used. If your cantis work well I'd stick with them.

I have grown to like disc brakes in recent years, but have not toured on them yet. If I were to build up or buy a new touring bike today it would probably have discs. The preference isn't so strong that I am likely to abandon any of my existing bikes just to switch to discs though.
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Old 04-30-20, 04:16 AM
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My Lynskey has a rim brake (V brake with Travel Agent for road levers) on front with Koolstop Salmon pads and TRP Spyre disc brake on the rear. Using some resin pads (not the stock TRP pads), I find that the front and rear brakes are comparable in dry conditions. But in wet conditions, the disc is clearly better than the V brake.

I personally think that the brakes are more important on a loaded touring bike than on a bikepacking bike, the bikepacking bike would have less weight on it so brakes do not have to have as much stopping power as the loaded touring bike. Not sure why you think a bike packing bike would need different brakes than a loaded touring bike.

All my bikes except the Lynskey have rim brakes on front and rear, they are good enough for me. Some have canti brakes, some have V brakes and the road bike has side pulls.
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Old 04-30-20, 04:17 AM
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Here we go!
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Old 04-30-20, 04:27 AM
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God bless the rim brakes!
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Old 04-30-20, 06:00 AM
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I just got a disk bike two years ago, after almost four decades of touring and commuting with cantis. I never had a problem with stopping effectiveness after I learned how to adjust them correctly. Disks are a little less finicky, but they still need maintenance.

I join the chorus--it's probably not worthwhile changing the brakes on an existing bike. In my case, the right bike finally came along after years of looking half-heartedly. The brakes weren't the only reason I upgraded my bike, which I'd had for over twenty years.
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Old 04-30-20, 06:08 AM
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One thing I noticed swapping from rims to discs touring was that I needed a big front disc to get rid of heat. But I'm probably a bit of an outlier touring wise. I travel heavy and like descending like a loony. Fast into corners and heavy braking. I turned my 180mm disc blue and burnt the paint off my pads. Up to 203mm now. I ended up with discs because I scored some disc wheels with a Rohloff
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Old 04-30-20, 06:39 AM
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For some extra stopping power I never really even needed, I found that racks are tougher to fit on with disc brakes. You often need a special one. When dirt gets into the brake caliper, it grinds and the noise is an irritation. Other times there's ghost noises. The tires are harder to change, flats tougher to fix--the rotor has to be lined up perfectly or it rubs. The pads are more expensive and not as easy to install. On top of that, disc brakes are more expensive.
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Old 04-30-20, 07:56 AM
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Thank you all for your input...

I see that cantis are still an acceptable brake. I'm not a daredevil with my riding so I think they should do for what I need them for. The frame I have now is set up with rim brakes and no disc brake tabs. I'm not thinking of upgrading as the bike is good enough for me for the time being. I want to wear through a few components first to get a good feel for touring. I have a rim brake front wheel that I would like to use with a Phil Wood hub so I don't want to sell that to upgrade just yet. If at some point down the road I feel a strong need for disc brakes I'll buy a new bike...prob a Trek 520.

This forum and all of you are really helpful for me in deciding what my options are. Thanks again.
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Old 04-30-20, 04:08 PM
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Cantis are fine.
With the advent of Koolstop Salmon pads, I get fantastic, if not better stopping power than with disc brakes. I was able to stop well in wet conditions or with additional weight going down an 8% gradient.
It would be different if you were on a tandem bike. Even if you have disc brakes, you need to stop for a little bit to allow the rotors to cool.

Cantilever or Linear/v-brake work great with Salmon pads when adjusted well. You could opt for disc brakes, but it's entirely up to you! Either way under heavy braking you either will need to stop briefly to let the rim cool or let the rotors cool.
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Old 04-30-20, 04:45 PM
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Cantis will work fine especially with good pads, cables and housing and proper adjustment. If I were to get Cantis again on a bike I would probably go Paul since TRP seems to have stopped making their cantis and I love Paul.

I would rather have discs personally and both of my touring bikes have been disc equipped but properly set up with good parts a canti brake will certainly work and has worked for many riders.
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Old 04-30-20, 06:02 PM
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There are some downsides to discs for touring. Having to pull them off the wheels when you pack is a downer, especially six bolt. Gotta keep an eye on those screws when you are sitting on the concrete outside some airport. But then boxing my bike to go on JAL is a downer anyway, just about everything has to come off to fit in a 203cm box.
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Old 05-01-20, 02:44 PM
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another rider who has ridden and toured on, and does ride, cantis, v brakes and mechanical discs
yes, discs work great and I appreciate how less hand finger pressure = same or stronger braking compared to my cantis , BUT cantis work fine too and like I always bring up, its like downhill skiing--you simply have to have the judgement of what stopping power you have for a given snow and ice surface and know when to rein things in for a given situation to be able to slow down enough for unforeseen things like another skier pulling out in front of you from a narrow side run, or an unseen steep icey pitch that appears....bottom line is that yoiu have to have proper judgement.

same with driving our cars, or riding a motorcycle or whatever.

next topic up--proper braking: the front brake slows us down a lot more than a rear brake, so use the front hard is key, you aint gonna flip your touring bike over--ever.

and do not drag your brakes, use hard applications of both brakes, more force on front wheel, and you will slow down faster AND then release brakes, dont drag. Dragging just heats up everything and you degrade your braking power.
This happens in a car or a motorcycle or a bicycle on long downhills, so no dragging.
Check speed and slow down with a good hard application of both brakes, more on front--let bike run a bit, reapply another hard application of brakes etc. Obviously dont let the bike get going too fast to control--go back to skiing example....cuz then you get into potential trouble.

so sure, I find that with discs I have more wiggle room because of the increased braking power, but hey, lets be realistic, its pretty rare that we are on downhills that we get going fast, so just use judgement and keep speed in control, and all of us have done this with whatever brakes we had on our touring bikes in the past.

and yes, you can overheat discs also, just like you can overcook disc brakes in a car if you drag too long on a long descent....so brake properly and keep things in check, its that simple, even with cantis.
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Old 05-01-20, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
There are some downsides to discs for touring. Having to pull them off the wheels when you pack is a downer, especially six bolt. Gotta keep an eye on those screws when you are sitting on the concrete outside some airport. But then boxing my bike to go on JAL is a downer anyway, just about everything has to come off to fit in a 203cm box.
trev, I've been a lazy b.....rd and never taken the discs off. I do however tape those plastic protector thingees that new bikes come with , onto the disc.
and cross my fingers.
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Old 05-01-20, 03:01 PM
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I did my first touring on a canti bike.
It can be done w/o having a suicidal streak.
There were two things I actively didnít like.
setting up smooth posts can be tedious and frustrating. I also did some bad-weather descents where the cold and rain cooperated both to weaken my hands AND the available braking power.
Not an ideal situation.
The rest of the time, they did well enough.
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Old 05-01-20, 03:56 PM
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Regarding down hillls and overheating brakes, I have not done any long downhills with a disc, but I have done some long downhills with rim brakes. Going to the Sun Road, I stopped twice to feell the rims and one of those times I waited for 5 or 10 minutes for the rims to cool before I continued. And dowhnill out of Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park, stopped and waited for the rims to cool once part of the way down. It is not just discs that overheat.
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