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Touring Bikes with Cantilever Brakes

Old 10-14-22, 08:50 AM
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elmo449
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Touring Bikes with Cantilever Brakes

So, I'm looking to buy a touring bike with a number of different features. Steel frame, mounts to handle front and rear racks, drop bars with bar end shifters, good clearance for tires. So far so good, there are lots of options with all of that. However, where I'm struggling is finding brands designed for cantilever brakes. It seems like they've all gone to discs, and if they had rim brake models those have been discontinued.

Surly Disc Trucker (RIP LHT...)
Masi Giramondo
Kona Sutra
Trek 520
Salsa Marrakesh
Fuji Touring

all seem like lovely bikes, but they're all intended to work with disc brakes. So, is anyone able to recommend some brands I might have missed that still design for canti? Failing that, could you recommend any older models that would be easy to find secondhand?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 10-14-22, 09:09 AM
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Lots of vintage bikes out there with cantilever brakes. Here are some to look for

Trek 520 and 720
Schwinn Voyageur
Miyata 1000
Specialized Sequoia
Centurion Pro Tour
Raleigh Portage
Bridgestone RT-1
Fuji Saratoga
Panasonic PT-5000
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Old 10-14-22, 09:12 AM
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Is there a reason why you don't want discs? Just curious.

There is a reason you don't find new touring bike with cantis. Having lived with both cantis and discs I find discs superior in just about all ways. I have found the braking power and feel better and the maintenance less frequent. Also I have worn out quite a few rims with rim brakes over the years, This doesn't happen with disc brakes.

As was mentioned there are plenty of slightly older models to choose from if that is your preference.
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Old 10-14-22, 09:13 AM
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Here is a link to a long running vintage touring bike thread. https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...ing-bikes.html
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Old 10-14-22, 09:15 AM
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First, I wouldn't worry too much about the braking system. They'll both work.

But if you insist, more Long Haul Truckers and 520s have been sold than perhaps all the others added together. Logically, there will be more of those models on the secondhand market. I suspect the REI Novara Randonee/ADV 3.1 is next in volume. The good news is that you can look for any or all of those in your size on craigslist, etc., for six months before next year's touring bike models are likely to get to the stores. So look for rim brakes in that period, buy one if you find it; if not, go buy what's available new.

Happy riding!
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Old 10-14-22, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
But if you insist, more Long Haul Truckers and 520s have been sold than perhaps all the others added together. Logically, there will be more of those models on the secondhand market.
My money is on this.
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Old 10-14-22, 10:26 AM
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You might consider a Surly Crosscheck. Not technically a touring bike, but...
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Old 10-14-22, 11:21 AM
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Gunnar/Waterford
Rodriguez
Curtlo
TrueNorth
Rivendell
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Old 10-14-22, 12:36 PM
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Another good one is the Soma Saga. I have a pre-disc Saga with Paul touring cantilevers, and like it a lot. 😎

I can understand the enthusiasm for disc brakes, but I'm not in a big hurry to get them. 😉
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Old 10-14-22, 01:02 PM
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Surly Pack Rat can be used as a touring bike.
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Old 10-14-22, 03:16 PM
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Keep your eyes out for used. Once the manufacturers in unison shift to something else, it is very unlikely that they will go in reverse. I think you will also find that though axle will be the only choice except for a few that have a Rohloff rear hub instead.
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Old 10-14-22, 06:24 PM
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Thanks very much for the advice and suggestions everyone! I'm still looking through all the examples but already seeing some interesting options that I missed before. It seems like the clear consensus is that I should forget about the big manufacturers and focus on getting something secondhand, so I'll do that. In the past I've had trouble finding a used bike because I'm very tall, and my size rare. However, having some specific models to look for will definitely help the search.
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Old 10-14-22, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Is there a reason why you don't want discs? Just curious.


There is a reason you don't find new touring bike with cantis. Having lived with both cantis and discs I find discs superior in just about all ways. I have found the braking power and feel better and the maintenance less frequent. Also I have worn out quite a few rims with rim brakes over the years, This doesn't happen with disc brakes.


As was mentioned there are plenty of slightly older models to choose from if that is your preference.
There are just a few minor annoyances with discs that add up and leave me wanting to try the other options. The main one is noise. I've had 3 disc brake bikes, and I could not get any of them to be quiet consistently. I've tried cleaning and replacing pads and rotors, and had bike shops look at them. On a tour I don't bother to carry cleaning supplies, so I end up just putting up with it. Also, the disc is an extra step if I need to replace a broken spoke or pack the bike. I get that disc gives better braking, but I don't think the difference is that large, and I'm not riding aggressively on a loaded touring bike anyway. I've also been reading good things about wheels like the Ryde Andra, designed for heavily loaded rim braking, and I'm honestly curious to try them (and other rim related products) and see if the reputation is deserved, or just good marketing. I'm not really worried about wearing out rims, but maybe that's a lesson I need to learn the hard way
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Old 10-14-22, 09:17 PM
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unlimited budget? frame builder for a custom frame.
otherwise look on ebay for complete 2nd-hand touring bikes.

or buy a frame a build up the way you want.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/334568700934
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Old 10-15-22, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by elmo449 View Post
There are just a few minor annoyances with discs that add up and leave me wanting to try the other options. The main one is noise. I've had 3 disc brake bikes, and I could not get any of them to be quiet consistently. I've tried cleaning and replacing pads and rotors, and had bike shops look at them. On a tour I don't bother to carry cleaning supplies, so I end up just putting up with it. Also, the disc is an extra step if I need to replace a broken spoke or pack the bike. I get that disc gives better braking, but I don't think the difference is that large, and I'm not riding aggressively on a loaded touring bike anyway. I've also been reading good things about wheels like the Ryde Andra, designed for heavily loaded rim braking, and I'm honestly curious to try them (and other rim related products) and see if the reputation is deserved, or just good marketing. I'm not really worried about wearing out rims, but maybe that's a lesson I need to learn the hard way
Frankly, I wouldn’t agree that disc brakes give superior braking. In my experience disc brakes give about the same braking as rim brakes. There’s really no noticeable difference. I even have bikes with disc front and rim rear where there is no difference in function or brake feel. I’ve never been in any situation where I thought the brakes wouldn’t stop me…even in high speed mountain descents in rain storms.

I would also suggest you look at one other line of bikes: Cannondale touring bikes. I’ve owned steel touring bikes and Cannondales. The Cannondales are far better touring bikes than any steel bike I’ve owned or tested. The “stiff” ride becomes much less so when the bike is loaded and the bike handles better because it is stiffer. I’ve never been able to climb out of saddle on a steel bike because the bike flexes too much. That’s not a problem on a Cannondale.

Yes, yes, I “know” just like everyone says (incorrectly) that steel can be welded by the village smithy while you are entertained by his lovely daughter under the shade of a spreading chestnut tree but that is simply not true. Aluminum can be welded as a temporary repair by anyone with MIG welder just as steel can be. Any weld to fix a bicycle should be considered to be temporary no matter which metal is used. A frame repair is usually due to a crack in the material. If the aluminum or steel cracks, there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Simply welding over the break isn’t a long term solution.

And, just to be clear, I’ve broken two steel frames and two aluminum frames. Both aluminum frames had more mileage on them before they broke than the steel frames did. One of those steel frames broke multiple times…the steer tube broke at the crown, the chainstay cracked at the bridge, the rear dropout broke, and the chainstays cracked again above the welded repair.
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Old 10-15-22, 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by elmo449 View Post
Thanks very much for the advice and suggestions everyone! I'm still looking through all the examples but already seeing some interesting options that I missed before. It seems like the clear consensus is that I should forget about the big manufacturers and focus on getting something secondhand, so I'll do that. In the past I've had trouble finding a used bike because I'm very tall, and my size rare. However, having some specific models to look for will definitely help the search.
Older canti-equipped bikes can commonly be found in sizes up to 25"/64cm. Taller than that is a crapshoot so it helps to know what you're looking for. I wanted an '80s tourer and found a very nice Nishiki Cresta GT in 25". Up until about '87 most road bikes in the U.S. market used 27" wheels and those produced later normally have 700C wheels.

If you need a frame taller than 25"/64cm then probably older Cannondale (T700, T1000) and Raleigh (Alyeska and some others) touring models might have something to fit you. Good luck!
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Old 10-15-22, 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Frankly, I wouldn’t agree that disc brakes give superior braking. In my experience disc brakes give about the same braking as rim brakes. There’s really no noticeable difference. I even have bikes with disc front and rim rear where there is no difference in function or brake feel. I’ve never been in any situation where I thought the brakes wouldn’t stop me…even in high speed mountain descents in rain storms.

I would also suggest you look at one other line of bikes: Cannondale touring bikes. I’ve owned steel touring bikes and Cannondales. The Cannondales are far better touring bikes than any steel bike I’ve owned or tested. The “stiff” ride becomes much less so when the bike is loaded and the bike handles better because it is stiffer. I’ve never been able to climb out of saddle on a steel bike because the bike flexes too much. That’s not a problem on a Cannondale.

Yes, yes, I “know” just like everyone says (incorrectly) that steel can be welded by the village smithy while you are entertained by his lovely daughter under the shade of a spreading chestnut tree but that is simply not true. Aluminum can be welded as a temporary repair by anyone with MIG welder just as steel can be. Any weld to fix a bicycle should be considered to be temporary no matter which metal is used. A frame repair is usually due to a crack in the material. If the aluminum or steel cracks, there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Simply welding over the break isn’t a long term solution.

And, just to be clear, I’ve broken two steel frames and two aluminum frames. Both aluminum frames had more mileage on them before they broke than the steel frames did. One of those steel frames broke multiple times…the steer tube broke at the crown, the chainstay cracked at the bridge, the rear dropout broke, and the chainstays cracked again above the welded repair.

Like your village smithy story gets more intriguing and gets added embellishments with every retelling, I too gain more and more experience from disc brakes with every new bike and set of brakes I buy.

I wonder if in ten years time the village has gained a mariachi band and a cowboy gunfight one can indulge in whilst waiting their bike frame being forge welded with damascus steel. Time will only tell.

Anyhoo, it's possible (though unlikely) to get a permanent fix for a steel frame on the road. However that's not the case for aluminum as you'd need to heat treat the whole frame. But that's beside the point.

As for Disc brakes having more braking power, I'm sure we're discussing accuracy of braking and not in fact absolute braking power which we all know can be achieved with any brake on the market as well as with a long stick.

In terms of accuracy or modulation or whatever you want to call it, in my experience mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors are on par with very good rim brakes, eg. ultegra dual pivots. With 203mm rotors the mechanical disc brakes of course take the lead. Cantilevers don't come close to the best rim brakes and are in fact probably the least accurate rim brake out there.

With hydraulics you get brakes which are bad (SRAM in general), brakes which are very good indeed and far better than any rim brake on the planet (magura MT models for example) and then there are brakes where the performance and accuracy is nothing short of otherworldly (Shimano GRX). I'm rarely blown away by anything bike related because, well, it's just bikes. But the GRX brakes are just ridiculously good. So good in fact that I've almost crashed multiple times because of them. They're so confidence inspiring and recoverable from skids that I've frequently ridden faster than my skills / reaction times allow for only to be saved by the brakes in question.

I mean One finger panic brake to a full stop rear lift from the hoods type of power but still accurate enough to feather on loose sand, wet leaves, gravel on asphalt with no issues whatsoever. I kinda want them on my mountain bike.

Makes me angry when I'm forced to use mechanical fisc brakes on my disc trucker. If GRX came with a tripke I'd swap in a heartbeat.
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Old 10-15-22, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by elmo449 View Post
... I've also been reading good things about wheels like the Ryde Andra, designed for heavily loaded rim braking, and I'm honestly curious to try them (and other rim related products) and see if the reputation is deserved, or just good marketing. I'm not really worried about wearing out rims, but maybe that's a lesson I need to learn the hard way
Usually when you read good things about the Ryde Andra 30 rims, you are reading about the CSS version of the rims. That has an extra hard braking surface that wears forever. I have those rims on my heavy duty touring bike, and the braking surface is as good as new on a nine year old bike.

Now the bad news. Ryde stopped making the CSS version of the rims several years ago. I learned that when I wanted to buy another pair of rims with CSS braking surface. There was not much demand for them with everybody switching to disc brakes, so they stopped making them. Any remaining CSS rims are extremely hard to find.

There are plenty of other very strong rims that in my opinion are as good as an Andra non-CSS rim to choose from. I used Velocity Dyad rims on my light touring bike that I built up five years ago. That is a good 700c rim for touring. Velocity has a good chart for which rims are best based on your desired tire width.
https://www.velocityusa.com/tech/rims/

But, if you are going to buy rims, you should first decide if you want to run tubeless tires or not so you get the type of rim you want for your tires.
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Old 10-15-22, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by elmo449 View Post
... In the past I've had trouble finding a used bike because I'm very tall, and my size rare. However, having some specific models to look for will definitely help the search.
Thorn Nomad Mk III can be fitted with canti brakes (or V brakes) or disc. But they are not cheap. If you are in USA, the strong dollar makes them a bit cheaper now they they were in the past.
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/search/?...%20mk3&geoc=US

They have a few discontinued Nomad Mk II models in larger sizes that have not been sold yet. They can be fitted with V brakes but the Mk II is a Rohloff only bike with 26 inch wheels, I suspect you are not interested in that. The front brake can be a V brake but not a canti brake due to the way they built it.
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/search/?...%20mk2&geoc=US

The Nomads are heavy bikes, but if you are a large person, they are quite stiff and can carry a load without feeling like a wet noodle. I have loaded up a LOT of stuff on my Nomad Mk II and it handled a load quite well.

I assume you are in USA. If you order a frame or bike from them, you might have to pay customs duty when it arrives in USA.

If an expensive bike is not a problem for you, you could contact Co-Motion or some of the other custom builders in USA. A gal I used to work with really loved her Rodriguez.
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Old 10-15-22, 07:01 AM
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Your choice is and should ultimately what makes you happy. I can see the noise issue more so than anything else being a good reason to avoid discs since you find it to be an issue for you.

Originally Posted by elmo449 View Post
There are just a few minor annoyances with discs that add up and leave me wanting to try the other options. The main one is noise. I've had 3 disc brake bikes, and I could not get any of them to be quiet consistently. I've tried cleaning and replacing pads and rotors, and had bike shops look at them. On a tour I don't bother to carry cleaning supplies, so I end up just putting up with it.
I haven't found then to be worse than cantis in that regard. Maybe it is a matter of pad choice, brake usage habits, or just dumb luck, but I have had very little problem with the dreaded disc squeal. Also I have found that cantis require a fair amount of fiddling with adjustment including toe in to avoid noise (again depending on pad choice, brake choice, and other factors). The bottom line is that for me the choice was about a wash between the bikes I have owned with discs and with cantis when it came to squeal.

Also, the disc is an extra step if I need to replace a broken spoke or pack the bike.
I have never bothered to take the discs off when shipping (maybe I should, but Ive never had a problem). The broken spoke thing is kind of a stretch unless you break a lot of spokes. It takes what, a few minutes to take a disc off given how frequently you need to do it I wouldn't sweat that.

I get that disc gives better braking, but I don't think the difference is that large, and I'm not riding aggressively on a loaded touring bike anyway. I've also been reading good things about wheels like the Ryde Andra, designed for heavily loaded rim braking, and I'm honestly curious to try them (and other rim related products) and see if the reputation is deserved, or just good marketing. I'm not really worried about wearing out rims, but maybe that's a lesson I need to learn the hard way
I am not up to date on these, but aren't most of the Ryde Andras sold for ebikes and built up with discs? In any case I would think pretty much any rim can be buily up as a disc wheel.

Any way, there is no reason not to buy what you prefer. I just figured that I sound off on my experiences in case they might be useful to you (or more likely someone else considering the same choice). You may be best off tring to find a nice lightly used bike of the model you like, buy custom, or buy something that isn't a pure touring bike. Personally I really don't like pure touring bikes so something less truck like would be on my list. Even when I packed pretty heavy I didn't care for them and not that I pack MUCH lighter I am more inclined away from them than ever. If shopping today I'd buy a gravel bike myself. It sounds like you are more interested in a pure touring bike though. Just maybe something like a crosscheck might suit you though.
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Old 10-15-22, 07:09 AM
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mr tall guy, ya finding a large used frame is always going to be harder, just as finding xs stuff, so you are up against that from the get go.
bottom line, set up alerts for extra large or whatever size frame details you need, but be realistic that its hit and miss already for used touring bikes, exponentially less so with the extreme sizes.

add surly troll and ogre to your list, but you would have to do all the conversions to dropbar and all that stuff, so added expense and perhaps not your thing doing stuff on your own to safe money.
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Old 10-15-22, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
mr tall guy, ya finding a large used frame is always going to be harder, just as finding xs stuff, so you are up against that from the get go.
bottom line, set up alerts for extra large or whatever size frame details you need, but be realistic that its hit and miss already for used touring bikes, exponentially less so with the extreme sizes.
Is that true? Maybe it is for bikes? In general when merchandise sells out the popular sizes are gone first and the ends of the bell curve are all that is left for a while. I know that it is pretty common when pulling down the size pulldown list on an item that medium and large are sold out and there are plenty of XXS, XS, XXL, and XXXL. Whats sizes are popular may depend on what the item is. Obviously how well they targert the numbers they make to what they actually sell is a big factor as well.

I remember when my daughter was young I used to buy specialiized sport stuff really cheap because the end of a season or model year they always had a surplus of XXS or XS. We used to be able to get her Mountain Surf kayaking stuff for crazy cheap at the end of the season at their home store. I got her bike clothes and hiking stuff at pretty good prices as well.
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Old 10-15-22, 08:20 AM
  #23  
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Well, there is this - https://www.bikesdirect.com/products...ng-bikes-v.htm It has cantis. I may need to get out the popcorn at the mention of this company, but the bikes are just fine..
@staehpj1 - how do you wear out a rim using rim brakes? Haven't heard of that before, but it is entirely possible i guess.
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Old 10-15-22, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
Like your village smithy story gets more intriguing and gets added embellishments with every retelling, I too gain more and more experience from disc brakes with every new bike and set of brakes I buy.

Anyhoo, it's possible (though unlikely) to get a permanent fix for a steel frame on the road. However that's not the case for aluminum as you'd need to heat treat the whole frame. But that's beside the point.
That’s not “beside the point”. The reason people buy steel frames for touring is because of the fear of breaking a frame. They still think…after more then 40 years since the introduction of aluminum frames and nearly ubiquitous usage in mountain biking for many of those 40 years…that aluminum is somehow “delicate”. Millions of aluminum mountain bikes have be used…and most definitely abused…throughout the decades and they have survived.

As to a “permanent repair” on steel, if the steel has cracked for some reason, simple welding it is not addressing the reason for the crack. There is some underlying flaw in the metal and the weld will likely break in the future…just like an aluminum weld might break. Or might not. In either case, the repair should be considered temporary. A steel tube might be replaced but that would be a much larger job and probably wouldn’t be worth the cost in a production steel bike.

As for Disc brakes having more braking power, I'm sure we're discussing accuracy of braking and not in fact absolute braking power which we all know can be achieved with any brake on the market as well as with a long stick.
I have no idea what you mean by “accuracy”. If you mean stopping where you want to stop, I’ve never had a rim brake bike fail to stop where I need it to stop…including 50+ mph downhills on a heavily loaded touring bike. Even in driving rain storms, my bike stops where I need it to. Yes, I anticipate a longer stopping distance in rain (or snow or ice) but I anticipate a longer stopping distance with disc brakes as well because the stopping distance is a function of the friction the tire needs on the road and has very little to do with the type of brake used.

In terms of accuracy or modulation or whatever you want to call it, in my experience mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors are on par with very good rim brakes, eg. ultegra dual pivots. With 203mm rotors the mechanical disc brakes of course take the lead. Cantilevers don't come close to the best rim brakes and are in fact probably the least accurate rim brake out there.
Um…no. Again, I’m not sure what you mean by “accurate” but cantilever brakes are better in a lot of applications than side pull rim brakes. If the tire is narrow, side pull brakes can be stiff enough to be effective but as the tire width increases, the arms of a side pull have to be made wider and longer resulting a more flexible brake arm. Flex in the brake arms means that energy goes into the arm instead of into the pad. For wider wheeled bikes, cantilevers provide a stiffer arm which makes them more effective in that application.

And, just as there are good disc brakes and bad disc brakes as well as good sidepulls and bad, the same pattern is repeated with cantilevers. Most people’s experience is with bad, cheap cantilevers.

All of the disc brake equipped bikes I own have 203mm front rotors and good calipers. My touring bike (and a couple of other of my bikes) have cantilevers. I have added touring loads to disc equipped bikes as well as to the rim brake equipped touring bike. Neither one is substantially different in terms of how effective the brakes are. Neither one has ever failed to stop me when and where I want to stop.

With hydraulics you get brakes which are bad (SRAM in general), brakes which are very good indeed and far better than any rim brake on the planet (magura MT models for example) and then there are brakes where the performance and accuracy is nothing short of otherworldly (Shimano GRX). I'm rarely blown away by anything bike related because, well, it's just bikes. But the GRX brakes are just ridiculously good. So good in fact that I've almost crashed multiple times because of them. They're so confidence inspiring and recoverable from skids that I've frequently ridden faster than my skills / reaction times allow for only to be saved by the brakes in question.
If I were to have “almost crashed because of [the brakes]”, I would not put that in the category of a good thing. Brakes shouldn’t be so touchy that they become a danger to the rider. That’s not what I would call “modulation”. If the brakes are that touchy they are the very opposite of “modulated”.

I mean One finger panic brake to a full stop rear lift from the hoods type of power but still accurate enough to feather on loose sand, wet leaves, gravel on asphalt with no issues whatsoever. I kinda want them on my mountain bike.
That doesn’t impress me since my cantilever brakes on mountain bikes back 40 years ago did the same as do my current cantilever brakes. I’ve never run across a modern brake of any kind for which the same can’t be said. Maybe not the one finger thing but I don’t find using a single finger to actuate a touchy brake to be a positive. The only hydraulics I’ve ever owned required far more attention to how they were used than any other brake I’ve ever used. I don’t need to “think” about how hard or soft I apply brakes to my mechanical brakes…disc or rim…to avoid going over the bars. I don’t see how having brakes that require thought about how much hand pressure you apply to be a positive attribute.
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Old 10-15-22, 09:30 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Trueblood View Post
Well, there is this - https://www.bikesdirect.com/products...ng-bikes-v.htm It has cantis. I may need to get out the popcorn at the mention of this company, but the bikes are just fine..
@staehpj1 - how do you wear out a rim using rim brakes? Haven't heard of that before, but it is entirely possible i guess.
To be fair it take a lot of miles, but rims do eventually wear out at the braking surfaces. I had to replace a wheel due to a worn out rim that actually split bear the bead on my southern tour trip. To be fair the rim probably had 100k miles on it, I have had a couple other rims get close to failure in a similar manner. The side of the rim just wears until it is thin. Some rims have wear indicators.
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