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Suntour Roller Cam Brakes

Old 10-17-22, 12:05 PM
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Suntour Roller Cam Brakes

Are these things a solution looking for a problem or under appreciated engineering?
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Old 10-17-22, 12:28 PM
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Yes.

All kidding aside, I had a set on a long-departed early mountain bike. They were fine stoppers and tended to be a bit fussy to set up and adjust, not unlike MAFAC Racers. Not game changers but I wouldn't kick 'em to the curb.
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Old 10-17-22, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by RustyJames
Are these things a solution looking for a problem or under appreciated engineering?
Originally Posted by ascherer
Yes.

All kidding aside, I had a set on a long-departed early mountain bike. They were fine stoppers and tended to be a bit fussy to set up and adjust, not unlike MAFAC Racers. Not game changers but I wouldn't kick 'em to the curb.
Agreed, and I would add that Mafac's would be the only thing I would maybe use instead. Fussing is what we do and RC's work pretty good once you get the hang. Only choice for under chainstays so...

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Old 10-17-22, 12:51 PM
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Good feedback, thanks gents. Iím always looking for unusual bits and I was thinking these might be a good choice for my early mountain bike even though cantis work fine.
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Old 10-17-22, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by RustyJames
Good feedback, thanks gents. Iím always looking for unusual bits and I was thinking these might be a good choice for my early mountain bike even though cantis work fine.
The pivot mounts aren't in the same place as cantis (they're above the rim), so you can't swap between the two. Roller Cams collect mud a lot easier than cantis. Cantis are easier to disconnect so you can remove the wheel.
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Old 10-17-22, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Clang
The pivot mounts aren't in the same place as cantis (they're above the rim), so you can't swap between the two. Roller Cams collect mud a lot easier than cantis. Cantis are easier to disconnect so you can remove the wheel.
Ahh, good to know about the mounts. The market for roller cams must have been rather small? There is a Schwinn-something MTB frame for sale locally that has roller cams which is why I became curious.
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Old 10-17-22, 04:01 PM
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I have them on an Ď87 High Sierra.

Power and modulation are spectacular. My High Sierra sees baby seat, trailer and grocery duty (sometimes all at once) and they are very confidence inspiring.

They can go out of adjustment but itís an easy fix. I donít think they are as hard to set up as common wisdom suggests.

IMO their only real downside is that the cam for the front brake is in the way of the fork crown hole which prevents mounting some racks.
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Old 10-17-22, 04:25 PM
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When set up properly they worked well except for mud collection -- exacerbated by under chain stay placement. They were an under-appreciated evolutionary dead end on the path of braking evolution.
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Old 10-17-22, 05:06 PM
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Rollercams on 1985 Cannondale SM600

I vote: "under-appreciated engineering", they Rule!
(Along with Pedersen Self Energized brakes on front with Odyssey Straddle Rods instead of cable).

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Old 10-17-22, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by RustyJames
Good feedback, thanks gents. Iím always looking for unusual bits and I was thinking these might be a good choice for my early mountain bike even though cantis work fine.
I don't think Rollercams will work with cantilever mounts; the positioning is different. They need the same positioning as for U-Brakes. I am almost positive about that.
oops... just saw previous post with same information.
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Old 10-17-22, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by C9H13N
I have them on an Ď87 High Sierra.

Power and modulation are spectacular. My High Sierra sees baby seat, trailer and grocery duty (sometimes all at once) and they are very confidence inspiring.

They can go out of adjustment but itís an easy fix. I donít think they are as hard to set up as common wisdom suggests.

IMO their only real downside is that the cam for the front brake is in the way of the fork crown hole which prevents mounting some racks.
+1 all this, exactly my experience, with the same year/model in fact. Probably the same as what the OP saw being sold.. Setup / centering is remarkably easy, easier than some cheap cantis I've had. Not "where have you been all my life" better than the competition. Visually, a conversation starter.
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Old 10-17-22, 05:36 PM
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I'm not a fan of the roller cam brakes. Yeah, they were licensed/manufactured by Suntour, and I'm a total Suntour homer- and I love nifty little oddball bits- but I don't like them. I don't seem to have problems adjusting any brakes that I've had- except the roller cams. They're cool, and unique looking... maybe even over-imposing than a brake needs to be... but I just don't like 'em.

As has been mentioned- the bosses are at a different height than cantis- however, U-brakes share the same boss location. HOWEVER... your choices for the model of roller cam brake is pretty narrow and the choices for quality U-brakes are even smaller.

If you've got cantis, there's a whole world of nifty and cool looking canti brakes that all work well. I tend to like the "medium profile" triangle guys- with the arms out level. Generally.

Here's a thread to start you off:

Grail Brakes by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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Old 10-17-22, 05:39 PM
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madpogue Indeed it was a High Sierra frame that I saw them on.

Obviously a lot of thought went into the design so the fine people at Suntour must have had good results during testing.
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Old 10-17-22, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by RustyJames
Indeed it was a High Sierra frame that I saw them on.

Obviously a lot of thought went into the design so the fine people at Suntour must have had good results during testing.
IIRC it was Cunningham/WTB that came up with the roller cam and Suntour licensed it.

Here's my 87 High Sierra:

1987 Schwinn High Sierra by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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Old 10-17-22, 06:52 PM
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My KOM-10 can take only RollerCams or U-brakes, and I got it with a RollerCam in front and an under chainstay U-brake in back. I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever about braking force or modulation. I use 4-finger motorcycle-style Shimano brake levers, KoolStop pads (accept no substitutes), and modern low-compression, low-friction cable housings.

My sole (minor) gripe is that I have to deflate the front tire to remove or replace the wheel. I don't have this problem with the U-brake in back.
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Old 10-17-22, 07:07 PM
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While we're on the subject is there anything I can do to line mine up better? I tore them completely apart to clean them and they work great but they're a little cockeyed.

BEFORE


AFTER
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Old 10-17-22, 08:10 PM
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I remember setting up a few of them and thought that they were very good.As some have said a bit finicky to set up correctly.
Wasn't this a WTB design that was bought by Suntour? I am thinking that Wilderness Trail Bikes had a rollercam before Suntour. Neither lasted long but they were robust good stopping brakes although wont go on canti studs if I recall
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Old 10-17-22, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Murray Missile
While we're on the subject is there anything I can do to line mine up better? I tore them completely apart to clean them and they work great but they're a little cockeyed.

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Loosen the spring tension in one and/or tighten it in the other.
Brent
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Old 10-18-22, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchi84
Does anyone know when this version (vis-a-vis the version on the Schwinn below) was out? And/or, what bikes it was typically found on? It definitely has the upper hand in the "looks like beautiful old bridge architecture" department. Not sure how the spring adjustment/balance works with this version.

Originally Posted by The Golden Boy
Here's my 87 High Sierra:
Smoke that chrome! Looks like a clone of mine (confession - I have two....).

Originally Posted by John E
My sole (minor) gripe is that I have to deflate the front tire to remove or replace the wheel.
Even after releasing the cam? Never had that experience myself, even with 26x2s. Sometimes one of the arms swings all the way open as I remove the wheel; it's never thrown it out of adjustment, however.
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Old 10-18-22, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by John E
My KOM-10 can take only RollerCams or U-brakes, and I got it with a RollerCam in front and an under chainstay U-brake in back. I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever about braking force or modulation. I use 4-finger motorcycle-style Shimano brake levers, KoolStop pads (accept no substitutes), and modern low-compression, low-friction cable housings.

My sole (minor) gripe is that I have to deflate the front tire to remove or replace the wheel. I don't have this problem with the U-brake in back.
I never had a real problem with popping the cam out of the rollers, but it took some force because I keep pads very close to the rim. I did, however, adjust my brakes with the lever barrel adjuster out a bit so I can just add some slack when I need it, then re-set.
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Old 10-18-22, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchi84
I never had a real problem with popping the cam out of the rollers, but it took some force because I keep pads very close to the rim. I did, however, adjust my brakes with the lever barrel adjuster out a bit so I can just add some slack when I need it, then re-set.
The cam pops right out if I squeeze the pads against the rim by hand. The problem is that the tops of the swing arms bump into each other, limiting how far I can spread the pads apart. The quickest solution sometimes is to loosen one of the pads and swing it out of the way -- faster than deflating and re-inflating the tire.
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Old 10-18-22, 09:16 AM
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My KOM-10 -- or at least its fork -- is an outlier, because all of the others I have seen take a standard cantilever brake, rather than a RollerCam or U-brake, in front. That is also what the sales brochure cites in the spec. table.
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Old 10-18-22, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by John E
The cam pops right out if I squeeze the pads against the rim by hand. The problem is that the tops of the swing arms bump into each other, limiting how far I can spread the pads apart. The quickest solution sometimes is to loosen one of the pads and swing it out of the way -- faster than deflating and re-inflating the tire.
Just a thought... how about setting pad posts as far into receivers as possible and re-adjust cable where you still get effective braking. Then, rollers will be "starting" further apart when cam is released.
the cam seems to have a weird curve, maybe to change pad movement as it is pulled up.
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Old 10-18-22, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris
Loosen the spring tension in one and/or tighten it in the other.
Brent
Thanks, had never messed with these before and I just winged it.
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Old 10-19-22, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by John E
My KOM-10 -- or at least its fork -- is an outlier, because all of the others I have seen take a standard cantilever brake, rather than a RollerCam or U-brake, in front. That is also what the sales brochure cites in the spec. table.
Is yours an 87? I have an 88 KOM same colors and yes it has cantilevers in front u brake in rear. Great bike.
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