I Hate Brakes

V-Brakes, center-pull calipers, side-pull calipers, cantilevers, disc, whatever.  No bicycle brake works as well as a decent automobile brake.  Then again, I don’t want 100lbs worth of brake on my bike.

The cantilever brakes on my LHT (cantis for short) aren’t great.  I changed brake pads and adjusted toe-in a few months ago, and I have slightly more stopping power, but the front brakes squeal.  The left brake arm on the front had also not been pulling away from the wheel completely when releasing the brake.

I’ll be riding 100 miles on that bike next Sunday.  I don’t want a dragging brake the whole time.

I pulled the front brakes off the bike and cleaned everything today.  I re-lubed the necessary parts and reinstalled, paying careful attention to what hole the return spring sits into.  The return spring was the issue with the left brake arm.  The brakes work much better.  They’re adjusted better for more stopping power.  The brake arm returns away from the rim when I release the lever.

But,  the damn things still squeal.  Gah!

The Culprit

5 thoughts on “I Hate Brakes”

  1. Canti brakes are always a hassle. What you’ve done so far has been good. Look in your Park book, and note the bit about tying a rubber band around the rear end of the pad. Then adjust the pad contact to the rim (you will need four hands that will fit where your two fit, AND you have to hold your mouth just right…).

    Canti brakes need to be adjusted from the outside in (get the cable right, then get the arms parallel, then adjust the pads individually–it should be pretty symmetric when you are done). Sometimes it’s easier to adjust cantis with the tire off the rim, especially if you have fenders. The pad should hit the rim squarely from top to bottom, and just a bit toe-in (hence the rubber band trick).

    Brake squeal is a function of pads “chattering” against the rim. Adjust the pads so that they hold smooth to the rim instead of chattering off (again with the toe-in thing?!).

    Best results!

  2. Thanks!

    I had actually completely forgotten about the Park Tool book. I dug it out and took a look, and yep, rubber bands.

    I’m done messing with it tonight, but I think I’ll work on that bike and the single-speed and try to get the toe-in set properly later in the week.

    Now to scrounge up some rubber bands…

  3. You know, I’d always yield to Tom, but that straddle wire looks a bit short and low, Dave. We gotta get together and wrench on your bike. No kidding. You gotta get those tires from me too.

    Two words: Tektro 720.


  4. @Apertome,
    Sure, but I’d rather be able to fix most things and leave wheelbuilding and headset work to the pros.

    I’m under the impression that the lower straddle wire is needed for the low-profile brakes. I will say they feel much better and stop fine. They’re just squealing.

    I did a little research on the 720s. They get mixed reviews, but they are a wide-profile, which allows for more leverage and a higher straddle wire. They’re also a cheap, easy switch. I’ll probably do it. The higher straddle wire will give me the necessary clearance for mounting the headlight on the fork crown.

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