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The quest to learn more before making a bike purchase continues..........

The Specialized Cross bikes I looked at have linear side pull brakes. I was told that linears are superior to cantilevers in stopping power. I was also told they are a bit easier to work on.

What do you all think?


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I have a TriCross and switched my brakes out for a set of Shorty 6's. The stock LSP brakes felt soft and squishy. Removing the top levers helped with that but switching to the Shortys gave me, IMO, way more stopping power. Also, if you have to pit and change a wheel the quick release is way easier and fast on the Canti style.

Out of the box the side pulls will have more stopping power. Cantis are pretty sensitive to setup and out of the box with the stock straddle cable they don't stop super well.

However, the trade off for better stopping power is less rim clearance. That means in a muddy race or a suddenly out of true wheel will be more prone to rub. Canti's can be setup to have a nice compromise between clearance and stopping power but it takes some work.

All of the above is why Mafac style brakes are still popular. They have very little braking strength and consequently have a ton of rim clearance, which is nice in the mud.
look what the pro's use. they use canti's. if there was some advantage to linear side pull im sure they would be using them.
A few years ago the Specialized Pro's were using the sidepulls (I think it had a special arm design to give it power) on their race rigs so that filtered down to the showroom floor. Now, if you look, they're using canti's again on their race rigs. What does that tell you?

Unless you use that goofy gizmo to shorten the pull of a MTB style brake they don't have the power of a canti when used in conjunction with road levers, and that's a fact, jack.

Everybody bitches about canti set-up but personally I don't think it's that hard. I think Avid's are the easiest set-up (just throw away that stupid plastic yoke and get a real straddle cable), but you need to set them close so clearance for mud and tire changes is reduced. Personally I like wide-ass profile brakes - TRP's, Paul's (not the tourers!) Spookies, 4ZAs, Empella Frog Legs, Kores, and the new Techno/ic's whatever they're called.

A set up trick I use: put the brakes on without the springs and set pad to rim, put the springs in, and set the straddle to give you optimum clearance in relation to lever pull - - three fingers from the top of the tire to the straddle and you're rockin'. Brake squeal? Before you start dorking around with the set up look for junk on the rim.
you don't stop in cross races. Super strong brakes are not as important as figuring out how to ride the bike effectively.

This is the same lame answer I got every time I asked. Until I raced, trained, practiced I didn't understand it. I tried both linear and cantis. Cantis work just fine, set up is biggest key.

Linear has the pads set really close to the rims and just wasn't my preferance. If you like strong stopping power, linear is best bet or disc.

Cantis should work really well.
True Mr. President. You don't need big brakes in cross. We had at little "meet & greet" with Jonathan Page after our KTR race here in Michigan last season. He commented that after watching the "earlier" races of the day the biggest mistake he saw, consistently, was that people were using way too much brake entering turns. He said: everybody would ride hard as they could into the turn and then brake hard, scrubbing off all that speed. He thought it was a waste. He suggested a little more flow, and don't work so hard all the time.

I took his advice and started coasting more into turns rather than blasting in, braking hard, and then trying to accelerate hard out again ... the result was a better average speed, and fresher legs.
i was actually wrenching when 'linear sidepull' brakes became an item. in my opinion they have little advantage, and 2 big disadvantages for 'cross, the first is the the amount of cable necessary to fully actuate the brake, this limits the choice of levers or necessitates the use of a travel agent to increase cable 'pull' and as previously discussed the rim clearance. stopping power is over rated, on dirt or mud the only stopping you is a dismount.
i had some LSP brakes on when I cobbled together the race rig for this year, but i mated them to some old avid flat bar levers (non-Linear levers btw) and the stopping power was fantastic. Put the STI on there and I couldn't stop for crap with the LSP brakes w/o putting a travel agent on there. The Travel agent gave me enough pad clearance but i went with the old standard shimano cantis...

the work fine. some courses need handfuls of brake, but more often than not you just need to scrub speed, not actually stop, and canti's kick butt...

I still think the pro's use the $200-$400 cantis mostly because that's what they are given to race on... and it sells lots of TRP product that way (call it the Mud and Cowbells effect).

I like the way the canti's feel with sti... so I use em...


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