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I've got a surly cross check with straight bars, v-brakes, and mountain shifters. I was considering a switch to a drop bar setup for cyclocross racing so I have an alternative to my single speed cross bike. I'll be switching to STI shifters, so I have to replace my brakes since Shimano STI levers don't work well with the existing v-brakes.

I am considering a pair of TRP CX9, Tektro RX6, or Paul's Mini Moto. These should be compatible with my STI levers. However, due to a lack of information about this, I need to know why I would prefer cantilever brakes to the mini-v option?

Possible issues I was considering:

  • Do mini v-brakes have to sit closer to the rim? Will this cause me to slow down more when my wheel goes through an inch or two of mud?
  • Are the mini v-brakes going to be as effective at stopping? Will the modulation be poor, causing me to OTB more often when I try to stop suddenly?
  • Is there a large difference in tire clearance between mini v-brakes and cantilever brakes?

    If it matters, I tend to ride a lot in the northeast/mid-atlantic region of the US and it gets really muddy here, so I doubt most races will involve a dry pack course. I also tend to get out on to real trails and ride on mountain bike singletrack from time to time.

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    Have you thought of putting a travel agent on your existing V's? It may just be one more widget to wear out, but it would give you a bit of flexibility in finding functional brakes. –  WTHarper Dec 6 '12 at 3:56
        
    No, I want new brakes. My old ones have rusty hardware and springs, and two different brake models between front and rear. I'm legitimately concerned that I'll snap off the bolt that holds the cable if I have to tighten it again. –  Benzo Dec 6 '12 at 6:06
        
    Just a bit of trivia: V brakes were invented by Shimano to allow suspension forks to be built without a "bridge" to carry the central brake pivot (or cable anchor/bridle, in the case of cantis). It is only good marketing that got them onto virtually every bike made, suspension or not. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 28 at 18:18
        
    I find V brakes easier to adjust as well, with typically higher braking power as well. But this is a 1.5 year old question anyway. –  Batman Jul 29 at 2:11

    5 Answers 5

    I recently installed TRP CX9s on my Surly Cross-Check with SRAM Red controls and the original Salsa Bell Lap bars. Simply put, the stopping power is there and it will take some skill to deal with low modulation.

    Now, if you are racing cross, I would recommend against these for the front... that is, unless you don't brake ;). On the rear, I have felt comfortable with the results so far.

    They are good at cutting through the muck that might build up.

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    Correctly set up V brakes don't make feathering any harder or easier than correctly set up cantilevers. What you give up with V brakes is clearance--for things like mud. If you ride in dry conditions, the V brake is likely superior. If you ride a CX bike mostly on road or gravel, the V brake is likely superior. If you ride in gloppy sticky mud, a wide-open cantilever will take longer to cake up...and will be superior.

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    I switched to mini-v brakes, then to cantis. The mini-v brakes worked well, but I had a few issues. Here's what I found.

    Do mini v-brakes have to sit closer to the rim? Will this cause me to slow down more when my wheel goes through an inch or two of mud?

    Yes, the mini-v brakes pads sat closer to the rim in resting position, and since my rim was a bit out of true, they rubbed a lot. If I set them loose enough not to rub, I didn't have enough braking power. Switching to cantilevers set the pads further away from the rim and had no problem with rubbing on the brake pads. Mini-v brakes also did gather mud around the brake pads a bit more than the cantilevers.

    Are the mini v-brakes going to be as effective at stopping? Will the modulation be poor, causing me to OTB more often when I try to stop suddenly?

    I didn't notice a lot of difference in modulation between the mini-v brakes and cantilever brakes. I feel like the mini-v had a bit more power and could lock the rear wheel more easily, but I never felt that I couldn't feather the brakes in a similar fashion to my canti brakes.

    Is there a large difference in tire clearance between mini v-brakes and cantilever brakes?

    Yes, there is much more clearance with cantilever brakes for both tires and mud. I swapped in 700x41c tires and I had to remove the boot from the brake cable on the mini-v brakes because it would occasionally rub on the tire. I have a lot more mud clearance using the cantilever brakes, probably at least an inch above the tire, where I had only a few millimeters using mini-v brakes. Regular v-brakes would probably have about the same mud clearance as the cantis, but don't work well with the cable pull from STI shifters.

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    While I don't have any experience with road type v-brakes, I was considering them for a while and asked my LBS about them. They told me that the biggest difference is that v-brakes offer more stopping power than cantilevers but also make feathering the brakes for speed control more difficult.

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    I run TRP CX8.4s with Shimano Ultegra 6700 levers on my C`dale SuperX and the braking powers superb!! Light years better than the TRP euro cantis the bike came with....

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