I'm riding a new bike (new to me) and I am unfamiliar riding with some of the components, specifically the cantilever cross brakes. On my road bike, I toe in the brake pads to help with noise, feel, modulation, etc.

On this bike, the brake pads contact the rim pretty much evenly and don't have much modulation. They are making a fair amount of noise right now. I've done the obvious things to fix this besides toeing in the pads. However, they don't really sit in and tilt around slightly on a rounded bushing when loosened like on normal road calipers, allowing for toeing in.

Is it possible to toe in the pads on these brakes? If so, how?

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  • @Frisbee What do you mean...you want to see the arm and pad fully disassembled?
    – ebrohman
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 15:14
  • @Frisbee I'll take them apart and post a few more pics later tonight
    – ebrohman
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 15:26
  • Sorry, I doubt I will be able to help you. I thought I had those exact brakes but I just checked and I don't and the part catalog is not detailed enough. sram-cdn-pull-zone-gsdesign.netdna-ssl.com/cdn/farfuture/…
    – paparazzo
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 15:54
  • 3
    I use these brakes (Avid Shorty Ultimate) and absolutely love them. Fantastic control and modulation without a sound. I use the Kool Stop Salmon pads. According to the manual from Avid you should not toe-in with these: "MOUNT THE BRAKE PAD 7. Install the brake pad assembly onto the brake arm, noting the correct washer confi guration. 8. Use a 4 mm wrench to adjust the brake pad so that it is parallel with the rim. The top of the pad should be at least 1 mm below the top of the rim. With the pads properly aligned and held fl at against the rim, torque the fixing nut to 6-8 N·m (53-70 in-lb)"
    – Drew Smith
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 20:06
  • @DrewSmith Thanks for the info. Does it specifically say not to toe in, or to just 'mount parallel to the rim'? I'm not sure those mean the same thing. If it's possible to toe in, I want to. Can you post an answer with some pics of your own Shorty Ultimate setup and the info from the Avid manual?
    – ebrohman
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 22:46

2 Answers 2


You could try replacing your current pads with a set that come with double conical washers. It sounds, and looks, like this set of pads doesn't have them, but there appears to be enough space for you to install them.

The washers come in pairs, one concave and one convex, with enough "slop" to allow them to sit at an angle as the pad mounting screw passes through. Each pad would have two pair of the washers, one pair on either side of the brake arm.

  • Do not agree with you. It seems like there is not enough place for outer washers and the nut.
    – Alexander
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 5:17
  • Some Kool Stop pad sets have a set of 3 mm washers, I think the brake arm would be in the order of 5 or 6 mm. Seems like there would be clearance for the fastener as well, but it's hard to be sure from the photos.
    – dlu
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 5:30
  • 4
    Or see if your local bike shop has some spare washers. Often they collect them from brake pads they're taking off bikes to use as spares. A couple of dollars for some used washers beats buying new pads.
    – Móż
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 21:40
  • +1 Thanks, this is good info. To echo Alexander, I'm not sure the washers will fit.
    – ebrohman
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 22:48

Don't know if your getting squeaks still. I'm late to the party but had a couple tips I use. In short, yes I slightly toe in (1mm-2mm rear corners) for brake pads on install. You can stick a business card under the rear corner to get the toe-in, it's very small. Then hold your new pad flush to the rim and tighten. It's thought the toe in prevents new pads from sitting too square and buzzing on contact... Also:

  • I noticed your rim walls have a good amount of black pad debris on them. Get some isopropyl alcohol on a clean shop rag to melt the excess pad material off the rim walls. Very handy for older wheel sets.
  • Agreed with member post from "dlu". I strongly suggest Kool-Stop pads. It's important to get the style with the conical washers to get you that slight toe-in you ask about. They have offset post too. Google up "Kool-Stop".

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