I have side-pull (dual-pivot) cantilever brakes. My friend gave me brake pads that are 'for all linear-pull brakes'.

Can I use brake pads that are advertised for linear-pull brake systems with my side-pull cantilever brake system?

  • Can't you just try them? – Jongsma Aug 14 '11 at 16:04
  • I could, but I wanted to know best practices. Generally, you're attitude is the correct one when it comes to bikes, though. Just do it! – CEMcFarland Aug 16 '11 at 16:06

Linear pull brake blocks come with a stack of washers designed to provide toe-in (a gap at the back of the brake block to reduce squeal) and different thickness washers to get the cantilever arm vertical to the rim.

Side pull brakes have none of that, just a simple washer for the outside surface of the brake arm.

Put the linear pull brakes in to your side-pull brakes with the whole washer stack on the outside, tighten it up and you should be good to go. You can experiment with putting the extra washers in for that toe in or omit the concave/convex toe-in washers entirely. But do use at least one washer on the outside.

Just make sure that when you have tightened them up that you cannot twist the brake block around with your hand and that the brake blocks meet parallel with the rim neither touching the tyre or falling off the bottom of the rim. Test before you go down any big hills.

Hope that helps!

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    Thanks for your answer. I guess the short answer is, 'Yes, if they fit, and you can get the brake pads tightened enough.' I put an edit into peer review to highlight the safety info. – CEMcFarland Aug 16 '11 at 16:17
  • Also, I'm going to have to try this out before I accept. I'm interested in everyone else's experience with this, too. It seems like it will work. – CEMcFarland Aug 16 '11 at 16:23
  • @CEMMcFarland - Saw your edit, and while I appreciate the intent, I'm concerned that someone could read that and skim over the rest of the answer, missing something critical. The paragraph following the one on installation seems to be particularly crucial. ʍǝɥʇɐɯ, it's your answer, and you know more about this than I do: what are your thoughts on this? – Goodbye Stack Exchange Aug 16 '11 at 16:57
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    Personally I would not like someone to look at my bike and see that I had put the wrong parts on! However, because you can toe-in the V brake blocks they do actually have an advantage if you have lousy side-pulls. I would not hesitate at all to put them on my hack bike but they certainly would not go on my Campagnolo equipped road bike. Also, I would be more inclined to hide them on the back brake where they would wear out quicker, but this would depend on whether the back brake blocks were in good enough condition to go on the front. – ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Aug 16 '11 at 17:13
  • @Neil Fein, you make a valid point about my edit. I'll defer to the SE community on best practices for answers. – CEMcFarland Aug 31 '11 at 14:37

I did it long ago on my fixie to improve brake performance and id worked like a charm: longer braking surface, perfectly aligned, high performance compound (gray Kool-Stops for V-Brakes).

I would never go back to those tiny crappy pads that came with the bike (generic low-quality side-pull pads).

I am riding the bike a lot and had absolutely no problems concerning brakes.

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