I have a steel bike, with cantilever brakes. I much prefer calliper brakes.

I'm planning to get the frame resprayed. Maybe this isn't such a great idea, but I'm wondering about having the cantilever braze-ons removed, in order to use callipers instead. To be clear (and to address some of the comments), removed by a frame-builder who knows what they're doing, not removed by me with a hacksaw in my garage.

It so happens that versions of this bike were also built with callipers. Perhaps that makes it a marginally less bad idea...

What do you think?

  • If that's what you want, and it is feasible to install the calipers. I would be careful in removing the canti posts, as doing so improperly could damage the frame. Jun 29, 2020 at 19:18
  • Do you plan on installing racks ? A front rack using the canti bosses is stronger than one without.
    – Criggie
    Jun 29, 2020 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


A framebuilder could do this in a sound way. The best approach is to do as much as possible cold, i.e. cut off the bulk of the posts and work the area back down to smooth with files and then sanding.

For the most part, it sounds like a giant hassle that accomplishes little and is founded on the misconception that cantis aren't good brakes.

One exception to that could be if there's something about the frame/fork design that made cantis a bad choice. For example, if overly flexy stays or blades were used, performance with cantis can be lacking. If this is the problem you're trying to address and you're willing to go to this length to do it, going to direct mount centerpulls like Mafac, Herse, or Paul would be far superior to a caliper in terms of braking power, assuming this bike has the kind of clearances that usually go along with cantilevers in the first place.

You haven't mentioned reach measurements, but in the more normal case that this is some kind of typical hybrid/touring/cx bike, it would probably need very long reach calipers to use the existing bridge and fork, although the bridge could in theory be moved. Those kinds of calipers are pretty mediocre brakes compared to a well set up cantilever. You'd be giving up a lot of function.

If you want the bike set up to not have any use for long reach, and again assuming it's a clearance-heavy bike now, then probably the best path would be replace the fork entirely rather than rework it, and move the bridge. That way you can use any reach-appropriate off the shelf modern caliper with a recessed nut front and rear without having to screw around with either adapting modern brakes to non-recessed nuts or working with the few extant options for stock non-recessed nut calipers.

I wonder if you're using basic smooth post low profile cantis and making the assumption that other types are equally hard to live with, or if the bike is set up to create excess shutter off the front brake. These problems are all solvable with less extreme measures and certainly with better results than an ultra long reach caliper.

  • My main objection to cantilevers is aesthetic... I dislike their appearance. The bike is a light tourer and the clearances are not huge, so no need for long-reach callipers. Jun 30, 2020 at 8:45
  • 1
    If it's aesthetics only: do you think mini v-brakes would look better? It would save a lot of trouble. Jul 1, 2020 at 8:54

I'm planning to get the frame resprayed. Maybe this isn't such a great idea, but I'm wondering about having the cantilever braze-ons removed, in order to use callipers instead.

If you want function over looks, remove the cantilever brakes, leave the posts there and cover the cantilever posts with epoxy. Since epoxy is less durable than steel, it is very easy to remove the epoxy over the cantilever brake posts with a sharp tool should you want to switch back to cantilevers.

The function of the epoxy is to prevent water from causing rust on the cantilever brake posts.

  • The cantilever posts would foul callipers on this bike, unfortunately. Jun 29, 2020 at 20:07
  • @DanieleProcida possibly crazy thought - put the calipers on the rear of the fork? Its a non-standard mount, but not completely new.
    – Criggie
    Sep 4, 2020 at 7:04
  1. I'm sure you've confirmed that you have mounting points for caliper brakes, right?
  2. Cutting off the canti bosses with a hacksaw will leave remnants that are not an improvement, aesthetically. Getting the remnants smoothed out will take a lot of filing and sanding, but it can be done.
  3. Assuming the canti bosses were brazed on, they could be removed with the application of heat, but that could weaken the tubes.

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