I've recently purchased a Cyclocross bike that's been great so far. I use it to commute and race. However, I don't find the cantilever brakes that came with it satisfactory. I'd like to switch them out, but am not sure which would be best for what I do. Right now I have Tektro CR720 Retro-Style Cantilevers. They don't seem to have much stopping power.

Any recommendations on an upgraded brake. I'll stay with the cantilever, but need something with more stopping power? Might I just need to switch out the pads?

Any input would be appreciated.


3 Answers 3


Well configured cantilever brakes should give you good stopping power. Start by making sure that the braking surface and the surface of the pads are clean. You can clean the braking surface with steel wool, and the pads should just need to be roughed up with a coarse sand paper.

Make sure that your pads aren't below the minimum wear line.

Cantilever pads are harder to adjust than most other kinds of bicycle brake pad, but the principle is the same. The pads should rest one or two millimeters from the rim when not engaged. See here for a better run-down on how to adjust them than I could supply: http://sheldonbrown.com/canti-trad.html


It will be a bit cheaper to try upgrading the brake pads before the brakes. These are the only brake pads I buy for my direct pull brakes now because they work. I use them on my older MTB and my two CX bikes.


  • Sure it's cheaper once, but not once you're in the habit of buying pricier pads. That adds up. Dec 1, 2011 at 19:22

I guess you are struggling with a lack of stopping power? Ben Delaney from VeloNews has a funny take on it: "’cross brakes don’t slow you down, but instead just squeal to warn the guy in front of you that they’re about to be rammed." (He also wrote a great review of the brakes I am about to suggest: http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/10/cyclocross/%E2%80%99cross-brake-check-trp%E2%80%99s-new-mini-v-brake-and-eurox-magnesium_145253)

Try these: http://www.trpbrakes.com/category.php?productid=1040&catid=185 they are linear pull cyclocross brakes. They should provide more than enough power. If that's not enough power for you, you could do a full blown V-brake like the shimano XT.

If you are stuck on the look of cantilevers, try avid shortys, I run avid shorty 4s on my bike, but the Avid Shorty Ultimate seem to be pretty awesome, too. they work just fine for commuting and cross.

  • Those TRP mini-V brakes are pretty excellent! AFAIK if you want to run normal V brakes (this was my goal at first) you need some sort of adapter that changes the amount of cable your levers pull - not sure if this is an issue for all levers or just mine (shimano 105s, couple years old).
    – AlexCuse
    Sep 14, 2012 at 12:14
  • If you want to get a good look at Avid Shorty's : bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/35645/…
    – ebrohman
    Nov 20, 2015 at 15:23

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