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About Bicycle Brakes with
Brazed-on Fittings
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by Sheldon "Can Deliver" Brown
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One type of Rim Brake

This article covers all brakes which consist of two separate arms for each wheel, each with a brazed-on pivot attaching it to the frame or fork. In connection with this article, please read the lead article about rim brake. It covers, among other things,

Most brake problems result from excessive friction or poor installation of the cables, not by poor setup, or poor quality brakes. Also see the article on cables for information on cable selection and adjustment of brake cables and brake levers.

Cantilevers vs. Calipers

Bicycle rim brakes divide into two basic types: cantilever and caliper. Just to recap:

Caliper brakes have arms that reach downward from above the tire, and need to be long enough to get around the tire. U-brakes and Rollercam-brakes, described in this article, are caliper brakes, though most caliper brakes are bolted to the frame or fork above the tire. See the article on caliper brakes if that is the kind of brake you need to work on.

Cantilever brakes have the brake shoe and cable attachment on the same side of the pivot (cantilevered). All of these brakes all require special brazed-on fittings on the frame. These fittings are commonly called "studs" or "bosses."

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Types of Brakes With Brazed-On Fittings.

This page leads to four separate pages, each dealing with a different sub-type. Click on the heading below to go to the relevant page:

This is the type used on most bikes made since the mid 1990s. This is the only style of cantilever where the cable comes to the cantilever set from one side, rather than down the middle.
Direct Pull V-Brake
These were used on almost all mountain bikes made before the mid 1990s, and are still popular on touring and cyclocross bicycles. This type of brake should be used with a fender, reflector bracket or other device to prevent the transverse cable from snagging the tire if the main cable parts.

See my separate article on adjusting this type of brake

Traditional Centerpull Cantilever
These were fashionable for mountain bikes around 1987, typically mounted underneath the chainstays. The pivot for each brake is between the brake shoe and cable attachment, and so these are not cantilever brakes.

U-brakes have had a bit of a revival in the last few years for use on freestyle bicycles

(Functionally, U-brakes are very similar to the center-pull caliper brakes popular on sport bikes of the 1960s and '70s.)

U Brake-eye bolts
The Roller-cam brake was a predecessor of the U-brake, and had a brief vogue in the mid 1980s. The pivot for each brake is between the brake shoe and cable attachment, and so these are not cantilever brakes.

(Unit shown is a contemporary roller-cam caliper brake.)

Roller Cam Brake

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Frame-Mounted Brake Compatibility/Interchangeability
Brake
Type
Frame
Pivot Studs
Levers Cable Routing
Direct Pull
V-Brake ®
Below the Rim Long Pull
Low Tension
Cable comes in from the side.

Lower housing stop is part of the cantilever.

Traditional
Center Pull
Standard
Short Pull
High Tension
Cable runs down the bicycle's center line.

Lower rear housing stop on frame,
either special braze-on,
or mounted to the seatpost bolt.

Front housing stop on headset,
fork or handlebar stem .

U-Brake
Above the Rim
Roller-Cam

Lever compatibility

Direct-pull cantilevers require special brake levers. Direct-pull brake levers pull the cable twice as far, half as hard. It is not generally safe to mix and match levers/cables between direct pull and other types for this reason.

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This page URL was formerly devoted to adjusting traditional center-pull cantilevers.

That material has now been moved to a separate page.

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Last Updated: by Harriet Fell