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Avid Shorty Ultimate Cantilever Brakes
Ease of setup, weight and function. Looks too!
Easy to damage, use a torque wrench!
Pads replaced after 2 years, recommended.
Great Cantilevers, but beware rim width
Some observations on installation of the Avid Shorty Ultimate Cantilever Brakes
Instruction Sheet 95-5115-005-000 Rev B
Installed on rear wheel, Mavic A719 700C rim, 24 mm wide. Brakes set in narrow stance.
1) As stated in the fine print in the included instructions under “Compatibility,” it is true that the brakes, as assembled in the package, cannot be used on rims wider than 23 mm. (For reference, the interior brake arm is where the brake pads are secured; the exterior brake arm is where the straddle wire connects--this is evident with parts in front of you.) But, one can exchange the position of the wide and narrow washers used in securing the brake pads, putting the narrow washer on the medial side of the interior brake arm, so as to fit a wider rim. I had to enlarge the hole of the narrow washer so that it fit over the brake pad post. That being done, in the narrow stance, the top of the 4 mm bolt securing the brake pad butts up against the exterior brake arm. In my setup, this just barely allowed the top of the brake pads to sit below the top of the rim. I did not feel like sanding down the face sides of the bigger washer to make it narrower so as to lower the bolt head between the brake arms, thus allowing the brake pads to be lowered more against the rim. I may do so in the future. I did try using another narrow washer from a set of Kool Stop brake pads to replace the wide washer, but doing so bottomed out the 4 mm bolt so that it did not grab the interior brake arm. I cannot vouch for the safety concerns that may arise from switching the washers. Only Avid engineers would know that answer. Plus, I haven’t ridden enough (on the switched washers configuration) to give an informed safety opinion yet, other than saying, yes, these brakes grab better than my old cheap cantilevers.
2) The instructions are wrong for “Tension the Brake.” To tension the brake, the hole in the cap for the left brake should be at the 9 o’clock position, and for the right brake, it is at the 3 o’clock position. The instructions have these reversed. Also, no reason was given for why someone would want to spring tension the brakes. Doing so allows the brake pads, under higher spring tension, to sit away from the rim when the brake lever is released. With no spring tension, the pads are loose and can likely rub on the rim while riding, especially when your wheel is not 100 percent true. [I am assuming I inserted the springs correctly; the instructions were unclear on how to insert them.]
3) Avid should warn its retailers that this system is normally for rims narrower than 23 mm, and this fact should be stated on retailers’ websites—which is not true as of this writing (since corrected on Modern Bike's). That said, it would be a simple matter, in my opinion, to allow these brakes to be set up for wider rims by including narrower washers and perhaps shorter bolts to secure the pads to the interior brake arms. Avid has a shorter shaft brake pad system with yellow pads to be used on carbon rims up to 25.5 mm wide. Since those run at ~$50 as a stand-alone product, it’s not an ideal alternative. Many of us use wide aluminum rims, especially for commuting and touring. The Avid Shorty Ultimate Cantilever Brakes should offer a wider rim option for these markets.
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