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Cantilever Brakes & Shifter Compatibility for Loaded Touring(7 posts)

Cantilever Brakes & Shifter Compatibility for Loaded TouringTarzan
Sep 17, 2001 3:28 PM
I'm looking at two bikes for loaded touring: Cannondale T800 and Trek520. The Cannondale uses the Avid shorty 4 with Tiagra shifter/levers. The Trek uses Avid SD5 and DiaCompe 287 levers plus DA barcon shifters.

First, am I wrong to assume that the Cannondale system is STI? Secondly, what are the pro's and con's of the two systems? STI is nice and convenient (and preferred) but I guess barcons are easier for field repair (which is a fairly significant consideration in solo, unsupported loaded touring). Thirdly, what would my upgrade options be? For instance, one fellow has mentioned that the Tiagra's are weak.
re: Cantilever Brakes & Shifter Compatibility for Loaded Touringdavet
Sep 17, 2001 4:49 PM
I have a Trek 540 (Aluminum) tourer, which is set up similar to the 520. I also have two other sport bikes that use STI brake/shift levers. In my opinion the advantage of the barcon shift is that while the rear shift lever is indexed, it is easily switched to friction to compensate for any field problems you may have. The vast majority of loaded tourers use either barcon or downtube shift levers. Plus barcon shifting is very simple, very reliable and very easy to field repair. STI levers are a little easier to use, but they are more prone to damage from tip-overs or crashes (which will happen) than barcons.

You could upgrade the brake levers on the Trek to a higher quality, such as Dura-Ace aero levers, but the money spent will gain little. What you are looking for in loaded (or lightly loaded) touring is absolute reliability and simplicity. For serious upgrades look at; saddles, tires, the best brake and shift cabling you can buy, front and rear racks and lighting. Buy the very best you can afford. If you can't afford the best, save until you can. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worse than be stranded because you cheaped out on equipment. Buy a good book on bicycle maintenance. Live at your LBS for a couple of days and find out how to properly maintain your new cycle. And have fun!
re: Cantilever Brakes & Shifter Compatibility for Loaded TouringTarzan
Sep 17, 2001 5:33 PM
Thanks for your reply (and the other one too on gearing mods. It's great to be able to bounce around ideas with someone with experience. About the barcon shifters, I was wondering why no one take the standard flat bar mountain bike shifter/brake lever combo and puts them on the flat section of drop bars where your hands are the vast majority of the time. Do you know why?
re: Cantilever Brakes & Shifter Compatibility for Loaded Touringdavet
Sep 17, 2001 6:35 PM
Typically twist grip shifters don't work with road ders. But beyond that, why would you want to take up the space on your bars with shift mechanisms? When you spend many hours in the saddle, you like to put your hands in many different positions on the bars to relieve the stress. Plus barcon shifters are among the most simple of those devices whereas twist grip shifters can be very complicated.
re: Cantilever Brakes & Shifter Compatibility for Loaded TouringTarzan
Sep 17, 2001 6:38 PM
I wasn't thinking twist grip but thumb levers.... But I suppose the same explanation holds.
FWIW, I'm with davet--barcons are bulletproofcory
Sep 18, 2001 8:28 AM
I have barcons on two bikes, and if you're looking for simplicity and reliability, I think they're the way to go. I've never had a problem with the shifters, and the time or two something's gone wrong with the derailleur, the friction option has bailed me out. Shift nice, too--on the Atlantis, I leave them in friction all the time, just because it feels right.
re: Cantis and V-brakesCliff Oates
Sep 17, 2001 5:19 PM
The Cannondale is STI. Canti brakes like the Avids work fine with STI/Ergo levers. For example, my cyclo-cross bike (really more of an all-rounder) is running Paul touring cantis with Campy Ergo levers. If I wanted to use V-brakes with these levers, I would need to install Travel Agents or a similar device.

The Dia-Compe levers pull more cable than road levers and are suitable for use with V-brakes like the Avid SD5. You could not use these with canti or road calipers.

I don't really understand where you're going with the upgrade question. What goals do you want to achieve by upgrading components?