Euro cyclocross brakes

Spooky, Empella Frogglegs and earlier TRP cyclocross brakes are great.  They stop well, and have a LOT of rim clearance.  That's good for preventing mud clogging, and keeping you rolling if your wheel gets knocked out of true. 

All of these "Euro" brakes use a similar type of brake pad with a non adjustable straight post:


This, along with the wide profile cantilever design, make dialing in these brakes a little more challenging than others using adjustable v-brake pads (e.g. Avid Shorty).

canti The geometry of a wide profile cantilever brake is different from a low profile brake.  Sheldon Brown had a lot to say about cantilever brake geometry, and it's well worth the read!  But note most of the setup tips are geared towards low profile cantilevers.  With those, a longer traverse cable gives more pad travel, but less power.  It's a balancing act to get best power/travel ratio.

With wide profile cantilevers, things are different.  A very short traverse cable is not going to give you better power.  In fact, I've found it takes it away.  I've found a very long traverse cable, coupled with a wide yoke works best.  I try to set up the brake such that the pad is traveling as close to horizontal as possible when it hits the rim:


To do this, you adjust not only the traverse cable length, but also the pad position (e.g. how far it protrudes from the brakes).  With a little playing around, you'll find the right spot.

Toe Adjustment
Once you get the geometry dialed in, how do you adjust the toe?  Like with any cantilever brakes, you want the front edge of the pad to hit the rim just before the back.  That will help prevent chatter on the front end, and squealing on both.  Don't go crazy with toe-in adjustment, though.  A little squealing is okay!

So how do you adjust toe on a non adjustable brake pad?  With a big adjustable wrench!  Put it on the flat surfaces of the brake bolts, and gently bend.  If your frame is in the way, just disconnect the brake cable and pull it away from the frame.


Brake Pads
The pads that come with these brakes are usually kind of chunky:


It kind of bugs me.  Why do they need to be so big?  I don't believe cantilever brakes have enough power to use long brake pads as effectively as they could.  It spreads the power of more rim surface, right?  Great for v-brakes, maybe not so much for cantilevers. 

What I really wanted was to use road pads on my cantilever brakes.  And I found some from BBB.  These are nice and small, and they work a little better than the big pads I had on before.  I'm anxious to see if they help with fork chatter, too.  I'll have to wait until I get another pair for the bike that chatters.


New Offerings
MagTRP It looks like new brakes are coming out that address all the shortcomings of wide profile cantilever brakes.  Take the TRP Euro X, for example.  They added some pad adjustability and smaller pads.  These looks mighty nice, don't they? Another good option - Pauls brakes. They've been around for a long time, and they use adjustable v-brake type cartridge pads.

Regardless, you can get very good results using other Euro brakes available.  It just takes a little extra tweaking at first.  Once set up, these brakes are quite reliable and bomb proof.  I've never had any trouble with them.  So give them a try!

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
so whadda you do when you wear the toe out of the pad? bend the brake a bit more or replace the pad?
# Posted By gewilli | 9/26/08 11:54 AM
# Posted By Steven | 9/26/08 12:11 PM
# Posted By andy | 9/26/08 1:09 PM
I will have to try to find those Velo-Orange pads. Thanks for the tip!
# Posted By erikv | 9/26/08 2:11 PM
my question was actually kind of serious, wondering what DO you do when the pad wears flat? just replace it? bend the brakes more?

fwiw setting the old XT canti brakes out not low-profile seems to get a good balance of both clearance and function, no issue in mud so far with them
# Posted By gewilli | 10/3/08 7:19 AM
# Posted By erikv | 10/3/08 7:41 AM
And I always say don't go NUTS with the toe. Just very minor. Otherwise, you loose power and your pads wear out prematurely.
# Posted By erikv | 10/3/08 7:42 AM