OK, another day off, and it’s raining so I finally decided to tinker with my bike. As bike parts go, I am a Luddite. My bicycle is made by Bridgestone, who doesn’t sell bikes anymore. My component parts are Suntour, who is not even in business anymore. After 15 years of tooling around on my trusty old bridgestone, parts are bound to wear out eventually. Today’s part: Brakes.

Now when Shimano first entered the bike part business, I knew imediately that I hated them. Their designs made adjustments easy, but required you to purchase all new tools. Their designs also took away simplicity and replaced it with stupidity…Keith Bontrager explains why in a way I could never put my finger on…but now I know I was right all along!

See these brakes here? (photo from Kieth’s v-brake article) these are the ones I hated and I have not purchased any new brake parts since these replaced my trusty straddle wire and carrier system. I was just a college student then, but I had an instinct that these new brakes would lead the bike industry into ruin.

So now my brake pads are dry rotted and I can’t stop to save my life. Brakes have undergone at least two generations of transformations since I bought my bike (the last of it’s breed). The other day I bought a V-brake to see what all the fuss was about. (V-brakes replaced those dumb Shimano fixed straddle cable brakes about 6 or 8 years ago.) Today, after finally having gotten it installed, I have discovered the trade off of v-brakes for cantilevers… More cable travel equals more leverage at the rim. But I have short brake levers, so the lever is still against the handlebar when the brake screeches to a halt.

Having an insatiable desire to get to teh bottem of this v-brake mystery, I discovered my savior, Keith Bontrager during a Google search. He explains in a 4 page article how to “retrofit” your old cantilever brakes to be just as forceful as v-brakes at stopping. Wait…the retro parts he talks about, are the ones that are on my bike in the first place! My bike is so old, it has come back into style! Well…probably not, but I can rest assured that my young mind fifteen years ago was right on the mark about Shimano driving the bike industry into ruin. Long live Suntour and cantilevered brakes!