Are Cantilever Brakes And V Brakes Interchangeable?

Cantilever and V brakes are two common types of bicycle brakes also known as rim brakes. The two braking systems are similar in many ways but, are cantilever brakes and V brakes interchangeable?

Cantilever brakes and V brakes are two different types of braking systems that are not interchangeable. Actually, cantilevers have different leverage to V brake systems. Consequently, these systems use different brake levers, which make them hard to interchange.

Unfortunately, many people are unsure if they should use a cantilever brake or V-brake on their bike.

In addition, many companies make both types of brakes, and it may not be very clear as to which one is perfect for you.

are cantilever brakes and V brakes interchangeable - A womans hand on bikes handlebars

Are Cantilever Brakes And V Brakes Interchangeable – Are They The Same

If you’re a casual cyclist, it might not matter to you whether you have cantilevers or v-brakes on your bike. But if you ride fast or need the high stopping power, then having the right kind of braking system is important.

Cantilever brakes and V-brakes are both ways to slow down your bike. So what’s the difference?

First, the cantilevers are the predecessors of v-brakes. Therefore, the latter is an improvement of the former.

On the other hand, v-brakes have a higher mechanical advantage than cantilever. Therefore, they exert more pressure on the wheel when you squeeze the brake lever.

Consequently, the linear-pull brakes (v-brakes) have increased leverage. So, for the brake arms to move a short distance, the lever has to travel over a longer distance than in the cantilever.

In addition, cantilever brakes have a bigger wheel clearance, and that makes them ideal for muddy terrains.

So, the two braking systems may look similar, but they are not the same.

Can You Convert From Cantilever To V Brakes?

Is it possible to convert your bike’s braking system from cantilever to v-brakes? Yes, it is possible.

However, you will need to buy a whole brake set, from levers to brake shoes.

Apart from the older touring bikes from the mid-80s, other bikes that use cantilever and v-brakes have brake mounting bosses that can accommodate either of the two systems. Older touring bikes have narrower braze-ons.

Notably, when converting from cantilever to v-brakes, it’s impossible to use the cable hangers or cable stops designed for cantilever.

All the same, if the bike’s frame allows it, you can use the cable routing for the cantilever and bypass the cable hanger part.

On the other hand, you can use clamp-on stoppers and place them to install the v-brake cable setup. The housing protects the brake cable across its whole length.

For the best experience with v-brakes, you can go for the RUJOI Bike V Brake Set that comes with 2 pieces of braking cable. In addition, it features 2 cable end crimps.

Are Cantilever Brakes Better Than V-Brakes

Can You Change From V-Brakes To Cantilever?

Would you like to downgrade your braking system from v-brake to cantilever? Well, you will need to first deal with the lack of cable hangers over the seat stays and the forks.

All the same, some bolt-up hacks will solve the issue.

You need a cable hanger that attaches directly to the fork or one that wraps around the steerer for the front brakes.

On the other hand, you can use an adaptor such as the ORIGIN8 Alloy Cable Stop that mounts on the binder bolt or seat post for the rear brakes.

Once you have the cable adaptor and cable hanger in place, you can now install a cantilever brake system to replace the v-brakes.

Are Cantilever Brakes Better Than V-Brakes?

Cantilever brakes are generally found on mountain bikes and road bikes. They can be used in wet conditions but aren’t seen as much on modern braking systems because of their shortcomings when it comes to bike stopping power. For this reason, cantilevers are not the best choice for avid cyclists.

As we found in the article, what is the difference between v brakes and cantilevercantilever brakes have a smaller mechanical advantage.

As a result, the brake arms travel a long distance by slightly squeezing the lever. So they have a short cable pull length. Unfortunately, this system has low stopping power.

On the other hand, v- brakes have a long cable pull length since the lever’s input to output force ratio is high. As a result, the v-brakes system has greater stopping power.

Therefore, the v-brakes are ideal for riders who ride at high speeds or terrains that require hard braking.

Can You Use Long Pull Levers With Short Pull Brakes

Can You Use Long Pull Levers With Short Pull Brakes?

Long pull levers have less leverage, and therefore, they pull more cable than short pull levers. For example, v-brakes which are also known as linear brakes, use long pull levers.

On the other hand, the cantilever brake system is short pull. Therefore, a small squeeze on the lever causes significant travel of the brake arms.

All the same, can you use long pull levers with short pull brakes? The answer is no. If you do so, you will end up with a brake that has low stopping power. This is because the long pull lever initiates a small brake arm displacement.

Instead of going for a less effective hack that will adversely affect your braking experience, you can use short travel brake levers such as the BicycleStore Bike Brake Levers which are super light and fit on the majority of bikes.

Are Cable Travel Agents Worth It?

When you don’t want to change the brake levers from cantilever to v-brakes, you can use a travel agent.

Specifically, a travel agent is a pulley system that increases cable pull length without changing the brake levers. With a travel agent, you can use a short pull gear lever with a long pull braking system such as the v-brakes.

Therefore, instead of buying new brake levers, a travel agent allows you to use the old cantilever levers with v-brakes.

Also Read: Why are my bike brakes not working?

Final Take

Cantilever brakes and V brakes are two different types of brake systems that have been around for many years now. They provide a high level of braking power, but they do not share the same leverage or lever design.

Consequently, these systems use different levers (cantilevers have short pull levers while V-brakes utilize long pull levers).

Unfortunately, this means that you can’t swap out your bike’s breaks without changing other components like cables and housing as well.

If you want to change your bike style or add some new features to your current braking setup, it is best to consult with an experienced mechanic before making any changes yourself!