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Difference between V and Canti brake levers? Answered


I know why a cantilever brake lever cannot be used with a V type brake and vice-versa and thought that I could tell the different types just by looking at the the lever.

I thought that if the lever has a tag like the first picture, for the nipple to sit in, then it is for a V brake...

and if the nipple goes directly in, like the second picture, then it is for a cantilever.

Is this always the case?

Is that correct? I'm not so sure now.

Is there a definitive way of telling at a glance or by measuring, what type of lever I have.
I can't seem to find the answer by googling around.

Thank You.


 To answer my own question;

-There are two different types of lever for the two types of brake.
-Both types can have the pivoting tag.
-There is no way , except by experience or experimenting,  to tell which lever is for which brake, (unless it is written on it.)

It has nothing to do with the brake handles, it's the type of breaking mech. and how it's setup at the wheels.  Here's a great website that will explain it more clearly than I can with out pointing.  My mother taught me it's rude to point.

 Dear Re-design, thanks for your reply but are you sure?

I've always believed that two types of brake use different types of lever..
Even when I have bought brake levers I have been asked if they are for V or cantilever brakes.

The site that you directed me to says.
'The first factor is the lever itself. The lever's mechanical advantage is determined by the distance from the lever's pivot to the cable end and by the effective length of the brake lever from its pivot to where the rider's hands grip it. Typical mountain bike type brake levers give a mechanical advantage of around 3 1/2 ....  levers for direct-pull ( "V-type" ) are around2.

I may be missing something but I thought that V type levers pulled more cable
through; so that if you accidentally used cantilever levers it would be very inneffective.

Best Wishes


FriendOfHumanity: You are right, there are two different types of levers for V brakes or cantilever brakes (and the similar direct pull brakes). The reason for this is due to the different amounts of travel needed for the cable. It is caused by the fact that the way cantilevers work, there is less travel on the brake end of the cable when they are off to pulled on hard compared to V brakes. V brakes are effectively an extended lever which means the end of the lever has to move further from brakes off to brakes on. This is effectively compensated for in V brake levers by having the cable attachment points further out from the lever pivot point in compatible cantilever levers.

This means that if you put a V brake lever onto a cantilever system it will not deliver as much force to the brake and you will have to pull much harder. Alternatively, if you add a normal cantilever brake lever to a V brake it will apply too much force through the cable but may not have enough travel. In this case the result will be the brakes will be very sensitive and can easily lock on when you don't want them too, assuming the levers don't bottom out due to the extra travel.

Effectively, the cantilever system has a relative travel of 1 and force transmission of 1, whilst the V brake system has roughly twice the travel but half the force at the cable, which results in the same force at the pads due to leverage so they both balance out. However, one advantage of V brake systems over cantilever is that this extra force advantage can result in harder braking by increasing the design of the lever ratio, which can't easily be done with cantilevers.

I see your point.  But the names you use are a type of brake system named by the orientation of the braking parts.  The handles that go with that system are a part of that system.  So you should not mix up the systems unless you are willing to experiment.

 Okay , using exact terminology...

I know why traditional cantilever brakes should not be used with direct-pull cantilever levers;  and why direct-pull cantilever brakes should not be used with traditional cantilever levers.... but, for example, when buying parts from a second-hand store would these statements be true ?
-All direct-pull cantilever levers have a tag (as shown in the photos in the original question).
-All traditional cantilever levers do not have a tag.

A cantilever is a type of brake that has two separate brake arms botled separately to the bike's frame, but controlled by a single cable.
V is a superhuman anarchist from a dystopian alternate England.

Hope this clears things up!

 Oops, I got a bit confused there, I have read V for vendetta but for some reason my mind went to an old comic with a character called Zenith which doesn't even begin with V.
Stupid brain.