so, you like odd brakes, eh?

mountain bike brakes

Cantilever type

avid - arch supreme yeah, i know. they're not obscure by any stretch of the imagination, and they're the first brake in the list, but thats only because of the alphabet. they're here not because they're so odd, but because they're mechanically interesting, and somewhat deviant from the standard long-arm canti/v-brake design. a different approach to the parallel-push idea behind some of the high-end shimano v-brakes, and a better one, in some people's opinion.
brooklyn machine works - snot rocket very basic long-arm canti, but the part that started the bmw business...
brovedani anti-loc cantilevers

tech sheets (720kb)
crazy italians. a fairly standard-looking low-profile cantilever, with one exception... the roller in front of the brake pad, as it contacts the rim, drives a cam which pulses the actual brake pad in and out slightly during braking. voila! anti-lock brakes for your mountain bike. do they work? i dont know. would i be a little nervous to try them? yes.
marinovative - cheap trick ok, not all that different than a standard long-arm cantilever - but crazy light, homebuilt, and quite effective. i like them, so they're here. nevermind that they were one of the first "linear-pull" cantilevers that started everything towards v-brakes...
mcmahon racing components - batwing very similar in basic design to a lot of linear-pull brakes, but way funky on the design end - the batwing is to the linear decelerator as the widget is to the switchback... well... sort of...
onza - h.o.? i forget the name of these little buggers. while theyre not all that unique on a certain level, the neat thing about them is that they allow enough adjustability to switch back and forth from 26" to 700c wheels on the same set of canti studs. that's cool in my book.
scott/pederson - se (self-energizing) cantilevers these had a very brief moment in the sun sometime in the late 80's. definitely more powerful than standard cantilevers, but i personally was never all that impressed by them for one reason or the other. the brake arms were mounted on a helical spline. as the brake pads touched the rim, they were drawn forward by the rim rotation, and squeezed tighter onto the rim by the helical spline. due to the spline direction being crucially linked to the direction of wheel rotation as related to the position of the brake mounts, they came in front- or rear-specific versions. mounted on the wrong wheel, the spline would reduce pad pressure, rather than increase it. some people had concerns about non-linear braking action, and the possibility of the brakes "grabbing" the rim and not releasing - john forester, i beleive, did a writeup detailing how the se brake would lock up upon application when used with some suspension forks.

Rollercam type

cunningham version

wtb version

cunningham "minicam"
cunningham/wilderness trail bikes -rollercam the first alternative to cantilevers for mountain bikes (back when most cantis were designed for touring bikes - mafacs and shimano stag's head/deore), and still one of my favorite brakes, hands down. i don't care what anyone says about mud clearance (so just how does all that mud get past your chainstays, anyhow?) - not many brakes offer the level of fine-tuneability that rollercams do (if you're willing to take the time). extremely powerful, incredible modulation, and for a time you could even get cams custom-cut to fit your needs. suntour licensed the design from cunningham/wtb, but their versions were never nearly as nice. early cunningham-made versions sometimes have some interesting quirks (like nonstandard mounting bolt sizes, for one!). one of the first modern mountain bike brakes to use external, linear return springs. available in standard or compact versions, to fit ultra-short chain/seatstays. see also the wtb togglecam below.
wilderness trail bikes - speedmaster togglecam basically, this was a sidepull rollercam, which allowed you to use a rollercam on extremely short seatstays, or with a full-sus frame. never really caught on, as by the time it came out, most people had fallen for the bad press about rollercams, and didn't seem to care.

Centerpull type

campagnolo - euclid u-brake pretty standard u-brake, except for one difference - rather than one arm resting over the other, one arm runs through the other! you cant really see from this photo, but this is the only pic ive found so far. part of campys first attempt at mtb components - a collosal flop due largely to its utterly massive proportions - the entire gruppo was made up of huge parts...
interloc racing design - progrssive u-brake about as close to conventional as you'll see here, but a really nice version of the fairly-standard u-brake design. u-brakes are generally a larger-scale adaptation of older centerpull road brakes like universals and mafac racers. These have longer arms than the shimano or scott/pederson u-brakes, and work just dandy. you can't really see them at all in the drawing, but the springs are kind of a combination coil/linear design, much like the springs on old mafac cantilevers. as noted in the old ird catalogues, this brake cannot be used on chainstays - it's simply too wide, and will hit the chainrings.
interloc racing design - rotary brake the rim-crusher of cable-actuated brakes. mounts on u-brake pivots, but instead of the standard u-brake design, the arms dont quite reach each other, and have rollers mounted on the tip of each of them - one of which is larger, pinned off-center, and has a cable running around it. this provides the mechanical advantage of this brake, and quite a mechanical advantage it is! at one time, this brake was rated above even rollercams in wet and dry stopping power, if you beleive magazine tests. from the brake boss down, they're largely the same as the ird u-brake (except beefier).

scott/pederson - se (self-energizing) u-brake same principles (and problems) as the se cantilevers, but in a u-brake design.

"Switchback" type

2nd generation

"micro switchback"

tech sheets (720kb)
interloc racing design - switchback interloc's first cantilevers. quite effective, when set up properly (a common thread with all ird brakes). you can't quite make it out in the illustration, but the straddle cable is a continuous band that loops around the 2 rollers (which are pinned off-center, adding a bit of cam-type action). in contrast to the marinovative decelerators below, the brake cable pulls the bottom section of the loop of wire, which has been brought up and over the top of the loop, creating a sort of 3-part figure 8.
marinovative - decelerator a similar design to the ird switchback, but with non-eccentric pulleys. this one is set up wrong - the cable hanger should pull on the bottom section of the straddle wire loop..
mcmahon racing components - linear decelerator

"Widget" type

2nd generation

3rd generation
interloc racing design - widget these evolved as a solution to running cantilever brakes on rear-suspension swingarms - ird took the Switchback arms, and did a little redesigning, and voila! the widget. scorchingly effective, when set up right. 3 versions exist, from various stages in it's evolution - 2 very similar earlier variants, and the 3rd generation version which was the stock rear brake on some trek full-sus bike.

crosstop I

crosstop III

tech sheets (752kb)
paul components - crosstop I, II, II, MC the most common variant of the widget design, and a fairly adequate version - i tend to think the widget works a bit better, but that's me. i had problems with the cable pinch bolt (2mm allen bolt? argh! what were you thinking?!?!), and the "dealie" on my crosstop III's.

1st generation

2nd generation
strange - strange brake another variant of the Widget straight-bar linkage design, but with the threaded bar replaced (simply and logically!) with a spoke and nipple. Ingenious!
wasatch cycle works - clamp a similar design to the widget, but instead of pivoting a cam on the left brake arm, pulling the cable closes the hinge on the right arm, which forces the brake arms together. the cable housing stop is in the crossbar itself, and the pinch bolt is in the lower arm of the hinge. another very effective mechanical advantage type of brake - one that looks quite clunky, but seems to work quite well.

"Scissors" type

mcmahon racing components - powerbrake this brake is similar in design to the westpine scissors, but without the top half of the linkage, and the cable stop instead on the frame itself.
westpine - scissors an odd brake indeed, designed by the same guy who designed the tri-align pad adjustment system used by avid. the only place i've ever spotted a similar linkage is on cheap lee chi taiwanese crap-o-rama brakes... odd, indeed. the cable housing stop is at the top of the linkage diamond, and the pinch bolt as at the bottom corner of the diamond. pull the cable, and the diamond squashes and elongates, forcing the arms apart, and the brake pads to the rim. at the top of each caliper there is a slot cut where the side points of the parallelogram bolt through; the slots allow the rider to slide the parallelogram up and down in the slot, creating a fairly wide degree of leverage adjustability. also, the brake was made in different version to work on different forks. when the brake was first made, u-brake studs were already passe, so westpine machined different braces with u-brake studs to replace the canti-stud braces on various suspension forks. there were versions for the early judys, manitou 1 and 2 through 4/ efc, as well as a mag21 version.



700c version
bontrager - speed-b-gonz not even sure if these went into production, but they were an odd, and early (1986), long-arm cantilever variant.
paul components - prototype board ok, this isn't just one brake, but a display of the various brakes paul has made over the years, with comments by none other than paul himself, including some nice insights on how the little guy really does drive innovation!
wilderness trail bikes - "lever link" based on a set of wtb rollercams, this is a design that charlie was apparently working on, but never took to production - this set is a one-off based on that design, but with the lever arms built by chuck at pacific coast cycles. (totally breaking my "only stock brakes" rule here, but i think the "only mountain bike brakes" rule is gonna go out the window soon as well...)
wilderness trail bikes - "lever link" another version of the lever link design - this may be the "stock" setup of the lever arms.

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