Bicycles have a great inherent safety design by having two completely independent braking systems. Each wheel gets its own lever, cable, leverage device and set of pads. This is true for all types of systems, caliper, cantilever or disc. On a touring bike where the weight is higher, the brakes have more kinetic energy to manage. Touring bike brakes are more robust than on a lightweight racer or commuter bike.

Mafac brake from 1981
Mafac Cantilever Brake (circa 1981)

For many years , prior to the refinement of disc brakes, cantilever frame mounted systems were the norm. In keeping with the retro look of this build I chose the standard LHT over the Disc Trucker which had just been announced prior to my purchase. Also figuring into that decision is that I have experience with installing, maintaining and repairing a cantilever brake system.

One of the “classic” manufacturers of cantilever brakes was Mafac.

Paul cantilever brakes
Paul Neo-Retro Cantis

Mafac made brakes as early as the 1920’s and were in production well into the 1980’s. They are considered by many to be the gold standard for their time.

Paul Engineering is a modern component manufacturer that produces some of the most beautiful parts available today, in my opinion. I believe that the beauty comes from the simplicity of the design. They don’t embellish the parts or make them  ornate the beauty is in the function. In that respect the Paul cantilever brakes made today look much like the Mafac brakes , not only as an homage but also because there is not a lot of improvement to be done on the

Paul cantilever brakes
Paul Touring Cantis

Mafac design. Apart from using modern CNC equipment and modern materials the overall shape has only what it needs to perform its job. I chose the Paul Neo-Retro for the front for its aggressive pull angle and power. I chose the Touring Canti for the rear for the narrower lever arms to avoid pannier clearance problems.

Wide straddle wire hanger
Problem Solvers (QBP Brand) 50mm Hangers

I bought Problem Solvers 50mm cable bridges to clear the somewhat wide fenders but after test fitting them I decided to go with the Grand Cru Roller Hangers, they clear the fenders easily and are a absolute piece of bike porn to boot.

If you read the article on the frame and fork, then you now I am not 100% pleased with my cutting of the steering tube.

Roller hangers
Grand Cru Roller Hangers from VeloOrange

Part of the reason I have so little adjustment is that I forgot to include the height of a front cable hanger. I chose the Paul Funky Monkey in silver.

Campagnolo cables and housings are used for the braking and shifting. I am using the Veloce Brake/Shift levers both for the look and for the quality. I have not had any issues with any of the components so far. The only thing that I would change is the mounting hardware on the KoolStop Salmon pad sets.

Campagnolo Shift Brake Levers
Campagnolo Veloce Brifters

The stock retaining nut, these are threaded stem pads, is made from inferior steel and rusts up very quickly. I am looking into replacing them with some stainless steel locknuts. The pads are great and I have not had any problems at all with chatter or squeal so I am reluctant to try another brand based on a cosmetic problem. The first set lasted over 7500 miles and still had some life in them. I changed them out so as not to be in the middle of a long tour when they finally requierd replacing.

If I have a huge problem, using Campagnolo parts could be an issue as I am less likely to find replacement parts in stock in smaller shops. In the age of internet retailers and overnight shipping, I am less concerned with it than I would have been 10- 15 years ago.

Bicycle Touring as a lifestyle