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Have cantilever brakes changed very much over the past decade? I'm building up a cyclocross/tourer/etc on the cheap and need some canti brakes. There seems to be some deals to be had on ebay for older XTR brakes... Not sure of the vintage but I assume mid 90s. How would these stack up against say avid shorty 4's of today. Have they made any significant improvements?
 

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Frith,

In a nutshell the difference is adjustability, weight and the type of brake pads each uses.

Avids use "V brake" type of pads instead of the old canti-style threaded or solid posts. The V pads are easier to come by (usually) have more braking surface and are easier to change than the post style.

I just spent the money and put a set of Spookys on my cross ride and they are so much stronger than my old Avids. They are not cheap (paid $80 on eBay) but I do alot of hilly trailriding on my cross bike so I like the better brakes.

Old XT cantis can be had for next to nothing and I would say that they probably work about 85% as well as Avid if you set them up correctly.

That said, the Avid can be had pretty cheap too. I'd go with the Avids.
 
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