17 April, 2012


The Zeste brakes were developed by an engineer who designs and makes brakes for at least one major pro bike team. Two VO employees put a lot of miles on the prototypes and both were immensely impressed. Nick used them on a cross-country trip. My own personal set ended up being used on a display bike for the British hand-built show, but I'm putting a new set on my pass hunter this week. Here's the description from our web site:
The Zeste brakes may be the most powerful canti-brakes we've tried. This is due to extra-long arms for increased mechanical advantage. Need to stop a loaded touring bike  down a steep mountain pass? They use a double plate design for superior "mud-clearing" for those of you who ride dirt roads or Cyclo-cross. The low-profile design helps them clear luggage and, on small frames, your heels. But just as important is their excellent adjustability.
There are spring tension adjusters on each arm for easy centering.
Up and down adjustment in the brake pad slot result in greater frame and fork compatibility; not all canti studs are in exactly the same place on every bike due to manufacturing tolerances or intended specification.
An adjusting mechanism at the end of the straddle wire easier setup and fine tuning for perfect clearence and wire angle. You'll wonder why all canti brakes don't have these adjusters.
Brake pads have adjustable toe-in, offering superior stopping power over most OEM pads.
The pivot bolts and washers are stainless steel for long term corrosion resistance.
Price is for two sets, or a bike's worth. Including straddle hangers, mounting bolts and cable end caps.
Sliding the arm onto the boss, note the spring's position.
 Setting up these low profile canti-brakes is pretty easy, but it's important to pay attention to the height of the straddle wire hanger, or yoke. It's height determines the "yoke angle" and thus much of the mechanical advantage of the brake system. If the hanger is too low, you'll have amazing stopping power, but poor modulation and excessive lever travel. If too high you'll have to squeeze the brake lever very hard to get good braking. As your pads wear the yoke angle changes; the yoke get's higher when the pads contact the rim. Use the adjuster at the end of the straddle wire to shorten the cable and compensate for wear.
The yoke is at about the right height for this Polyvalent.
The exact height of the yoke will be based on rim width and on the exact position of the canti studs on your fork. But the photo above will give you starting point. Our Zeste support page is here.
Spring position


Scott Thomson said...

Chris - it looks like the Zeste brake arms do not slide over the unpainted part of the canti studs like many other canti brakes. This, in my opinion, is quite pleasing to the eye since the spring remains visible and shows a bit of color as well.

Is there any problem hand-painting the unpainted part of the canti stud (on the Polyvalent frame, of course) prior to mounting the brakes so there's no unpainted metal exposed?

Lovely brakes - can't wait to try them out on my new Polyvalent frame!

VeloOrange said...

Scott, the arm is not fully on the boss in that photo, so we can show the spring position.

Scott Thomson said...

Thanks for the clarification - but it looks like it doesn't slide all the way on, or at least it doesn't cover the spring itself when finally mounted. I guess I'll just see when I put them on - thanks again!

nordic_68 said...

Your photo depicts a fairly high yoke for a "low profile" cantilever arm. I was under the impression that yoke height would be set such that the anchor angle (as defined by Sheldon Brown) would typically be near 90 degrees, plus or minus. Can you explain further how your recommendation (and the pro bike's photo linked) is reconciled with what I thought were fairly common practices like Brown's? http://sheldonbrown.com/cantilever-geometry.html

Arleigh said...

Great to hear they are perfect for cyclocross. I've been looking for a good set of unique brakes (that work) and everyone in my local CX series won't have.

Thanks for posting!

VeloOrange said...

Nordic, Take a look at the Rabobank bike. They have the yoke a little lower, but probably not at 90-deg. We tested the Polyvalent setup and liked the feel best with the yoke position shown. You should set them up so they feel right to you.

Anonymous said...

they look nice but i suspect that in muddy conditions the "double plate design for superior "mud-clearing" " would quickly fill up with mud and stay full of mud and so be a pain to keep clean

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous set of canti's! All the features one could want and what I'm sure is a reasonable price given the apparent quality. Kudos!

Anonymous said...

Double plate brakes are less prone to jamming up with mud. That's one reason why they are used on the Rabobank and a lot of CX bikes.

RobertB said...

I know one of your employees has a Raleigh Portage. Will these brakes work on that frame with its weird canti-post issue?

GForce said...

Why not use V Brake pads instead of a traditional canti pad? I appreciate the old school looks of Canti pads and posts, but they are just not as easy to adjust, or stay in adjustment as a V brake pad.

Charlie said...

The setup in the naming contest picture looks like it would work much better.