The stock brakes on my 2009 Surly LHT (yeah you know me) are Oryx cantilevers by Tektro. They have performed ok, nothing to write home about, but they stopped the bike when I need them to. After about 2300 miles of commuting and touring, the pads are starting to wear down a bit. Before I bought new pads, I thought I might throw on an old pair of Avid shorties I had laying around and do a little comparison. I've always thought that cantilever brakes for the most part, were the same. These two brake sets weigh roughly the same and have a similar shape. The Avid brakes are 6 grams lighter that the Tektros, (not that is matters on an LHT) but the main difference between the two is that the Avids use v-style brake pads. Like the Tektros, the Avid pads were pretty well worn so I figured it would be an even match.
I was in for a surprise. For the first time on the LHT, I felt I might go over the bars after braking hard. The Avid shorties felt a lot more powerful than the Tektros. I'm not sure if it's due to the brake pads or maybe a different alloy, but the difference is night and day. These are the old model shorties which are still available, but the new design looks to be around $25 and that's lot of bang for your buck.
The Avid brand seems to be full of inexpensive "no brainer" products. I am running the Avid BB7 cable actuated disc brakes on my mountain bike and like the shorties, they are simple, reliable, and inexpensive. Well played Avid.
On a separate note, I'd like to do a little bragging. I picked up this t-shirt from Bikage and I will be wearing it with pride. RIP Sheldon Brown.
Listen to Sheldon this weekend... RIDE.