By Adam Newman
While all the buzz these days is about disc brakes for both cyclocross and road bikes, rim brakes aren’t going away anytime soon. True, cantilevers seem to be off-the-back when it comes to power and performance, but you don’t need to go out and buy a whole new frame, fork, and wheelset if you want more stopping power. The Paul Comp Mini-Motos are one such measure for riders who want to upgrade without replacing their whole bike.
Unlike standard V-brakes, the Mini-Motos are designed for the “short-pull” of integrated shift/brake levers. They mount right up to standard cantilever bosses and include all the necessary hardware with high-quality touches like stainless-steel bushings and square-stock springs. There’s even a little nub on the backside of one of the arms to hold the length of cable that sticks out beyond the clamping bolt.
All of the pieces are of the highest quality, including the noodles and barrel adjusters. Unlike many other brakes, each arm can be adjusted independently, which makes setup a snap. Spring tension adjustment is handled with a 15mm wrench, which isn’t the most convenient tool to carry out on the road, but one set I haven’t had to readjust them.
All Paul Comp products are made in California, and the first thing you notice is their jewel-like quality. The pair pictured here are polished silver, but they are also available in matte silver or matte black. Included in each box is a pair of Kool-Stop salmon brake pads, widely considered the best in the business.
I’ve been racing cyclocross with these brakes and I have to say I am smitten. Compared to the older mini-v brakes I had been using, the Mini-Motos are head and shoulders above in terms of quality, adjustability, and modulation. Compared to cantilevers… well, there really is no comparison. I will never use those again!
With cantilever brakes, users are often forced to make a compromise between solid lever feel and outright power. With these brakes there is no compromise needed. The stopping power is comparable to dual-pivot road caliper brakes and the lever feel is light and positive.
If there is a drawback, it’s that some riders might need an adjustment period if they’re switching from cantilevers. The lever pull is so light it could be easy to pull too hard and lock up a wheel. Once I got the hang of it I find my hands get far less fatigued when I can stop without squeezing for dear life. Another tradeoff is that the brake pads sit closer to the rims than they do on cantilevers, so you need to keep an eye on adjustment and keep your wheels in true.
For non racers, they’re worth a look as well, with plenty of room for big tires or fenders. There isn’t infinite room though, so you probably couldn’t fit a mountain bike tire in there. I would highly recommend them for touring and commuting bikes as well.
At $129 per wheel they are not cheap, but like most things, you get what you pay for, and to me these are simply the best cantilever-mount style brakes I have ever used.
- Price: $129 per wheel + $12 for polished finish
- Weight: 108g per wheel
- Made in USA
- Online: www.paulcomp.com