Bicycle and Gear Reviews

Review: Shimano BR-R550 Cantilever brake

6 Comments 09 September 2010

The design is pretty sleek and solid and they do fit the bike nicely

One of the most important things on a bike are the brakes, they can literally make it or break it for your bike. For their price, I think think brakes are the wrong place to save money. Since I couldn’t use my Shimano 105 caliper brakes on my ultimate commuter, in order to be ready for larger tyres, and as it turned out later, the frame doesn’t even fit caliper brakes since it’s not a road frame.

So, I had to pick up brakes from the store on the way home, leaving few choices for it. I wanted to go with Tektro CR720 cantilever brakes, but I didn’t manage to find them then (I have a pair now though), so I settled for the next best thing: The Shimano BR-R550 cantilever brakes for the STI-levers found in my 105 groupset.

The aluminum build and the quality of the design is very solid, one of the best I’ve ever seen in cantilever style brakes. All the springs are well-covered, there are no cheap plastic anywhere and even the brake pads are cassette type similar to the more expensive road bike brakes making pad changing a breeze.

So far, I have done a bit over 500 kilometers with the brakes (I think) and after the initial crispness they started to loosen up quite a bit. After some fine-tuning they seemed to get their balance and I had actually set them up a bit too tight in the beginning, being used to mountain bike style brakes. After 400 kilometers the pads started squealing even after cleaning the rim properly, and it hasn’t stopped yet. I think I’ll have to show a bit of sand paper to the pads.

The BR-R550s come standard in many stock cyclocross bikes, and they are not bad brakes. They might not be the best you get for their price of €35 per piece, double that for a pair (many swear on the Tektro CR720s which are about the same price). If you get them from the discount bin like I did mine, they’re well worth the money.

Our verdict: ★★★★☆

If you’re building a cyclocross bike, the Shimano BR-R550 is a good choice for the budget minded.

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Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.

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  • Bok Choi ?

    I have em on my Vivente World Randonneur. Can’t fault em to be honest. 260lbs me and 50+lbs of gear and they stop the bike no problem at all!

  • Andre Vinicius Mulho Costa

    Hello,
       i would like to know, the pads are the same of the v-brake pads?  It seems very like v-brake and not to much like the old cantilever break pads.Thanks!
    If you can sent me the anwer in email too, thanks!

  • Hello Andre!

    Looking at CRC, the V-brake pads seem to be longer and not as thick as the canti pads. (http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/BrandCategory.aspx?BrandID=94&CategoryID=522&PartnerID=2957&InStockOnly=true). This reply should find its way to your mail box as well.

  • Roger Slee

    Markus, you mention tetro 720’s i had a pair recently but found that with my (narrow?) forks by the time the brake came up to the rim there was no room for the block!, so can’t use them . Would these BR-550s be similsr? I do use wide rims 26mm. Its a touring bike with cinnelli crown, road sti levers

  • Roger Slee

    Markus, you mention tetro 720’s i had a pair recently but found that with my (narrow?) forks by the time the brake came up to the rim there was no room for the block!, so can’t use them . Would these BR-550s be similsr? I do use wide rims 26mm. Its a touring bike with cinnelli crown, road sti levers

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Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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