Rene Herse Cantilever Brake


The lightest brake available today, weighing just 75 g per wheel (with pad holders, but without pads, which vary as they wear). The secret behind the light weight lies in the minimalist design and ultra-high specification. The forged arms are thin without giving up strength. Post-style pad holders allow small adjustments in pad height without the need for bulky slots and heavy bolts. Carefully equalized springs eliminate the need for adjustment screws.

To mount the brake pads, we offer two options:

  • 1. Direct mounting without washers, with ultralight aluminum nuts for the eyebolts. To adjust the toe-in, bend the arms slightly.
  • 2. Washers that set the toe-in, with thinner steel nuts for the eyebolts. To adjust toe-in, swap between straight and 2.5º angled washers to compensate for the alignment of your frame’s cantilever bosses.
  • With both methods, you adjust the toe-in only once. Then you can change the brake pads without having to adjust toe-in again.


Use the Rene Herse cantilever brakes with modern ‘aero’ or with classic ‘non-aero’ brake levers.

Sold as set for one wheel, to give you a maximum of flexibility when spec’ing your bike. Each brake comes with all hardware, a straddle cable hanger, and Kool-Stop salmon-colored brake pads. Please select:

  • steel or titanium eyebolts
  • direct-mount pads or washers for toe-in


Note: To work with the ultralight design of these brakes, the height of your frame’s cantilever posts must be within standard tolerances. (Your current brake’s pads should be roughly in the middle of the slots.) If the pads of your current brakes are at the top or bottom of the slots, the Rene Herse brakes may not fit on your frame.

Assembled in Seattle from parts made in Taiwan and USA. 10 year warranty.

Note: Please allow a few extra days for assembly and shipping of these brakes.

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Rene Herse introduced his revolutionary cantilever brakes at the 1938 Concours de Machines. Their superlight weight was matched by excellent stopping power, something that was lacking from previous cantilevers. Herse’s brakes were not just for superlight bikes in the Concours; they equipped all his bikes and even tandems.

The modern Rene Herse cantilever brakes have been modified to fit standard cantilever posts. They are forged for ultimate strength. The shape of the arms was examined using Finite Element Analysis, but Herse’s original design has no stress concentrations and could not be improved.

Optional titanium eyebolts for the pads save weight without sacrificing strength. These bolts are large to fit over the pad holder post, not because they undergo massive loads, making titanium an ideal material for this part. Using traditional post-style pads allows you to adjust the pad height by sliding the pads inward and outward, without requiring slots in the brake arms that add bulk and weight. The pads can be toed in using an angled washer.

Carefully equalized springs eliminate the need for tension adjustment screws, saving additional weight. As on the Rene Herse centerpulls, the straddle cable is extra-thin, made possible by swiveling attachments to the arms, which eliminate stresses that occur with standard clamp bolts.

  • Mount to standard cantilever posts
  • Supplied with 'standard' 264 mm straddle cable
  • Clearance for 56 mm tires without fenders, or 42 mm tires with 62 mm fenders
  • 'Long' 286 mm straddle cable (available separately) for 55 mm tires with fenders
  • 'Short' 245 mm straddle cable (available separately) for small frames
  • Distance between posts: 62 - 84 mm
  • Weight (with straddle cable and pad holders, but without pads):
    • Titanium eyebolts, direct mounting: 75 g
    • Steel eyebolts add 8 g
    • Optional washers for toe in add 4 g
    • Thick and long-wearing Kool-Stop pads weigh 15 g/pair (but get lighter as they wear)