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Forza's cyclocross Cirrus Pro CS Cantilever brakes are really very very good cantilever brakes, stiff and powerful, probably the best I've tried.
Check to see they fit your bike first though. As I'll explain in detail below, I had issues on some bikes, and not others. Having said that, when they do fit, they are good, so we'll ignore that detail for now.
If you don't mind the fiddly set up, and the brakes actually line up with your bike and wheel rim combination these Forzas are a good buy.
Forza, or 4ZA, to confuse you, are the components arm of Ridley bikes. Previously only available on the Belgian bikes Forza parts are now available for everyone to use.
Hidden among their bars, stems, wheels and saddles the Cirrus Pro CS is their cyclo-cross cantilever brake and you'd hope that as Ridley know their way round a cyclo-cross course they'd make a decent CX brake. They do, mostly.
Setting up the Cirrus Pro is fiddly, as is almost traditional with cyclo-cross brakes. To fit these to your bike you'll need a 10mm spanner, a Phillips screwdriver and 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm and 5mm Allen keys.
If you're used to old-fashioned cantilevers and have The Knack this won't be a problem, you'll probably even enjoy fiddling with the brakes to reach your favourite feel. Less experienced mechanics and ham-fisted fettlers might get frustrated and want to look elsewhere.
One nice touch though is that the end barrels of the straddle wire that slot into the brake arms aren't circular like some similarly styled cantilever brakes, but are a 10mm hexagon shape instead, perfect for holding firm with that 10mm spanner while you tighten the straddle wire bolt, making that job a fair bit easier with the circular barrels of other brakes. The barrel on the other end has an in-line cable adjuster allowing for a certain amount of brake cable adjustment without reaching for those tools again.
There are two slots in the rear of each brake arm to pop the spring into for a modicum of tension adjustment. With no other independent spring fine-tuning available, centering the brakes is done by shifting the straddle yoke from side to side and tightening the 2.5mm bolts to keep it in place.
Brake pads are standard road pads so it's easy enough to get replacements and the shoes are mounted on conical washers for perfect alignment to the rim, or to get a bit of toe-in if needed.
Continuing with the fiddly set up them there was a bit of an issue with the front brake in that the pad wouldn't hit the rim. Bit of a major design flaw there.
Despite the brake arm having plenty of up/down adjustment for a brake pad at just over 15mm, the slot doesn't sit low enough on the brake so even with the brake pad rammed as low as it would go it was still sitting too high and hitting the tyre and not the rim. Ah. Hmmmm.
A result of Forza parts having to only fit Ridley bikes up til now and not having to deal with the multitude of differences in the rest of the world's bikes?
Anyway after a bit of a panic and then a bit of chin rubbing with a cup of tea and a bit of swapping the washers round in the brake-pad post, the brake pad managed to hit the rim. It was still a tight squeeze, mind you. What was that about these brakes suiting tinkerers?
The Forza cantis were bolted onto two other cross bikes that were kicking around and they fitted just fine - it just seemed to be a problem on the bike with the brake posts set inboard.
All of that is a bit of a shame because the Cirrus Pro CS is a really very very good cantilever brake. With stoutly constructed aluminium arms angled somewhere between a traditional wide stance CX cantilever and a more modern in-board design they feel reassuringly solid and stiff, giving smooth and consistent braking with good modulation. Even at white-knuckled clamping on the brake lever levels there's no fade or flex. They're also tight on the brake posts and there hasn't been a hint of squeal, chatter or rattle from them.
A very good cantilever brake, but fitting it is not for the fainthearted - and you'd better check they will fit your particular bike first
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Make and model: Forza Cirrus Pro CS Cantilever brake
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Forza don't say too much actually, merely mentioning the improved mechanical ratio for superb braking power, ease of setting the brake pads to the correct toe-in angle and obtaining the perfect brake setup with barrel adjuster.
I can't argue with any of that, they're great brakes, although they don't mention the design flaw that means they might not work with your bike.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Aluminium arms, optimised mechanical ratio brake adjuster, angle adjustable brake pads, straddle wire and yoke included.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For a set of cantilevers they were incredibly good - tight, solid and powerful. Make sure they fit with your bike first though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fiddly set up, lovely feel and great stopping power.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fiddly set up, potential schoolboy error brake/rim alignment issues on some bikes.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes. Once they'd checked to see if they worked with their bike.
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.