In the mid 1990s, Shimano produced the Altus CT 90 cantilever brake, a masterpiece of flawed design. Out of the box it worked reasonably well, but the return springs were anchored in plastic collars. In a fairly short time, the stress of the springs and the deterioration caused by sun and weather weakened the collars so they cracked, rendering the return springs useless. It was part of the component group that included the cranks that snap off.
Shimano never publicly acknowledged their mistake, but they made collars available free of charge to bike shops that bothered to call and ask.
I asked constantly. I don't believe in looking the other way when riders get stuck with an inferior product. If the manufacturer will take the hit and provide repair parts free, I will be first in line. I still spot Cranks of Death.
A few years ago, Shimano stopped offering the collars for free. I immediately stopped fixing the old CT 90 brakes. Tektro and Shimano offer a cost-effective replacement brake for little more than a couple of sets of collars.
When the Tektro and Shimano brakes went out of stock at our regular suppliers late in the summer, we picked up a couple of sets by Alhonga. BAD MISTAKE.
Alhonga has cloned the crappy CT 90 brake, complete with the stupid plastic collars!
We used a set on a repair, but only with full disclosure. I have been advising customers to wait for the return of the good products if they can.
Things took a serious turn for the worse when the parts buyer brought me six bags of the Alhonga pieces of crap.
"We need to have something in stock," he said.
We already had a set of the Alhongas in stock, which was plenty enough to gather dust as far as I was concerned. I refuse to install these brakes when I know I'm setting the customer up for the same problem caused by the CT 90s. We're supposed to be CURING the customer's problems, not giving them second helpings.
A certain amount of shit will hit the fan when I have to blatantly refuse to install this ill-chosen crap. It won't be the first time.
Ultimately it's for the best not to use inferior components to bail yourself out of a jam. Installing parts you are pretty sure will fail WILL bite you on the ass, AS IT SHOULD.
I'm not looking forward to this discussion.