These are the brakes I decided to set up the bike with:
Avid Shorty 4
This is from the auction listing. The seller packaged these things so well it was silly.
A small box with a packing peanuts, each brake arm wrapped in thin plastic wrap, and then wrapped in shrink wrap. These were packaged so much better than the seat post, which was in a clear plastic bag with the label stuck on it.
These brakes mount to a set of posts on the fork and seat stays of the bike. Each brake arm has a spring that keeps tension in the cable. On a caliper brake, the spring is shared between the arms, but on a cantilever brake, spring tension is handled by one small coiled spring per arm. The springs have a small knob that sicks into the frame or fork to hold it in place. Typically, there are 3 options for spring location, for varying resistance. It's important to have them in the same hole on both sides.
Brake pad mounting
The three lines on the left indicate the three holes, and the arrow on the right is the knob you stick into one of them. Usually the middle hole is fine. Without cables, they kind of limply hang there, but once cables are attached they'll maintain a good neutral position.
I picked up some cables at performance for about $10 each. You can spend upwards of $100 on a set of cables that are built my NASA and blessed by Jesus, but I went with the budget version:
Brake Brake Derailleur
These are cool because they come with two 'ends'. 'Ends' is the only name I can find for these things, but they are what interfaces with the lever. You can use them with either a MTB style or a road style:
Road end MTB end
I cut off the MTB ones with the tool shown and fed the cable through the shifter/brake like this:
Thread the needle
The cables get fed through this Y shaped guide that evenly pulls on each arm
That's about it, adjust and tighten the cables and it's ready to go (or stop rather).
Cables are part of the 'nickel and dime' parts of a bike that can add up quickly. Some additional parts are brake pads, chainrings and bolts (especially single speed conversion bolts), skewers, bar tape, tubes and tires. Small parts like them are easily purchased at a bike shop, but could also add up to over $100 if you're not careful.
It's fortunate that I have some left over parts that I'm going to try to reuse like handlebars, seat and wheels. Hopefully that will reduce some of the bizarre costs that sneak into a seemingly simple and cheap bike build.
Stay tuned for bar wrapping and the completion of the bars and controls!