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get rid of the knobbies unless you're planning on a significant amount of off road riding+1 When you put slicks on it will feel like you've been riding with a binding brake. According to Sheldon tread is actually worse than useless on road tires. I've had very good luck with Panasonic RiBiMo tires. My back one did 4500 miles last year with two flats. There are more puncture resistant tires out there (Marathon Plus, Armadillo etc) but I find these heavy and with a harsh ride; the odd, very rare, puncture is a price worth paying for the comfort. It's all really a matter of taste.
I did have Avid's higher line SD-7 V-brakesI did consider SD-7s but then thought "what the hell" and sprung for the much more expensive Ultimate. Water under the bridge now, it's quite possible SD-7s would have done the trick.
As long as the calipers are decently rigidThere's the rub (so to speak). I don't think the SD-5 calipers are sufficiently rigid, hence the chatter (i.e. squeal). SD-5s have another drawback. It can be almost impossible to get both arms to spring back the same amount on both sides no matter how you fiddle with the adjusting screws, with Ultimates this is not a problem.
then cycled up mt washington from thereI take it you mean Washington Pass the highest point on the N Cascades Hwy. Don't be like the father of two brothers I met in Minnesota. He got as far as Washington Pass and refused to go any further leaving his sons to carry on without him! All part of the rich tapestry of cycle touring