Tandem Cycling - CO without a drag brake?
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Seeing this year's Ride The Rockies route has me fired up to do it on the tandem. The only problem is my wife, also my stoker. After working on her for a week I've managed to change her original answer from "he!! no" to just plain "no", so there's hope!
One of my wife's objections is that we don't have a drum or disc brake on the tandem, just V-brakes. Can we safely ride through Colorado without one? We've had the tandem up to 50mph on straight hills before so we are not afraid of a little speed. I have some mountain riding experience on a single. I would like to avoid the expense and hassle of adding one if possible. Any thoughts/experience?
02-11-02, 10:32 PM
Colorado is probably one of the few places where we'd put our drag brake on our tandem. We routinely ride the North Georgia mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina without it, but for what are sure to be some long descents the $130 investment in a drag brake may be prudent.
More importantly, you'll keep your stoker happy and, after all, that is a Captain's primary job.
Seriously, I'm pretty sure your T200 came with a "pac-man" fitting and a left side threaded hub for a Arai drum brake. You can get an Arai drum brake set up from Mel Kornbluh at http://www.TandemsEast.com or Jack Goertz at http://www.tandemsltd.com for about $130 - $150.
Don't mess with the disc brakes. The hub alone will cost more than the entire Arai drum brake system.
Get the Arai drum brake. Run it off a thumb shifter or give the stoker a bar end shifter to operate the drag brake.
Generally I would say it is a vary bad idea to give the stoker control of a brake (what if she decides to stop at the same time you decide to speed up to miss that car?). For just one trip it might be ok.
If you don't run a drag brake down those long Colorado slopes you are going to be constantly worrying about overheating your rims and blowing a tire. You will actually go faster with an extra brake.
Don't forget you won't be the only cyclists out there. Riders are going to be blocking auto traffic forcing you to slow down at any time. Riders will even stop without notice to take in the view.
On a big group ride like that you can never be too cautious or prepared.
02-12-02, 12:39 PM
Generally I would say it is a vary bad idea to give the stoker control of a brake.
Hmmm. Probably not a universal rule since there are so many variables, e.g., seasoned cyclist-stokers, experience, good communication or just that ESP tandem teams who have ridden together for many years seem to share. However, if you find yourself riding with a variety of stokers who have varying degrees of skill or experience then, yes, if I didn't keep control over it I would agree that at least some special instructions might be required, such as "I'll tell you when to apply and release it".
Now, here's the interesting part. If your rear brake cable runs down the side of the top tube your stoker already has the ability to apply the rear brake. All they need to do is simply reach down, grab and pull up on the exposed brake cable and voila, the rear brake will be applied... Just something to think about.
Us, well yes I do have control of the rear brake on our tandems. Debbie wasn't a seasoned cyclist when we started riding so it was an easy decision early on. I've kept it that way since it's so rare that we use it that it would be difficult to actually develop our "team braking skills". However, if we lived in the mountains and used it more frequently I'd probably have set it up for use by Debbie.
Thanks for the advise. I've got the Pac-man thing so I'm going to check out the drum brake. Now for who will get to control it, umm.
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