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  1. #1
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    Avid Flak Jacket cables and SQUEALING Single Digit 7's--help?

    Anyone have any experience with the Avid Flak Jacket cables on a tandem? I'm wanting to upgrade the brake cables on our Burley Tosa, which has a Single Digit 7 up front and an Avid Disc in the rear. I've heard very good things from the single world about them, but was wondering if anyone had any experience with them on a Tandem. Also, I was wondering how many kits I would need to buy (I think it's 2 brake kits) to have enough housing/liner to go around on the Tosa. I'm guessing I'll also need to pick up a tandem-length rear brake cable since I'm sure the one that comes with the kit will be too short. Maybe not, though....

    Also, on a different note, my Single Digit 7 up front keeps squealing like there's no tomorrow, causing much stoker dismay whenever I hit the brakes. It's even getting to me now. I've tried the pads square, then toe-in, then more toe-in, then square again, and no luck. I'm running a stock Burley Cro-Mo fork with Weinmann DPX rims and the standard RW2 pads.

    Thanks in advance for the help!
    DrPete

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Beefing Up Brakes:

    So far, the best suggestion I've read here on the forums for beefing up the performance of an Avid rear disc on a tandem is the addition of either an in-line Travel Agent or BTP brake cable pull 'booster'. If I was trying to solve a cable pull problem that was affecting the performance of my rear disc and an add-on compression spring at the actuator arm didn't help, the booster would be my next mod. Only after that failed to provide the performance improvement I was looking for would I start to mess around with alloy brake cable housing like the Avid or similar stuff.

    Squealing Like a Stuck Pig:

    Just curious... given how few responses there have been in light of all the recent Burley acquisitions, how many other Burley owners have experienced brake squeal from their rim brakes? If so, how'd you get it to stop?

    For the front cantilever or linear pull brake, check to be sure that you arent' seeing a lot of outward fork defection when you're applying your front brakes. In short, I'd want to make sure that I didn't already have too much brake lever purchase before increasing it further. As R900 noted in his possible mod list and others with linerar pull or canti-brakes have mentioned, a brake stiffener might do more to improve your front brake performance if you're already overpowering the fork.

    Lacking any consensus from your fellow Burley owners.... If it was me, next thing I'd do is borrow a front wheel from one of my other 700c road bikes for a test ride to see if I could isolate the problem as being brake or rim related. If you change out the front wheel and the squealing stops, it's the stock rim that needs attention. If the squealing persists with the borrowed wheel, then it's the brakes.

    Let us know how it comes out.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 11-07-05 at 10:23 PM.

  3. #3
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    The brakes:

    What's actually precipitating a cable replacement is that I DO have the travel agent installed, and I feel like it takes a huge amount of effort to modulate the brakes just a little. From what I've been able to read about the Avid discs, they're designed to work without a travel agent installed, and that installing one makes for easier engagement of the brake but less leverage for modulating. So that's what I'm running into. And since I'm on a kick of removing the (very few) cheap parts on the Burley (no-name cassette/chain, etc.) as I work on it I was hoping to upgrade the cables/housing at the same time that I removed the travel agent. More on that fiendish experiment later.

    As far as the front brake goes, it seems from reading on this site and others like mtbr.com that the SD7's specifically have serious squealing issues. The stock front brake on the Tosa is the Tektro Mini-V, which didn't perform all that well, and my history of a Tektro brake failure years ago encouraged me to replace it. That brake was squeal-free on our current rim, though.

    I'm thinking maybe the pad is where the money is. Burley's fork seems pretty sturdy so I don't think it's a flex issue, and the Tektro pad worked fine on the Weinmann rim, so I figured it's either an issue with the pad material or the pad's adjustment.

    I believe the Paso Doble and Rivazza come stock with an SD7 brake up front, but a different rim... Help from any Burley owners is appreciated!

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPete
    ... I DO have the travel agent installed, and I feel like it takes a huge amount of effort to modulate the brakes just a little. From what I've been able to read about the Avid discs, they're designed to work without a travel agent installed...
    I can confirm that the Avid works quite well for us and many other teams without the Travel Agent. The compression spring sitting between the cable stop & the actuator arm is all I've added and the performance has been outstanding. Rather than blathering on about it I'll just post a link to a previous post with my comments on the Travel Agent and a link to photos of our Avid disc installation with the compression spring: Disc Brakes & the Inline Travel Agent However, your observations on the lever movement / modulation are quite interesting.

    It sounds as though you're well into a science project on your brakes so I'll just wish you the best of luck & hope that some Burley owners come through for you. Tradition holds that brake pads can make a profound difference.... or not. I'll also put in my usual plug that folks in the market for performance tandems strongly consider front & rear calipers or a front caliper / rear disc configuration.

    Edit: It just dawned on me that you've only had this tandem for a short while. Given all the tweaking that you're going through, what kind of feedback or input are you getting from your dealer on your brake project?
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 11-08-05 at 05:51 AM.

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    For what it's worth, I recently upgraded my tandem brakes to single digit 7's. The rear squeals horribly and I can't get it to stop. I don't like riding the bike because of it. I'm hoping for help as well.

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJWheelBuilder
    For what it's worth, I recently upgraded my tandem brakes to single digit 7's. The rear squeals horribly and I can't get it to stop. I don't like riding the bike because of it. I'm hoping for help as well.
    Can you run back the history on your brake change? As I recall from past posts, you put the Single Digit 7's on your KHS Milano in early September and were initially pleased with the improvements over the stock brakes. By the end of the month, it seemed like you still found the braking performance lacking and then more recently brake squeal was mentioned. Specificially, what I'm curious about is:

    Does the KHS also have Weinmann rims?

    Do the Weinmann rims by chance have a channel or groove in the braking surface similar to the ones on the Weinmann DPX rims used by Burley & the Alex DH rims used by Raleigh?

    Did the stock brakes squeal?

    What made you decide to try the Single Digits vs. any other canti / V-brake?

    Did the Single Digits squeal from day 1?

    Is it just the rear or the front & rear that squeal?

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    I'll chime in with my experience with my Burley Tosa.

    I think the braking is great with the Tektro and Avid disc. I have Campy on my single and I like the touch to be very tight (not much play). With the STI on the Tosa I had to get use to the spongy feeling but the there was never a question of stopping power. I would suggest using the Park Tools disc adjustment (also the v-brake adjustment) drill and/or the procedures from Avid on adjustment. This helped my lever feel by getting the brakes adjusted properly.

    One other thing I did was zip tie the cable housing to the frame near the disc caliper mounting to eliminate flex in the cable during braking. I don't think this did anything but I haven't removed the zip ties to confirm.

    The only cheap components I've noticed is the seat posts. The clamp design is horrible and is prone to slipping. I've roughed up the clamp to post surfaces to keep it from slipping. The cassette and chain are SRAM and work quite well. The only upgrade Ive done to this bike is the stem I needed more rise and length.

  8. #8
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    As per Burley's website, the chain and cassette on our Tosa were "SunRace," which was oh-so-not SRAM and lasted about 400-500 miles of fast riding with our 350# team before the shifting got sloppy. I replaced the cassette with a Shimano XT M-760 and the chain with a SRAM PC-991 and without a single adjustment to the derailleurs the shifting has improved 100%.

    As far as the seatposts, I upgraded Mollie's to Rock Shox right out of the box, and I upgraded mine to a Wound Up carbon post to take some if the edge off the AL frame, which has worked great. I had no problems with my stock post for the month or so I used it...

    Not sure how we got lucky with the White Industries hubs, though--Burley's catalog lists XT as the spec for the Tosa. We'll take it!

    DrPete

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    We're a bit heavier than your team and have well over 600 miles without any adjustments to the shifting.

    Just because the shifting became sloppy doesn't mean you need to change the chain and/or cassette. IMO you've wasted money doing so.

    We also have the White Industries hubs. As you'll learn, manufacturers routinely swap out components for various reasons, but they don't always update their spec guides.

  10. #10
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    Don't knock it till you've tried it... I replaced it because I know that XT cassettes and SRAM chains have given me YEARS of trouble-free service on my mountain bike, and the shifting IS a lot smoother with all other things being equal.

    A good waste of money as far as I'm concerned...

    Huh... Wasn't this a thread about brakes?

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    There's nothing wrong with the cables on your tandem -- the only difference you're likely to notice is a lighter wallet.

    It sounds like you've already made up your mind -- kind of like needlessly upgrading cassettes and chains. I suppose it's good for your LBS though.

    Have fun with your project.

  12. #12
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    Thanks. I'll be sure to submit any future purchases for your approval before I make them. That way I can hang little "Approved by DaveB1234" tags on all the parts I was allowed to purchase.

    To steal a nice condescending line, "As you'll learn," sometimes there are truly necessary upgrades, and others that are not truly necessary but nice for the owner of that particular bike.

    Be sure to let all the owners of any tandems costing more than $2200 know that they wasted their money too. It's really just a continuation of your train of thought...

    DrPete

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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    Can you run back the history on your brake change? As I recall from past posts, you put the Single Digit 7's on your KHS Milano in early September and were initially pleased with the improvements over the stock brakes. By the end of the month, it seemed like you still found the braking performance lacking and then more recently brake squeal was mentioned. Specificially, what I'm curious about is:

    Does the KHS also have Weinmann rims?

    Do the Weinmann rims by chance have a channel or groove in the braking surface similar to the ones on the Weinmann DPX rims used by Burley & the Alex DH rims used by Raleigh?

    Did the stock brakes squeal?

    What made you decide to try the Single Digits vs. any other canti / V-brake?

    Did the Single Digits squeal from day 1?

    Is it just the rear or the front & rear that squeal?

    Wow! You're really good.
    Yes, I have the Weinmann rims. I often wonder if they are the issue since they don't have a machined surface. There is no groove.
    Yes, the stock brakes squealed.
    I decided to try the SD7's based on others stating good results. I came real close to getting the new shimano canti's, but I didn't want to have to do hangers and cables etc. I feel like maybe that would have been the way to go now.
    The SD7's only squeal in the rear. They didn't squeal right away, but it didn't take very long. Maybe a ride or 2. Cleaning the rim with light sandpaper seems to help.

  14. #14
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    Maybe I'll try the sandpaper trick... My Weinmann DPX's do have a groove, but I think they also have a machined surface.

    I've been reading a lot about folks having success with the Kool-Stop dual compound pads too, so maybe I'll give that a shot.

    The stopping power from the SD7's is impressive, though. I have them set up with a travel agent and they do get the job done...

    TandemGeek--Interesting that you mentioned calipers... I'm kicking around the idea of a carbon fork at some point, so I guess I need to consider it. Are you happy with the stopping power of calipers? I mean, I guess I've used them on my 1/2 bike to slow my 200# body down from some pretty high speeds, so I guess they work... I think there's just a perception out there that MTB brakes are designed to be more powerful. But that purchase is still a ways off...

    DrPete

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    This is only a little off the topic. I just installed XTR linear pull brakes (front & back) with new salmon pads and da Vinci brake booster on the back. The performance is better, but the cable stretch on the back brake is driving me nuts. Pulling the brake lever feels like squeezing a water balloon. Is this just new cable breaking in, or is it always going to feel this mushy? So, are there better cables, or do I just let it stretch a bit and adjust out the slack until it reaches it's stretch limit?
    Thanks,
    rlong

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPete
    TandemGeek--Interesting that you mentioned calipers... I'm kicking around the idea of a carbon fork at some point, so I guess I need to consider it. Are you happy with the stopping power of calipers?
    We're a 280lb team and have exclusively used calipers since 1998; they work fine for us. FWIW, the teams whom we regularly ride with are all former canti-brake users who range well into 350lb team weights and all ride caliper equipped tandems also fitted with disc drag brakes.

    Calipers are simply not the default choice for most standard tandem models since production builders must satisfy a very broad consumer base which is just as likely to have teams that favor the use of large diameter tires & mud guards as they are narrow racing tires. The lowest common denominator for brakes therefore has been and remains a cantilever design -- and for a number of years the skinny brake pad & higher-leverage linear-pull canitilever brakes that are quietly be replaced by traditional cantilevers -- which can handle the full range of tires and mud guards.

    Relative to your future plans, three of five teams that comprise our group have switched to rear primary discs with front caliper (Erickson, Litespeed & Bushnell). In our "extended tandem family", the proliferation of front caliper/rear discs is even greater (Burley, Calfee, Co-Motion, & Santana). Again, IMHO, I believe the overall performance of a front caliper / rear disc is the optimum spec for a performance oriented team.

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlong
    So, are there better cables, or do I just let it stretch a bit and adjust out the slack until it reaches it's stretch limit?
    Make sure you eliminate any excess cable housing from your rear brake system, noting that there is often times some excess between both the brake lever and downtube cable stop as well as between the brake and the last cable stop next to the stoker's seat tube.

    Next, pre-stretch the cable as much as you can (without pulling the cable out of the end stop in your lever!). If they're first quality cables, you can usually pull on the lever with great gusto in much the same was as you would pre-stretch derailleur cables by "overshifting" with the derailleur in the lowest position and the bike static.

    Finally, adjust the brake pads to run within 1mm to 2mm of the rims then make any "trimming" adjustments as needed to optimize your brake lever "feel".

    Lastly, ride with it this way for a while and see if you come to peace with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    Make sure you eliminate any excess cable housing from your rear brake system, noting that there is often times some excess between both the brake lever and downtube cable stop as well as between the brake and the last cable stop next to the stoker's seat tube.

    Next, pre-stretch the cable as much as you can (without pulling the cable out of the end stop in your lever!). If they're first quality cables, you can usually pull on the lever with great gusto in much the same was as you would pre-stretch derailleur cables by "overshifting" with the derailleur in the lowest position and the bike static.

    Finally, adjust the brake pads to run within 1mm to 2mm of the rims then make any "trimming" adjustments as needed to optimize your brake lever "feel".

    Lastly, ride with it this way for a while and see if you come to peace with it.
    Thanks,
    Did all of the above, so now we just ride a while. What could be better!
    rlong

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    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    The issue that I'm seeing with the caliper-compatible forks is that they all seem to indicate a max tire size of 25... We're about a 350# team and we're running Conti GP 4-seasons in a 28...

    I know this leads into a long-debated other topic, but are 25c tires ok for a 350# team? We live in MD, and the roads are generally very good quality.

  20. #20
    K&M
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    The front SD7 on our Burley Rivazza (with Rolf wheels) was fairly quiet at first, but has gotten louder as time and miles have gone by. Perhaps due to grit getting embedded in the pads? It is still nowhere near as loud as the Avid shorty 6 brakes on the Treks we rode previously and the braking performance is much better. I am going to try replacing the pads with the multi-compound Kool-Stops and see if that quiets things back down.

    The rear disc has also made some fairly distrubing "metal shop" type noises from time to time (presumably when some grit got into the works), but the ability to smoothly modulate braking force is far superior to any of the rim brakes we have experienced.

    Did your Burley come with a travel agent for the rear disc? Ours didn't, but I added one in order to make adjustment easier. I haven't noticed any loss of ability to modulate pressure and I haven't found a need to add an actuator spring (although I may try it, just to see what effect it has). What we really need is for someone to design a motorcycle-style floating disc.

  21. #21
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPete
    The issue that I'm seeing with the caliper-compatible forks is that they all seem to indicate a max tire size of 25... We're about a 350# team and we're running Conti GP 4-seasons in a 28...

    I know this leads into a long-debated other topic, but are 25c tires ok for a 350# team? We live in MD, and the roads are generally very good quality.
    I'm pretty sure the only fork that severely limits your tire size is the True Temper Alpha Q X2, noting that we have two of them. You'll also recall that the X2 has the shortest fork span at 374mm of the tandem-rated carbon forks which, if you think about it, tends to tie-in nicely with the tire size limitation.

    The Wound-Up fork comes as either canti or caliper and will easily accommodate a 28mm tire. If Reynolds actually begins to produce and ship the 1.125" version of the Ouzo Pro Tandem fork this season -- as they have only promised for the last two -- it too will accommodate at least a 28mm tire. Stay tuned and/or check with Mark Johnson at PrecisionTandems.com to see if the ones he's had back ordered for two years are delivered as promised this year.

    Back to the 25mm question, there are several schools of thought here.

    One is the good-old fashion, 'go for it!'. Glenn Erickson & his stoker Nancy Bruce easily tip the scales around 340 and have used 25mm tires for as long as I've know them, at home in Seattle and while leading tours around Europe. Of course, both of them are pretty hard core cyclists even for folks who are nearing their sixth decade. The point being, you can most likely "use" the 25mm tires, but will you "like" they way they feel when they are inflated to a point where they aren't subject to higher probability of sustaining a pinch flat than the tire you'd normally use.

    The next is, can you get by using a 25mm tire on the front of your tandem, noting that you can always run a larger diameter tire in the rear which is where you really need it relative to the way weight is distributed on a tandem and the added benefit a larger diameter tire provides to stoker comfort.

    The last one is, why play in the margins: stick with a more appropriate size tire for a tandem which then limits your choices for a caliper-compatible fork.

    In the back of my mind I'd foolishly hoped that the True Temper Alpha CX fork that was beefed up for Burley would appear in both the current Canti- brake version and a caliper version for '06. Alas, no such indication that I've seen.

  22. #22
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K&M
    What we really need is for someone to design a motorcycle-style floating disc.
    Hayes produced one a few years ago but it didn't work all that well. Hope is now marketing its high-end 6-pot hydraulic brakes with a floating disc and I think, but I'm not sure, there is a set on their way for us to play with on our Ventana. Of course, at 200mm instead of 203mm it's not quite a perfect match for the Avid.


  23. #23
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    Yeah, I was really pleased with the look/performance of my Wound Up seatpost, so I think I might continue that theme and go with the Wound Up fork. Only catch is the added conflict that now comes up because of the soon-to-be-available front disc option. Not tried and true in the tandem world from what I can tell, but I've become a believer in disc brakes, so maybe disc/disc will be the way to go.

    I'm still a little concerned about the shorter axle length up front and the long-term durability of a disc-compatible front wheel on a tandem. Not sure if the dish will end up being an issue.

    And in all honesty, I think a DA or Record caliper up front would probably be ample in the stopping power department when combined with the rear disc...

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    Bit off-topic...but

    Quote Originally Posted by DrPete
    Yeah, I was really pleased with the look/performance of my Wound Up seatpost
    Did you keep your stoker stem combo? I've been thinking about going with the same seat post but had concerns with the fitting of the stoker stem to the carbon post. Also, how does the setback compare to stock?

    Regarding your brakes, have you tried the adjustment procedure on Park Tool?

    As others have said, sand paper can help, just be sure to use a fine grit paper (you can also use a flat file on the pads). Id be careful sanding the rim surface too much Ive done this with some rims and it leaves shards of the rim that can get stuck in the pads although a thorough cleaning could probably prevent this. Steel wool and/or emery cloth works well.


    Quote Originally Posted by DrPete
    ...complaints against may 'condescending' comments toward Pete
    I did not intend to upset you with my comments. I too, like to upgrade my bikes with better components - some needed and some not needed. I was only trying to point out that the Avid cables will probably not noticeably improve your braking -- different brake shoes, calipers, etc. along with proper adjustment will probably be a better choice.

    I also wanted to point out to future purchasers of a Burley Tosa that the stock components are very capable of long-term durability and performance - at least in my experience.

  25. #25
    K&M
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    Glad to hear the floating discs are being played around with. A floating disc compatible with tandem-style Avid mechanicals would (potentially, at least) be a real improvement.

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