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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 05-01-06, 11:28 AM   #1
rjberner
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What's with this brake stuff?

I’m a tandem newbie. Been roadin’ for 35 years, but just got into tandeming with my (soon-to-be-excellent-stoker) wife. Bought a Burley Rivazza and have just finished tuning it during the first 250 miles. Nice ride; it could use (but can’t have) about 2mm of chainline adjustment on the drive side of the FSA Mega Exo BB, but a fun ride – it rips right on down the road.

My prob’s have been with the brakes – a cranky SD 7 vee on the front and an Avid BB7 disc on the rear. I take the wheels off to put the frame in a special fork-mount system inside my Explorer. I do this so I can put my sea kayaks and gear box on a roof rack and so my bikes are out of sight / out of mind. It has kept my insurance company much happier because I no longer lose bikes to pros in parking lots; or try to drive into my garage with them up top; or back into stuff with them on a hitch rack. And it lets me drive my SUV relatively guilt free.

However, when I put the tandem wheels back on, invariably I have to adjust these brakes – especially the pads on the disc to get them where they need to be. They did not come with (wheel-out) pad spacers (inserts) and I don’t believe the inserts are available separately. Sooooooo, after doing this about three times, I removed both brakes and installed a XT vee’s that I had in my bone yard. I now have the repeatable braking setup that I wanted and needed.

So I guess the moral of my story is if you have disc brakes, leave the wheels / brake system intact for the most part. And needing consistent, 1mm or less tolerances on a six-foot bicycle frame makes about as much sense as biking in the nude.
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Old 05-01-06, 12:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjberner
So I guess the moral of my story is if you have disc brakes, leave the wheels / brake system intact for the most part. And needing consistent, 1mm or less tolerances on a six-foot bicycle frame makes about as much sense as biking in the nude.
FWIW, we have been using hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes for about 8 years.... Once you get the brake pads bedded-in and properly adjusted, the calipers are not adversely affected by wheel removal.

This is not to say your observation about the Avid is unique... I read a similar post from someone who opined that they would be reluctant to have one on their front wheel given how often it is removed and the problems associated with getting it dialed back in. Several other readers immediately chimed in to suggest this is not the case.

Therefore, having worked on a bunch of tandems with an Avid disc on the rear wheel -- including our own -- if yours is giving you problems take it back to your dealer and have them make it right; it shouldn't be giving you trouble. If you want to fiddle with it yourself and if you're having a hard time getting the tolerances between the pads and the rotor then there are two suggestions:

1. Install a booster (compression) spring between the cable stop and pinch bolt on the caliper (which is what I did with our Avid and all of our riding companions), or
2. Consider adding an in-line Travel Agent or BPB (Brake Power Booster) -- similar to the device used on road tandems with V-brakes -- to alter the ratio of brake caliper arm movement from the brake lever.

Bottom Line: Unless the caliper or rotor is getting banged-around, once you reinstall a wheel and give the brake lever a good pull, everything should fall right back into alignment, just as you left it before removing the wheel. Doesn't matter if you're pulling the wheel off to change a flat, to clean the bike, or to pack it up for a trip in the car or a suitcase.
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Old 05-01-06, 01:06 PM   #3
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We have had our share of adventures keeping the Avid disc brake on our Rivazza properly adjusted and wholeheartedly agree that "needing consistent 1mm or less tolerances on a six foot bicycle frame" is crazy (we have installed a travel agent and it has helped some). We have not, on the other hand, had any problem with the brakes needing readjustment when the wheel is removed and replaced. Are you sure the pads are properly seated?
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Old 05-02-06, 10:56 AM   #4
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I'm not sure about disc brakes, but with V's you should never have to adjust them just because you removed the wheel.

Make sure the axles are seated all the way in the dropouts. If you have the bike up on a stand (or flipped upside down), you might end up putting the wheel back in a slightly different position -- it will still be safe to ride, but you'll have to adjust the brakes.

I find the best approach is to have the bike standing up with the wheels on the ground -- this way the weight of the bike pushes the dropouts all the way onto the axles and the wheel always ends up in the same position.
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Old 05-02-06, 01:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjberner
However, when I put the tandem wheels back on, invariably I have to adjust these brakes – especially the pads on the disc to get them where they need to be. They did not come with (wheel-out) pad spacers (inserts) and I don’t believe the inserts are available separately. Sooooooo, after doing this about three times, I removed both brakes and installed a XT vee’s that I had in my bone yard. I now have the repeatable braking setup that I wanted and needed.

So I guess the moral of my story is if you have disc brakes, leave the wheels / brake system intact for the most part. And needing consistent, 1mm or less tolerances on a six-foot bicycle frame makes about as much sense as biking in the nude.
I use XT "V's" on my solo and never had any problems with them. Not the case with some of my riding partners that often have to adjust their Non XT brakes to stop rub. I use Hope Disc brakes and once the calipers were set up- only ever have trouble refitting a wheel if the brake lever is pushed accidentally, hence pushing the pads in. Now got into the habit that in my puncture repair kit are two spacers that I fit between the pads whenever the Tandem does not have the wheels fitted.
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