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  1. #1
    Senior Member BikeManDan's Avatar
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    Our first tandem

    Very excited about our first tandem purchase. Bought it used locally. Actually had a friend drive us to the place and then my girlfriend and I rode it back home the 12 miles (which I thought was pretty impressive considering neither of us have ever ridden a tandem before). We both really enjoyed the ride home and found it initally to be difficult but eased into it nicely and its almost easy now.

    Here she is, KHS Tandemania Comp



    Few questions:
    The bike has a drum brake but its controlled by the stoker. Could I get a brake lever that would control both the rear V brake and drum brake?
    Also, the tires are currently semislick 1.5", should I get new tires that are slick and narrower? I don't plan to go off pavement anytime.

  2. #2
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwoloz
    Could I get a brake lever that would control both the rear V brake and drum brake?
    There are drop-bar levers -- DiaCompe 287's -- that come in a "tandem" model with dual cable stops. I'm not aware of any MTB levers that have this feature. There is a gadget, the "World Class Tandem Brake Splitter" that could be used to create the configuration you're looking for; however, in either case I would not recommend this configuration.

    The drum brake is best used as a "drag" brake, controlled by either the stoker -- as yours is configured -- or by the captain using the same type of friction lever to pre-load the drum brake for sustained speed control on long descents, with the rim brakes being used as normal for further speed control.

    Quote Originally Posted by dwoloz
    Also, the tires are currently semislick 1.5", should I get new tires that are slick and narrower? I don't plan to go off pavement anytime.
    Unless you're bothered by the road noise, I'd wear out the rear (make it a goal) and then reward yourselves with the new tires. If the road noise is bothersome to you or your stoker, go ahead and change the tires now; no sense is letting a few bucks for some tires detract from your tandeming experience.

    If you are pinching pennies, the alternative recommendation would be to wear out the rear, move the front to the rear and then put the first narrow slick on the front. Once the second rear semi-slick wears out, move the slick front tire to the rear and put another new slick on the front.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 01-14-07 at 10:02 PM.

  3. #3
    Year-round cyclist
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    It would be very hard to control a v-brake and a drum brake with the same lever because they need very different amount of cable pull. On the other hand, it is possible, though not recommended, to control both v-brakes with one lever and the drum with another one. In fact, most manufacturers have veered away from such a setup because it's not optimal.

    Here are a few solutions.

    – Leave it as is. The drum brake isn't the best brake but it is very good tool to slow you down, especially on long downhills where the rim brakes could overheat. So your stoker will never use it except when going down a steep hill. You then tell her to apply it in a continuous fashion all the way down, and you use the two rim brakes to fine tune your speed.

    – Install three levers up front, like this. The left oblique lever controls the drum, the left straight one controls the rear v-brake and the right one controls the front v-brake. That way, I apply whatever brake I want. Great for steep bumpy hills because it allows ideal modulation. But on very long hills, I' would have to brake all the time.

    – Use a shifter to control the drum brake. Some use a thumbshifter, others a downtube shifter. The idea is that you use the shifter to partly squeeze the drum and leave it that way until the hill is over. It's great in those 20-km hills that you have out West because you don't have to squeeze it all the time. Once it's applied, you simply use the two other brakes when in need of more slowing or stopping power. The shifter could be either on your or your stoker's handlebars. As strange as it may look, this solution is looked favourably by many people, especially out West.

    – Remove it! Depending on the weight of your team and your riding plans, you may not even need one. Some teams have crossed the Rockies without a drum. I would not do it, however.

    As for tires, you could likely, depending on the width of your rims. Sheldon Brown has a good table on that, but basically if your current tire bulges (i.e. is wider than the rim), you could go to 1.1 or 1.2 inches. However, unless your team is very light and/or your roads very smooth, I would stay with 1.5". Get high pressure slicks and you might have a pleasant surprise.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  4. #4
    Senior Member teamcompi's Avatar
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    We started with a tandem just like yours, have fun. My vote if you keep the drum is to leave it set up just as it is, on long down hill runs the captain has enought to contend with, let the stoker control the drag brake. If these are the tires that came with the bike when it was new get rid of them now, they have a real sticky rubber that seems to pick up all the junk on the road, we used Conti travel contacts for touring or Schwalbe Stelvios for empty road use. You want to try to avoid flats on a tandem, they can get a little weird when you get a flat tire. One of the reasons I use a drum is to keep the rim heat down when you hit long downhills, one can actually cause flats by having hot rims, go easy with the vee brakes and use the drum in the long downhills.

    I am so excited for you, riding as a team is so much fun!

  5. #5
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Agree with previous suggestions to leave drum brake control to the stoker; she can apply it at captain's request on long/fast/curvy descents.
    In decades of tandeming, have never had a flat induced by overheated rims (and yes, have done miles-long descents without use of a drum).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    In decades of tandeming, have never had a flat induced by overheated rims (and yes, have done miles-long descents without use of a drum).
    That is great... but for a normal weight/experience team the risk of catastrophic rim overheating during long/steep descents is very real.

  7. #7
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    If I am not mistaken...you bought that tandem on E-Bay recently. There is a scratch on the captain's toptube.

    I was going to bid on it...but the price + shipping was more than I wanted to spend. Of course you were able to take advantage of the free local pickup.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BikeManDan's Avatar
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    You are right
    Even with the free pickup, I paid a a little more than I wanted to but I was eager to get one and the location was right so I just did it.



    Thanks for everyones advice. I'm going to leave the drag brake as is and upgrade the tires after a some time has passed.

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