Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Lafayette, Colorado
Bikes: 1998 Co-Motion Co-Pilot, 2015 Calfee Tetra
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When we first got our tandem, the local tandem retailer recommended an Arai drum brake. We bought one "just in case". We ride a lot in the mountains west of our house.
Initially we used the drum because it was there. However, as we developed more confidence with speed, more confidence in the V brakes and keeping atune to rim heating, we used the drum less & less. It is rather heavy & clunky. I removed it several years ago & rarely miss it.
However the situation where it is most needed are long steep hills with tight switchbacks. You have to brake your speed down from say 30 mph to 10 mph every 20 - 30 seconds. This dumps a lot of heat into the rims. On long staight hills, you can just "let it fly" and the wind drag will keep your speed within reason if you don't tuck.
I'm not familiar with the terrain around Tahoe but that's our experience.