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  1. #1
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    Please, I do eed brake advices

    Hello from Quebec,

    We need advices about brake setup. We own a Cannondale road tandem equipped with avid BB7 disk brake. Up to know, braking is more than enough for the kind of territories we have around here. This summer, we are booked for a trip in the Pyrenees in France/Spain and I am a bit worry about the capacity of our brakes rolling down those long hills. Our team weight, including water bottles and light luggage, would be around 300 lb. I am actually looking at different brake setup but not having used any of these combinations, I am uncertain about what to decide. The first idea was to replace the rear disk brake with an Arai drum brake and install a V-Brake/travel agent on the seat stays. With this configuration, I would need to add a third brake lever either on my handlebar or the stoker handlebar. I am not sure about having to control 3 brake levers all by myself specially going downhill with switchback. So I thought about the stoker controlling the extra brake. She has her own cycling computer so she can watch for a maximum decided speed. To facilitate her job and to prevent the chance she may forgot to turn the brake “off”, I was thinking using a regular brake handle instead of a friction type shifter. Now, what type of brake handle fit well the required cable travel/effort of an Arai brake? V-brake type, cantilever type or else???

    My other approach is similar to the first except that I am keeping the disk brake instead of installing a drum brake. In this configuration, I am not sure what would be the best cabling setup??

    As you can see I am kind of lost and I don’t really have nice hill around here to “validate and test” my future brake setup so your experience will be really appreciated.

    Thank you and have a nice day,
    Michel

  2. #2
    MB1
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    I like the Arai drum brake. You could always run it as a drag brake with a bar end shift lever from your handlebars.

  3. #3
    Hill Riding Team
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    Salut !
    From our experience in 2005 three brakes were very useful. At that time we had V-brakes front and back operated by the pilot and a Hope hydraulic disc at the rear operated by the stoker. Lisa on the back generally dumped most of the speed on the disc, with me doing the fine tuning alternating the V-brakes to avoid overheating.
    We cycled the Tourmalet and descended quite happily. We are happy to descend at fairly high speed (upto 50 mph).
    Since that time we have upgraded the front brake to a disc to give some more balance in the braking power.
    Have a great time - enjoy the mountains !
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    Senior Member charmed's Avatar
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    We have an Arai Drum brake with the stoker controlling the drum brake. It worked out well, as I just would set the drum brake when I felt we were going too fast, or when the captain told me he needed help braking. It gave me a little sense of control on those big downhills.

  5. #5
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    Thanks all 3 for your answers. It is appreciated.

    Charmed, what type of control you are using for the drum brake? Friction shifter or regular brake lever?

    Peak Team, what time of the year have you climbed the Tourmalet? On your picture, it look warm. Have you climbed other col during the same trip?

    Michel

  6. #6
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    On our old bike we had an Arai drum. We had this originally set up with one brake lever operating the two rim brakes and the other operating the drum. This worked well and we kept with this set up for the King of the Mountains series here in Southern California.

    After a switching to brake levers that were more comfortable for Paris Brest Paris we had to go to one brake lever operating each rim brake and a thumb shifter operating the drum. While I know some prefer this setup - I do not. I find I am shifting my hands around the handlebars too much at too high a speed for me to feel comfortable.

    On our new bike, the captain has two levers that operate the rim brakes and the stoker has one that operates the Avid disk.

    Of the three set ups that we have gone through I much prefer the Avid disk - three brake lever set up. Most stopping power by far. It does take some getting use to however, and we are still working out when, how much and who is to brake. Communication at speeds above 40 is extremely difficult and it is best to have your braking system down before hand.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I've had tandem friends tell of their disc brakes failing from overheating on a long steep decent in Southern California. He said they had to lay it down (a controlled crash) to avoid something worse. The Santana Company has some doubts about discs too. Better to check their site and publications for details. My tandem has a drum brake that I can set to have a fixed amount for braking power on long hills. I then modulate the two cantilever brakes as needed. My stoker, I, and our stuff is close to 500 pounds. I have discussed having something like a wind-trainer friction-fitter to the rear wheel for descents. Drag would go up as a cubed function of speed.
    This space open

  8. #8
    Hill Riding Team
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
    Thanks all 3 for your answers. It is appreciated.

    Charmed, what type of control you are using for the drum brake? Friction shifter or regular brake lever?

    Peak Team, what time of the year have you climbed the Tourmalet? On your picture, it look warm. Have you climbed other col during the same trip?

    Michel
    Hi Michel,
    That day we did the Col de Lingous and the Tourmalet (about 70 miles). We did a number of other day rides in SW France.
    The temperature was probably 25-30 C in the valleys and 10-15 C at the top of the Tourmalet. The descent from the Tourmalet was cold - we put all the clothing we had with us on and some newspaper from the cafe down my front (there is a box of newspaper by the door for this !). The top of the col was in fog and stayed very cold until we were back in sunshine. Typical mountain conditions really - not sure I'd fancy it if it was raining (snow is unlikely at 2100 m in the summer).
    We did find that our gearing was less than ideal (especially when tired). Since then we have changed the cassette to 11-32.
    Via Michelin is useful for maps and weather conditions:
    http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/viamich...TF-8&x=42&y=13

    Good luck - send a report !
    Alan

  9. #9
    Senior Member charmed's Avatar
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    Our drum brake has a thumb shifter. Set it and forget it. And on really big downhills that was great, as I could set it and sit up and unzip my jacket. Talk about a drag brake!

  10. #10
    sch
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    You might want to look at the comments on the thread entitled "V brakes OK for steep descent"
    by Mystery Ship about 15 posts down on the forum. The only virtue of the Arai is you can set
    it up with a lever to give constant drag. On a very long downhill it will heat up the hub quite a
    bit and some users have had concerns over bearing lube. The Arai does not have any great
    contribution to rapid stopping. The disk has no trouble at all with 'rapid stopping' though there
    is some risk of wheel lockup which could blow a tire or result in slideout. We specified a rear
    disk (BB7) on our newer tandem after finding the rear rim too hot to touch after braking from 35mph
    down a 0.5mi hill and steep (16%+ for 50yds) driveway to my house. Front rim was warm but
    not hot. The rim brakes worked very well apart from that. I think keeping the rear disk and
    adding a rim brake would be best with considerable thought on who would operate the third
    brake. Stokers ability to see forward would be one factor.

  11. #11
    pel
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    We have a Cannondale Mountain Tandem 2006 with BB7 disc brakes front and back. Pulled a YAK through Europe including some long/fast descents: Splugen 2200 metres to Chiavenna 300 metres over 30 km, Albula pass to Thusis about the same both in Switzerland. all up about 200kg / 440lbs. Disc brakes (mechanical) were great swapping front to back every 10 to 30 seconds it seemed in some sections. Let her rip in others. Did not need the Arai drum option.
    But might give your stoker some comfort. However, coordination could be problematic using a third brake particularly if you are going fast and approaching bends.

    Stopping to look at the scenery on the way down can reduce the tension and cool the brakes although they heat up much faster (in seconds).

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all of you for your inputs. It is well appreciated.

    For this trip, I am going to play it safe. I placed an order for an Arai brake. I still have to figure out who is going to control it. During last week-end, we went ride up north of Montreal. It is a bit hilly but nothing to compare with the French alps or Pyrennee. It was just to figure how it would be easy to control an extra brake at a relatively hig speed. I installed a Bar-end shifter on my road handlebar as a fake control. Even going down at 45mph, it was still easy to adjust the bar-end. Once the Arai brake will be installed, I will return there and redo the same test to see if it still the best way to control it. If not, we will try on the stoker handlebar. I will give some news about that.

    Have a nice day,
    Michel

  13. #13
    No Pain, No Pizza Thigh Master's Avatar
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    Arai drum, friction thumb shifter for the captain's right hand. Wonderful - transfer the heat to the drum rather than the rims, with fine-tuning with the regular brakes as "Peak Team" mentioned. We have old school Shimano Deore LX cantilever brakes. This combo is fine in addition to our Arai on very steep hills without bags. BUT - when we have the bike fully loaded, front and rear panniers, water, etc., it is barely enough on really steep stuff. Team weight 440 lbs., bike without bags 52 lbs. Before we head off to big mountains with our bags again I'd like to upgrade the cantilevers... somehow.
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  14. #14
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    Thank you Thigh Master. For this trip we will travel light. The luggage will be carry by the travel agency. We just need to carry enough fuel for the day and some clothing, so the bike should not too heavy.

    Have a nice day,
    Michel

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