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  1. #1
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    Is a "travel agent" really necessary?

    Has anybody any experience (good or bad) of using a normal V-brake and drop drop STI/Ergo brifters without a travel agent (or similar device) to change the mechanical advantage?! The accepted wisdom is of course that you must. However, I am doing an experiment on this myself, just for the front brake. I can't say I really had a problem with the travel agent, but it is a little fiddly to set up and I wondered if I could make the braking more powerful by not using it.

    I am using a Campag Ergo lever with an LX V-brake. To increase the lever travel I can use I am leaving the quick release button on the lever in. In fact I am also continuing to use the travel agent, but now just as a friction reducing pulley.

    My theory is this:

    I do now need twice as much lever travel to close the brake pads to the rim, but have compensated somewhat for this by using the ergo lever quick release.

    I can cope with the greater reach to the brake lever with the quick release button in, especially since I'll mostly be braking from the brake hoods.

    I'm not losing much travel through cable stretch since a) I've now reduced the cable tension I need for the same brake pad force, and b) this is just the front brake.

    The travel agent used simply as a pulley should be more efficient than a "noodle".

    I won't have a problem with frayed cables (as has occasionally been reported with travel agents apparently).

    Hoped for advantage: I'll be able to brake harder for the same hand strength and stop the tandem very quickly in an emergency.

    Possible disadvantages: I might run out of lever travel and not be able to brake hard. I might have to set the pads so close to the rim that they rub. I might not be able to easily remove the wheel since I'm using my quick release already.

    Comments welcomed!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dds11 View Post
    I won't have a problem with frayed cables (as has occasionally been reported with travel agents apparently).

    Hoped for advantage: I'll be able to brake harder for the same hand strength and stop the tandem very quickly in an emergency.

    Possible disadvantages: I might run out of lever travel and not be able to brake hard. I might have to set the pads so close to the rim that they rub. I might not be able to easily remove the wheel since I'm using my quick release already.
    I can't think of any disadvantages other than the ones that you have mentioned. If you're getting enough travel and cable pull using the Ergo levers and don't have difficulty removing your wheels, I'd sure give it a try.

    Incidentally, I haven't found the cable fraying thing to be a real issue. Keep in mind that the kink where the cable goes from one pulley to the other doesn't move.

  3. #3
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    I'm using old road levers (formerly hooked to road caliper brakes) with long pull linear pull brakes (front) without problems. I don't have a lot of tire clearance, but right now it's working fine. I do find that I have to readjust the cable length a bit more often so that I don't bottom out the lever. However, even when the lever does bottom out I still stop very well. Modulation is slightly more difficult, but nothing I couldn't adapt to.

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    I just tried this on my Burley Rhumba. So far it works pretty well in the front, but not so well in the back. It can be a bit of a challenge to get the front wheel off and it is possible to bottom the lever out, but even when you do, the stopping power is amazing because of the increased mechanical advantage.

  5. #5
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    We don't use travel agents with our rear v-brake / ultegra 9speed sti. Braking performance is very good. Key points for us:
    -Rolf wheels that are very straight
    -brakes pads very close to the rims
    -cable length set very carefully to allow use of the adjustment and the quick release together for wheel removal
    We carry an allen wrench in case of a rim or spoke issue (none yet)

  6. #6
    Senior Member rishardh's Avatar
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    I've tried Shimano STI with and without Travel Agents and I liked the feel of the V-brakes with the Travel Agent. Was able to stop the tandem both ways but modulating the brakes were much easier with it.

    Without it I had to pull the lever a long ways for the brake to engage without much feel and with it I could just just give it a few taps to slow down and was able to come to a complete stop faster. There is no going back for me

  7. #7
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    Another alternative is to slightly cut down the vee brake arms, replace the noodle attachment and retap the pinch bolt to get vee brake arms about 2/3 of the length of standard.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrfish View Post
    Another alternative is to slightly cut down the vee brake arms, replace the noodle attachment and retap the pinch bolt to get vee brake arms about 2/3 of the length of standard.
    Or buy the ones from Tektro that are already shortened for use with road levers.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrfish View Post
    Another alternative is to slightly cut down the vee brake arms, replace the noodle attachment and retap the pinch bolt to get vee brake arms about 2/3 of the length of standard.
    or just buy the tektro mini V's.

    but don't do it, those brakes are completely worthless. they came on my burley tandem and couldn't even stop the tandem on a small hill. the levers went straight to the bar and barely slowed us down and we sailed straight through the stop sign at the bottom, luckily there were no cars coming. and as well as that they required that the pads be set less than a mm from the rim that required the rim to be perfectly true.

    i use the travel agents along with avid brakes and have much greater stopping power and have no problem with fraying cables

  10. #10
    PMK
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    When we bought our Co-Motion Speedster, the previous owner or shop had used the travel agents in the pulley only setting. While the brakes did work and were powerful, for me they lacked feel and good modulation.

    When I set the bike up for us, I converted it to flat bars basically building a hot rod hybrid tandem.

    We recently bought another Co-Motion, only because the first was to small. So in converting the Speedster back to drop bars and STI, I utilized the Travel Agent. This time they were installed using the rate change setup. Other than being a little challenging to set initially, they seem fine.

    About one change I would add if I were keeping this setup is to either get the type with a cable adjuster, or find some inline adjusters like they use on disc brakes.

    If QBP is listening, they might consider adding a rig pin hole that allows holding the pulley @ 2:00 while your other hands wind the cable.

    PK

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by zzzwillzzz View Post
    or just buy the tektro mini V's.

    but don't do it...
    Agreed. We had Tektro Mini-Vs and Shimano STI brifters on our Burley. I also found the stopping power was wretched and the tire changing was a serious pain. We moved to Avid Single-Digit-Sevens and Travel Agents and have never looked back.

  12. #12
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    I was about to address this concern, but I now see that there were so many better responses. I am still glad that I have found this forum.

  13. #13
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Tire clearance was mentioned above and since I like wide tires this is a big issue for me. I also love being able to use the Campy releases to get a little more room to unhook the noodle. Also the Campy quick releases can be used if a wheel is out of true to avoid rubbing and still have a good operating brake.

    All advantages are lost if the Campy quick releases are left open in use. On my last tandem I choose canti brakes over V-Brakes to avoid travel agents but with V-Brakes I use them.

  14. #14
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    We utilize Tektro Mini-V on rear of our tandem and Dura Ace caliper on front. We use barend shifters and standard road brake levers for the past 30,000+ miles.
    No problems . . . and we do live in Arizona with lots of hills/mountains.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    We utilize Tektro Mini-V on rear of our tandem and Dura Ace caliper on front. We use barend shifters and standard road brake levers for the past 30,000+ miles.
    No problems . . . and we do live in Arizona with lots of hills/mountains.

    Just out of curiosity, why not the DAs front and rear? Mixing designs just seems that one or the other is not as good as the other or the one... Which is the compromise, and more important to me, why not use the brakes the levers are designed for, i.e. DA or Ultegra for STI levers. My tandem has had only mini-Vs or XTRs w/agents, but I'm considering trying DAs.

  16. #16
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    As an alternative, has anybody tried using Retroshift levers? Since they cater to the CX market you can get them in a long pull version to work with V-brakes and MTB disks as well as a road brake model.

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