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  1. #1
    I am a Viking
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    Brake upgrade question

    I have the trek T1000 what would be a good brake upgrade? Avid, LX, or XT?


    Thanks
    I don't ride my bike for the pleasure. I ride it for the pain.

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Iv'e just gone disc, and most definitely do not regret it. I went to probably the ultimate- Hope Mono M4's with 200mm discs front and rear, but this was the end of a planned upgrade. Hope Bigun hubs with Mavis downhill Rims for the wheels, Boxer Forks with 20mm front axle and finally the brakes. Don't come cheap though, But Hydraulic Discs are worth it. If you want to stay with conventional brakes, Look at the hydraulic calipers that are around.

  3. #3
    'possum killer chuckfox's Avatar
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    A word of warning on XT brakes. I had them on a mountain bike and it was impossible to stop the front one from howling. I don't mean squeaking. I actually scared a small child one day it was so loud. I switched to an AVID Arch Rival and no howl. My tandem has AVID single digit 5's and they seem great.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Dude:
    Any of the Avids or Tektro Mini work fine for us.
    Also if you are not using a Travel Agent currently, that would increase power of your current brakes. Another cheap help would be a brake stiffener/V-brake booster.
    TravelAgent and boosters are the cheaper way to go.
    Pedal on TWOgether
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  5. #5
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    Chuckfox, I also experience the howl you describe with my LX brakes. It has a plus side though. It acts as a "hooter"!!!! If you race and you are in a bunch a slight touch of the brakes will make sure the nervous guy in front of you hears you and he norally then quickly starts shaping up.!!!!!!!

    The howl goes away if you keep your braking surfaces clean and ensure that your brakepads does not glaze up. Break the galze every now and then with sanding paper.

    Keep those wheels spinning!!!!!

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Lost Coyote's Avatar
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    I went with Paul’s Components “Motolite” V brakes with Kool Stop pads using travel agents and compression-less cable housing. This was a MAJOR upgrade over the standard Avid center pulls on my T2000 and was money well spent. In my opinion, just getting rid of cable stretch cable along with eliminating housing compression were major up grades.

    Link to Paul's Components
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  7. #7
    'possum killer chuckfox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big H
    Chuckfox, I also experience the howl you describe with my LX brakes. It has a plus side though. It acts as a "hooter"!!!! If you race and you are in a bunch a slight touch of the brakes will make sure the nervous guy in front of you hears you and he norally then quickly starts shaping up.!!!!!!!

    The howl goes away if you keep your braking surfaces clean and ensure that your brakepads does not glaze up. Break the galze every now and then with sanding paper.

    Keep those wheels spinning!!!!!

    Big H
    I did benefit from it a few times, but it got really old. I tried different kinds of pads, ect., but the squealing always came back within a week or two of riding. Must be the glazing you mentioned. I just got tired of fussing with it and spent $40 to solve it once and for all. Interestingly, I left the XT brake on the rear. It has never made a bit of noice. Probably due to the fact that the seat stays are much flexier than the suspension fork. Thanks!!

  8. #8
    I am a Viking
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    Thanks for all the information....
    I don't ride my bike for the pleasure. I ride it for the pain.

  9. #9
    SDS
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    I just want to make sure nobody is overlooking something basic:

    When installing new pads, the leading end of the pad (first part of the pad any given point on the rim will get to when rotating forward) should be toed-out (away from the rim) by at least the thickness of a matchbook cover. If you don't do this, the pads are likely to squeal when applied. Unfortunately, even doing that will not guarantee that the pads will not squeal, and then you have to sand off the glaze or look for a pad compound that will not squeal on your rims.

  10. #10
    'possum killer chuckfox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDS
    I just want to make sure nobody is overlooking something basic:

    When installing new pads, the leading end of the pad (first part of the pad any given point on the rim will get to when rotating forward) should be toed-out (away from the rim) by at least the thickness of a matchbook cover. If you don't do this, the pads are likely to squeal when applied. Unfortunately, even doing that will not guarantee that the pads will not squeal, and then you have to sand off the glaze or look for a pad compound that will not squeal on your rims.
    SDS, you are absolutely correct...toe is important, and failure to toe brakes properly is the cause of noice from many good performing rim brakes. My lbs tried to fix my XT brakes visit after visit. The bike was a new bike that I purchased there. The mechanics at this shop are absolutely top notch. They tried all kinds of different toe-in configurations and different pad materials. Shimano actually recommended trying "negative toe-in" aka leading end of pad contacting first on the XT's to avoid the squealing (howling!). No toe in or toe out was a permanent fix. I would avoid XT brakes at all cost...unless you are looking for a combination brake/early warning system.

    Chuck

  11. #11
    Hej på dej!! Eurastus's Avatar
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    A combination of narrow rim, wide brake boss position, and individual brake design can make squeal seemingly impossible to fix. Sometimes you have no alternative to replacing with a wider rim or different brand/model brake. In the old days, when cantilever brakes used non-threaded posts, the squeal could usually be solved by sliding the pad away from the brake arm using the usually generous amount of post, but it's not so easy with the recent threaded style. It's sometimes possible to insert a washer or two into the mix that may move the brake pad further from the arm and stop the squeal, but I've had limited success with this.
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  12. #12
    I am a Viking
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    So aside from the brakes themselves and travel agents I shouldn't need anything else correct??


    -Dude
    I don't ride my bike for the pleasure. I ride it for the pain.

  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDS
    I just want to make sure nobody is overlooking something basic:

    When installing new pads, the leading end of the pad (first part of the pad any given point on the rim will get to when rotating forward) should be toed-out (away from the rim) by at least the thickness of a matchbook cover. If you don't do this, the pads are likely to squeal when applied. Unfortunately, even doing that will not guarantee that the pads will not squeal, and then you have to sand off the glaze or look for a pad compound that will not squeal on your rims.
    Hate to disagree, but for effective braking effect, you cannot have toe out on the leading edge. Although this will allow grit and muck to get on the blocks easier, so will negate my cure.I have always have toe in on the blocks and never sufferred from extreme squeal, EXCEPT, on XT brakes using XT pads. Easy cure? run through a few puddles, get the pads bedded in and then it is minimal squeal. I tried using a different make of pad, didn't notice any more brake block wear, but did have increased rim wear.

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Dude, what's the rationale behind your brake upgrade? Do you have a noise problem, is it braking performance, or just a desire to have something better?

    The Avid Shorty 4 can be "converted" to an Avid Shorty 6 basically with a brake pad change. As Lost Coyote noted, cable pull is the root of most evil on rear brake performance but, at least for me, I don't use the rear brake to do much aside from scrubbing off speed.

    There are other, better cantilever brake models on the market, such as the Paul's brand and Strange brakes. In the linear-pull market, the Avid Arch Rival (or a NOS/used Arch Supreme) are "the best" although not the most aesthetically pleasing on a road tandem. However, linear pull brakes don't play nice with STI or Ergo brake levers and need either A BTP or Travel Agent brake booster (also not an optimum solution).

    So, before going too much further, maybe you could help clarify why you want to change out your brakes. I fear that some of the comments on this thread while helpful, have masked your specific but unstated malady with some of their own anecdotes and issues.


    Brake block alignment...

    Just to shave the fuzz off this peach, Chapter 36 - Page 9 of Barnett's provides an illustration of conventional toe alignment: http://www.bikeforums.net/barnettes/barnetts_ch36.pdf

    Squealing front cantilever and linear pull brakes on road tandems is just "one of those things". Although most of this has been covered let's just recap for the archives:

    - Adjusting toe alignment is the easiest and cheapest first step for correcting the problem. Toe-in vs toe-out isn't as important as making sure there is at least some amount of toe alignment to prevent the entire brake block surface from contacting the rim all at one time: however, conventional wisdom and most mechanic's schools and manuals will follow the toe alignment guidelines illustrated and described at the Barnett's Manual link provided above.
    - Replacing the brake pads is usually the second step. Be sure to clean the rim with a scotch-brite pad before installing either Kool Stop salmon or dual compound brakes blocks.
    - The third step is either adding a brake booster or dumping the original V-brakes for a different brand and model of linear pull or cantilever brake.
    - Assuming none of that works, you can always upgrade your fork to one that accepts a caliper brake: they hardly ever squeal and, IMHO, are more than adequate for 75% of the folks who buy tandems.

    Bike shop maintenance tip: Remind your mechanics that a tandem is usually ridden by two cyclists. Therefore, when troubleshooting a problem or checking a fix it's usually a good idea to have a second rider on the bike as some problems or fixes just don't behave the same as they would with only the captain aboard.
    Last edited by livngood; 05-04-04 at 03:27 PM.

  15. #15
    I am a Viking
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    Quote Originally Posted by livngood
    Dude, what's the rationale behind your brake upgrade? Do you have a noise problem, is it braking performance, or just a desire to have something better?

    The Avid Shorty 4 can be "converted" to an Avid Shorty 6 basically with a brake pad change. As Lost Coyote noted, cable pull is the root of most evil on rear brake performance but, at least for me, I don't use the rear brake to do much aside from scrubbing off speed.

    There are other, better cantilever brake models on the market, such as the Paul's brand and Strange brakes. In the linear-pull market, the Avid Arch Rival (or a NOS/used Arch Supreme) are "the best" although not the most aesthetically pleasing on a road tandem. However, linear pull brakes don't play nice with STI or Ergo brake levers and need either A BTP or Travel Agent brake booster (also not an optimum solution).

    So, before going too much further, maybe you could help clarify why you want to change out your brakes. I fear that some of the comments on this thread while helpful, have masked your specific but unstated malady with some of their own anecdotes and issues.


    Brake block alignment...

    Just to shave the fuzz off this peach, Chapter 36 - Page 9 of Barnett's provides an illustration of conventional toe alignment: http://www.bikeforums.net/barnettes/barnetts_ch36.pdf

    Squealing front cantilever and linear pull brakes on road tandems is just "one of those things". Although most of this has been covered let's just recap for the archives:

    - Adjusting toe alignment is the easiest and cheapest first step for correcting the problem. Toe-in vs toe-out isn't as important as making sure there is at least some amount of toe alignment to prevent the entire brake block surface from contacting the rim all at one time: however, conventional wisdom and most mechanic's schools and manuals will follow the toe alignment guidelines illustrated and described at the Barnett's Manual link provided above.
    - Replacing the brake pads is usually the second step. Be sure to clean the rim with a scotch-brite pad before installing either Kool Stop salmon or dual compound brakes blocks.
    - The third step is either adding a brake booster or dumping the original V-brakes for a different brand and model of linear pull or cantilever brake.
    - Assuming none of that works, you can always upgrade your fork to one that accepts a caliper brake: they hardly ever squeal and, IMHO, are more than adequate for 75% of the folks who buy tandems.

    Bike shop maintenance tip: Remind your mechanics that a tandem is usually ridden by two cyclists. Therefore, when troubleshooting a problem or checking a fix it's usually a good idea to have a second rider on the bike as some problems or fixes just don't behave the same as they would with only the captain aboard.
    Thanks Mark,

    The reason for me asking this question is no more than performance. I use this bike for my wife and I and also my kids and I.. Kids stoker kit installed. On flats or slight descents I find the brakes to work fine for the most part but still less than perfect. When the road goes down I find the brakes to be underpowered. I find that I really have to squeeze thus making my hand tired faster. I didn't see these problems when testing the bike.. I have had thoughts of upgrading the fork and putting caliper brakes on for the future. Do you have any suggestions on forks?

    -Dude
    I don't ride my bike for the pleasure. I ride it for the pain.

  16. #16
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dude
    The reason for me asking this question is no more than performance. I find that I really have to squeeze thus making my hand tired faster. I didn't see these problems when testing the bike.. I have had thoughts of upgrading the fork and putting caliper brakes on for the future. Do you have any suggestions on forks?
    A couple of quick thoughts:

    Brakes:

    - Nearly cost-free enhancement would be to make sure that you don't have any excess brake cable housing / brake cable running between the levers and brakes. Larger than necessary loops coming off the handlebars or near the rear brake just don't help with brake performance.

    - Next, for a sure-fire immediate improvement, pick up a set of KoolStop Salmon or Dual Compound brake pads. It's not the end-all solution but they are much better than the OEM pads that came on your Avid Shorty 4's. Avid sells something called the Rim Wrangler (a longer pad with a different compound) that it fits to their Shorty 6's but they're still not "as good" as the Scott Mathauser-developed salmon compound used by KoolStop. Just Email them and confirm which pad they'd recommend for your Shorty 4: I seem to recall either the MTB Dual Compound, Thinline, or if your brakes have replaceable blocks the V-brake inserts are the ones to look at. http://www.koolstop.com/brakes/ There are quite a few places that sell them and you can price shop once you know you've got the right pad.

    - If the pads don't provide the performance improvement you're looking for you can certainly make the brake upgrade others have discussed. Frankly, the Avid Shorty 6 wouldn't be any better than your Short 4 with the KoolStop Pads and the Tektro Mini-V is also an incremental upgrade. However, neither require a BTP or Travel Agent. On the bright side, if you do decide to move on to something like set of the Pauls, Avid's linear pull, or even the Arch Rival your KoolStop pads should be able to go "with you" so it's not sunk cost.

    - Of course, if you have to deal with lots of really long hills there's always the Arai drum brake... $125 for a turn-key set-up that should bolt right on to your T1000.

    Forks: You have a couple choices on forks.

    - If your fork doesn't have a pivot bolt hole at the crown one can easily be added by any of the good frame builders, e.g., Bilenky in the NE, KoolBikes in the SE, Bushnell or Steve Rex in the NW, or any one of several in SoCal or Arizona (I forgot where you live).

    - If for some reason there isn't enough "material" in your current fork's crown to support a caliper brake and additional material can't be added to stiffen it up, a new custom made one isn't all that expensive to have fabricated; perhaps something less than $150.

    - If you're looking for a carbon fork, you're in luck. Reynolds will be releasing (or perhaps has) a 1.125" fork steerer version of it's Ouzo Pro Tandem fork. The original Reynolds tandem fork was designed to work with Santana's tandems and, while your Trek's fork off-set (55mm) and length (~400mm) are the same as Santana's, the Big-S once again went non-standard / overkill with a 1.25" fork steerer making the fork non-compatible with Burley or Trek. Again, Reynolds has seen the potential market that's out there for the 1.125" version and has been working to put that version into production. It's not cheap, but it's lighter than the steel forks by several hundred grams and quite beefy.
    Last edited by livngood; 05-05-04 at 02:10 PM.

  17. #17
    SDS
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    I'd like another try at this. I noticed that you said you "...really have to squeeze...", which, if you are not running the lever into the front of the handlebars, suggests that you would be willing to trade off some travel for some leverage, and guess what, with cantilevers there is a way to do that (you do have cantilevers, right?).

    If the wheels are true, keeping the pads next to the rim, if you shorten the straddle cable, you will give up some pad travel for some leverage, and, of course, vice-versa, you can lengthen the straddle cable to get more pad travel with the trade-off being that you give up some leverage. Could be that you can adjust this and solve your problem.

    Four cautions:

    1. You have to keep the straddle-cable-saddle-thingie at least low enough so that it can never run into the bottom of the cable housing stop. There is a slim chance that is the source of your current troubles.

    2. With all cantilever systems, you have to be sure the system is reliable enough so that it will never drop the straddle cable onto the wheel.

    3. Make sure you can't run the lever into the handlebars with your new setup.

    4. It's been so long since I've done this that I am a little fuzzy on whether to lengthen or shorten the straddle cable. Think I got it right.

    Down here in windy North Texas, it is dang-blame hard to find anything that anybody from any other part of the country would recognize as a hill.....the nearest big hill (ahem) has a 350 ft elevation gain, and I think the nearest 400-footer is out by Palo Pinto (HWY 4), about 90 miles away.

    I don't know much about hands getting tired braking......brake pads do tend to last a very long time here.....

  18. #18
    Year-round cyclist
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    Dude,

    One thing to remember: the more weight you have on the bike, the harder stopping is. I have a similar experience when I ride by myself with little "commuting" weight vs when I ride with both kids, be it on the single + trailercycle + child trailer (last year) or on the tandem + trailercycle. If you want to honestly compare your brakes with those of a single, ride your tandem by yourself and see how it brakes. Don't brake too hard with the rear brake, however, because there isn't enough weight there when riding solo!

    Short of lousy cable routing or of cables that "scratch" inside a kinked housing, Mark suggested the only really decent improvement: Kool Stop Salmon pads. If you have cantilever brakes (I'm not sure what the T1000 comes with), you could look at Sheldon Brown's articles on how to fine-tune your brake to maximise their mechanical advantage. If necessary, change the straddle cable for a U-bracket and an old style cable straddle cable.

    If you live in an area with long grades, a relatively cheap improvement would be to install an Arai drag brake. Set up with a shift lever, it becomes a "set and forget" device, and you have less braking to do with your regular brake.

    Also, if you brake while on the hoods, move down your hands and brake from the drops, especially in long hills. (Move the bars up if necessary.)

    Now, I must admit that I have long fingers and relatively strong grip. But I was also "trained" on bikes with old-style side pull and centre pull brakes. Compared to that, let's say that an improperly adjusted cantilever brake is easier to use with the little finger...

    Regards,
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  19. #19
    I am a Viking
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    Thanks I will check those things out before I make a final. All of you brought up valid points and I will keep you abreast of the outcome.
    I don't ride my bike for the pleasure. I ride it for the pain.

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