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  1. #1
    Hey let's ride. pathdoc's Avatar
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    How to set up rear disc coaster brake

    My current 26 inch road tandem has rim brakes. I have found a good rear wheel with a Phil Wood disc hub. I'd like to know how to keep my rear rim brake but add the disc as a coaster (or whatever you call a brake that slow your downhill speed). What lever could I use to apply the disc brake? I think I've heard of people using bar end shifters. Would that work?
    Last edited by pathdoc; 05-28-09 at 10:49 AM.

  2. #2
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    People definitely use bar end shifters with drum brakes as a drag brake.

    However, its generally not recommended to use a disc brake as a drag brake.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  3. #3
    Hey let's ride. pathdoc's Avatar
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    Why not?

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    FWIW: The short-lived Phil Wood disc brake of the late 70's / early 80's was problematic at best, and the source of legal woes at worst. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was that product that precipitated Phil's retirement / sale of his business to Peter Enright back in the early 90's.

    Might want to do some checking before hitching your wagon to that particular brake if your safety will depend upon it and/or if you will need any service or support.

  5. #5
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pathdoc View Post
    Why not?
    Because they are not designed to dissipate heat like a drum brake. They are typically a great primary brake, (excepting the Phil that TG noted), but not one to "set and forget" on a fast five mile downhill to scrub off speed. You'll potentially melt the pads and warp the rotor.

    Oh, and what you're looking for we typically call a "drag" brake.
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  6. #6
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pathdoc View Post
    Why not?
    While disc brakes typically have far more heat capacity than rim brakes, they do not have as much heat capacity as the tried and true Arai drum brake that has become the default 'drag brake' for tandems.

    The extreme heat generated by prolonged use of a disc on a road tandem will:
    1. Boil hydraulic fluid, which is why only mechanical discs are even suggested for use on road tandems.
    2. Heat calipers to the point where non-metallic parts used as part of the calper or brake cable housing can begin to break down or melt.
    3. Heat rotors and brake pads to the point where brake fade makes the brake ineffective
    4. Heat rotors to the point where they will warp and may no longer run true even after cooling

    Therefore, while discs -- just like rim brakes -- can be 'ridden' for short periods of time on a long descent, there are limitations on just how much heat they can safely handle before brake performance deteriorates. It is not as big of an issue when a disc is used as a supplemental brake to a second, primary rim brake; however, the problems associated with overheating a disc remain valid.

    Conversely, a true drum brake is used only as a supplemental brake to a rim brake and the very large braking surfaces, the mass of the housing (think heat sink) and larger brake pads made them ideally suited fo drag brake applications.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    If you're concerned about downhill braking then the idea of a secondary brake may make sense, but get a contemporary design disc. On the other hand there are a number of posters riding in quite hilly country using only (modern) v-brakes. Technique has a lot to do with brake performance. Normally, unless the terrain is very steep, coasting between curves will take advantage of aero drag and keep your energy in check. A hill only represents a certain energy input into the system; the faster your average speed the less total heat load your brakes and rims need to deal with. But , keep it safe!
    Rick T
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  8. #8
    Hey let's ride. pathdoc's Avatar
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    Thanks, lots of great info.

  9. #9
    Hey let's ride. pathdoc's Avatar
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    Okay, what if I installed a modern disc brake setup and kept my rim brake, where would I install the disc brake lever? On the rear handlebar, work in tandem with the stoker on downhill braking?

  10. #10
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by pathdoc View Post
    Okay, what if I installed a modern disc brake setup and kept my rim brake, where would I install the disc brake lever? On the rear handlebar, work in tandem with the stoker on downhill braking?
    Unless your frame was designed with disc brakes in mind, I don`t think it`s possible for you to mount the calipers. If you do figure out a way to do that, yes- drag brake levers are often located on the stoker`s bar. I think the "normal" braking method is just to have the stoker apply the brake and leave it applied until you don`t need it any more while the captain modulates the primary brakes as needed. This is just my impression though, because we don`t do hills that require our drag brake and mostly just use it for a parking brake. Works great for that!

  11. #11
    Hey let's ride. pathdoc's Avatar
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    Frame is already set up with cantilevers and has appropriate design to mount a rear disc. I'll probably slowly gather the needed parts and eventually add the rear disc brake and just put the braker lever on the stoker handlebar. Really don't have that many significant hills around here. But I do love to tinker.

  12. #12
    MASHER
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    Check current eBay listings

    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    FWIW: The short-lived Phil Wood disc brake of the late 70's / early 80's was problematic at best, and the source of legal woes at worst. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was that product that precipitated Phil's retirement / sale of his business to Peter Enright back in the early 90's.

    Might want to do some checking before hitching your wagon to that particular brake if your safety will depend upon it and/or if you will need any service or support.
    There is one of these currently for sale on eBay http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...STRK:MESELX:IT

  13. #13
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    +1 on don't do it!

    I have a 1999 Santana Rio MTB tandem. The MTB set-up has a drum and V-Brake combination on my back wheel. I use the cable splitter to operate both the front & Rear V-Brakes off the right brake lever, and the left lever operates just the rear drum break. This set-up as proven very successful, and my team has descended some very long & steep mountains. I have only once had the rear drum fail, and it was strictly due to a maintenance issue associated with glazing over the brake pads.

    I have just completed converting my Rio to a Road tandem set-up. I have opted to use just the V-Brakes; however, I do have an option to add a rear disc to my Chris King hub; I have all the parts to do the disc brake addition, but Iím waiting to see if I really need the extra braking power. Iím currently living in Sicily at the base of the volcano Etna. So Iíll have some really good docents to test my brakes on.

    Regarding the use of a disc brake for a drag brake; take note of what the previous posters have written, as the disc brakes do not function well as a drag brake. I have a rear disc on my Calfee road tandem, and I smoked the rotor going down a very long & steep decent last July. You canít use a disc brake like a drum brake!

    Ride on!
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