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Thread: Tandem Brakes

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    Tandem Brakes

    We have a Co-Motion Speedster which we have had for a year. We had no prior Tandem experience and we still consider ourselves novices...although improving. Our bike came with Avid Shorty 6's. It has no drum or disc brake. Our combined weight is 270lbs. People in our club always comment that we need a drum or a disc, but so far, we have not had any problems stopping. The LBS said that because we are not that heavy, we would be fine with the cantilevers. We prefer hilly rides, but we don't live in a mountainous area. What do you think? On a seperate note, while our Avids stop fine, they have a crazy, loud squeal that cannot be adjusted out. Apparently the squeal is common in this style of brake, but more of a problem with Avids. We are considering the Tektro CR-720. Any suggestions?

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    Bromptonaut stocksy's Avatar
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    Personally I would live with the squeal unless it was causing fork judder. I had a problem with squealing and judder on my cross bike; CR720s solved both problems instantly and permanently. Best 40 I ever spent.

    We're still very much at the novice stage with our tandem, but we also just use cantis front and rear, so far so good. Oh, we are also 270lbs so I'd be interested to see what others think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stocksy View Post
    Personally I would live with the squeal unless it was causing fork judder. I had a problem with squealing and judder on my cross bike; CR720s solved both problems instantly and permanently. Best 40 I ever spent.

    We're still very much at the novice stage with our tandem, but we also just use cantis front and rear, so far so good. Oh, we are also 270lbs so I'd be interested to see what others think.
    So, why should I live with the squeal when you obviously didn't?

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    We have Avid V brakes on our tandem.
    I had problems with them squealing and grabbing for years and I hated them.
    I switched the pads to Kool Stop Black/Salmon and they are completely different brakes now.
    No more squeal and I have better control.
    We often do hilly rides and I don't feel the need for a disk brake. Our combined weight is 250 lbs.
    I think I might try the all Salmon pads when these wear out.

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    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    We have Avid V brakes on the front of our daVinci (rear disc) with black/salmon Kool Stop pads. Stopping power is fine, but the squeal is there big time. It does serve to scatter the singles when they pack up at the bottom of a hill and kill our momentum! Maybe it's a tandem-only feature?
    Rick T
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    The squeal IS a great safety feature.

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    The issue of third brakes (discs/drums) on tandems has been done to death, and all threads on the topic turn into flame wars. Suggest you do a search of the forum to get an idea of the (almost entirely subjective and opinionated) pseudo-data that are out there, then try to come to your own conclusion. But at a team weight of 270 lb, you can ignore nearly all the testimonials anyway -- lucky you!

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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    We weigh in as a +/- 250 lbs duo.

    We use a Dura Aca caliper front and Tektro Mini on the rear. 25,000 miles on them so far on this tandem. Work great, stop great, no squeals.
    All of our previous custom tandems had rim brakes only.
    We do live in hilly terrain (AZ) and have done descents from 9,000+ feet with no stopping issues.
    Much depends on your braking skills/confidence.

  9. #9
    Bromptonaut stocksy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
    So, why should I live with the squeal when you obviously didn't?
    Perhaps I could have been clearer.

    If squealing was the only problem I would have left the brakes as they were. The fork judder needed to be addressed because it was dangerous, I almost lost control of the bike a couple of times. A nice bonus was that fitting the CR720s fixed the squeal for me and I thought this might be a useful data point for you.

  10. #10
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    The major reason to have a non rim brake is to avoid overheating of the rims. As you've found, your rim brakes are fine for stopping the bike, and you don't need a disc for more braking force.

    Given your team weight, and the terrain you're riding, it does not sound like rim overheating will be an issue either. Thus, it would appear your brakes (other than the squeal) work fine for your team, and there's really no need to change anything.

    If you find yourselves doing long steep descents, with prolonged braking, and your brakes/rims are getting very hot (to the point you can hear the pads hissing) then you might want to consider adding a disc, or a drum drag brake). But unless you're experiencing that, I wouldn't add the weight, expense, and complexity of a disc or drum.
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    I think you need to experiment with setup to improve the brakes. I have avid shortys on my Trek T2000and did the following to make them work better in order of effectiveness Hi -> Lo
    1) Use Swisstop black pads, with slight toe-in
    2) Replace rear OEM "nasty kludge" cable hanger with one piece seat clamp / brake hanger
    3) Setup pad holders as per Sheldon Brown's site and ensure rotaing parts all greased and perfectly adjusted
    4) Shorten all cables to minimum length and ensure ends ground flat

    I have not tried these as now no need - I expect the items above plus 6 would solve the problem.
    5) Replace all cables with Nokon or i-link outers and teflon coated inners
    6) Add brake booster plate. IIRC R900 here has pictures of his T2000 with these. Various MTB suppliers produce them, e.g. Salsa. You can also get carbon plates if you have weightweenie tendencies ;-)

    I also replaced the front fork assembly with an Alpha Q tandem fork and Dura Ace 7700 caliper, but that was mainly to get faster handling and lower bars, less to do with braking.

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    Try using a Scotchbrite pad (maybe with alcohol) to remove any rubber that has transferred from the pads to the rims. This should quiet them at least for a while.

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    I've tried the standard fixes ad nauseaum. Toe in, Sotchbrite, no luck.

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    An alcohol damped cloth did it for me

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    Hooray! I got a set of SwissStop Green Pads (GHP) and the squeal is gone. The first couple of times I applied the Brakes, the squeal was worse than ever. But since then, blessed silence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
    Hooray! I got a set of SwissStop Green Pads (GHP) and the squeal is gone. The first couple of times I applied the Brakes, the squeal was worse than ever. But since then, blessed silence.
    They are awesome pads... I have them on all my bikes

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    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    The SwissTop green pads will not solve everyone's problems. I was hoping that they would fix the squeal with our Avid SD 7's, but they have made no difference whatsoever - the front break still lets everyone know when I am using it.

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    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    The SwissTop green pads will not solve everyone's problems. I was hoping that they would fix the squeal with our Avid SD 7's, but they have made no difference whatsoever - the front break still lets everyone know when I am using it.
    I have posted this on every brake thread involving Avid SD7's - my first question is are the brake arms solidly mounted on the brakes studs or can you move them fore and aft? If so - that is the source of your problem - not the pads. It's what is causing the brake judder and the squeal. It's why I dumped my Avids. I don't know if it was the brake bosses on my Wound Up or not - but nothing I did could allow me to mount them without some fore and aft movement. Once I replaced them with my XTR's which fit solidly - the braking problem went away.
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    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Joe,
    How much fore/aft movement is too much? I've got SD 7's, brake booster and a Wound Up fork with a very tiny amount of movement (and, of course, squeal.
    Rick T
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  20. #20
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    Joe,
    How much fore/aft movement is too much? I've got SD 7's, brake booster and a Wound Up fork with a very tiny amount of movement (and, of course, squeal.
    IMO - you shouldn't have any fore aft movement. It's the movement that is causing the squeal. At least that was the case with my setup. My XTR's don't move at all.
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    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    The SwissTop green pads will not solve everyone's problems. I was hoping that they would fix the squeal with our Avid SD 7's, but they have made no difference whatsoever - the front break still lets everyone know when I am using it.
    I need to revise this comment because the Avid SD7's with SwissTop green pads are now silent For the first month with the new pads, maybe 500 km of riding, they were still squealing (like the stock pads had done for the previous 2,500 km), and I made the above post after this. During the second month, maybe 800 km of riding, the SwissTop pads seemed to settle/wear in, and have been quiet for some time now. I'm hoping this continues.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    I need to revise this comment because the Avid SD7's with SwissTop green pads are now silent For the first month with the new pads, maybe 500 km of riding, they were still squealing (like the stock pads had done for the previous 2,500 km), and I made the above post after this. During the second month, maybe 800 km of riding, the SwissTop pads seemed to settle/wear in, and have been quiet for some time now. I'm hoping this continues.
    I have new Avid 7s with black/salmon Koolstops. Hope the squeal goes away. Only have 20 mi or so on them. It's bearable now, but I'm expecting some comments/looks on the club ride this sat. We'll be the only tandem.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    As mentioned above my Avid 7's with the Koostop black/salmon pads were squealing pretty badly. I have no fork shudder and no play in the brake mounts. Avid says that toe-in should not be required, but my LBS says to toe-in about 1 mm. The right-hand pad was not toed in at all - readjusted and the squealing has stopped! There are obviously several variables at play and no "one size fits all" solution, but I'm not stopping silently.
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