This is compelling article on the use of different braking systems and their recommendations toward cantilevers for road and tandems mostly because of the weight, distance and speeds traveled by tandems and road bikes.
What are the other experiences from others with the following braking systems on tandems.
Drop a note to RodCycle and find out if the information is still current before getting your knickers in a wad.
I could be very wrong, but here is my take... (cut and paste from the original thread where this discussion should have stayed).
The subject of disc brakes on tandems has been addressed in this forum and several others with a good bit of detail. Rather than going through it all, I would suggest anyone who wants to read more do a search of the Bike Forums Tandem Forum archives using they key words "disc brake tandem".
As for the info on the Rodriquez Web site, I believe it is a bit dated. In general, the article on brakes is fair and balanced for when it was probably written. It also omits a discussion on the pros and cons of caliper road brakes which are also an option that is attractive to go-fast tandem teams. However, back to what they did write, canti's are a good default choice of rim brakes for multi-use tandems and V-brakes, while more powerful, come with some of their own issues which are addressed in the article. As for disc brakes, there are disc brake problems to be addressed and I suspect that the criticisms in this article are aimed at Santana's Formula rear disc, and not necessarily at the current application of the Avid BB disc brake. The Formula disc is a hydraulic disc brake that Santana adapted for use on it's tandems back in the late 90's. When perfectly dialed-in and wearing freshly broken-in brake pads the Formula is an impressive brake. However, it requires a great deal of attention and more than basic mechanical skills to keep properly maintained. Thus, for many of the folks who have purchased their Santana tandems with this particular disc, it has been nothing but trouble. The ones who really got hung-out to dry were the first year buyers where even the brake bosses for Canti's or V-brakes were not included for future refits. About 1/2 way through the production year the bosses reappeared so that V-brakes or canti's could be used. More recently, a gentleman in Colorado who grew tired of his Formula disc problems has successfully adapted an Avid BB mechanical disc to his Santana Sovereign and many Formula (or former Formula owners) are switching over to this set-up. Avids, which ARE endorsed for use as primary brake devices on tandems, come in a dual-disc configuration as standard equipment on Cannondale road and off-road tandems, as well as optional equipment on daVinci, Bushnell, Erickson, and Steve Rex tandems, and as a rear-brake option on Co-Motion's tandems. Again, they're not necessarily optimum for use by all tandem teams, but there are certainly teams who can and are using them with great success.
Again, disc brakes on tandems are not for everyone and all riding situations. To understand what options are available and may be suited for your riding style it's best to consult with -- as in send an Email or call -- builders or tandem specialty dealers who have access to the latest and greatest information.
May I point out that brakes are only important if you live where brakes are important? In flat North Texas I never have to worry about wearing out pads or overheating the rims or even slowing down from high speeds. Brakes are sort of a trim device for shaving off small increments of speed. The pads last nearly forever. It's just not the same as steep switchbacks with cliffs anywhere. If I were in Colorado or anyplace with substantial elevation changes that didn't have straight runouts from the top, I would take brakes much more seriously.
If you don't live in steep terrain with substantial elevation changes, I wouldn't worry about this much.