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  1. #1
    No Pain, No Pizza Thigh Master's Avatar
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    Disc brakes, drum brakes, heat build-up, etc.

    Currently we have caliper brakes with an Arai drum. Love the drum/drag break for long descent, especially with panniers. If we upgrade to a "modern" tandem in the near future, I like the idea of disc brake stopping power because I have sketchy stopping power with the calipers right now. But with disc brakes, is there still a heat build-up issue on steep descents, especially with loaded panniers? Anyone with disc brakes use a drag as well?
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  2. #2
    sch
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    My take is that discs make a great brake and obviate the wear on the rim and the rather formidable heat build up in
    the rims that can occur with heavy or prolonged braking, but they do have limits, precisely where is somewhat
    anecdotal. On our first tandem, the cantis worked extremely well but just braking to a stop on the downhill to
    my house from 35mph to 0 over ~200yds resulted in a rear rim uncomfortable to touch for more than a few
    seconds. I think if you plan loaded hilly touring then you should keep your arai drum for alternative use as a drag
    in those scenarios and switch to your disk rear wheel for other riding. Extra rear wheel is relatively inexpensive
    in the scheme of things and the switch over is not a big hassle compared to the totality of planning a tour and some
    wheels can accomodate either brake. Disk brake pads last perhaps 4-6kmi so replacements should be kept
    handy. This assumes a frame that can have cantis as well as disks so there would be the extra hassle of mounting
    the drag brake lever and the canti on the rear. Still think it would be worth it in Cali.
    Last edited by sch; 04-29-10 at 12:26 PM.

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    This is a sketchy problem. Being I don't ride in mountains, I don't have the experience to give an expert answer. I'm aware that there are many Santana bashers in this forum, but I'd like to suggest that you read the following...

    http://santanatandem.com/Techno/DiscBrakeTech.html

    Also click on Disc Brake Comparison, Mechanical vs. Hydrolic, and Avid Brakes.

    It seems like good information.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Been using cantis (read '70s Mafac), U-brake on rear, V-brakes and calipers on our last 5 tandems for over 225,000 miles.
    Have ridden many mountains (up/down to 9,200 ft). Never a braking issue for us.
    We are a rather light duo (135 + 112

  5. #5
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Been using all sorts of rim brakes: cantis (Mafacs in the '70s), calipers, U-brake, V-brakes or combinations there of for over 225,000 miles.
    Never a stopping issue for us.
    Have ridden mountains with long descents (9,200' and d-o-w-n) many times and no brake heat build up issues.
    But, we are a rather light duo (135/112 lbs) and we do not just grab a handfull of brake levers when we do a mountain descent.
    We do on/off braking front/rear and do not let speed build up too greatly.
    Much to be said for braking technique.
    Discs can have their own issues including overheating, warping and plastic knobs melting . . . and need to be replaced more often than good rim brake pads.
    Have had the old Matthauser brake pads last us 50,000 miles on rear of our tandems and on the front for over 64,000 miles.
    Currently using KoolStop Eagle 2 pads on rear of our Zona tandem and Shimano D/A on front.
    The rear KoolStops were replaced after 20,000-some miles and the D/As are still originals with over 26,000 miles on them.
    Yes, have tried and tested disc brakes on a tandem and felt, that for us, they were overkill.
    Just our input/experience.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  6. #6
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    What about using Ceramic rims? Does anyone else use them? I have a set of Mavic OP Ceramic rims that I've used for years on my long distance bike because of their wet weather performance. Last week I threw the front wheel on my tandem because I had an issue with my other wheel. I was really surprised by the performance of the braking. It was significantly more powerful than the disk (Yeah I know the front vs rear...) as well as the regular front wheel with an aluminum rim. We rode down Breckenridge east of Bakersfield which is a long, steep (6%-10+%), fast(60+mph) and very curvy in spots. There was no heat build up in the front wheel at all. The only down side is that the ceramic wheel goes through brake pads like butter.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Like Zonatandem said, it's all about how you use them, discs, dual pivot, canti's. Off, on's the best way. I have seen rim brakes melted to the point where they get stuck to the rim, and all the red knobs on disc's melted.

  8. #8
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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    The OP asked if anyone with disc brakes uses a drag as well.

    I don't see how you could use an Arai drum brake and a disc brake on the same rear wheel since the two mechanisms occupy the same physical space on the left side of the hub. I suppose you could use a front disc, a rear caliper, and an Arai drum. This might give better wet-weather stopping than a front rim brake.

    If you are heavy, you will have trouble descending anywhere that you can't or won't maintain a speed high enough that air resistance keeps you from going faster. If you really need a drag brake, your Arai is still the ticket. If you use a rear disc instead, you will still need to allow it some time to cool during the descent with the "on-off" technique as zonatandem describes, and this means using the front brake as much as you can. Unlike with a drum used in drag mode, the captain needs to control a rear disc so he can modulate the front and rear brakes together with one brain. And if you are heavy enough, you will still overheat the disc,... but you have to work at it and when it fails it doesn't melt your inner tube or lift off your tire.

    You shouldn't have to accept sketchy stopping power with your caliper brakes. Two rim brakes should easily stop a tandem in dry weather....*if* they are the modern dual-pivot types with a short reach. Before you get sold on the increased complexity of disc brakes (for regular stopping we're talking now, not for dragging down mountains), try putting some Dura-Ace or Campy Centaurs on your bike, or take one so equipped for a test ride. Caution: if your tandem currently has long-reach single-pivot side-pulls (often used on touring single bikes and some older tandems to allow more tire and fender clearance), then yes, braking will be sketchy because you don't have enough mechanical advantage to really squeeze the rims. That's why tandems often have cantilevers or linear-pull brakes, not because they are "better", but because the mounting position frees the designer from the trade-off of mechanical advantage ("stopping power") against tire clearance inherent to side-pulls.

    The tandem teams we've known who've been really happy with front and rear disc brakes have been on the light side, i.e., could probably manage just as well with two rim brakes and no drag brake. Let's hope some heavier teams (body weight or luggage weight!) will chime in with their experiences.
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

  9. #9
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    What about using Ceramic rims? Does anyone else use them? I have a set of Mavic OP Ceramic rims that I've used for years on my long distance bike because of their wet weather performance. Last week I threw the front wheel on my tandem because I had an issue with my other wheel. I was really surprised by the performance of the braking. It was significantly more powerful than the disk (Yeah I know the front vs rear...) as well as the regular front wheel with an aluminum rim. We rode down Breckenridge east of Bakersfield which is a long, steep (6%-10+%), fast(60+mph) and very curvy in spots. There was no heat build up in the front wheel at all. The only down side is that the ceramic wheel goes through brake pads like butter.
    I use these rims on my rain bike because I got sick of buying rims. I broached this idea to TG but he said OP rims aren't strong enough for front wheel tandem use. Calling TG.

    One major question: where did the heat go? You're using green pads, right? On our tandem (305# team), I can smell my Koolstop black/salmon pads pretty good at the bottom of a fairly short steep descent, even using Zona's technique. Pads are pretty light to carry.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I would imagine the heat is going into the pads which is why they go away so fast. I don't use the ceramic specific pads, never have. I don't know about the Mavic OP being too week? I hadn't heard that before but that doesn't mean anything. It's a 36hole wheel built by Peter White with a Schmidt hub on it. I never really planned on using it on the tandem but I grabbed it in a pinch and it worked (at least for that ride) quite well. A friend of mine has used a nearly identical wheel on her Santana for years. I was really shocked at how how well that thing brought the tandem to a crawl for an ugly cattle-grate from almost 60mph! At about 335#'s right now we aren't a flyweight team.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  11. #11
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I broached this idea to TG but he said OP rims aren't strong enough for front wheel tandem use. Calling TG.
    I can vaguely recall the subject, but that sounds a bit too closed-ended for my typical recommendations, i.e., it wouldn't be my first choice for a daily-use wheel, etc...

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Yeah, you're right, TG. I guess I was a little younger and mentally overreacted to your cautioning. My Aerohead front is holding up fine except for track wear. Maybe I'll try an OP Ceramic when the brake track wears some more. Interesting idea, but I think I'd run the green pads. They go away fast enough already.

    Stoker is doing great. 68 miles and 4000' on Sunday.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I don't know if anyone else makes a ceramic coated rim other than Mavic. It seems to me to be a pretty good solution to the rim overheating issue but of course I could be missing something. Going through pads real fast is an issue, of course but seems like a minor inconvenience.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  14. #14
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    I'd be interested to know what Peter White would say about using that wheel on the front of a tandem at your team weight. I would guess that he would recommend against it, based on his recommendation to friends of ours who are about the same team weight as you that they go with 40-spoke Dyads. Peter is pretty conservative, but then so am I. I'd rather push a heavier wheel than have a front wheel collapse in a turn. I have a 36-spoke Schmidt / Open Pro that I would love to use on the tandem instead of a sidewall generator, but ... "Not gonna do it!"

    Best,

    Nick

  15. #15
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    I'd be interested to know what Peter White would say about using that wheel on the front of a tandem at your team weight. I would guess that he would recommend against it, based on his recommendation to friends of ours who are about the same team weight as you that they go with 40-spoke Dyads. Peter is pretty conservative, but then so am I. I'd rather push a heavier wheel than have a front wheel collapse in a turn. I have a 36-spoke Schmidt / Open Pro that I would love to use on the tandem instead of a sidewall generator, but ... "Not gonna do it!"

    Best,

    Nick
    Of course nervousness for Stoker is a prime mover of all decision making, including wanting to take as much load off her legs as possible. So have you ever seen or heard of a modern tandem wheel collapsing in a turn? And if so, what was the cause? I have seen single bike wheels collapse underway, had it very nearly happen to me on a few occasions, and it has invariably been from brake track wear. No other cause that I'm aware of. And brake track wear doesn't care how many spokes you have or how wide your rim is.

    Which is the point of this side discussion. What if you could have a rim that didn't wear and didn't cook off your pads? Would that change your braking strategy and/or equipment? And if such a thing existed, would that make your riding more or less safe?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Peter is pretty conservative but then again he built a set of Zipp 404's with a Schmidt hub for a friend of mine. He has to be conservative because his business is at stake. I have no problems with that wheel on the front, heck I normally run 32 spoke Zipp 404s! A whole lot of people run 16 spoke Rolfs on their tandems. For me, spoke count is not that high up there on the priority list when it comes to buying wheels. The wheel builder comes first then quality/type of components. The important thing is to go with what you are comfortable with Nick. If 40 spoke Dyads are what makes you comfortable than that is what you should be on.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  17. #17
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    I'd rather push a heavier wheel than have a front wheel collapse in a turn.
    The concern isn't catastrophic failure, it's simply one of performance, practicality and economics.

    For example, with regard to the MAVIC Open Pro it's not the ceramic coatings that are in play, it's simply the durability of any lightweight rim and overall lateral stability of the resultant wheel vs. other available rims that are better suited for rigors of tandem use. While it's certainly wide enough for up to a 28mm tire, there's just not a lot of meat in the rim at 425g.

    Consider if you will, MAVIC's trekking/tandem rims, the A719 (Note: I don't believe these images are scaled the same). It's still a low profile rim, but hits the scale at 560g making for a more durable wheel that will likely have a longer service life / better reliability.



    Frankly, my personal preference for tandems remains rims that have a deeper section, closer to 25mm or even better at 30mm like the 520g Deep-V. But, none of those are offered with a ceramic brake track coating.

    So, which is the lesser of two evils? Wearing out rim brake tracks or a somewhat premature fatigue life on a lightweight rim?

  18. #18
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    TG, I'm not so sure that just having a heavier rim necessarily makes for a stronger wheel. It really depends on where and how the material is used. Since the A719 is taller and wider it's possible that it actually has thinner wall sections. It may or may not be a stronger rim. I'd have to see some FEA analysis or failure data to really know. That's all besides the point. I'm not advocating the use of the OP on tandems, I just used it out of necessity. The only reason I brought it up was to comment on the use of ceramic coating on the rim. It seems to me to work better than pretty well. Maybe Mavic has a patent on the process? As far as I know, Mavic is the only company that offers a ceramic coated rim.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  19. #19
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    The Aerohead rim I'm currently using isn't that different from the Open Pro. A little taller and lacks the OP's eyelets. I don't know what difference eyelets make to rim strength. I suppose they spread the load a bit to keep the rim from cracking, and I suppose rim cracking could be a failure mode even with traditional wheel sets, though I've never seen it: I am grasshopper. I suppose the eyelets also might load both rim walls at the same time, though I distrust that kind of thing.

    Be that as it may, my Aerohead has stayed just as true as my Deep-V. I built them both. Though the wall thickness on the Aerohead is now about 3/4 of new.

    It seems to me that having a rim that never loses wall thickness might easily become stronger compared to a very slightly taller rim that does lose it.

    The economics are certainly on the side of ceramic. I can buy a ceramic rim for about $100, and it lasts a very, very long time. I think standard OP rims are about $70, and it looks like this, my second Aerohead front rim, will last me 2-3000 miles before I get too nervous to leave it on there. It gets wet sometimes.

    Economics-wise though, I'm not that concerned about replacing rims. That's a minor expense compared to many other bike expenses. I'm mostly interested in this cooler braking phenomena.

    I doubt there is much difference in performance between the Aerohead and OP Ceramic.

    So that brings me to the "premature fatigue life" issue. That's a new one on me, perhaps because ordinary rims wear out before they reach their fatigue life? Has anyone ever seen a rim fail in fatigue? What does that look like?

    You know, I'm just nervous about riding in the mountains, which we will be doing this summer for the first time on our tandem. If I can smell my brake shoes just noodling through the local hills, how will the descent down Stevens Canyon go? If I can make the bike safer without a performance penalty, I would very happily do so.

    Another thought on "where does the heat go?" is does the heat transfer efficiently through the ceramic coating into the rim? I looked up coefficients for ceramics and they seem to be all over the place depending on the ceramic.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    The aerohead doesn't have a ceramic coating on it does it? My understanding of ceramics (which is limited to a couple college materials classes) is that they tend to be very poor conductors of heat. In other words they tend to not absorb heat and transfer it to other materials. The heat tends to stay at the surface of the material. That's why it is so often used as an insulator. The tiles on the heat shield of the space shuttle are all ceramic.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    The Aerohead rim ... will last me 2-3000 miles before I get too nervous to leave it on there. It gets wet sometimes.
    Is that a "2-3000" a typo? With 4200 miles on our tandem in the last year, we'd be either on our second or third rim of the year! We're on A719 in front and either Dyad or Deep V in back, depending on which wheel we're using. No noticeable break wear on the rims so far. I would expect them to last close to 20000 miles. Both rear wheels have Arai drum brakes, which are really nice for long, steep descents. They keep the speed down enough that I only have to brake hard for tight turns. I seldom check rim temperatures, but as it happens I checked the other day after slowing 400 pounds down from 40 to zero for a stop sign at the bottom of a 400 foot descent. The rims were fairly warm, but I could hold my thumb on them indefinitely so not hot, really. Shimano cantilevers with Matthauser pads (bought from R+E Bicycles last month).

    I agree that ceramic brake tracks would be nice, and I wish they were more widely available.

  22. #22
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    No, the OP Ceramic is the only road rim I know of with a ceramic coating. And the coating certainly could be preventing the heat transfer into the rim. It does depend on the ceramic, however:
    http://global.kyocera.com/fcworld/ch...ermalcond.html
    but apparently the Mavic ceramic does slow thermal transfer . . . which in turn eats up pads.

    Reportedly from an old Mavic website: CERAMIC 2
    What is it ?
    Thermal shield that is 30 times harder than aluminum. This process has been improved on in 2000 for even greater strength.

    Benefits :

    Increases the coefficient of the friction between the rim and the brake pads. Reduces braking distance (50% in wet weather)
    Superior resistance to wear
    Reduces heat on rim

    How :
    A plasma beam torch spreads titanium and aluminum oxide powders on the sidewalls of the rim

  23. #23
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    Is that a "2-3000" a typo? With 4200 miles on our tandem in the last year, we'd be either on our second or third rim of the year! We're on A719 in front and either Dyad or Deep V in back, depending on which wheel we're using. No noticeable break wear on the rims so far. I would expect them to last close to 20000 miles. Both rear wheels have Arai drum brakes, which are really nice for long, steep descents. They keep the speed down enough that I only have to brake hard for tight turns. I seldom check rim temperatures, but as it happens I checked the other day after slowing 400 pounds down from 40 to zero for a stop sign at the bottom of a 400 foot descent. The rims were fairly warm, but I could hold my thumb on them indefinitely so not hot, really. Shimano cantilevers with Matthauser pads (bought from R+E Bicycles last month).

    I agree that ceramic brake tracks would be nice, and I wish they were more widely available.
    If you're shopping at R+E you must be riding in the PNW . . . In winter, too? Road grit here really eats mine up. I used to seldom get more than one season out of an aluminum rim on a single, if I rode it all year with salmon pads. I've put two new rims on the CoMo and I've only had it three years, and only since the first of this year has it been my default ride. And I do wash and clean the pads after every wet ride. But I can't stop to wash during. Sometimes it sounds like one of the RR track grinding machines, and I can see the aluminum paste quite clearly. Avid 7 with Travel Agents. I have recently changed to the dual material Koolstop pads and they seem to help. I'll look for those Matthauser pads, if they make them for V-brakes too.

    Ceramic OP rims are very popular here among the rando crowd, and I now have them on my rain single, which I haven't ridden in months!

    Our rides tend to go up and down every steep hill around and I've cooked the brakes a bit here and there: The Old Owen descent to Hwy 2, the golf course road down to Hwy 9 in Woodinville, and last Sunday, NE 122nd St. down to 124th in Woodinville. So I'm a little nervous about Sunrise and Stevens Canyon. I don't brake much there on my single, but I think I will on the tandem: I won't want to dice with the minivans in the corners and the thing is just so fast.

    You ever ride with John and Margaret?

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