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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 05-03-10, 06:13 AM   #1
KeithSR
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New Tandem: Brake Question

Hello all,

I just bought my first tandem - a late 1980s Kuwahara. It's is great shape, obviously well-cared for.

However, I am not familar with he brake setup. It has Blaze aero levers (Dia-Compe I believe), and the right one controls both front and rear cantilevers, while the left controls the drum brake (Arai). This must be common because the right lever has space for two cables to enter.

Maybe it's just habit from riding singles, but I feel strange not being able to control the front and rear brake separately.

Can I rerun the cables to "normal" and hook the drum up to a separate lever, whic I can mount on the front or stoker bars.

Thanks.

As I play with this new toy, I'm sure I'll have many more questions. And these tandems are fast!
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Old 05-03-10, 06:47 AM   #2
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Hello all,

I just bought my first tandem - a late 1980s Kuwahara. It's is great shape, obviously well-cared for.
Congratulations, and have fun.
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However, I am not familar with the brake setup. It has Blaze aero levers (Dia-Compe I believe), and the right one controls both front and rear cantilevers, while the left controls the drum brake (Arai). This must be common because the right lever has space for two cables to enter.
Not common. Not unheard of, but generally out of favor.
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Maybe it's just habit from riding singles, but I feel strange not being able to control the front and rear brake separately.

Can I rerun the cables to "normal" and hook the drum up to a separate lever, which I can mount on the front or stoker bars.
Absolutely, and to be recommended. There are several options for control of the drum. It is normally used as a drag brake, which means using a set-and-forget type lever. Preferred options include a thumb shifter (typically on the stoker's bars), or a bar-end shifter (on either the captain's or the stoker's bar), along with a normal brake setup for the cantilevers. There are (rare) cables that join and (less rare) brake levers that take two cables. You presumably have one or the other. You'll need at least one new cable, possibly two, depending on the setup you currently have.
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As I play with this new toy, I'm sure I'll have many more questions. And these tandems are fast!
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Old 05-03-10, 04:58 PM   #3
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Thank you. I took it apart today, and the lever has a larger pivot for the cable with 2 holes. The cable has an oversized end and two cables attached. Clearly designed to run two brakes. I'm still going to run it conventionally, and as you suggested, I will have to get another cable and just run it through one of the eyelets in the lever. It looks to complicated to take apart the lever.
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Old 05-03-10, 05:48 PM   #4
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Agree with above solution . . .
Enjoy the ride TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 05-04-10, 05:56 AM   #5
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No need for drag brake around Ottawa

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Thank you. I took it apart today, and the lever has a larger pivot for the cable with 2 holes. The cable has an oversized end and two cables attached. Clearly designed to run two brakes. I'm still going to run it conventionally, and as you suggested, I will have to get another cable and just run it through one of the eyelets in the lever. It looks to complicated to take apart the lever.
That brake arrangement was used by some manufacturers before I got involved in tandeming (80's?). In practice, it is hard to adjust the double pull lever to move the pads just right so the back starts braking just before the front. Regular levers are much easier to adjust. I have our drum brake on a separate shifter lever which my stoker controls.

Besides, around Ottawa, a drum brake is overkill by a lot. Biggest hill is Black Lake and you certainly don't need a drag brake. Cormac Hill could easily be done without a drum brake.
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Old 05-04-10, 03:57 PM   #6
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Thanks scycheng. That's what I was worried about. I guess you have to adjust the back loose to have a good front adjustment. I'm on the hunt for a lever to hook up the drum - either a mountain bike shifter, or perhaps an old downtube shifter with one lever removed.

I"ll still keep the drum on, not so much for Ottawa riding, but for the Gatineau Hills, where Pink Lake and Camp Fortune have a pretty good grade to come down!
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Old 05-04-10, 05:38 PM   #7
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Hello all again. Here's a follow up question. Since the issue for a tandem is controlling rim brakes and a drum brake, would it be possible to install a brifter - use the brake for the rim brake and the shifter part for the drum? I suppose he drum could even be controlled with a shifter cable.

I've not played with brifters much, so not sure if this would work. Any views from the more experienced?
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Old 05-04-10, 07:12 PM   #8
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Hello all again. Here's a follow up question. Since the issue for a tandem is controlling rim brakes and a drum brake, would it be possible to install a brifter - use the brake for the rim brake and the shifter part for the drum? I suppose he drum could even be controlled with a shifter cable.

I've not played with brifters much, so not sure if this would work. Any views from the more experienced?
Well, I suppose it would be possible, interesting idea.
Positives:
+ Captain has control
+ Calibrated click stops
Negatives:
- You pretty much want to release all of it, rather than a few clicks worth, when you do.
- Captain has control (depends on the team whether this is good or bad)
- Either expensive (Campagnolo)
- Or not cheap either (Shimano) but not repairable.
- You couldn't use brifters for their intended purpose (which some of us strongly prefer on a tandem, even though we may ride with down-tube shifters on our singles). But there are others who prefer bar-end shifters. Which would mean it has to be stoker control if you use bar-end for the drum brake.

One advantage of a less integrated control system (like a MTB thumb shifter) is you can mount it temporarily and remove the brake and its controls when you don't want them.



I don't know how you'd adapt half a pair of downtube shifters. I do see there are some bar-end mounts that can be used with the right down-tube shift levers. But according to the Harris site, they only work with some.

Last edited by WebsterBikeMan; 05-04-10 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 05-04-10, 08:22 PM   #9
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Webterbikeman,

Good point- I see what you mean. I hadn't factored in expense. I'm currently shifting with barcons. If I had the bucks to buy brifters, I would use them for the rim brakes and shifting and a barcon for the drum.

Also quite right on your last point. If, as a previous poster stated, I don"t really need the drum brake in my area, it is pretty easy to pop it off. They are heavy.

Thanks - learning a lot and I haven't even finished my overhaul yet. I've done the wheel bearings and bottom brackets so far. Headset is next. The bearings weren't bad, but the bike sat in a garage for quite a while, so I wanted to be sure, and to learn how these machines operate. Next is new pedals so I can use cleats and handlebar tape and I'm rolling.
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Old 05-04-10, 09:21 PM   #10
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Congradulations on your new tandem. My first [and only] tandem is a Kuwahara. I too rebuilt the beast soon after I bought it. Not much was left after I got done but the frame. I had fun doing it and still have fun riding it with my kids. I hope yours brings as much fun as mine does.
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Old 05-05-10, 07:47 AM   #11
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I rode a Burley Duet, for many years, with both canti brakes controlled from the right Diacomp lever and the Arai drum controlled from the left. I adjusted the brakes so that the rear engaged slightly before the fronts, and this always worked fine. High relative braking force at the front is not going to be as critical an issue as on a single bike. The one drawback for me was that the right lever demanded a great deal of force and caused a good deal of fatigue in my right hand. My new bike does not have a drum, because I don't ride huge downhills. If I ever do put on a drum, I will use a friction thumb shifter. I already have barcons for the shifting. My feeling is that one should not have to deal with the increased hand fatigue for a feature that is used so little. It should be seperate, and the set and forget (for the duration of the descent) feature of the thumb shifter would be a plus.
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Old 05-05-10, 08:07 PM   #12
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It's a funny world. After discussing how best to control a drum brake on this forum, I took the dog for a walk, and about a block away there is a junk bike in a lawn with a free sign. It was an old gas pipe junker, with a five speed thumb shifter - the very part I needed.

To cut to the chase, I have now installed a thumb shifter on the bars - hooked it all up and it works beautifully. Can lock up the back, or just put in on partially for drag.

Thanks for all your advice.
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Old 05-05-10, 11:03 PM   #13
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Why is it that we expect one brake pedal on our car to operate the brakes on all four wheels simultaneously, but when it comes to the bike, we demand to have separate control of front and rear wheels?

That said, most of the time I just use the front brake. The rear comes in handy to stabilize the bike in the rain when full front power isn't enough, and the rear is the only brake I use in the winter on icy roads.

L.
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Old 05-06-10, 09:19 AM   #14
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Because on a bike the vast majority of your stopping power in the front wheel. Go out on a slight down hill and stop your bike from 20mph using just the rear brake then do it again using just the front brake. The difference will be pretty evident. Your shortest stopping distance should be using them both. Additionally, cars use a portioning valve in their hydraulic systems that is designed to provide the appropriate force to each brake. They've used them on some motorcycle hydraulic systems but until recently they've provided marginal performance compared to separate systems.

btw, I wouldn't be afraid of the front brake in icy conditions. The key is to not lock up the front brake. It takes a careful touch.
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Old 05-06-10, 09:43 AM   #15
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Cars have ABS. In the "old" days pre-ABS premature lockup of one end or the other (usually the rear) was commonplace. We've got electronic shifting, why not ABS, A/C, power steering and such?
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Old 05-07-10, 05:12 AM   #16
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...

I"ll still keep the drum on, not so much for Ottawa riding, but for the Gatineau Hills, where Pink Lake and Camp Fortune have a pretty good grade to come down!
Don't need drum brake for any hills in Gatineau Park. The longest descents (Fortune Lake, Black Lake, Pink Lake, Penguin) are only about 1.8KM long max. :-) If you don't want to go fast, just sit up and let air resistance slow you down. Don't hang on to the brakes for dear life all the way down as that heats up the rims too much when the descents are much longer like what you would find in Europe (or in any mountainous terrain).
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Old 05-07-10, 04:07 PM   #17
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A follow-up to my original question, if anyone is still reading this thread.

I've connected the drum brake to a Shimano shift lever and it works fine. However, I used a derailleur cable simply because it fit the shifter and I had one handy.

Would I be advised to drill out the lever a little so that it fits a brake cable end instead? I didn't think so because the drum is for a drag, not a hard stop, but thought I would ask the experts.

Thanks.
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Old 05-07-10, 05:43 PM   #18
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A follow-up to my original question, if anyone is still reading this thread.

I've connected the drum brake to a Shimano shift lever and it works fine. However, I used a derailleur cable simply because it fit the shifter and I had one handy.

Would I be advised to drill out the lever a little so that it fits a brake cable end instead? I didn't think so because the drum is for a drag, not a hard stop, but thought I would ask the experts.

Thanks.
I'm using a shift cable, and it's worked so far. It's used a lot less frequently than the brake, and you don't have the long lever arm of a brake handle, so my thinking is it's got to be good enough. If it ever breaks, rather than braking, I can still brake with the regular brake. And then I'll think about whether I have to modify the control...
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Old 05-08-10, 07:39 AM   #19
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Would I be advised to drill out the lever a little so that it fits a brake cable end instead? I didn't think so because the drum is for a drag, not a hard stop, but thought I would ask the experts.

Thanks.
No need. Shift cables works fine because you are not applying that much force as a drag brake.
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Old 05-28-10, 07:47 AM   #20
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I use an old Suntour Barcon to control the drum for drag. Works great as a parking brake also.
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Old 08-19-10, 09:18 AM   #21
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I have a ?

I have a kuwahara tandem that I am thinking about selling to a coworker. Can you give me an idea what I could charg? Thanks , Matt
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Old 08-19-10, 10:28 AM   #22
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I have a kuwahara tandem that I am thinking about selling to a coworker. Can you give me an idea what I could charg? Thanks , Matt
How much does he have?
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Old 08-20-10, 11:55 PM   #23
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About $900.00

He may pay around 900
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Old 08-21-10, 01:21 PM   #24
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A Kuwahara tandem?! Cool!

I used to race bmx in the early 80s and remember salivating over Kuwaharas. Thanks for the blast from the past and hope you enjoy the new toy.
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Old 08-21-10, 10:12 PM   #25
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I bought mine for about $800 two years ago and updated it 6 months after.

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