Sorry if this has been posted elsewhere, but I searched and couldn't find it. I have been thinking about getting a drum brake for my tandem for a while now. It is a 96 Burley Samba. The frame has extra cable mounts and whatnot to attach the drum brake, but I need the brake and a compatible hub. I have seen the Arai drum brake and a Sturmey Archer X-RDC hub. Which of these is considered to be a better drum brake?
Also, how necessary is a drum brake on a tandem. We have cantilever brakes currently. I don't plan on ever doing anything really steep, but my stoker does not like to go over 20mph, so I need to be able to keep speed under control for an entire descent. I am always concerned when we hit something hilly that I will run the risk of overheating the rims by lightly applying the brake the whole way down. Is this even a legitimate concern or is it not really an issue until riding stuff that is really steep. Thanks for the advice.
Nishiki Continental, Bilenky custom travel tinker, home built winter bike based on Nashbar cross frrame
The Arai is basically the standard. The Sturmey Archer is pretty much unknown.
How necessary: depends on where you ride, and with how much weight. You can always keep your speed under control on a long descent without a drum, but it's tedious: slow down to a near crawl then let 'er go. When you reach your (her) limit, slow down again. Alternating which brake to use gives them more opportunity to lose heat. Come to a full stop and let them both cool down if the hill is really big.
We have a drum, which we've never used, but plan to have on when we ride (fully loaded) across the Rockies. At this point we've not needed it. We're willing (road conditions permitting) to ride well into the 40s (mph). So that's a factor. Our team weight is around 280 (lb); with a fully loaded bike you can add another 110-120 or so to that.
Thanks for the reply. We don't plan on doing anything really steep or mountainous, but team weight is 350-400 including bike. I don't have a problem going fast, but it makes her uncomfortable, so we slow down. The steepest grades are probably 15% or so.