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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 07-30-13, 05:57 AM   #1
Paul J
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Drag Brake Lever Placement

I've been the one to control the Drag Brake with a bar-end from the Captain's position but our current bike is set-up with braze-ons for the stoker to control also. So two questions, first who has their tandem set-up with the stoker controlling the drag brake? And second, what type of lever are you using? Bar-end or regular brake lever? We use a drum and not a disc which might make a difference as I've hear you shouldn't use a bar-end with a disc.
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Old 07-30-13, 03:59 PM   #2
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I'm in the process of switching from captain to stoker controlled for our next tour. I've purchased a Paul thumbie to convert the shimano bar-end to bar top control for the stoker. http://www.paulcomp.com/thumbies.html Sorry, no experience yet with stoker control.
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Old 07-30-13, 04:05 PM   #3
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Our bike has braze-ons for both options. We chose captain. Stoker's opinion was that she didn't want the responsibility for part of the braking, thinking we would be safer if all the reins were in the same hands. Having the drag brake control is not a distraction for this captain.
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Old 07-30-13, 07:59 PM   #4
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My stoker controls our Arai drum with a bar end lever. She likes the feeling of having some level of control over our top speed. It has worked very well for us and caused no problems.
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Old 07-30-13, 08:41 PM   #5
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We're odd birds in that the stoker (me) is the large body (6'2" 190#) and the captain is the small person (5'6" 130#). Stoker controls the disc (and shifting, for that matter). One tandem has an old Phil disc controlled by a three-speed shifter lever and the other has a BB7 disc controlled by a bar end shifter. Both work well, however I prefer the location of the three-speed shifter since that allows me to control the drag brake while keeping my posture upright (better view) and my hands centered (less bike movement).

I'm not sure that stoker control of the drag brake would work as well for stokers who can't see over the captain. We have two pairs of eyes independently looking for hazards, like this morning's deer encounter, with each set having the ability to adjust our speed downward. If the captain has to communicate the level of drag needed to the stoker, then maybe he/she should just control it.
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Old 07-30-13, 08:52 PM   #6
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We tried stoker control of our Arai drum via Kelly Takeoff mounted downtube shifter for several rides. It was mostly okay, but at times stoker would add more brake than I asked and we'd be jerked around. I worried that "too much here" or "too little there" could at some time result in a dangerous stiuation. She agreed so I am now back controlling via Shimano bar end. YMMV.
Good luck!
Henry
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Old 07-31-13, 06:11 AM   #7
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I (captain) ride mostly on the hoods so to get to the bar-end is a reach. For those of you who have ridden Lancaster County we have some great roads with low traffic, beautiful countryside and of course a few hills,but the road surfaces aren't the best sometimes with lots of irregularities. Last weekend we were coming home from Mount Gretna and descending Pinch Road (one of the hills all area cyclist talk about) at over 50 miles an hour I was thinking it'd be nice to ask the stoker for a little brake rather then reaching down at that point, I know, typically I would anticipate that but hadn't and it was making me think about giving her some of the "Top Speed" control. She rids out on the bars so would be pretty close to a bar-end. I hadn't thought about a thumb shifter near the captain's stem that's interesting option too.

CGinOhio, were you able to purchase just the one side for your lever, or did you have to purchase both?
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Old 07-31-13, 08:38 AM   #8
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When unloaded (non touring), as the captain I had no trouble actuating and controlling the drum with a bar-end. Ultimately though I found in our area we don't need a drum except when touring. And when touring with heavy loads, particularly in wet conditions, it took both hands on the hood braking hard with the rim brakes to control and slow the rig. Consequently we'll give stoker control a try. I'm opting for the thumbie on the bar top because it should facilitate removal. Our drum is mounted on a 40 spoke wheel, but we replace it with a 36 spoke non-drum wheel when not touring.

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CGinOhio, were you able to purchase just the one side for your lever, or did you have to purchase both?
I purchased one. I think it was $35. I believe on the website you can specify one or both, left or right.
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Old 07-31-13, 09:01 AM   #9
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We also only install the drag brake when headed to a mountainous tour. BB7. Stoker-controlled bar-end on drop bars. Been doing this for 17 years or so. Still don't "like" it, but she does, so there you go. If descents were uniform grade, and one could simply set-and-forget, it would be one thing, but I have to constantly call out for more, less, off, on, good, etc., and within seconds it isn't right so I have to call out again. But then, she likes it and brags about being able to keep me from excessive speed. We have done some very steep descents (e.g., the upper couple miles of descent on Mt. Ventoux or the back side of Pas de Peyrol) during which I'm not sure I would have felt comfortable moving my hands from the other levers to the drag lever and back repeatedly as the grade varied and we entered/exited switchbacks. I guess what I'm saying is, stoker control it has been and will be, I'm glad to have it, and I don't see a really better solution. If stoker is typically in her drops during descent, then bar end is probably best.
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Old 07-31-13, 11:09 AM   #10
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Somewhere I remember reading about using the shift portion of the left-hand brifter to control a drag brake while the brake portion controls the normal rim/disc brake. Front shifting was moved to a barcon or a downtube lever, I forget which. Sounded interesting, but I've never done it.
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Old 07-31-13, 02:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CGinOhio View Post
I purchased one. I think it was $35. I believe on the website you can specify one or both, left or right.
This is a cool option now that I see what you are doing with it. Because it is hinged in minutes you can swap out your drag brake. That is better then how I have ours set-up with the lever permanently installed and a quick coupler in-line on the cable.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-31-13, 04:07 PM   #12
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Over 38 years of tandeming in 30+ states and have not yet needed a 3rd brake.
One of our longer/steeper downhills was 11 miles of 7% of turning/twisting mountain.
Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 07-31-13, 06:39 PM   #13
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Over 38 years of tandeming in 30+ states and have not yet needed a 3rd brake.
One of our longer/steeper downhills was 11 miles of 7% of turning/twisting mountain.
Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
You can't post something like that without pointing out that the two of you plus your bike weigh less than my loaded touring bike with me on it.
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Old 07-31-13, 10:47 PM   #14
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Allright . . .we are not heavyweights. Just under 250 lbs, without the tandem
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Old 08-01-13, 08:45 AM   #15
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Our older tandem utilizes a bar-end shifter on the captain's right side for the drag brake control. I find it awkward to use and the cable is in the way when I use the drops, but it's OK. On our new tandem we had the builder install a bar-end shifter on the stoker's right side. We used it on one ride and found that communication with the stoker over how much braking I wanted, when to apply it and when to release it was just too difficult. The drag brake control is currently a down-tube shifter on the captain's left side. it works OK but there is another cable running over top of it that gets in the way. This tandem has a Rohloff hub with a rotary shifter on the right bar-end, so it has plain brake levers. I have purchased a set of Ergo levers and will be using the right-hand lever for the drag brake. (I am toying with the idea of rigging up the left-hand lever to ring a bell.)
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Old 08-01-13, 02:17 PM   #16
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The Kelly Take Off is another alternative to a bar end.

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Old 08-01-13, 07:45 PM   #17
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zonztandem, at one point before I got back riding I was only a little lighter then your whole team. :-)

hup, that is an interesting option too.
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Old 08-05-13, 02:10 PM   #18
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My stoker regularly rides a single bike down mountain passes as well as our tandem, so is completely competent in all braking situations. She therefore has control of our third brake, although only applies it when I ask her to, which is normally just once in a while to scrub some speed on straight sections of some extended descents while I let the other 2 brakes cool (our commands are "BRAKE" to engage it - she then applies it hard enough to keep the speed reasonable - and "OFF" to disengage). On many moderate descents, we don't use it at all.

She controls the brake via a bar-top / interruptor / CX brake lever mounted on the flat section of her bull-horn bars. We have both a V-brake and disc brake on the rear and have at times had it setup so that the stoker's brake lever controls either the rim or the disc brake, with the captain controlling the other one, and have still not decided on which combination is optimal. My stoker likes having some control during our descents (even though she only brakes when asked) and I like not having to worry about how to control the third brake or where to mount it on my bars.

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