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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 04-08-05, 01:08 PM   #1
BirdsHill Biker
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Do we need a drag (drum) brake for Tour de Wyoming?

Hi,
My wife and I are going to be using our new tandem road bike for the Tour de Wyoming http://www.cyclewyoming.org/tour.htm Does anyone know if the hills going down are steep such that we would want to add a drum brake to our tandem to slow down for the downhill sections (Our bike now just has the rim cantilever brakes). We do not like to go blazing down the hills and I know with the tandem that the speeds going down can be faster due to the weight of 2 people then when we use our individual road bikes.

Thanks
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Old 04-08-05, 02:16 PM   #2
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I live close to Calgary and we have been in need of one a few times. If nothing else it will extend the life of your rims. I tend to use it more when we are loaded rather than un loaded
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Old 04-08-05, 09:37 PM   #3
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If you prefer a more reasonable speed when descending, you probably will want to put a drag brake on your tandem. If the hub is threaded for it, this is not a big deal and should give you a great deal of peace of mind.

And make no mistake, the momentum of a tandem on a downhill can be awesome. My wife and I took ours to Florida before Easter. We blasted down the grade off a small bridge on A1A on North Hutchinson Island and were going 32 mph before we eased off.

If you need to ask the question, you need it. I know we need one and will have one soon.

Good riding,
Doc
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Old 04-08-05, 10:30 PM   #4
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Drum brakes are advisable if you are a 'heavyweight team', carry lots of weight in panniers, and descend long winding mountains.
We have descended 7% twisting mountain grade, 11 miles long with just cantilever brakes. We are a light team, carried no heavy gear and did not wait 'til the last second to 'hit the brakes.'
Our descending method is to alternate on/off front and rear brakes; brake well ahead of the steep curves and yes you may have to stop to give your cramping fingers a rest!
Have ridden mountainous terrain, in the rain, and survived just fine. Have ridden at 9,200 elevation and done 50+ mph descents . . . all with only 2 brakes.
However, having said that, if you and your partner would feel more secure, physically and mentally, then invest in a drum brake.
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!
Have fun on your WYtour!

Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy aand Kay/Zonatandem
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Old 04-11-05, 02:51 PM   #5
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Can you define 'heavyweight team?' We're over 350, counting the weight of the bike. Probably more like 370.
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Old 04-11-05, 03:38 PM   #6
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Although by no-means definitive, you can find some "trivial" tandem statistics here from a survey I conducted last winter: http://www.opinionpower.com/results.cgi?id=149012009

301 - 325 "seemed" to be around the mid-point for tandem team weight (bike weight not included), i.e., under 300 is "lightweight" and over 325 was "heavyweight". However, 370 is by no means in the upper limits of many teams and adding the bike to your body weight certainly drives up the value by 35 - 50lbs, depending on the bike and what you carry when you ride.


All of that said, and having looked at your elevation maps, while I suspect you could ride the event using a generous set of 32mm tires and suffer no ill effects from rapid descents, if you or your stoker is the least bit concerned about speed control I would recommend getting the rear drum, if only for piece of mind UNLESS you can find another tandem team of similar weight and riding style who have completed this tour to querry.

Regarding "other team's impressions & recommendations", always make sure you request some supplemental data such as team weight, experience, like or dislike of speed. Impressions of what's safe, fun, terrifying, etc... are deeply skewed by riders with different predispositions.

Back to your current situation, assuming your tandem has a left-side threaded hub, an Arai drum brake is a lot of added security for not a lot of money. Moreover, if after riding the Tour de Wyo. you decide you don't need it, you can take it off and put it in your spare parts box for a future event if ever needed.
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Old 04-11-05, 05:28 PM   #7
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RE: Weight

Our full up weight (including tandem) is about 280 and puts us in the lightweight range.
Mark's assesment of weight category is pretty well on the money. Have know a couple that weighed in at 500 lbs (he 325, her 175 + tandem weight!) . . . that we'd refer to as 'Clydesdales" category.
The suggestion of an Arai drum is good/econimical too. Run a cable to a thumbshifter on stoker's handlebar for drag control. Peace of mind is a good thing too!
Enjoy the WYtour!

Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/Zonatandem
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Old 04-11-05, 09:59 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for all the advise. We live in Manitoba, Canada. The land right around us is very flat. The tandem that we ordered from our LBS should be here in a day or two. From what people have said I think we would be more comfortable with a arai drag brake. Last year when we did the Candisc tour on our individual bikes I know my wife did not like going too fast down the hills in the North Dakota badlands. I stayed behind her and on the uphill parts we would pass 4 or 5 bikes for every bike that pasted us but than on the down hills most of those people would pass us. We are planning a trip on the May long weekend to a National Park in Manitoba called Riding Mountain. There are a few a little longer descends that we can try our bike on. Also we would be in the heavyweight range (about 375+ pounds with our bike).

Thanks again
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