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Upgrade to front drum brake?

Old 06-29-19, 07:25 AM
  #1  
jpc2001
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Upgrade to front drum brake?

I might hire a shop to build a front wheel around a Sturmey drum brake hub with dynamo. The goal is less maintenance and better wet-weather stopping than calipers.

Anyone done this? Any reason not to? Is a 70mm drum adequate? Is a 90mm drum overkill? I never want to endo. Can the OEM steel fork handle the torque from the reaction arm?

The bike is a Chicago-built Schwinn Suburban 5 speed. Been commuting on it for 3 years. The single-pivot caliper brakes are just OK with perfect maintenance and perfect weather. They go downhill from there, as it were.

The bike's nice otherwise. It's comfy and upright but you can still stand up on it when it's time to crush it. The OEM saddle's awesome. The OEM derailer was not good; some cheap SunRace on there now is 10x better. Basically Schwinn got the ergonomics right, built a strong frame that has held up, and paired it with hot garbage for the drivetrain and brakes. You can see why there's mixed enthusiasm for these bikes.

I love the low-maintenance hub gears and hub brakes on Dutch bikes and English roadsters. But I don't $1500 love them, which is what they tend to cost in the new world.

Last edited by jpc2001; 07-02-19 at 03:44 AM.
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Old 07-02-19, 12:42 AM
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I find the 70mm very nice.Brake linings only last about 50,000 miles.The other option is the hub with the same brake and built in dynamo hub.Can you try this hub on a different bike before you buy?
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Old 07-02-19, 04:57 AM
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"Only" 50,000 miles? That would last me 25 years, that sounds great.

I haven't tried a Sturmey drum. They're rare in the US. It cannot be worse than the brake it's replacing, the stock '70s Schwinn sidepull caliper with a warped brake bolt which has never worked well.

Two weeks ago a driver right-hooked me. Everyone's fine, it wasn't a hard hit. With better brakes I might have missed them entirely.

The shop recommended a 700 size (ISO 622) wheel build instead of the Schwinn oddball 27" (ISO 630) size. A 700 wheel would bolt right up to any number of lighter bikes. Rim brakes are dead to me, so most new bikes are too. With a drum brake that bolts right up, all those bikes become an option.

I'll get the dynamo hub version for sure. There's no point in building a wheel without one.
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Old 07-02-19, 10:23 AM
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Well my XL-FDD is HALF way to 50,000 miles in 7 years. LOL The cam interface is the only thing wearing.
The RS bearing had 4 crushed up balls at 17,000 miles. Cleaned it up, put in a new sealed bearing and carried on. It can NOT lock the wheel up and I don't want it to either. Still, I was using it for 12,000 miles with a POOR caliper on the rear. My lights are always ON. What drag?? It has done 45 mph easily.
My bike is 80 lbs on a light day and 120 on tour where I did 8,100 miles. I seem to be the only one doing this with a drum brake. LOL
I have SA-RD3 drum on another bike and had a FAST SA XL-RD5 for 3 years also. They were better at locking the wheel.

Plus I went from a steel rim to Alu on the front of a CCM. The caliper now works far WORSE in dry conditions. WTF

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 07-03-19 at 12:07 AM.
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Old 07-02-19, 11:56 AM
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I have drum brake hubs still in service for over 30 years,

the Company that makes them changed hands in that time period..
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Old 07-02-19, 12:38 PM
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I had an X-FDD on my commuting bike. The 70mm drum brake was great. Easy to modulate and works nicely in all weather. I think I have close to 30,000 miles on it with no issues other than having to replace one of the bearings. Occasionally the cam doesn't release well after braking, but just a tiny bit of high temp grease cures that. I had it mounted on a Raleigh Supercourse with original fork and had no concerns. I paired it with a drum brake IGH 5 speed in the back.
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Old 07-02-19, 12:58 PM
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I have a bike with an SA X-RD3 rear and an X-FDD front. Nothing like the mileage of the others on here, but I've been happy with the setup.
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Old 07-02-19, 02:13 PM
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I have dual 90mm Sturmeys on my velo. It weighs 70 lbs, so with me in it, and my usual commuting gear, they are stopping ~260 lbs, often from about 50 mph. They work great, and I've been told they will last a long time, but I just got it (it's 5 years old) so I don't know too much about the actual longevity.
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Old 07-02-19, 07:20 PM
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Disc brakes are the best way to go here in the NW as we get a lot of rain.
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Old 07-03-19, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by tim24k View Post
Disc brakes are the best way to go here in the NW as we get a lot of rain.
Yes, disk brakes are the way to go; if you can use them. Not prudent to mount them on a frame not specifically designed for them. The fork in the picture below had some caliper mounting tabs added to a fork without proper reinforcing. See this link for more.
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Old 07-03-19, 11:47 AM
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The Fork on my Disc Brake equipped Bi- Fri does not taper.. or have any bend... and its a 20" wheel..


The Thorn Bikes , SJS in UK, wont make a raked fork with disc mounts, their touring frames have V brake bosses..
German Tout Terrain fattened up a left blade for their disc forks,


drum brakes are not as severe as disc brakes on forks.. locking up, for 'stoppies' , which others see as a shortcoming..


Oh well..
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Old 07-03-19, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
Yes, disk brakes are the way to go; if you can use them.
In my experience drum brakes work well enough and are A LOT less maintenance than disks. If the goal is less maintenance with adequate stopping power, I'd go drums over disks.
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Old 07-04-19, 05:01 AM
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“Less maintenance” LOL I totally disagree. Also when dealing with a puncture disc brakes are much faster over drum.

Originally Posted by kingston View Post
In my experience drum brakes work well enough and are A LOT less maintenance than disks. If the goal is less maintenance with adequate stopping power, I'd go drums over disks.
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Old 07-04-19, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
In my experience drum brakes work well enough and are A LOT less maintenance than disks. If the goal is less maintenance with adequate stopping power, I'd go drums over disks.
Originally Posted by tim24k View Post
“Less maintenance” LOL I totally disagree. Also when dealing with a puncture disc brakes are much faster over drum.
Having many years experience with a bike with disks and a bike with drums, I have not observed any difference in the amount of maintenance that is directly related to the brakes. As far as punctures go, I'd say that front wheels with drums are just as quick (and maybe quicker) to fix. The biggest factor with puncture repair in the rear is the IGH, not the brake configuration. The difficulty is that you have to disconnect the shift cable to remove the wheel, and then reconnect and adjust it when you put it back on. If you had an IGH hub with disk brakes, it would be no advantage. There are some exceptions like the Rohloff which is indexed internally rather than by the cable.

Again, if your frame is not designed for disk brakes, any discussion over which system is better is moot.
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Old 07-04-19, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by tim24k View Post
“Less maintenance” LOL I totally disagree. Also when dealing with a puncture disc brakes are much faster over drum.
When it comes to keeping them running and general bike rack abuse when commuting they do require less maintenance. Sure disc brakes are superior to rim brakes in virtually any metric, especially when it is wet outside, but the pads tend to last between 1000 to 2000, maybe 4000 miles. Opposed to the 30,000 to 50,000 miles reported here for drum brakes.
Add in bent rotors and the requirement to immediately swap pads when they run out or risk ruining the rotors as well and they are simply higher maintenance than drum brakes.

They do offer a weight saving and better performance in mountainous terrain because of better cooling but that can be fixed too with some German ingenuity and heatsinks from the trike-crowd at Ginkgo-Teile.



It's kind of a toss up when it comes to punctures. Get some proper tyres and that is virtually a non-issue.

Last edited by JaccoW; 07-04-19 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 07-04-19, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
The biggest factor with puncture repair in the rear is the IGH, not the brake configuration. The difficulty is that you have to disconnect the shift cable to remove the wheel, and then reconnect and adjust it when you put it back on.
There is no need to disconnect the shift cable to remove the wheel in order to replace a tire or tube on a Shimano 7 or 8 speed IGH. There is enough slack in the cable assembly to move the wheel out of the axle slots while it remains within the chain and seat stays and to provide plenty of clearance to remove and replace a tire and/or tube.
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Old 07-05-19, 03:37 PM
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Been using 70mm front and rear drum hubs on commuter bike.
Do about 5000 miles a year on them.
Stops consistently in all sorts of weather.
Using Marathon Plus tires; heavy, but bulletproof.

Don't know what size wheels you have.
Keep in mind that the drum hubs have a larger spoke hole circle than other hubs.
Might mean your local shop would have to lace the wheels in a cross-2 pattern
rather than the usual cross-3 in order to avoid odd angles at the rim.
Had to do this with my wheels; they are ISO 584.
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Old 07-05-19, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by vmizera View Post
Don't know what size wheels you have.
Keep in mind that the drum hubs have a larger spoke hole circle than other hubs.
Might mean your local shop would have to lace the wheels in a cross-2 pattern
rather than the usual cross-3 in order to avoid odd angles at the rim.
Had to do this with my wheels; they are ISO 584.
I did 3X with 622 rims with no issue. I actually was thinking about doing 4X when I was planning to build the wheels; however that was a no-go. The angle of the cross at my hub is not severe, so I believe I could have done 3X on 584's. You have to commit to buying spokes though, and I can see a shop not wanting to experiment when it may be iffy. It seems to me that most good spoke calculators should be able to help you decide.
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Old 07-05-19, 06:19 PM
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I've used one - at the time the bike was a single speed with a rear rim brake, was for winter biking. Loved it. Just built a wheel with a Sturmey 3sp drum brake hub - haven't switched the brake to the drum yet, still using the rim brake, I just switched my Bianchi to Sturmey 3sp.
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Old 07-05-19, 07:15 PM
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OP here. I'm going tomorrow to maybe buy a euro city bike with rollerbrakes and 3-speed IGH. The seller brought it to the US from Germany and now can't ship it back. It's my size, with fenders and real springs under the saddle.

Thank you for the encouragement on the Sturmey drum. I'll still build up a drum brake for the Schwinn. After the right hook, I want two bikes with two solid brakes each, so there's always a backup bike without compromising safety. Neither of my bikes has two good brakes today; each has one decent brake and one brake-shaped object.

Side note, this new bike is also black. I've been toying with the idea of getting a black bike, some black pants, hi-viz top with blue accents and a gold-patterned patch on the shoulder and a walkie-talkie. I would never impersonate anyone, but I can promote myself to Polite Officer. Anything to get motorists' attention.

Last edited by jpc2001; 07-05-19 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 07-06-19, 05:33 PM
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Today is new bike day! I bought a Chrisson Vintiago step-through city bike which somehow found its way to the US. It's got Shimano 3-speed hub, IM45 front rollerbrake and C3000 rear rollerbrake. Has a hub dynamo and working front and rear lights. Fancy!

The handlebars are oddly asymmetrical -- not fancy! It's possible this isn't a high-end bike.

The front brake is oddly weak. Could be worn; could be shot; could be that the low end rollerbrakes aren't all that. I have a bigger, new rollerbrake (the IM86) on order. Hope it'll bolt up to the same mounts.
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Old 07-07-19, 12:51 PM
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Less maintenance” LOL I totally disagree.
bought S-A Drum Brake hubs in the late 80's and have not needed any service , at all , in over 3 decades.. .

the British company has changed hands, and was bought and relocated since then, the hubs are fine.. still ..

.. now they'd be called the X-FD & X-RD...





....

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-07-19 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 07-07-19, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by tim24k View Post
“Less maintenance” LOL I totally disagree. Also when dealing with a puncture disc brakes are much faster over drum.
I think @fietsbob and others have made their case for less maintenance - that pads and rotors both need to be replaced several times in the time that the drum brake will last I think is the point of maintenance, and that drum brakes won't go out of true if they're bumped in the bike rack, far more difficult for them to get contaminated, etc..

As far as the tire change speed, unless a support car mechanic is throwing on a ready wheel, the 15 seconds to disconnect the cable and loosen the reaction arm is negligible in fixing a flat. If I've got a flat, whether I'm running rim brakes or drum, I assume I'm taking 7min or so - I usually remove the tube, sand the area around the hole and glue it, wait 5min for the glue, patch then start to put everything back together.
And I've come across many people on the way home unable to get their disc-equipped wheel back on - presumably because they bumped their brake lever slightly while their wheel was off. I always stop and try to help, sometimes have a tool I can use (if I took a butter knife with my lunch that day), but usually don't.
You can disagree with the crowd on which is less trouble, but it's certainly not a laughter inducing difference.
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Old 07-08-19, 10:58 AM
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with 15mm axle nuts there is an abundance of light wrenches for the Fixie street crowd..

I exchanged the nut/bolt on the rear reaction arm , with a pull pin, for the chain stay band.
Thumbscrew/wingnut would work too ..

front just slides out of the fork band that comes with the hub, as you remove the wheel
and the cable end comes out with a barrel end .. un touched...








...



...
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Old 07-08-19, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
Drum brakes FTW
"Forever Two Wheels"?
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