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My succinct roller brake review

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My succinct roller brake review

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Old 01-26-12, 08:46 AM
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tjspiel
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My succinct roller brake review

  • heavy (1.5 lbs)
  • high spinning resistence in extreme cold
  • "spongy" feel that you get used to
  • feel improves with compressionless cable housing
  • super easy adjustment, - cable tension only
  • never squeals
  • not affected by weather (not braking anyway)
  • makes wheel removal more complex
  • look good
  • inexpensive if you know where to look
  • no pads to change
  • Ok for rear, would like more stopping power for front
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Old 01-26-12, 10:00 AM
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Aren't you not supposed to use compressionless housing with brakes?
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Old 01-26-12, 10:08 AM
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tjspiel
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Originally Posted by AlphaDogg View Post
Aren't you not supposed to use compressionless housing with brakes?
You shouldn't use housing designed for shifting but you can absolutely use compressionless housing designed for disc brakes such as Jagwire's "Ripcord".
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Old 01-26-12, 10:10 AM
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How many miles do you have on it and how hilly is the area you ride? I have always been curious how long these guys last for people that actually ride real miles on their bikes before needing the linings changed.
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Old 01-26-12, 10:30 AM
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tjspiel
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Originally Posted by nubcake View Post
How many miles do you have on it and how hilly is the area you ride? I have always been curious how long these guys last for people that actually ride real miles on their bikes before needing the linings changed.
Not many and not particularly.

The shimano roller brake isn't "user serviceable" and they don't have linings in the traditional sense from what I understand. They will wear out eventually but at that point your only options is to replace them.
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Old 01-26-12, 10:40 AM
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Which brand / model of these are you using?

Here's my similar review of the Sturmey-Archer X-FD / XRD8(w) combo laced to 20" wheels:
  • Heavy, but the bulk of the mass is non-rotating, so probably comparable to mechanical discs.
  • Develop a squeal that can be fixed by taking a wire brush to the 'shoes'. I never bother
  • Easy to modulate in tricky traction conditions
  • I have no complaints with stopping power front or rear (I can 'endo' if I brake hard and don't keep my weight back)
  • No fade on long descents
  • No change in cold weather performance (the gears can feel 'gummy' on the rear, but that as nothing to do with the brakes).

(The rest would be exactly what tjspiel said)

Re: Longevity I've been riding these for a couple of years, averaging maybe 100 miles a month and I haven't had to do so much as adjust them once I got them bedded in. I expect them to last a loooong time.

Last edited by bendembroski; 01-26-12 at 10:43 AM. Reason: forgot cold weather bits
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Old 01-26-12, 10:47 AM
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These are the type with the "power modulator" that acts like ABS, right? (Does Shimano make any without that feature?) I'm considering switching my winter bike from canti's to a drum brake in front, and weighing my options.

Thanks for the review!
- Scott
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Old 01-26-12, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
These are the type with the "power modulator" that acts like ABS, right? (Does Shimano make any without that feature?) I'm considering switching my winter bike from canti's to a drum brake in front, and weighing my options.

Thanks for the review!
- Scott
I have the Shimano BR-IM45 and I don't believe the rear version has a power modulator but I think the front version does.
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Old 01-26-12, 12:01 PM
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If I recall correctly, Sheldon hated the power modulator thingy...

There was a pretty extensive thread on drum / roller type brakes on the folding forum a while back. I'd recommend anyone considering them to check it out.
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Old 01-26-12, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
If I recall correctly, Sheldon hated the power modulator thingy...
Yeah, I was curious if this might have played into tjspiel's desire for better performance in front. I've been leaning toward the X-FD, but at $70 for the hub, plus the spokes and other stuff I'll need to rebuild the wheel...

I'll look for that other thread, thanks!

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Old 01-26-12, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post

Re: Longevity I've been riding these for a couple of years, averaging maybe 100 miles a month and I haven't had to do so much as adjust them once I got them bedded in. I expect them to last a loooong time.
Sounds like they really are great for a commuter then. You mentioned no fade, how hard have you pushed them on descents? Have you tried them on descents where other brakes would be a problem?
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Old 01-26-12, 03:11 PM
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IMHO, they are the ideal commuter brake.

The most 'testing' I've been on the brakes fade-wise was while towing a trailer with about 60 lbs of stuff down a mile-ish long decent. (I don't use a speedometer, so I'm just guessing speeds here) I was feathering the brakes, alternating between front and rear, to keep the speed around 15 MPH. It started to rain (of course). Near the bottom of the hill, there is a roundabout so I started braking a little harder to slow for it. Just then a car pulled out of driveway directly in my path (of course). The driver noticed me, and reacted by stopping and blocking the lane (of course ?). I hit the brakes hard, locked up the rear, which I managed let off in time to prevent the trailer from pushing the bike sideways -- I still have no idea how I did that. I managed to come to stop literally inches away from the quarter panel of the car (the driver still just sitting there staring at me with a kind of dumfounded look on her face). As we stood there starting at each other, I noticed an odd hissing sound that I assumed was a puncture.

I looked down, and noticed it was the sound of the raindrops fizzing as they hit a rather hot hub!

I don't know how other brakes would have reacted in that situation, but I will say that as the Sturmeys did better than I would have expected in that situation. During the panic stop, I didn't notice any less stopping power than if they were 'fresh'. In fact, I was paying way more attention to what the trailer was doing than what the brakes' performance.

All in all, I'd say they thing I notice most about them is that I rarely think about them. They are just consistent. I just give both levers a little squeeze as I pull out for the first time to make sure all is well with the cables and then I don't think about them again until the next time I pull away.
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Old 01-26-12, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
IMHO, they are the ideal commuter brake.
I would agree, I've been using an X-FD and an XRD-3 for several years, and I can't fault them. I did have to replace the front shoes a while back, but the hubs were second-hand and I think they came off a Post Office bike, so they'd had a fair bit of abuse before I got them.
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Old 01-26-12, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
All in all, I'd say they thing I notice most about them is that I rarely think about them. They are just consistent. I just give both levers a little squeeze as I pull out for the first time to make sure all is well with the cables and then I don't think about them again until the next time I pull away.
I think that right there is the greatest praise for any product on a bicycle.
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Old 01-26-12, 04:14 PM
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my SAs squeal, but not until they get below about 15-20F.

that is the only time I think about them.
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Old 01-26-12, 04:21 PM
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I've put about 30,000 miles on my Kettler Silverstar with Shimano rollerbrakes over ten years. At the end of each year of use, they start to squeal and need to have grease pumped into them. Other than that, they never need to be toched in any other way.

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Old 01-27-12, 06:19 AM
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The only thing I'll add is that if I were building up a larger wheel, 26" or above, I would definitely go for the 90mm version (XL-FD).
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Old 01-27-12, 10:56 AM
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Like anything else, their appropriateness depends on the application. They have them on the local bike share bikes and I think the roller brakes are perfect for those.

On my winter bike, I have a disc brake on the front and a roller brake on the rear. From a braking perspective once I got used to the different lever feel, I've had no issue with the roller brake whatsoever.

From a performance perspective? All I can say is that when it gets to -10 *F, that wheel doesn't like to spin. It probably has as much to do with the thickening grease in the IGH as it does with the thickening grease in the roller brake but it is very noticeable.

That might be enough to make me replace it with a disc brake next year. It kind of depends on how well the front disc brake is looking in the spring. If it seems like winter has taken a toll then I might stick with the roller brake on the back. I do really like the fact that so far the roller brake has been silent. The disc brake squeals like a banshee whenever anything gets on the rotor, which is all the time when it's slushy.
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Old 01-27-12, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
The only thing I'll add is that if I were building up a larger wheel, 26" or above, I would definitely go for the 90mm version (XL-FD).
I would tend to agree, I had 700c wheels front and rear with the 70mm ones, and I still had more than enough braking power, but it required a lot of squeezing to get it. When I re-laced the front hub to a 26" wheel after an accident, the braking got marginally better, but I'd still go for the 90mm one if I was buying new.
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