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Best tandem front-brake system: your experience?

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Best tandem front-brake system: your experience?

Old 10-20-20, 09:55 AM
  #1  
sapporoguy
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Best tandem front-brake system: your experience?

Tandeming friends,
I'd like your personal experiences with tandem front-brake systems, particularly if you've been able to compare. What has given you the best stopping power?
Let's not get into theory or debates, just concrete personal experience. Let's stick to front braking on tandems: While we're stuck with the same brake systems as singles, the demands on our front brakes are heavier and we don't have some of their concerns, like grabbing too hard and flipping up and over. I know braking has been discussed before, so no need to suggest I do a search.
Your personal experience on, roughly speaking:
-disc vs. rim?
-cable vs. hydro?
-best disc/caliper combo?
-best mini-V, best standard V?
-best entire system: lever model + cable/hose model + caliper model + pad model?
-any other system thoughts?
-any personal tricks and hacks?
Add photos of your best personal system if you have them!
Thanks much.
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Old 10-20-20, 02:00 PM
  #2  
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The best bicycle brakes I have used are Hope V4 mountain bike brakes. Meant for downhill racing, they have good modulation and excellent power with a 203 mm disk.

They are easily removed from the bars and fork and can be packed into a container tor flying. Pad wear is pretty good, and pads are available at a reasonable price. Bleeding them uses same tools as automobile.

May be difficult to use with drop bars. For a flat bar touring bike, they are excellent.
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Old 10-22-20, 06:21 AM
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-disc vs. rim?

Disc. No questions. Better in the wet, safer when they get hot, require less adjustment and fiddling, easier to replace a worn rotor than a worn rim.

-cable vs. hydro?

Hydraulic for self-adjusting and self-centering abilities. Cable actuated hydraulic (TRP Hy-Rd) aren't bad either.

-best disc/caliper combo?

I've used BB-7 mechanical (road and MTB), 4-piston Shimano XT (MTB), Shimano Ice-Tech road, and TRP Hy/Rd with Campy levers, Rotors have been mostly Shimano and Avid, all at 200mm or 203mm. Best combo has been Shimano hydraulic (road or MTB) with Shimano Ice-Tech rotors.

-best mini-V, best standard V?

I don't have fond memories of any of the V-brakes on our early tandems.Inverse of everything good I said about discs.

-best entire system: lever model + cable/hose model + caliper model + pad model?

Shimano hydraulic from end to end. Standard resin pads with cooling fins.

-any other system thoughts?

I just replaced our rotors after about 7,000 miles and it made a noticeable difference in the feel of the system. The old rotors had seen some pretty rough use, had a very slight pulsing feel, and would rub a little when they got hot. The new ones have been perfect so far.

-any personal tricks and hacks?

Not really a personal hack, but sometimes people are surprised that we built a coupled bike with hydraulic brakes. The frame was built with guides that use zip ties to secure the hose, so I cut 3 zip ties to remove the brake and use 3 new ties when reassembling. We remove the calipers from the frame and coil up the hose to keep the brake with the handlebars. Getting the brakes aligned right when putting them back together should be easy but sometimes takes a little while to get right. It helps to remember to remove the post from the frame and not the caliper from the post (lesson learned the hard way).
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Old 10-22-20, 10:06 PM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by Alan_F View Post
Not really a personal hack, but sometimes people are surprised that we built a coupled bike with hydraulic brakes.
Thanks for such a thorough point-by-point response. And this! I was thinking of doing exactly this with our coupled Co-Mo Speedster and now you've gone and done it and I'll have to consider upgrading!
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Old 10-22-20, 11:32 PM
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Have used traditional cantllevers and mechanical discs (BB7) .... meh.
Best for us is Dura-Ace dual-pivot side pulls with Ergo levers. Team weight 285 lb.

As the aeronautical engineers say, “Simplificate, ... and add lightness.”
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Old 10-23-20, 06:20 AM
  #6  
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We’ve used a handful of brake setups over the years on our tandems. I’ll don’t recall the exact details on some of the older ones, but here’s my rankings...
Worst: Cantilever brakes in general; U-brakes
Tolerable: Mini-V brakes; V-brakes with Travel Agent; Avid BB7 with 203mm rotor.
Good: Tektro Spyre with 203mm rotor
Best: TRP Hy/Rd; Sram HRD; Shimano BR-M8000; Shimano BR-M8020. All with 203mm rotors.

If we needed more stopping power or heat dissipation, we’d consider any of these as upgrades from the “Best” category:
finned brake pads
220mm rotors
rotors with better heat sinks, such as Magura MDR-P or Brakco DR-11FA

I strongly prefer brake rotors that:
a) are 2-piece floating construction
b) are riveted to allow the rotor to grow radially relative to the spider. This excludes all Shimano and Tektro rotors.

With any of the cable-actuated brakes, compressionless housing is a significant improvement over spiral wound.
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Old 10-23-20, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by conspiratemus1 View Post
As the aeronautical engineers say, “Simplificate, ... and add lightness.”
Minor nit: This quote should be attributed to Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Motorcars. His degree was in structural engineering.

Another wise Chapman quote is: ""Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere".
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Old 10-23-20, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by diabloridr View Post
Minor nit: This quote should be attributed to Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Motorcars. His degree was in structural engineering.

Another wise Chapman quote is: ""Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere".
Well blow me down. I had no idea that aphorism, which I read decades ago in the Time-Life series on Flight, had an actual attribution and I’m delighted and grateful that you could come up with it. Chapeau and thanks.
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