Tandem Brakes and Control of?

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notlobgp14
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Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby notlobgp14 » 5 Jul 2011, 4:54pm

We are considering buying a replacement Tandem, at present we have a Mercian Super Tourist from the freewheel era, early nineties. It is a very good Tandem but not the correct size for me at the front. There are just two brakes, dual pivot; which we have never had a problem with, although we are quite a light weight crew at 130kg. I recently enquired about a couple of second hand bikes; one had three brakes the other had four. The one with three brakes had them all controlled by the Captain, the other had them split between the crew with two each?

This has brought up a few questions.

Drag Brakes; are they still manufactured? How heavy are they?

Having two people able to affect the handling of the Tandem, is this a good idea? :?

Has anyone got a mechanism which operates two brakes from one lever? Say the front rim brake and a rear disc. The second lever would operate a rim brake at the rear for backup / extra braking power.

reohn2
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby reohn2 » 5 Jul 2011, 6:43pm

notlobgp14 wrote:Drag Brakes; are they still manufactured? How heavy are they?


The Aria drumbrake weighs 1kg (2.2 lbs).They're no longer made but do come up on Ebay regularly either s/hand or NOS.
Having two people able to affect the handling of the Tandem, is this a good idea? :?

If you mean captain and stoker both in charge of braking, its a very bad idea indeed, in fact about as bad as its gets IMO

Has anyone got a mechanism which operates two brakes from one lever? Say the front rim brake and a rear disc. The second lever would operate a rim brake at the rear for backup / extra braking power.


They do come up on ebay occasionally but are notoriously difficult to set up acurately.

If you're using three brakes (two rim brakes and a drag)the standard set up is as a solo for the rims with the drag(Aria drum) working off a barend lever or "thumbie" lever by the captain.
If you're concerned about braking power I think you'll find discs front and back to be the best stopping power,if those discs are Avid BB7's you'll have the best of the best.
Theres only one stock, over the counter tandem with that set up,Cannondale and the braking is truly awesome wet or dry with plent of modulation.Not to mention that the Cannondale road tandem is one very nice machine in all respects.

Next best IMO would be BB7 rear disc with a V brake up front, if the brakes are operated by dropbar levers such as Shimano STI's then the V brake will need a cable accelerator such as a Travel Agent and the rear BB7 will need to be a road version,due to differing cable pull ratios between drops and straights.

The third option which is really a touring option where long descents or hevy loads are anticipated is V's front and back with an Aria drag to keep the speed under control and save on constant rim braking and the problems such as over heating rims,blowouts,brake fade etc.
Obviously you could have just two V's which with a light team would be ample braking in normal not too hilly terrain.
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swansonj
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby swansonj » 5 Jul 2011, 7:33pm

reohn2 wrote:
notlobgp14 wrote:Having two people able to affect the handling of the Tandem, is this a good idea? :?

If you mean captain and stoker both in charge of braking, its a very bad idea indeed, in fact about as bad as its gets IMO


Oh, I don't know about that. When my wife and I were relatively novice tandemists, with a tandem with stoker control of the drag brake, we did once come off by both braking hard at once on a wet road and locking the wheels, which is the reason why it's a bad idea. But as we got more used to tandeming together, we found it was quite a good setup for us. It saves the pilot from having to squeeze on the drag brake all the time, which can be quite a physical strain, and increases the feeling of working together by giving the stoker a role and a sense of involvement. But when I converted the tandem to kiddycranks, I put the drag brake on a friction lever on the front bars, which solves the first problem a different way.

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speedsixdave
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby speedsixdave » 5 Jul 2011, 9:16pm

We have stoker brake control, too. On the old Viking the pilot had a BB7 front and Magura HS11 rear, and the stoker a Juicy 7 rear. On the new Thorn pilot has a HS33 front* and BB7 rear, and the stoker a HS33 rear.

The rule is that speedsixkate does not use her brake unless specifically requested to by me. So far two modern brakes has always been sufficient to stop the bike, but I've read enough on the internet to worry about over-heating brakes. Therefore we rotate their use. On a long or steep downhill, if I feel I'm braking too much I'll shout 'your brake'. The stoker applies her brake and I release one or both of mine, giving them time to cool. Kate knows not to brake sharply on corners. When necessary I shout 'brake off' and she releases, and I'm braking again.

So far it's worked fine, on loaded tours including the North York Moors. Mostly the stoker's brake is just a 'relief brake' to give my rear BB7 (which is the principal brake) a chance to cool. However you and the stoker have to trust each other!

*FWIW not as good as the BB7 on the cheaper tandem. As R2 notes, BB7's are much better than any rim brake, no matter what Thorn say. They have their reasons for not supplying front discs, and I do understand them, but I hold this truth to be self-evident: a good rim brake does not stop a tandem as effectively as a good disc brake.
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boblo
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby boblo » 5 Jul 2011, 9:32pm

Well we have two tandems; one with twin vees and an Arai the other triple vees and a turned down (lightened) Arai.

On the first tandem, both vees are operated by the Captain from Dia Compe 287 drop bar vee brake levers with a Suntour ratchet thumbie for the Arai. On the second tandem, setup is the same except the stoker gets the extra rear vee. This is only applied 'on command' and in extemis. I.e. steep downhill, fully loaded and in the wet.

I wouldn't bother operating an Arai from a standard brake lever. One of the main advantages of it is to be able to put it on during steep decents with a ratchet lever and let it get on with it - no hand/arm fatigue. It's also good as a hand brake in this configuration to stop your tandem from rolling away crewless.
Last edited by boblo on 5 Jul 2011, 9:48pm, edited 3 times in total.

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DaveP
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby DaveP » 5 Jul 2011, 9:39pm

Gosh, Speedsixdave! How organised!
I'm just making do with two brake levers for my left hand. The main one, the one atached to the Rapidfire Pod controls the rear BB7. Inboard and slightly above it is another lever which controls the rear v brake. I havent really needed this so far but as I see it, its there for emergencies or to ring the changes on a long steep descent. I did set this brake up with a thumb lever initially, following a suggestion by Thorn, but then I reconsidered - theres no way I want to be using a rim brake as a drag brake. Even in the car I use short periods of positive braking with pauses between.
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horizon
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby horizon » 5 Jul 2011, 9:46pm

Whoever invented the term "long Alpine descents" in relation to tandem brakes has a lot to answer for - we use the Arai frequently, in the UK, in Cornwall in fact anywhere where braking is hard: which Captain wants to hang on to the brakes until their hands hurt?

A few quick points about the Arai:

1. As mentioned above, it should be on a rachet (i.e. gear type lever) not a spring (i.e. brake lever) as it stays on for long periods.
2. I too worried about locking the rear wheel but it must be remembered that the drag brake doesn't have quite the same effect. It's never happened to us but I suppose it could ... just.
3. Ours is operated by the stoker.
4. Yes, great as a handbrake.
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MikewsMITH2
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby MikewsMITH2 » 5 Jul 2011, 10:18pm

We have Mafac Cantis on our tandem operated from a dual lever with an Arai drum brake on the LH lever. The Arai is so good that I use that as the main brake now and just use the cantis to bring us to a final halt or in emergency braking situations. I wouldn't say the braking was "awesome" with the 3 brakes but we are a heavy crew and have never had any problems. Either my hands are stronger than average or i like to go faster downhill, but I have never felt the need for a ratchet on the Arai.

So I can recommend the Arai. As to a stoker operated brake I wouldn't like to be dependent on shouting to the stoker in an emergency. The reality is that no braking system can stop you immediately, so in normal riding you ride within the capability of your brakes. If you are planning long Alpine descents then a drag brake is advisable. It is said by some that discs arent up to the job. I would ike to know the answer to this for my next tandem project
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boblo
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby boblo » 5 Jul 2011, 10:27pm

My 'dream' set up would be BB7's front and rear on drop bar levers with a turned down Arai on a thumbie. No wear on the rims, fantastic braking wet or dry and a proper drag brake to avoid overheating a disc if used as a dragger. I don't want hydros as we tour a lot and I don't want the potential maintenance aggro when away. I've used hydros for years on my MTB's and they are reasonably reliable but do need the sort of attention I wouldn't want to give them when away.

I'll need a new tandem for that set up though.... ahem :-)

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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby LollyKat » 5 Jul 2011, 11:34pm

On our 1979 Mercian we have a Mafac cantilever on each wheel plus a Shimano disc on the rear. The pilot (my husband) operates the front canti and rear disc, and I as stoker can operate the rear canti. I have only ever used it under instruction on very long descents on bad road surfaces, to avoid overheating. My handlebars are drops but the brake lever is a straight bar one mounted towards the centre so not immediately to hand - prevents panic braking :) .

reohn2
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby reohn2 » 5 Jul 2011, 11:47pm

To quote Mr Dylan:-
"Backseat driver don't know the feel of the wheel,
but they sure know how to make a fuss,
Oh baby, lets keep it together..........."

Would you let you're passenger in the car operate the handbrake? or worse still the footbrake? or even worse still if s/he was sat behind you with no view of the road ahead?
If I (captain/helmsman) can't stop the tandem by myself with two brakes(one for either hand)then the brakes aren't good enough and need to be upgraded to something that can!
The dragbrake which only a drum(on the rear wheel)such as the Aria can do effectively is for keeping the speed on descents,long or short and as the captain/helmsman sees fit,under control.
For that reason its better used with either a barend or thumbie friction lever conveniently placed and within easy reach on the captain's/helmsma's handlebars.Using the two good remaining brakes the captain/helmsman can bring the bike to a stop,very quickly if and when necessary as s/he sees fit and in full view of the ever changing road conditions immediately ahead.
Stokers are for providing power and getting to the front of the queue in cafe's :) :| :shock:
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swansonj
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby swansonj » 6 Jul 2011, 7:40am

reohn2 wrote: Stokers are for providing power and getting to the front of the queue in cafe's :) :| :shock:


Yes, I think that sums up the issues pretty well. If that's what your view of stokers is, then stick to the pilot having all the controls for everything. If, however, you think that part of the point of tandeming is to make cycling with a partner more of a shared experience, to bring you closer together, increase the sociability, and to function as a team, then you may come to a different view.

I'm going to guess that most of the people who adamantly insist that only the captain can have any controls are (a) captains themselves and (b) male.

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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby Vorpal » 6 Jul 2011, 7:51am

I wouldn't give my stoker any controls. OTH, She doesn't help much with the power part. But then, she's only 5 8)
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reohn2
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby reohn2 » 6 Jul 2011, 9:23am

swansonj wrote:
reohn2 wrote: Stokers are for providing power and getting to the front of the queue in cafe's :) :| :shock:


Yes, I think that sums up the issues pretty well. If that's what your view of stokers is, then stick to the pilot having all the controls for everything. If, however, you think that part of the point of tandeming is to make cycling with a partner more of a shared experience, to bring you closer together, increase the sociability, and to function as a team, then you may come to a different view.

I'm going to guess that most of the people who adamantly insist that only the captain can have any controls are (a) captains themselves and (b) male.


:D :D :D Please check out ickle faces after my post.

My conclusions on tandem braking come purely from a safety aspect and experience.
The quickest reaction to any situation comes from the one in control of the machine not someone sat behind with a limited view of the road ahead,similarly so with shouts between captain/helmsman and stoker,by their very nature such shouts are second hand and so have a time lag.Our(Mrs R2 and myself) braking arangements have everything to do with social interaction and nothing to with male dominence,virility,testosorone,or any other negative male traits :D :| :shock:
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Re: Tandem Brakes and Control of?

Postby Vorpal » 6 Jul 2011, 9:59am

There's a long thread about tandem brakes on another forum http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index ... 60076.html
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