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  1. #1
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    BB7 on a mountainbike tandem?

    I'm having major problems with my old formula B4 brakes on my tandem. They work ok but make a constant high pitched noise that's driving me bonkers. They don't really offer any adjustments to get the pads in/out and I'm thinking of changing them to BB7 brakes. I'm running them on some of my 'single' mountainbike and really like them but... are they strong enough to stop a tandem in the field? Anyone has experiences bith the 203mm BB7? How does a long cable with enclosed cable housings work over time?

    The bike also gets used every summer for some road touring which is really why i would like to change the brakes. Easy to adjust.

    Anyone?

    thanks.

  2. #2
    PMK
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    We own three tandems. One road tandem and two off-road.

    The road tandem is a Co-Motion 700c Roadster, 700c. It came with drop bars and Avid BB7 road series brakes. This was converted to flat bars and now runs mountain brakes with 203mm.

    Both of our mountain tandems run Avid BB7's with 203mm discs front and rear.

    All the bikes run Avid SL(?) levers.

    The road bike has the least amount of housing, the Fandango has a small section of exposed cable, and the Ventana runs housing from lever to caliper.

    We don't live in the mountains. The Ventana has been to some pretty steep and even long steep descents in Georgia. For our fat fannies, the brakes work fine. Often to the point of being able to accidentally locking up the back wheel.

    I have spoken with others that prefer hydraulic brakes, sometimes the comments focus on the amount of effort required at the lever.

    For comparison, our Ventana had Magura Louise brakes front and rear when we got it. Yes the brakes may have had a slightly more solid feel, but stopping wise are pretty close. The Magura did run a larger front disc but smaller rear disc.

    Not disappointed yet and would likely do it the same again. The pads, or repair items are very common. Initial cost is pretty inexpensive. For us, we now have all bikes with common spares.

    PK

  3. #3
    Ultra Ventanaphile
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    Similar to PMK, they work. (Running 203's front and rear) Not fancy, not blow away performance, but they work. Can't ask much more than that. No they don't have the insane power and modulation that my M4's do on my AM bike, but it does stop our 310lbs team and I've locked up the rear a few times. Only Con I have is just like when I had them on my single bike, I need to fiddle with them more often to run them drag free.

    I think a key to any cable brake is a quality cable, and housing and you'll be fine. I did not find a source for a teflon coated cable in the needed length, but did find a good quality stainless steel cable and so far about to hit one year and no need to replace it. Granted, I have limited time in the mud/muck.
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  4. #4
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    Our Fandango came with BB7's. I could not get them to stop squealing, but that wasn't the biggest problem. I wanted to give my hands a rest when riding in the mountains. We switched over to Magura Louise hydraulic brakes about four months ago. I love the Magura's and it would have saved us some $ to have gotten them first, but you don't know what you don't know. Just my two cents...

  5. #5
    Old school BMXer
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    If you're a flatlander, the BB7s are excellent brakes. If you ride in the hills, you may find them to be insufficient, even with 203 mm rotors.
    May the air be filled with tires!

  6. #6
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    I opted for an Aztec 203mm rotor up front to go with the BB7's. They're a little thicker/heavier and they seem to be better (more consistent and quiet) than the Roundagons, or the too-light "G-something" or Clean Sweep - I forget what they're all called, but I remember "Aztec". Metallic pads are a must also.

    -F

  7. #7
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    Just another data point to consider. I can smoke the Aztec metallic pads to the point that they fail completely. In the same situation and conditions the genuine Avid pads and/or EBC gold pads keep stopping.

    Of course you only need what you need and I have friends that ride the flats and they can actally get away with using even the various organic pads that are available just fine.

    Just some options if you need more stopping capacity at higher temps.

  8. #8
    PMK
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    Need to make a correction to a previous statement about our Fandango.

    It runs a full length housing.

    Also, the comment about the brake pads is so true in all disc brake applications. Depending upon the brake pad manufacturer, and the specific compound purchased this can make a great brake horrible or oem poor brakes much better.

    Additionally, often on a harescramble or full on enduro motorcycle, even at times motocross bikes will be setup with a solid disc to lessen pad wear in muddy conditions.

    In our spares box, I have a set of EBC Green pads, these will likely see use on the Fandango with it's focus on xc riding. I have never tested nor used this compound so they may not work well or last.

    So far, we have used oem Avid pads with good results.

    PK
    Last edited by PMK; 03-20-2011 at 08:26 PM.

  9. #9
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    Mostly positive comments here. Seems like I'll give it a go. I'd like to go ride the tandem again and not end up like a nervous-wreck after an hour because my sensitive ears got an overload.

    Thanks for all the replies. Happy tandem riding.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevoo
    Just another data point to consider. I can smoke the Aztec metallic pads to the point that they fail completely. In the same situation and conditions the genuine Avid pads and/or EBC gold pads keep stopping.

    Of course you only need what you need and I have friends that ride the flats and they can actally get away with using even the various organic pads that are available just fine.

    Just some options if you need more stopping capacity at higher temps.
    Ditto
    Yeah, I remember Aztec rotors
    ...not disc brake pads. The Avid pads seem to be pretty good.

    -F

  11. #11
    Full Tilt Boogie
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    I run BB7's on almost all of my bikes, including out Fandango. We use 203mm rotors, a Rohloff rotor in the rear and an original Avid G1 in the front. I used automotive brake line to run near full length cable to the rear, really firms up the lever feel, even over the long cable run. As with my other bikes, once set up properly the BB7's work great. This coming from a Minnesota rider with few big hills though.
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  12. #12
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    I have done siimilar on a couple of tandems. Not automotive brake line but I use stainless steel tubing to replace much of the cable housing. It certainly does not compress like regular housing does. The auto line sounds like a great idea because of price and availability. Thanks for sharing.

  13. #13
    PMK
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    I have not done the rigid tubing yet, but did spec what I thought would work well. I had planned on using aluminum hydraulic tubing with a liner of teflon inserted down the tubes length.

    The Fandango has possibly the best rear cable run I've seen. Short as possible, and quite straight. Our ECDM on the other hand, runs along the top tube, and changes direction around the seatposts.

    I was considering a new run that matched the Fandango going down the diagonal and then flex at the swingarm pivot, as opposed to bunching at the stoker seat tube.

    I should do this but just never bother on account of the brakes working pretty good as is.

    PK

  14. #14
    Full Tilt Boogie
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    Yeah, I have to say that stainless line would be prettier. Coated auto stuff is less than $6 though, tough to beat that. As to a liner, I just left it out. I had planned to use one, but the lever feel was smooth enough without it I've just let it be. With the liner in there was actually more cable drag. One nice this about the softer steel of the brake line is it's much easier to bend by hand into shape. The super way to go is to use Nokon housing for the bendy bits, the use Jagwire female to female cable housing caps into the auto brake line. Near compression free housing with a very firm lever feel even over large cable runs. Works wonders on standard bikes as well with BB7's.
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  15. #15
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    Using Jagwire Ripcord compressionless housing will make a huge difference, particularly in the rear brake. I don't think that they sell a tandem kit, so you'll need to find an LBS that stocks the bulk rolls, and can cut it to length. They do make tandem length cables.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2dummies
    Using Jagwire Ripcord compressionless housing will make a huge difference, particularly in the rear brake. I don't think that they sell a tandem kit, so you'll need to find an LBS that stocks the bulk rolls, and can cut it to length. They do make tandem length cables.
    I used the Jagwire Switch brake kit on my ECDM and, even though it didn't say so, it came with plenty of housing to run continuous housing to the BB7's in the front and rear. The cables were tandem length as well. They also work great. The rear lever has just a slightly softer feel than the front.

  17. #17
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    yep

    We run BB7's with 203's F&R. N. Michigan is hilly, but not mountainess by any stretch. But the selling point is that my bike is an XXL / XL 29er, and last race weighed in at nearly 480lbs total weight, bike + rider and gear. Not spectacular performance from the 7's, but no complaints here, especially for the cost and ease of maintenance.
    GET Bret Weir, I said.

  18. #18
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    Reviving this post. I am looking to replace my basic Tektro calipers at some point with some BB7's which I recently got hold of. I am wondering what rotors you guys recommend to work with BB7's on the tandem. On my single bike I have Shimano Ice Techs which work great with my Magura MT hydraulic brakes. So I was initially thinking I would simply get some Ice Techs to replace my Tektro 203's when they wear out. However I have read in other bike forums people having problems with mixing Avid and Shimano due to rotor/pad width differences. So what rotors are people finding work best with the BB7's on their tandem?
    Last edited by unikid28; 01-02-2018 at 04:41 PM. Reason: typo "pad" should have read "rotor" in last sentence

  19. #19
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    BB7 brakes don't clear the thicker aluminum center section of most of the 2 piece rotors like the ice tech. I have stayed with Avid's rotors so far. I am currently running clean sweep 203. They can be noisy at times especially if they pick up moisture or contamination. I think the centerline rotors are supposed to be quieter, but I have never used them. I have considered trying magura storm rotors, they are a little thicker and may be less prone to warpage. I would talk to Alex at mtbtandems.com. He sets up a lot of tandems with bb7s and would know what works best.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mactweek View Post
    BB7 brakes don't clear the thicker aluminum center section of most of the 2 piece rotors like the ice tech. I have stayed with Avid's rotors so far. I am currently running clean sweep 203. They can be noisy at times especially if they pick up moisture or contamination. I think the centerline rotors are supposed to be quieter, but I have never used them. I have considered trying magura storm rotors, they are a little thicker and may be less prone to warpage. I would talk to Alex at mtbtandems.com. He sets up a lot of tandems with bb7s and would know what works best.
    Thanks mactweek. I did some more searching and I found the following link:

    Avid BB7 Mechanical Disc Brakes | MTB Tandems

    which states: Includes 200mm tandem rotor and IS/PM adaptors

    and also this link:

    Tandem Worthy Disc Brakes

    which states: we spec the Avid BB7 mechanical disc brake caliper paired with the 200mm (largest diameter) Hope Floating rotors.

    So it seems that 200 is the maximum size used by either company. So now am wondering about 200 vs 203? As well as compatibility across brands.

  21. #21
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    Okay so I did some more digging. It appears that Avid makes their own IS / Post mounts to work with 200mm rotors. So I am guessing that is the approach that MTB tandems and Rodriguez are following. However it doesn't look like many companies even sell 200mm rotors. So I would not like to be pidgeon-holed into that setup.

    Rather since I already have 203mm IS / Post mounts on my bike, I would hope that the BB7's would simply drop on there and work with more available 203mm rotors. However based on comments from mactweek and others I've read online, it looks like the fancier 2 piece type of rotors might be a problem and should be avoided.

    Looking around I have found the following Shimano rotors have very high reviews and appear to be close in performance to the Ice Techs: Shimano RT66 6-BOLT Disc Brake Rotor | Jenson USA. It also appears folks are running these successfully with BB7's. Has anybody used these with their tandem?

  22. #22
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    I wouldn't expect the RT66 to be any different to other one-piece rotors in performance. I just went through a pair of RT86 rotors and I'm not a fan of the SS/AL/SS construction. The result leaves the actual friction surfaces very thin, and if you have a brake that wears one side faster you can be within spec on rotor thickness but be near to wearing through one side of the friction surface.

    Do companies actually make different rotors in both 200 and 203mm diameters? Avid says 203s for rotors currently on sale at Jenson, and all my other rotor companies (Hope, Shimano, Mangura) say 203 as well.

  23. #23
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