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  1. #1
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    Tandem Disc Brake Thread

    Allright, we have some great "themed" threads already: the ECDM thread, the Fandango thread and the Supsension thread... What about Brakes? Here's the Disc Brake thread.

    As far as I know, there are a limited number of disc brakes that are "tandem rated". That said, I know that there are a lot of people out there using other brakes with success.

    I'm hoping to get feedback as to what is working well, what is not working well etc. Be sure to include your set up, Make, Model, type of rotor and type of pads and the model of bike that you are riding

    I'll go first.

    Magura MT4 with Storm rotors. They have been working very well, I like the modulation and stopping poer. OEM pads are expensive, I've had pretty good luck with after market pads. Installed on a ECDM 29

    Magura Louise with Hope Sawtooth two piece rotors. Installed on a Fandango 29. I WAS generally happy with the braking power and modulation, sometimes I get some vibrations through the frame, not sure if that is the brake, the pad, the rotor, or something else? But recently they have needed to be bled frequently. Possibly looking to replace these brakes.

    I'm not ready to run out and buy another set of MT4s (althought that might make the most sense in terms of working knowledge of one set of brakes on both bikes AND same pads)...

    So what are you using and would you buy it again??

  2. #2
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    I'm surprised this Thread didn't take off. Any hoot. I went the simple and cheap route as the Tandem was always an "experiment" for my family. (One we have all liked).
    BB7's 203mm Clean Sweep rotors and FR-5 Levers. These pair of BB7's are the ONLY pair that I have liked, I found BB7's to be problematic on my single bikes, constantly needing adjustment and tweaking, but this pair has been awesome, set and forget. Strong power, good modulation. If we ever start riding bigger MT's or hit higher speeds, then I might see the limitations of these brakes, but for now I'm happy with them.

    -A
    -Aaron G.

    "Before D.W., "anti-squat" was referred to as pedal feedback."

  3. #3
    PMK
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    Our first off-road tandem had Magura hydraulic rim brakes. Stock they were pretty bad. Upgraded to some Johnny T levers and salmon pads and they were very powerful except with damp or wet rims.

    Our second off-road tandem was had XT V brakes when it arrived but was immediately converted to Avid BB7m series with 203 rotors. Always stopped well but never saw a lot of miles.

    When I built the Fandango, it was Avid BB7m and Avid something Ti levers. No issues and pretty good pad wear.

    The Co-Motion Roaster we own came with Avid road disc calipers and 203 discs front and rear. When we decided how we wanted the road tandem, it turned out having flat bars and a similar setup to our off-road machines. The road brakes were replaced with mountain brakes and Avid ti levers. These have been great for where we ride and even survived a lap of Lake Tahoe.

    The ECDM, with 26" wheels came with Magura Louise tandem brakes. These brakes got mixed reviews but for us, once seriously bled were pretty nice brakes. I enjoyed the large front disc and smaller rear disc. These were removed only on account of difficulty finding a caliper adapter for a Fox 40 fork.

    The ECDM Magura brakes were replaced with Avid BB7m calipers and Avid ti levers. This kept spares simple in regards to replacement pads and a spare caliper. On the ECDM they have proven capable of easily locking the rear wheel if needed.

    If the Avid oem brakes suffer with one concern for us, it is wet weather riding. It is as if the brake lining material melts and the brakes loose adjustment quickly.

    I have since started using EBC HH brake pads with better results.

    I would like to someday try a 220mm front disc and go to a 185mm rear disc on the ECDM. I believe the bike would decelerate quicker and have better corner entry speed since the front could settle lower.

    I have spoken with other riders and discussed brakes with them. If the Avids have a common complaint off-road it seems to be the effort needed at the lever. For whatever reason this is not a concern for me.

    PK
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  4. #4
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    Great thread idea. To me, brakes are one of those things I'm ok having "more than needed" - especially on a tandem. I/we don't have a road tandem, so I can't speak to the demands there and we only have ~500 miles of trails on our Fandango - almost exclusively all on hilly singletrack.

    Hope V4 Stealth with Hope's 2-piece sawtooth rotors. These calipers are a 4-piston setup and connected to the levers via a stainless-steel brake line. They provide tremendous stopping ability and on the longest descents in the North GA mtns, they haven't exhibited any fade, or loss of progressiveness. The front/rear 203mm saw rotors match well and seemingly dissipate heat with no problems. To date, we have not had any issues that would require bleeding, or opening the system. The rotors do require occasional cleaning; I usually wipe them down with non-chlorinated brake cleaner from the auto parts store.

    Overall, I'm very pleased with these brakes. That said, I have had great success with Shimano's latest brakes on my single bike. If these bit the dust tomorrow, I'd likely try a set of Shimano Saint's on the tandem.

  5. #5
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    Hope Mono6 Ti

    One important data point for this thread would be approximate team weight. Another might be riding area. Light flatlanders could get away with a much different setup than we could.

    ---------------------------

    We have a 26" ECdM S&S. Team weight is ~360 with gear. We ride mainly SoCal, so we're either climbing or we're descending.

    Brakes are Hope Mono6 Ti, Hope Mini levers, and 203mm rotors F/R, braided stainless lines. I had to change out the rear Hope two-piece rotor years ago, but didn't notice any difference in braking. I expect I'd notice a difference up front, but the front rotor is still thick enough to use.

    I've run all sorts of pads. Hopes are great pads but spendy. Up front Hope sintered worked great; currently running EBC greens which also work well but dust a lot.

    I couldn't run the Hope sintered pad in the rear due to vibration - which went away with organic compound Hope pads. Since then I've run a variety of pads out back, but have always had organics in the rear. I believe I currently have A2Z pads in the rear, and I'm not crazy about them. A2Z pads didn't work well or last long up front.

    We've never faded the brakes. My hands will cramp up before we have brake issues. I do get pump-up now and then on particular long descents, but releasing the lever and braking again gets rid of it.

    In particular on the Hopes, the maintenance is nearly non-existent. The brakes have needed nothing in 6 years, have always worked, etc. I bled them last year and bleeding is very easy with Hopes. Also, based on the color of the fluid, I didn't even need to bleed them at that point. Fluid was still clear - way better sealed than the fluid in my car after even one year.
    Last edited by Okayfine; 08-16-2013 at 03:41 PM.

  6. #6
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    I initially ran Hayes HFX9 brakes on our current tandem(2004 Ventana El Testigo) , they worked adequately for a couple of years, then I put the bike away until this summer. When we did the tune up and tried to bleed the brakes, the brakes were a no-go.
    I was running short on time before we were taking it on vacation, so I installed the BB7's and I came away impressed. We are a light team( I'm 165lbs, 10 year son is 70 lbs) they worked very well, the only mod I recommend is installing a small compression spring around the brake cable at the point between the arm and the cable stop, this helps to override some of the friction from using such a long cable.

    On my previous tandems, I have ran Magura's and Hope's, with the Hope's being my first choice of brakes.
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    Last edited by Hurricane Jeff; 08-19-2013 at 05:46 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    so I installed the BB7's and I came away impressed. We are a light team( I'm 165lbs, 10 year son is 70 lbs) they worked very well, the only mod I recommend is installing a small compression spring around the brake cable at the point between the arm and the cable stop, this helps to override some of the friction from using such a long cable.
    Do you have a picture of this setup? Thanks!
    -Aaron G.

    "Before D.W., "anti-squat" was referred to as pedal feedback."

  8. #8
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    Picture above....the new method this site uses to upload pictures stink!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    ...the only mod I recommend is installing a small compression spring around the brake cable at the point between the arm and the cable stop, this helps to override some of the friction from using such a long cable.

    On my previous tandems, I have ran Magura's and Hope's, with the Hope's being my first choice of brakes.
    Isn't there a torsion spring tension adjustment on there? Are you maxed out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Okayfine View Post
    One important data point for this thread would be approximate team weight. Another might be riding area. Light flatlanders could get away with a much different setup than we could.

    ---------------------------

    We have a 26" ECdM S&S. Team weight is ~360 with gear. We ride mainly SoCal, so we're either climbing or we're descending.

    Brakes are Hope Mono6 Ti, Hope Mini levers, and 203mm rotors F/R, braided stainless lines. I had to change out the rear Hope two-piece rotor years ago, but didn't notice any difference in braking. I expect I'd notice a difference up front, but the front rotor is still thick enough to use.

    I've run all sorts of pads. Hopes are great pads but spendy. Up front Hope sintered worked great; currently running EBC greens which also work well but dust a lot.

    I couldn't run the Hope sintered pad in the rear due to vibration - which went away with organic compound Hope pads. Since then I've run a variety of pads out back, but have always had organics in the rear. I believe I currently have A2Z pads in the rear, and I'm not crazy about them. A2Z pads didn't work well or last long up front.

    We've never faded the brakes. My hands will cramp up before we have brake issues. I do get pump-up now and then on particular long descents, but releasing the lever and braking again gets rid of it.

    In particular on the Hopes, the maintenance is nearly non-existent. The brakes have needed nothing in 6 years, have always worked, etc. I bled them last year and bleeding is very easy with Hopes. Also, based on the color of the fluid, I didn't even need to bleed them at that point. Fluid was still clear - way better sealed than the fluid in my car after even one year.
    So you have semi-metallic up front and organic rear?
    I have heard that Hope organic pads are not up to the task of heavy braking, but have great feel. I tend to agree as they are in use on my single (Tech M4) and I have faded them when used like my motorcycle brakes. I only weigh 185#.

    On the tandem the BB7 with 203mm Aztec rotor up front does most of the work. Still have V-brakes out back. The most strenuous it has seen is Bear Creek, GA (once) and Mohican SP, OH without problems. I have had to drag the V-brake to dry the rim in anticipation of rainy descents. It is not a fun way to ride, but we're not shopping for a new frame with rear disc yet.
    We weigh in at about 340# with water and everything.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    So you have semi-metallic up front and organic rear?
    I have heard that Hope organic pads are not up to the task of heavy braking
    Everyone's definition of heavy braking differs, but we had no issues with Hope organics as a rear pad. They did get a workout. Only switched to aftermarket pads due to price.

  11. #11
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    Jeff, thanks. Interesting idea. Next cable swap I will try that.
    -Aaron G.

    "Before D.W., "anti-squat" was referred to as pedal feedback."

  12. #12
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    We got a road bike with a rear mounted BB avid with 203 rotor some 12+ years ago and really liked it. Back then we were told by various tandem enthusiasts it would overheat and fail. Obviously it didn’t, so when we started to ride MB tandems we order it with the same, front and back. Sure we’ve got them warm over the years, discolored the rotors, melted off caliper decals etc, etc, plus we’ve warped a rotor once. The only time I was ever really concerned of failure was during a along decent on the Maah Daah Hey some years ago. We were moving right along in the 15 to 20mph range which may have went on for a mile, I could feel the pads were being burned off because the levers were getting closer and closer to my grips. Of course we stopped before they touched and we had a nice snack break. After they cooled we check the pads which were worn but fine for the rest of this tour, so we readjusted the brakes and rolled on. Since then we might be riding our 4th tandem equipped with BB’s. These brakes are simple, inexpensive, easy to adjust even on the trail and have great modulation.

    For the technical minded: We are a 300lb team and I only actuate brakes with my middle fingers. Yes indeed we do have hills here. www.copperharbortrails.org

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by arly; 08-29-2013 at 06:14 AM.
    Arly a tandem Nerd, Who rides them, loves them, so we sell them. superiortandems.com

  13. #13
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    We just bought a Fandango from Alex at MTBTandems, team weight is 340# nakid.

    I have been riding TRP Spyre calipers on my unis for a few months without any problems, so I figured we'd give them a try in place of BB7's.

    I talked Alex into installing TRP Spyre calipers front and rear with Tektro 203mm rotors; he is concerned they are not tandem durable, so it's kind of an experiment.

    We haven't ridden much yet, but we did get out on some steep gravel roads over the weekend where we had the chance to heat them up pretty good and they seemed to work fine.

    I was told that only a road lever/BMX would properly actuate the Spyre (it's designed for cyclocross), but they are working quite well with Avid Speed Dials.

    I'll post more feedback as we increase the mileage.

  14. #14
    PMK
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    The TRP is a pretty discussed topic over on Bikeforums.net with the road tandem crowd.

    TRP Spyre mechanical brake = bee's knees?

    PK
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  15. #15
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    We've been using Formula RO brakes on our ECDM 29er for over a year. Our team weight is around 240lbs without riding gear. We started out with 160mm rotors. The bike stopped OK with the small rotors but didn't have the nice powerful one-finger braking I am used to. We went to 203mm rotors which allowed one-finger braking on the steepest terrain we are comfortable with, which is pretty steep! The Formula 203mm rotors and calipers are very hard to set drag free due to the close pad to disc properties of the ROs and all Formula brakes. Any disc runout will cause rubbing and annoying whining noise, even with organic pads. I played with the 203mm rotors for many hours and couldn't get them to stop rubbing completely. I switched the rear to a 180mm rotor and have found it easier to set up the rear caliper, but drag free is still not possible. The power with the 180mm rotor is good enough but more pull on the lever is needed than the 203mm rotors. I could try to bleed them with the pistons pressed even further in than with the stock plastic bleed pad/shims to see if the return would give more clearance?

    Another issue we've encountered is that with the correct sized Chris King Universal Disc Hub adapter for the 145mm axle hub the Formula caliper could not be adjusted towards the inside far enough. I used some disc rotor shims to move the rotor outboard to get the brake caliper centered. After some rides I noticed that the 203mm disc was now very close to the chain stay and was in fact rubbing a bit. The solution for me is to shim the caliper inboard using the shims that used to come with Shimano brakes. However, I will likely change out the Formula brakes to Shimano XTRs if I can't come up with a fix for the constant brake rub issue very soon.
    2 wheels == True

  16. #16
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    Hope Tech Evo V4

    We have a Hope Tech Evo V4 brake setup on our Ventana ECdM 26er and are using standard pads (I think). We are about a 120 kg (270lbs) team.

    We went with the vented 203mm rotor on the front and a standard 203mm rotor on the back (we have a rohloff hub so couldn't fit the vented rotor on the back). We have done a couple of Alpine descents so far and the brakes have held up pretty well (last ride we descended 1000m over 7km of singletrail [3280 feet over 4.35miles]). The vented disc is pretty noisy when it is cooling after a descent - noise captured in this video

    If we could have I would have had the vented rotor on the front and rear though.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by swiss_toni View Post
    The vented disc is pretty noisy when it is cooling after a descent - noise captured in this video

    If we could have I would have had the vented rotor on the front and rear though.
    You sure it's the vented disc not the "Floating" disc part making that noise? I have V4's and Mono's with Floating rotors on two single bikes and after a heavy brake dH run, will make the same noise.

    -A
    -Aaron G.

    "Before D.W., "anti-squat" was referred to as pedal feedback."

  18. #18
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    Concur, that's "normal" for the two-piece stuff, since the materials expand/contract at different rates. I get that noise (if not as rapid) after any decent decent from the front Hope two-piece floating rotor.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebnelson View Post
    We've been using Formula RO brakes on our ECDM 29er for over a year. The Formula 203mm rotors and calipers are very hard to set drag free due to the close pad to disc properties of the ROs and all Formula brakes.
    We had the same problem with them on our Lapierre tandem. I could set them "drag free" but as soon as you rode the bike the brakes would rub at both the front and rear. Tried loads of things to eliminate frame flex etc as the cause, including bleeding some fluid off in case they were overfilled. These were the first disc brakes to beat me in many years so I purchased some Shimano SLX's. I just swapped the rotors to start with and this eliminated all the rubbing so you might get away with just doing that. The new rotors were 2 part (XT I think). I personally think that the Formula 203 rotors are of a too light construction causing them to flex when in use. The Formula brakes went on ebay and ended-up in Latvia.

    Tandem Disc Brake Thread-003.jpg

  20. #20
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    I just ordered some Hope V2 Floating 203 rotors to replace the Tektro Storm SL rotors that came with our TRP Spyre brakes. The Storm SL have very aggressive cut outs, which make the braking "ragged" and rough, though they stop fine.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ciclistagonzo View Post
    You sure it's the vented disc not the "Floating" disc part making that noise? I have V4's and Mono's with Floating rotors on two single bikes and after a heavy brake dH run, will make the same noise.
    Quote Originally Posted by Okayfine;
    Concur, that's "normal" for the two-piece stuff, since the materials expand/contract at different rates. I get that noise (if not as rapid) after any decent decent from the front Hope two-piece floating rotor.
    I stand corrected I thought I had floating rotors front and rear with only the front one being vented. As the rear wasn't 'ticking' I presumed it was the vented rotor causing it. On closer inspection the rear rotor we have is not a floating rotor.

  22. #22
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    I got the Hope V2 203mm floating rotors installed, so far so good, they seem to stay cooler, and they are far less chattery, stopping power is better than with the Tektro Storm rotors.

    We were still getting some rear fade and they were still more chattery than I like, so I swapped to resin (organic) pads and we've been riding those for a few weeks. The resin pads are much quieter, no chatter, no vibration, they stop better than the semi-metalics, so two thumbs up.

    Granted we have only been using the TRP Spyres for a couple months, so it'll take some more time to see how they hold up. That said, I have been riding Spyres on munis for ~ six months and they have taken too many hits and drops to count, and they continue to provide great performance. I'm thinking about changing to resin pads on the munis as well

    So, if you are considering a mechanical disc brake (BB7), take a look at the Spyre, BUT get your own rotors, Tektro Storms are garbage!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    We just bought a Fandango from Alex at MTBTandems, team weight is 340# nakid.

    I have been riding TRP Spyre calipers on my unis for a few months without any problems, so I figured we'd give them a try in place of BB7's.

    I talked Alex into installing TRP Spyre calipers front and rear with Tektro 203mm rotors; he is concerned they are not tandem durable, so it's kind of an experiment.

    We haven't ridden much yet, but we did get out on some steep gravel roads over the weekend where we had the chance to heat them up pretty good and they seemed to work fine.

    I was told that only a road lever/BMX would properly actuate the Spyre (it's designed for cyclocross), but they are working quite well with Avid Speed Dials.

    I'll post more feedback as we increase the mileage.
    Are you running full length cable housing?

  24. #24
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    We have a set of TRP Quadiems (4 piston hydraulics) here for testing. MHopton has agreed to be the guinea pig; he'll have a good perspective based on his use of the Hopes, which I consider the benchmark. Wish the Hopes were cheaper.
    I wouldn't be surprised to see something beefier from Magura in the near future, maybe 4 piston again like the old Gustavs.
    We'll put a set of the TRP mechanicals on another demo tandem so we can ride them back-to-back against the Avids and get a better perspective on how they compare. Since the time changes this weekend, our riding time will be cut to one day per week, weather permitting.
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  25. #25
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    Our TRP Spyres are working great, no fade to speak of, great for feathering while use to control tight terrain. The brakes are much quieter since we changed to the resin pads, no obvious difference in power between semi metallic (OEM) and resin pads, still not enough use to get a sense for durability.

    There was a reported failure on the Spyre SL which sports a carbon arm; not a weave layup, more likely a molded piece. Apparently the arm "spun" on the attachment hardware. In my mind I never saw that arm as being all that durable, so now it seems like the few grams of weight savings are not really worth it

    On an aside, I rode the new black BB7 yesterday, nice looking brake, not sure if the design is changed, but they sure look nice

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