ADDING A DISK OR DRUM BRAKE TO A TANDEM
January 2, 2006
Back to questions
My wife and I ride our 1998
Cannondale RT3000 tandem almost exclusively. It came with
Magura hydraulic cantilever brakesone of the reasons
I chose the bike, especially since we ride in the Pittsburgh
region, with very steep climbs and fast descents.
In most circumstances the Maguras
are OK, but I'm often squeezing the brakes as hard as I
can, and barely slowing down.
The rear hub is a Phil Wood with
threading for a drum brake. I've never been enthusiastic
about drum brakes, especially since they were replaced by
disks on cars decades ago. I remember how drum brakes used
to fade terribly!
I'd hate to give up my Phil Wood
hub. Is there a way to screw on an adapter, so that I could
install a disk rotor on my rear wheel, then attach the disk
caliper to my rear frame triangle? I've read good reviews
about the new cable-actuated WinZip brake that Santana has
adopted for its tandems.
By the way: From time to time we
load up the tandem with front and rear panniers, a Bob trailer,
and head for the hillsthis summer it'll be the Rockies
from Missoula, Montana to Denver, Colorado. Loooongg hills!
Lets add up the downhill
momentum, Bob: two bodies, a tandem, four loaded panniers,
trailer . . . Have you seen the parachute NASA uses on the
Seeing as I dont tandem (on
bikes, anyway) I consulted Chicago tandem expert Kevin Womac
Bikes. He sez nix on the disc. The frame, when
built, has to be set up for disc brakes, Kevin saysand
retrofitting an existing frame would likely cost more than
the bike. Youd probably have to hire Hephaestus.
Kevin assures me that your drum-brake
fears, like the reasons for a certain recent Mideast occupation,
have no foundation. Ive gleaned that some think that
the aluminum in drum brakes indicates their weakness. Not
so. Kevin says the mechanism uses aluminum just for the
cooling surface, not the brake itself. He says its
a little heavy (like you care about that), but it
can heat up without melting down. Wish Id said
A neat trick that Kevin suggests:
Attach the drum brake not to a brake lever, but a shift
lever. So during a descent you can put the brake on partway
on and leave it that way without having to squeeze the lever.
This'll free your hands to use your cantilever brake leversor
release the parachute.