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Front brake upgrade

Jon Bennett2022-01-23 11:26:45

Hi, we have a Dawes Horizon Twin tandem and I'm finding that the cantilever brakes are ... not ideal ... and, as we're intending to race her this year (just for fun) on some lumpy TT courses and I'd like to upgrade the front brake (we hit just under 61mph on a downhill last time out which was ... interesting).

I've popped a photo on the post of the front of the bike.  I know the cable is not connected between the two cantliever arms - she's been in storage for a bit and is needing some TLC before going back out on the road.

In a perfect world, I'd like to go for a hydraulic disc, but I have no experience with this kind of upgrade (basic maintenance is my upper limit!) and wanted to ask those more knowledgeable than myself!  I'm more than happy to hear any suggestions on what we could do....

Many thanks

Jon

Matthew Stephens 2022-01-23 11:46:10

You'd ideally need new forks designed to take a disc

If sticking with rim brakes,  I'd recommend TRP CX8.4 or CX9 as a very good upgrade & best value. The cable will look much neater too - you can dispense with the stem hanger

David Whitaker2022-01-23 13:08:25
We have V brakes with a little conversion wheel, but using the same cantilever mountings on our older tandem and the brakes are excellent - in our opinion better than cable operated Spyre disc brakes we have tried on other tandems....
David Whitaker2022-01-23 15:52:11
Here is a picture of our V brake arrangement
Matthew Bailey2022-01-23 18:26:03

Incase you weren't sure the small wheel is because brake levers for cantilever brakes pull a different amount to V brakes so don't work well together.

I would opt for good quality cantilever brake replacements, Paul component would be a good choice with good quality pads. 

Matthew Stephens 2022-01-23 18:46:16

The TRP brakes CX8.4/9 are V brakes,  but shorter than most V brakes & designed for cyclo cross bikes (which have drop bars & aero brakes).  This means they can be used equally well on tandems & no need for the 'travel agent' gadget,  which alters the cable pull ratio.

They are much more sensibly priced than Paul brakes.

The 8.4 & 9 refer to cm & is the length of the arm. The 9 gives more leverage but less modulation - smaller difference between brakes 'on & off'.

I used the 8.4, combined with swissstop pads. They were a great improvement from standard cantis. I got them from ebay.

If you're set on a disc brake, you could put one on back,  which works much more effectively than on a solo because of tandem weight. The dawes may have an arai drum, which is good as a drag brake,  but a disc will be a better stopper. 

Mark Tipping2022-01-23 18:59:56

I have recently fitted the cx drop bar lever pull mini v brakes to a tandem as well, braking ok but squealed like mad both front and back despite being adjusted and greased andvtoed in to perfection.  Unusable really until I fitted ashima 4 fun pads which have the upside they are cheap, fownside they are only reasonably effective stoppers, but they are quiet!  I have tested them other than UK so unsure if the pads would be up to the alps.

The TRP CX8 brakes are not as effective stoppers as the avid single digit ultimate black ops v brakes with travel agent I fitted on a different tandem, fitted with salmon pads, sadly that one was sold on some time ago and the obsolete black ops v brakes are like finding golden rocking horse poo these days.

Good luck

Mark T

tony barcroft2022-01-23 19:42:52

We moved away from canti brakes to discs - but before that I bought a set of Paul canti brakes from California. You're welcome to them - I'll dig them out and put a few photos together on the for sale boards - or just make me an offer. 

Tony
 

John Fazakerley2022-01-23 19:45:19

We also use the Trp Cx8 mini vee brakes along with Swisstop pads and find them quiet and effective. Affordable too, which is a bonus. We had them front and back before fitting a rear disc brake and initially kept the rear one on as an emergency brake. If I am honest, it probably slowed us better than the disc, we stuck with the disc mainly to extend the rim life. 

David Whitaker2022-01-24 08:43:55
Just on the subject of cable operated disc brakes, on my solo bikes I went through a journey of BB5/7, then TRP Spyre and finally arrived at Juin GT-P 4 pot hydraulic sealed unit/cable operated, which were a complete revelation in stopping power, particularly compared to the previously mentioned cable disc brakes. I did have a bit of a discussion with a tandem bike shop, who were very anti on the basis of the fluid potentially overheating, the brakes failing and a strong preference for TRP Spyre. Is the consensus here in Tandem World the same?
Jon Bennett2022-01-24 13:36:10

Many thanks for everyone's response - really appreciated! As a simple starter, I like the sound of a better set of cantis and pads and I'm up for doing a deal, Tony (Bancroft), if you found them worth a go.  I'd no idea about the wheel for V Brakes and if the cantis don't give us what I'm looking for, it'd be the next step. Failing _that_, it sounds like discs - are there any good models of fork which might suit our tandem and 'race' ambitions?

Thanks so much, everyone!

Kevin Smith2022-01-24 14:39:58

Worth looking at Magaura hydraulic rim brakes,they fit the canti posts. A friend has just had some fitted on his Tandem.

The Tandem shop, Pete Bird did them. Cant remember if they were drop or straight bars now, but if you're considering just the front, you could fit a brake lever on the stoker bars and leave yours as hood grips. 

tony barcroft2022-01-24 17:06:00

Jon - I've dug into the "things I bought but never fitted" section of my bike bits box! The Paul brake stuff was still there in a couple of plastic bags and with some rather quaint instructions on how to fit the springs without losing an eye. I've attached some photos - just drop me a mail to tony.barcroft@me.com if you're interested and we can sort something out.

 

tony barcroft2022-01-24 17:06:00

Jon - I've dug into the "things I bought but never fitted" section of my bike bits box! The Paul brake stuff was still there in a couple of plastic bags and with some rather quaint instructions on how to fit the springs without losing an eye. I've attached some photos - just drop me a mail to tony.barcroft@me.com if you're interested and we can sort something out.

 

tony barcroft2022-01-24 17:06:00

Jon - I've dug into the "things I bought but never fitted" section of my bike bits box! The Paul brake stuff was still there in a couple of plastic bags and with some rather quaint instructions on how to fit the springs without losing an eye. I've attached some photos - just drop me a mail to tony.barcroft@me.com if you're interested and we can sort something out.

 

tony barcroft2022-01-24 17:06:00

Jon - I've dug into the "things I bought but never fitted" section of my bike bits box! The Paul brake stuff was still there in a couple of plastic bags and with some rather quaint instructions on how to fit the springs without losing an eye. I've attached some photos - just drop me a mail to tony.barcroft@me.com if you're interested and we can sort something out.

 

tony barcroft2022-01-24 17:06:00

Jon - I've dug into the "things I bought but never fitted" section of my bike bits box! The Paul brake stuff was still there in a couple of plastic bags and with some rather quaint instructions on how to fit the springs without losing an eye. I've attached some photos - just drop me a mail to tony.barcroft@me.com if you're interested and we can sort something out.

 

tony barcroft2022-01-24 17:14:11
Sorry Jon - I had some more photos to show "what's in the bag" but I think I crashed the system uploading too many pics. Suffice to say that in the bag are all the bits to fit them (springs, bolts, washers, adjusters etc
tony barcroft2022-01-24 17:14:11
Sorry Jon - I had some more photos to show "what's in the bag" but I think I crashed the system uploading too many pics. Suffice to say that in the bag are all the bits to fit them (springs, bolts, washers, adjusters etc
tony barcroft2022-01-24 17:14:11
Sorry Jon - I had some more photos to show "what's in the bag" but I think I crashed the system uploading too many pics. Suffice to say that in the bag are all the bits to fit them (springs, bolts, washers, adjusters etc
Alan Morgan2022-01-24 17:48:03

Our Santos Double Travel came fitted with Magura HS31 hydraulic rim brakes for straight handlebars (same fitting points as vee and canti brakes) - inho they are excellent stoppers and we've been well loaded (camping) and done some step down-hills and have rarely if ever needed to use a third brake.

Extreme riders will say that disc brakes take the heat say from the rims/rim brakes, but goodness knows what sort of riding that is - alpine maybe in which case that might be a consideration.

tony barcroft2022-01-25 08:31:57

Jon - sorry to let you know - the ones i found in my bike bits box are actually "Velo Orange" not Paul. 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Velo-Orange-Grand-Cru-Zeste-Max-Power-Cantilever-Brake-Set-Silver-/192137299079

Apologies for any confusion

Jon Watt2022-01-25 09:12:46
I'm almost certain I have some old (possibly fairly new) mini-V brakes knocking around if you want them. They will be far superior to canti's and much easier to set up. Happy to root through my parts bin and pass them over if you're interested.
Jon Watt2022-01-25 09:12:46
I'm almost certain I have some old (possibly fairly new) mini-V brakes knocking around if you want them. They will be far superior to canti's and much easier to set up. Happy to root through my parts bin and pass them over if you're interested.
Jon Watt2022-01-25 09:14:43
Sorry, I just realised that might sound like I'm undermining Tony's offer, apologies that wasn;t ,my intention.
Matthew Stephens 2022-01-25 09:25:35

I agree that V brakes better than cantis:

More powerful, cleaner cabling, simpler adjustment & will be more aero for your 'TT bike'!

 

David Whitaker2022-01-25 10:08:17
The (full size) V brakes on ours are really great stoppers and ever so easy to use and fit replacement pads. Somehow, I've never really found canti's anything other than fiddly and underwhelming, although I can see some of the beefy arms on these tandem special variants look more capable.
Richard Calder2022-01-25 12:15:06
I've used Hope Mono 6 with titanium pistons and they were useless. Titanium is a great conductor of heat and they faded badly on long descents.

Next I got Hope E4 which have four phenolic pistons which are a bad conductor of heat and they are brilliant. Had them five years and never had any fade.

I would agree with someone else who said the back brake is the best to use on a tandem. You won't fall off if you lock the back wheel, you will if you lock the front wheel!

PS had cantilevers on our original tandem and vowed never to have them again, don't know how they have the nerve to call them brakes!

Tim Goffe2022-01-25 13:26:27

We used Magura hydraulic rim brakes on our Thorn Discovery tandem and they were superb stoppers. Ours were the HS33s for straight handlebars. I see from the Magura website that cheaper HS models (HS22, HS11) are also available.

https://www.magura.com/en/components/bike/rim-brakes/

They are a little fiddly to set up, but once in place and correctly adjusted, they work brilliantly, pretty much fit and forget. A particular advantage is that the pistons force the blocks horizontally and straight onto the rims, unlike cantis and V brakes which pivot around the fork braze-ons and which often require adjustments as the blocks wear down. These were the best rim brakes we used in 30 years of tandeming.