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At present I have a tandem with 2 Mafac canterlever brakes and a rear hub brake

i am considering new wheels with a rear disc instead 

what is a good disc brake for tandem use, should I run both rear brakes of the same lever, should I use mechanical or hydraulic brake

so many questions, your advice/ guidance would be great fully appreciated 

 

12 comments

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bob.sweet [3 posts] 1 month ago
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Don't do hydraulic. If anything goes wrong with the hydraulic at the side of the road you cannot fix it without specialist tools and a workshop.

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crazy-legs [1138 posts] 1 month ago
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bob.sweet wrote:

Don't do hydraulic. If anything goes wrong with the hydraulic at the side of the road you cannot fix it without specialist tools and a workshop.

And likewise, there's far less to go wrong with hydro, they're virtually maintenance free and they're much more powerful. And you could say that about most aspects of the bike. If the freehub or BB seizes, you need specialist tools and a workshop. If the wheel goes out of true, you need specialist tools and a workshop. If the frame cracks.... So why on earth should disc brakes be any different?

Cable discs are the worst of both worlds - all the problems with cables like stretch and grit ingress and none of the power of hydro.

I assume the tandem has a rear disc brake mount...?

 

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Dangerous Dan [12 posts] 1 month ago
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I have Hope Tech3 V4 brakes front and rear with 203 mm rotors on our Ritchey Breakaway tandem.

They work fine. Not sure that they are better than a drum hub brake. The front has great stopping power. The back works fine for a drag brake to keep speed safe on descents.

If I need to bleed them or rebuild a caliper I would need more than the tools I carry on tour. I also can't rebuild the freehub on the side of the road. Maybe I should just go with a fixie?

Seriously, unless your frame is designed for disk brakes how are you going to fit them? I run a single lever for the rear. The force required to keep speed in check is not very great. And when a 50 tooth capable electronic rear derailleur is available for $500 I will switch to that as well.

Our tandem is for long tours, and fitted with myself and my wife and our bags it is over 400 pounds. So for a new tandem designed for disk brakes, I would fit the Hope V4 brakes again.

I wouldn't use cable disk brakes unless they are specifically designed for the heat a tandem will generate. My first brakes were Hope E4 with 203 mm disks and they were not able to deal with the heat.

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Roberts Clubman [18 posts] 1 month ago
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We have two XT v brakes and a Hope mechanical disk on the rear as a drag brake on our Roberts tandem The disk operates off a bar end lever. They stop well and confidently, even fully loaded, and we have had no problems with the cable operated disk brake over several thousand miles. The type of disc brake you can use may depend upon the mount, although I think adapters are available. 

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Morat [344 posts] 1 month ago
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I'm a massive fan of hydro brakes on my half bikes but I'd never put one on a tandem. They're reputed to boil and fade. I haven't tried one myself because JD Tandems wouldn't supply one on safety grounds.

With two large blokes on a 20% descent we managed to fade both cable disks in about 400m. Only a skillful swerve into a very fortunately placed side road saved us. You absolutely need a drag brake unless you're a light team/ride on the flat but if it's a rim brake - beware! If you overuse it, you will blow the tyre off the rim. That wasn't much fun either. Skin was lost.

My ideal tandem would have cable disks front/rear and drag brake on the rear - probably a drum brake unless there's some funky twin disk rear tandem hub out there.

V brakes are great but like all rim brakes you do run the risk of losing the tyre through heating and you won't be continuing after that unless you have a spare wheel and tyre. The rim was ground flat after our "incident" even though it happened at walking pace and we flopped over immediately after the BANG.

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HoarseMann [292 posts] 1 month ago
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Mafac canti's and a hub drag brake, is this a Peugeot from the 1980's?

Unless your frame is designed for disk brakes and has mounts, then don’t even try.

Keep the hub drag brake, put it on a friction thumb shifter so you can set it and leave it for long downhills and swap the canti for v-brakes, possibly with a brake booster bridge if your frame is old.

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Philj099 [1 post] 1 month ago
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Hi, my tandem is a Mercian 

i was considering having a total rrespray so any work regards the brazing of brackets would be carried out then

i am also going to get new wheels built, am considering Pete Mathews wheels to my spec, any comments on hubs, rims etc great fully appreciated 

with regards to my existing Mafac 5 stud brakes should I use black or red blocks on Alloy rims

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HoarseMann [292 posts] 1 month ago
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If it’s a nice retro Mercian, I’d be inclined to keep it as close to original spec as possible.

It’s unlikely that you would be able to safely braze on disk brake mounts, as the frame and forks will not have been designed to take the extra load a disk brake puts on the tubes.

I've taken a 1980's Peugeot tandem down the honister pass in the Lake District, had the mafac cantis and drum drag brake. Hairy but doable, even on the steel rims!

If you are getting new tandem spec. wheels anyway, then the new rims will likely have a better braking surface. So the canti's will perform better, and you can always upgrade to v brakes.

There are good reasons why hub brakes are good as a drag brake. Yes, they are heavier than disks, but they won’t overheat and fade as quickly. They are usually operated on a friction thumb shifter, so you can set-and-forget it on long descents. I’m not sure a hydraulic thumb lever exists? So, you would be looking at cable operated disks, which are less powerful and more faff maintenance wise.

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ktache [2122 posts] 1 month ago
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I'm going to big up brake boosters for V's and especially cantilevers.  I've never tandemed, but a booster on the front just adds so much to the power, never wanted one on the back, but for a very easy plus to power on a tandem, why not?

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scimos [8 posts] 4 weeks ago
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Maguara HS33  Hydraulic Rim Brakes I think are more confortable than Canti's  absolutely bomb proof and can be completely adjusted/taken apart with an allen key are whats on ours.  Used with a mechanical disc drag brake.  Rims do get warm but haven had them to a heat to cause issues.

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ktache [2122 posts] 4 weeks ago
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I didn't know they still made Magura hydraulic rim brakes anymore.  They were very impressive in the early 90s.  Them with ceramic/carbide specific pads and a ceramic/carbide rim and that's magnifecent braking.

My good bike has ceramic rims, but with XTR Vs and Nokon cableing.  Ti brake booster too, I do have the Shimano carbon booster, but don't seem to want it on enough to bother fitting it.  My new bike has good Hope disks, I can't seem to figure out if they really are much better.

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Philh68 [71 posts] 4 weeks ago
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ktache wrote:

I didn't know they still made Magura hydraulic rim brakes anymore.

they sure do, they’ve found new life on Dutch pedelecs. Discs are more susceptible to damage in bike racks so it’s a practical choice for them, but the HS33R works well at stopping those heavy bikes.